Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Strife is O'er

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The strife is o'er, the battle done,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun.
Alleluia!


I am back from the funeral of my Aunt Donna. She had a lovely funeral aided by the old lady singing choir. They sang quite a few hymns. My favorite was "The Strife is O'er". They missed a few notes on just about every song. I was not the only one that noticed either!

Let me tell you... a Catholic Mass will wear you out! You have to pay attention or you will be embarrassed by the rest of the church goers. Since I was a pall bearer, I had to the sit in the front row. So, I felt like all eyes were on me. You stand up, sit down, kneel down, stand back up, kneel down again, etc. You have to look whether your neighbor is sitting or kneeling so you don't screw up. I only sat down twice when I should have been kneeling. DOH! My mother was probably smirking in the pew right behind me.

The worst part of Catholic Mass for me is always the Rite of Peace part. Basically, you are suddenly supposed to shake hands with everyone around you and say "Peace be with you!" That used to make me not want to go to Church because I used to be so shy. Since I was with my entire family, I was actually not stressing out about it this time.

Then it happened. When we get to the part where we turn to our neighbor, the persons on my left and right side are each saying "Peace Be With You!" to the other side of them. PANIC! I then try and save face by turning around to where I know my mother is... and she is saying "Peace Be With You!" to her neighbors. DOH! Thanks Catholic Church for reminding once again that I am not first choice. UGH.

The really stressful part didn't happen until we had to place our hands on the coffin and roll it down the center aisle out the church and to the awaiting hearse. When you have eight pall bearers, it's quite easy to kick the shoes of whomever is in front of you and get kicked by the person behind you. The tricky part was not to trip or stumble from the close quarters while keeping both hands on the coffin. I did that pretty well considering I am pretty clumsy.

Then comes the sad part. When you actually have to pick up the coffin off the thingamajig with wheels... you feel the weight of your deceased relative. You immediately realize what you are doing and who is in there. This is the last time you are going to be this close to them. The tears come flowing down as you load that body into the hearse. Everyone is outside the church crying along with you. :(

In many ways, funerals can be an inspiring thing. You feel a renewed sense of spirit and strong family bonds. We were able to honor our beloved relative for two days together. I can't think of a more fitting way to go. I only hope when my time comes... I am sent off with as much love as my Aunt Donna.

7 Comments:

Blogger Lewis said...

I must admit, that "passing the peace" used to freak me out. Even an outgoing guy like me. But nowadays, it's so natural and normal...and NECESSARY. I LOVE saying "peace be with you." Cause I know that we all need it badly. It's a gift to others. And I do love me some old hymns. Know the words to many, many of the oldest of songs. I loved your paragraph about picking up the coffin...the weight. The responsibility. The tears. Oh, believe me, I've been there too many times. Giant Oregon hugs to you, my great friend.

March 26, 2008  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Homer told me you were being buried face down in a glass coffin so you could see where you were going'.

March 26, 2008  
Blogger Gooster said...

I have buried many of my family and friends and it is never easy. I rarely attend funerals anymore unless I am in them, or they were a close family member. They tend to bring up too many memories of all of those I have buried before.

March 26, 2008  
Blogger catrina said...

Funny story about my dear hubby...we attended a Catholic wedding a few years back (his first), so I gave him a few pointers about kneeling vs. sitting, etc. I forgot about the 'passing the peace,' and when it came time for the handshake, I did my thing then turned to look at him. And he was shaking hands with everyone around him saying "Pleased to meet you!" I laughed hysterically!

March 26, 2008  
Blogger Timmy said...

I remember when the Sign Of Peace was introduced into the Mass. The nuns made us practice over and over again. Initially it was the altar boys (me) who would receive the Sign Of Peace from the priest and then we would leave the altar and extend the Sign Of Peace to each person on the end of pew (middle aisle). Sometimes it would take forever if the church was full.

I've never been a pallbearer and I'm sure it would be a bit emotional.

When I first read about your aunt's death my first thought was that it was the day before Easter and full of positive symbolism. I hope you and your family are doing well.

March 26, 2008  
Blogger CB in Ca said...

Condolences to you Brett! I share you like for the hymn "The Strife is O'er". The usual tune for it was composed by Palestrina.

March 27, 2008  
OpenID anythingbutsad said...

See now I'd think that 'passing the peace' would be kind of cool! I went to a temple where the men and women sat separately and the Rabbi spoke with his back facing us. There was not a whole hell of a lot of friendly interaction, IMHO! Anyhow, I know this was a tough day for you. So sorry for your loss.

March 29, 2008  

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