god as verb, not noun

wordy, it’s hard to write liturgy at the moment. it’s easy to write poetic prose, hard to write prayers. most prayers are focussed towards someone who makes an event happen. take out the someone and prayers change their shape considerably.

and i wouldn’t write prayers, except i’m writing a pre-emptive funeral for a friend at the moment – she wants to sign off on it before she dies [which we don’t anticipate will be for a long time yet]. it’s not an easy task, for all the obvious reasons… but also because she loves the liturgical stuff i write, but wouldn’t mind a bit more trinity, the occasional mention of god, etc. etc.

she also doesn’t want it to be a memorial or even a celebration of her life, not to focus on her at all, but to focus on god. best case scenario, in her eyes, is that we don’t mention her name. i’m preparing her for disappointment.

you are the life that persists in making us new
the courage that takes us always one step more
the story into which we read our own
the adventure we need all our faith to begin…

5 Comments

  1. I’ve had many discussions with my Pallottine friends who serve the church via a socity that was founded by Vincent Pallotti in the 1850’s. What I find amusing is the way in which he is revered in their contemporray context, especially when his entire life work pointed at anything but Himself. Their devotion though admirable on one hand is almost Monty Pythonesque. Whenever I attend one of their functions I can’t help but think that he must be shaking his head in disbelief.
    That said, yes it would be difficult to farewell a loved one & not have some focus on them, even it it were for no other reason than to proclaim the depth of what they lived for. I don’t envy you your task.

  2. Jeff

    Are we the first society to begin to prescribe how we want our funeral/death rites to be conducted? Grieving is really for those who remain and to not be able to celebrate the person who has lived and died seems stragely unfair. Private funerals or no funerals seem to leave those who appreciated being a fellow traveller kind of lost.
    Is death really like birth – out of our control? We could not choose what went on then either!
    I understand why she want syou to write it. Your stuff is brilliant and touching and real. Your writers block at the moment is a privilege to be allowed into. Maybe re read your own work and be inspired?
    Go well

  3. Cheryl

    we’re probably also the first society to marry for love, too… or to think happiness is a birthright… maybe they’re all connected…

    thanks jeff for the affirmation! i seem to have plenty to write in other places, it’s just prayers that leave me stuck for words. i’ve actually been going over all my old stuff for another reason, which has been a bit weird, to be honest…

  4. We celebrated the life of a dear Catholic priest friend, a former U boat commander who came to Australia as a missionary & lived a devout life of obedience to God. All of his life he flew in the face of the local conservative bishops, so it was a sad irony that at his funeral the current Arcbishop wished to attend & because he was there there were tight liturgical constraints in place. Whatever happened that day was not a representation of who Fr Wally was. A few of us commented that we should have our own celebration after the more formal occasion was over but sadly, we never spoke of it again & I feel a deep sense that we have not properly honored the life of this man

  5. Cheryl

    i’ve been thinking today that funerals need to do different things, depending on the person and the situation. sometimes they’re a celebration, sometimes they’re a way of making someone’s death real, sometimes they’re a letting go… i mean they’re all of those things, but the focus or priority is obviously changed according to the situation.

    i was involved in arranging a funeral a few years ago where anything but familiar rituals and liturgy would have been too much to handle. we needed to make the space safe enough that people weren’t wondering what would come next.

    but you’re right, Mick, honouring someone means a liturgy has to reflect something of their character.

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