Saturday, October 07, 2017

I go before you always

We buried a parishioner today, a woman of 103. The funeral was small, a handful of friends and relatives.  I stood beside the font near the entrance of the church, vested in baptismal white, as we clothed her body one last time in white, outward sign of the inner reality of her immersion in Christ, then took the processional cross and stood in front of the coffin.

"Let's go, Michelle," came the sure low voice of the pastor behind me.  As the cantor sang the refrain, "I go before you always," I smoothly lifted the cross high, and my eyes on Christ in the crucifixion scene which hangs in the lunette of the dome, led the small procession to the altar.  Me, the pastor, the pallbearers and her body. I go before you always.  I could almost sense the corresponding heavenly procession.  The cross before all. A great cloud of witnesses.

At the end of Mass we sent her soul onward, incense under and over her casket, around and around, a great cloud of prayers gathering her up.

Afterwards, I went out back to get my bike, to find the censer cooling on the ramp behind the church.  The holy wreathing the quotidian. Remember that you are dust, it said, and unto dust, you will return.

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