Friday, 7 January 2011

Family funerals

This is a bit of personal heartache. I’m sure there are plenty of others in my situation, heavens only knows how they stop themselves getting as bitter and uncomfortable as I now feel.

My paternal grandmother died on Boxing Day, a lovely lady and even if she weren’t, I’d ask you (of your charity) to say a short prayer for the repose of her soul.

All this happened a long way away; too far for me to travel in my current state. However it isn’t the physical distance that is the issue here, but the sheer remoteness I feel from my family at times like this. Both my paternal grandparents were Catholic converts; grandfather most sincerely, grandmother perhaps less so. Their children have all fallen away from the Faith and I’m now the only living, practicing Catholic left. Grandfather longed for his children to return to the Faith, he would tell me “nothing would bring me and you grandma greater happiness that to see your Dad be reconciled to the Church”. Grandfather did not get his wish during his lifetime, it still has yet to happen.

In my grandmother’s final months she did wish to see a priest (and with help I was able to find one who would sit and talk with her). I know she was very grateful. One of her biggest problems was the Real Presence. She was brought up Anglican and whilst she harboured doubts over the Real Presence, the fact that her beloved children fell away from the Catholic Church probably strengthened her low church Anglican tendencies. Torn between love for her children and love for her husband she sought refuge in the “as long as everyone is nice to everyone else, what is the problem” theology.

What annoys me is those that aided and abetted her to keep her views, including a home-visit nurse and rampant Protestant who did much to move her further and further from Church teaching, she should have kept her nose out, but she was one of those women who looks like she can smell something real bad if she just looks at a rosary. Not that my relatives cared much about these theological battles.

I don’t know what happened in her conversations with the priest, even whether she was reconciled enough to make a good confession and how the priest treated her views of Holy Communion.

It is just so sad that when she did die, the priest (a different one) thought it would be best if there was just a funeral service rather than a Mass as there would be no living Catholics present. The priest did allow my dad to say a few words at the funeral, begrudgingly I gather; it is sad my family did not see the reasons why this would not have gone down well. I’m not even going to tell you about the cremation and her ashes.

You see, I should be happy (this is what makes me feel worse). I think my grandmother would have approved and been happy and proud of everything that was done for her. I’m just not a sentimental person, happiness is low down on my list of priorities. Just because everyone is happy, doesn’t make something right. There is an absolute Truth, a Truth obfuscated in sentimentality, lazy thought and poor teaching, a Truth that hurts because Love hurts.

3 comments:

Tom in Vegas said...

So sorry to hear of your loss. I have said a prayer for your dear grandmother and for you.

I have some thoughts on the points you bring up, but right now is not the time to discuss them. Perhaps down the road. God bless.

Robert said...

I think you are so right. So much today is defined by a sentimental vision of happiness or personal fulfillment. It's probably the main reason for the failure of so many marriages.

I'm very sorry for your loss, and the added sorrows of the circumstances. Your loved ones may benefit from your prayers and your fidelity.

mum6kids said...

May she rest in peace in the Mercy of God.

When I got up this morning for some reason I was mulling over what the differences between happiness and joy are. I long ago came to the conclusion that "blessed" and "happy" are not synonymous and so that particular Bible translation of the "happitudes" really grates on me.

On the way back from Mass I met a friend I haven't seen in a long time. On the surface we have a lot in common; bad health amd too much to do. But I realised as I left her that I am...at peace...perhaps is the word, and that she is deeply unhappy; she lacks joy.
Happiness is fickle. it comes and goes, sometimes with the weather; but joy seems deeper and more necessary for the soul.
Still haven't quite got to grips with it yet.