Tired of all the bad news

While we can't deny the difficulites for so many people at home and overseas, it's important to take account of the positives, and to spread the Good News. I don't know who said this but; "No-one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side." Blessings..

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

'You sent my Nanny up to heaven!'

Talk about ‘out of the mouth of babes.’ I was over with some parishioners who had been recently bereaved and we were to plan the funeral liturgy. Naturally there was sadness in the household as they were coming to terms with their big loss.  The house was full with relations and neighbours calling in to sympathise, indeed there was a large group of people gathered inside and outside the house. There was a Burco boiler filled to the brim to make pots of tea and coffee and plates of sandwiches that friends and neighbours brought to cater for the visitors. I am continually amazed by the goodness and generosity of our people to others in times of sadness. Despite the sadness, there was also laughter, tears, and stories as they all shared their own memories with each other. The best therapy in the world is to give time to hear and share each other’s pain and struggles at a time of tragedy. This occasion was particularly poignant as the one who died was barely in middle age and the body was laid out in the living room of the family home.

There were some small children there who brought a degree of distraction to the situation and their innocence helped the older ones to cope here and there. One of the young lads maybe about 5 years old looked at me before the prayers and pointed to the coffin and said; “Is that yours?” In other words; did I own the coffin? I didn’t know what to say. What does one say? But another child, again about 4 or 5 years old and sporting a pair of glasses, quite like a junior Harry Potter was running in an out and came over and said; “You sent my Nanny up to heaven.”All the theology and the M.A. stuff I’ve done couldn’t prepare me for what came out of that child’s mouth. I was speechless. The only reply I could manage was; “That’s a lovely thing to say, thank you.”  And it was a lovely thing to say. I have known this particular family and indeed their neighbours for the last few years in the Parish and I have been with them for baptisms and funerals. One of the grown-ups would have told the child that I offered the funeral Mass for his grandmother and the language they used was something like ‘that priest sent your Nanny up to heaven.’ And the little boy remembered.

Priests are honoured to stand at the baptismal font to welcome a new member of our Christian family. In Ireland it is still mostly infant baptisms. We are there to solemnise a Marriage between a man and a woman and we stand at the foot of the altar to welcome a coffin and sprinkle it with holy water. These are three big occasions in the life of a family, intimate and emotional occasions which people will always remember and we are the privileged ones to be allowed inside.  To be seen as someone whose prayers and Masses helps to bring another close to God or to send someone ‘up to heaven’ is something I feel will take a lifetime for me to understand.  To be ‘In Persona Christi’ as a priest is awesome. Perhaps this child was spot on. And there’s no doubt that I was reminded of the responsibilities that goes hand in hand with it too.

Jesus exclaimed, 'I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children.  Matthew 11:25

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