Grace in action
Another new experience for me today–a funeral mass. Sort of. A Catholic funeral mass with a lot of attendees who were not Catholic, and who had no clue what was being done, when to sit/stand/kneel or how to respond. With a few Baptist congregational songs thrown in for good measure, to boot. It was a cooperative service, a full Catholic mass, I’m fairly sure, but with a few things that probably aren’t typical of a Catholic funeral mass added in for those from different religious backgrounds. I’d never been to anything like it, and I appreciated the cooperation and acceptance I witnessed.
What I learned: incense makes my nose itch. I also saw a whole lot of very gracious people of several very different faiths joining together to honor not only one mother, but also every other individual there. The priest sang the congregational songs which he obviously was unfamiliar with. The Baptists (and others) stood and sat and responded even though they were unfamiliar with the liturgies. The priest assisted in that by carefully walking everyone through the mass, with explanations of what was being done and what to say and do in a very respectful way. In a word, I learned another lesson in grace and graciousness, both because of the stunning immensity of cooperation and respect I witnessed during the service and in the response of a friend after the service.
I didn’t know the woman who died, but I knew her daughter and went for her daughter’s sake. What brought me to tears was that the daughter thanked me profusely for coming and “offering comfort” and went on to say how thankful she is that we go to the same church and how glad she was to have met me. I don’t remember in all my life attending a church where someone thanked me for attending or said they were grateful for me being there. Especially not a church leader. (And especially not at a funeral.) At least never that I remember. I was more often told that I was supposed to be the thankful one. Being thanked for going to church or going to a funeral to support a friend… wow. I know what I wanted to say wouldn’t have flown, because I said it once before and she was shocked. But I wanted so badly to say “Thank you for letting me be part of your life.” Thanks for not judging me, for not gossiping, for loving me and caring, and for showing the grace of God in action. I could have said the same to anyone there. It’s refreshing to see that many people from those diverse backgrounds and practices sharing together in such a wonderful way. And I’m humbly thankful to all of them, and to the God they share who made it so.