To them who went before us, O God be glory.
I’ll start off by quoting paragraphs about how we go about observing the rites for our dead. The following was taken from “What Catholics Need To Know About Funerals”.
God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all 1 John 1:5.
In the funeral mass, you see how the symbolism is rooted in the Eucharist, which is a source of life, a source of strength and nourishment, but also an offering of thanksgiving. While it may not have the same joy and jubilation, even at the funeral mass, when the community of God gathers together in sorrow, part of the consolation is the gathering to offer praise to God and an offering of thanksgiving, being focused not just on the deceased but on Jesus.
The casket is brought to the front of the sanctuary and positioned in front of the paschal candle which is another reminder of the light of Christ dispelling the darkness of death and promising eternal life.
The casket, or cremations is covered with white linen, known as the pall, which evokes the white baptismal gown.
The casket is also blessed with holy water, another reminder of the person’s baptism, the day they were first given the promise of eternal life.
It is also worth noting that the priest celebrating the mass approaches the casket wearing white vestments.
It’s what we do as Catholics.
– Brian Fraga, OSV at OSV.com
I’ve been to six different, but there were actually seven funeral wakes in the past year with the last one being yesterday, all of which are less than six months apart. Let me just write the word”Sigh” for lack of a better expression, as I can’t make it audible enough that could be heard while you read my piece.
First was a cousin-in law’s wake, Noel but I wasn’t able to attend due to work constraints and heavy rains. His wife, my first cousin died earlier, and they have two children who are now making something of themselves.
My Tita Caring’s wake last year had that intimate and personal touch. It was an opportune time as finally we were able to drop by our dad’s place. As with with every funeral gatherings, relatives came from different parts of town and different parts of the world, to pay their last respects. We got there around the siesta hours as we had to endure 5 hours of travel time. My sister and her husband from New York were here for a vacation at that time. She and my eldest sister planned this trip to represent our dad, who passed away years before. Please take note of this detail in the coming paragraphs.
A few months after, the mother of my sister’s husband died. He and my sister came back home again from New York to arrange his mom’s funeral as now he is the oldest living son. The wake was a little different as the family were observing the Chinese tradition. My husband and I went there at night. There weren’t any crying ladies though but they had the writings on the wall on which were written the donations of the people who attended the wake. These were in Chinese characters, by the way.
As I’ve mentioned the funerals I attended were barely six months apart. This next one was really dumbfounding as our dear eldest sister was just with us the day before she passed away. Our last conversation was that we will be meeting up again on All Saint’s Day, which was two months later. Little did we know that she would be one among those we would be visiting on this occasion. I remember that one last time we were together, she was complaining of some stomach pain and I asked my brother about it -he being a doctor. We all thought that it may have been something she ate. She had a schedule with a cardiologist that same week and would then be undergoing some tests. But I guess the Lord had a better plan – gave her the best cure which is to go home to Him where she wouldn’t have to experience any more pain, no more undergoing medical tests.
So it was my sister’s wake that I attended next. She died on the eve of my nephew’s birthday, 4 days before mine, a date that will certainly be remembered. Hers was a funeral attended by the different Chruch committees, her classmates from high school and college – she was an active Mother Butler and alumna. Being the eldest among the De Guzman cousins, relatives came from nearby and out of town to pay their last respects. This last, my sister from New York had to come home for the third time this year together with my niece.
Christmas last year was a little bleak. Aside from the missing members of the family, my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law were talking about their dads who were seriously ill and have been in and out of the hospital. Both were of advanced age already so the risks were really high.
Early this year one of the dads of these two in-laws of mine passed away. It was the dad of my eldest brother-in-law, whose wife, my eldest sister, died late last year. It’s tragic really for him, having had two deaths in his immediate family, and our hearts go out to him and the children. My son and I went to pay our last respects. It was an eerie experience for us as we were the only ones there in the funeral parlor- that was after one of the-I guess they were people working for the family, who recognized me as a relative of the dead. They left after fixing up and so only my son and I were there. We stayed and watched for a almost an hour, but still nobody came. And the wake covered two chapels so just imagine how eerie it was for us to be there with my brother-in-law’s dad. Tatay Pacheco was a jolly person when he was alive. I guess and hope he was jolly for us to be accompanying him at that time.
Soon after, my cousin Danny died. I haven’t seen him for years, the last time being in his mom’s wake, my aunt, several years before. When we were younger, Danny and his youngest sister, Lenny were playmates of mine. It’s really sad that they’re both gone now. Way back in high school, sometimes Danny would just appear by my side when I was on my way to school. He was then dropped off by his dad, My Uncle Itoy. My family of 3 had a funny experience when we went to his wake. We were an hour early for his viewing so we were sitting there in the lobby together with other guests of the other dead. These guests were already whispering to one another about who we were and are we relations or friends? Anyway, when Danny was finally ready for viewing we met and sympathize with his wife and daughters. Danny is finally peacefully resting with God.
This last wake was very touching for my family. It was now my sister-in-law’s dad who passed away. She said that it was the first death in their family so it was a new experience for them. I just told her that everything’s going to be all right as my brother would know what to do. The rites yesterday was exactly what were quoted in the first part of this article. The wake was personal and intimate, no frills, no fuss, and my family felt the solemnity and simplicity of it all. Indeed it was a glorious occasion for the Pineda family with their dad finally gone home to God, no more pain, no more staying in the hospital. And, as my sister-in-law said, they now have somebody up there to welcome them when their time comes to go home.
The glory in the death of each of these people is in what they have done for us. As how Pope Benedict has challenged us to do, they were able to carry out. And, that is – “each one of you must have the courage to promise to the Holy Spirit that you will bring one … person to Jesus Christ in the way you consider best.” As you do know that your efforts will bring Jesus abundant joy.
Let me end my tribute to those who have passed away before us by quoting from 2 Timothy 4:7. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”