Sunday, April 5, 2009

AWOL, Part 2

There were a few key ingredients that made Saturday morning an overly painful time for me.

First, I was attending a funeral. They're just not fun. Second, my aching back found the wooden church pew to be nothing less than a form of medieval torture. (Add this to what I call Catholic calisthenics -- sit, stand, kneel, reverse!) And third, the priest performing the service.

I always HATE when someone who has never met the deceased tries to talk about them on a personal level. Some men and women of the cloth can pull this off quite well. This priest? Not so much. He would start a sentence well and then trail off into something pointless. He opened by talking about the scene played out on the roof of the church (outside, which confused those in the audience who were unfamiliar with the church) and going on to talk about the importance of the Virgin Mary. This then snowballed into him pointing out the beautiful statues around the church.

I could scarcely believe what I was hearing. What the hell is this guy talking about? Is he drunk?

"Bill appreciated nature. He liked to hunt and fish." Cool, I thought. This is going better.

"The fish has long been a sign of Christianity, the way Christians would identify with one another." I thought some parallel would then be drawn. But it was not to be.

He went off on a tangent about "the good news" and how the word gospel literally translates to good news. And he kept interspersing the family's last name -- except 90 percent of the time, it wasn't even their name. Most times, it wasn't even close. I bit my tongue a lot before finally leaning over to the mother and whispering: The good news would be if he could get the deceased's last name right, just once.

The priest wasn't the only one guilty of a faux pas. The Knights of Columbus made what would have been a very nice presentation by presenting a gold chalice that would be sent to some church around the world in Uncle Bill's name. It would have been awesome, had before he explained about the chalice, he hadn't said: "unlike an inscription on a pagan plaque ..." to which I immediately noticed the VFW post representative seated across the aisle from me squirm in his seat -- clutching a memorial plaque that he was next up to present.

And then the priest spent between 5 and 10 minutes talking about who could and couldn't take Communion later in the service. During this, he directly addressed the non-Catholics by saying "We love you anyway -- but you can't take Communion. as communion means community and unity and if you're not part of the community ..."

A lovely bit of talking down to that group. Never mind that at least 98 percent of those present were either Catholic or at least raised that way, so we knew the rules already.

The bright spot in the service were eulogies from a nephew and niece. These went a long way to make up for all the foibles. The best part: seeing three of my two baby cousins' (who are now in their 30s) children deliver the gifts during offertory. They're 9, 7, and 6 and too cute for words.

But the day only got better.

The MonkeyGirl picked me up later in the afternoon and I got to salvage most of my planned scrapbooking event. Laughing with good friends, and playing with my pictures is always fun. And she and I finally got to catch up after not seeing each other for months.

It was a great way to end what had been a really distressing week.


Vicki said...

While reading what went on during the memorial service I kept envisioning it being a part of a tv show, because it seems like that stuff (should) only happen on tv. I probably would have been squirmy and a little livid myself had I been in attendance. Glad you got to scrapbook though.

Jayne said...

Oh my gosh, I know just what you mean. My birth mom's funeral was like that--the pastor was someone from my brother's AA group who had never met our mom and he kept going off on tangents. On the way to the cemetery Rodger said, "I guess he thought he had to fill up a time slot." That's the only explanation we could think of for his rambling.

I'm glad you got to spend the afternoon scrapbooking. Doing something you enjoy is a good stress reliever.

NV said...

Vicki -- It WAS very surreal. I'm glad I got to scrapbook, too. Definitely took the sting out of the day.

Jayne -- Maybe that's what it was. Whatever the case, this guy was a rambler extraordinaire. Yes, the stress relief value of scrapbooking (but mostly just hangin' with friends) is highly underrated!

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