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‘For the faithful, Life is changed, Not ended’

Jan 27

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1/27/2019 12:00 AM  RssIcon

I still remember a few homilies from my time in seminary. Well, I’ll say I do not exactly remember full homilies in detail, but I certainly remember one homily in particular, as it still sticks with me even today, fifteen plus years later. While I do not remember the occasion, the readings, or the main thrust of the homily; I still remember Fr. Jeff Kemper reflecting on a Christmas gift his parents had given him the previous year: a cemetery plot next to theirs in one of the St. Joseph Cemeteries in Price Hill. This in and of itself is not quite so memorable; but his quip after has stuck with me and I continue to use it: ‘Thanks, mom, I think I’d rather have a sweater!’

Of course we all laughed! It is not an easy thing to look at the end of our lives and prepare for those events, yet death is as real for us as the air we breathe and the life we lead now. And thinking about the end helps us live for the present, too.

But, as we say in the funeral liturgy for the Church: ‘for the faithful, life is changed, not ended.’ Because Christ is risen from the dead, we have nothing to fear. He is the conqueror of sin, and if we live in Him in this life, we will live with Him in the life to come.

So, where am I going with this? One of the ways we can look forward to and prepare for our own end is to prepare and plan some items for our own funeral. As a priest, I sit with many families as they grieve the loss of a loved one and they go through readings and prayers, wondering which one would have been Mom’s favorite…

One particular preparation that I sat in on was more painful than most: Fr. Chris Coleman had died unexpectedly and, as Dean, I was responsible for making sure the funeral arrangements were handled properly. Sitting with his sister as she grieved and mourned her only brother gave me a resolve: the night after his funeral, I came home and filled out a planning sheet with readings, hymns, lectors, etc., to plan out many of the details of my own funeral. It was both cathartic and reassuring to me as I realized that if something unexpected were to happen, I know my family will have at least a few things already seen to and planned out.

At both Corpus Christi and St. John Neumann, we have wonderful bereavement teams who walk with families during these times. If you are interested in meeting with them to review what all the options are for a funeral liturgy, they would be glad to do so. (I hope I am not putting words in their mouth!) This can be one final, generous gift to your family, as well; as they have the assurance that the liturgy is going to be celebrated as you wish, too.

Just a final note: we live well so that we can die well. For the faithful, death is not to be feared, as it is just another doorway to pass through. Might we all live so as to always glory in Jesus Christ, that He might rejoice in us upon our own entrance into His life!

God Bless,
Fr. Kyle Schnippel

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Deacon Ron answers your questions.


Re: Why do we place a white pall on the casket of the deceased at funeral Masses?
I have been wondering about that. Thank you for explaining it.

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