Today is the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. The Feast of Christ the King is an opportunity for us to reflect on the place of Jesus in our lives. Jesus Christ should always be the very center of our lives and existence. Is there any one person more important in our lives than Jesus? It may be easy for us to say yes to this question on an intellectual level, but is it something we truly believe and live out in our daily lives? As we go about making decisions in our everyday lives, how much of an influence do we allow Him to have? Do we make these decisions based on the wisdom or knowledge we have of the world and what will work best for us, or do we really take into account what the Gospel teaches? If Jesus is truly our King, then we need to try to make these decisions based on what He and His Church teach.
Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, a time for us to stop to thank God for all the many blessings He has bestowed upon us. Thanksgiving Day gives all of us the opportunity to recognize that it is God who has given us all the good gifts we have received. We cannot truly celebrate this holiday apart from God. The very word thanksgiving implies that it is God we are thanking because who else could we possibly be grateful to for all that we have. As we thank God for all His blessings and gifts this Thursday, we should continue to pray for our country so that we, as a nation, will turn more and more to God so that we may be instructed and enlightened by His Word, especially His Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Savior. This is the supreme truth, and we must witness to it so that all people will come to embrace the TRUTH that Jesus is Lord. There is no better way to do this than by coming to Mass on Thanksgiving Day at 9 AM in the church. Please remember to bring an offering of nonperishable food items to be brought up in the offertory procession.
Continuing our thoughts on death during this month of the Poor Souls we might consider the many things family members may do at a funeral Mass. A family member may proclaim the first and second reading, as long as they are able to do so effectively and with the reverence that should always be accorded the Word of God. The death of a loved one is a difficult time for many people so we should make sure that anyone who is asked to be a lector at a funeral should be able to maintain their composure while performing the ministry of lector. The family members may also place the pall over the casket at the beginning of the funeral. They may bring forward the gifts of bread and wine. Again, this should be done by members of the family who are also able to receive our Lord in the Eucharist. I ask that you please keep these guidelines in mind as you plan your own funeral or the funeral of a loved one. On our parish web site (shofjesus.com) you will find funeral planning information which will help in planning a funeral with a selection of readings and hymns; just go to the Mass and Sacraments heading and click on Funeral Arrangements in the drop-down menu.
Concerning the eulogy that some often request to be given at the funeral Mass; the Church clearly teaches us that a eulogy does not belong in the funeral Mass, but it is better given at the wake, at the grave, or at the gathering following a funeral. A homily is to be given by a bishop, priest, or deacon at the usual time. The homily is a time for the priest or deacon to reflect on the scriptures that have been chosen for the funeral Mass. This would include reflecting on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by which He won for us the gift of eternal life. The scriptures offer us a great deal of comfort and strength in our time of sadness by reminding us of the hope that God holds out to us of everlasting life with Him.
After Communion, our thoughts should always be centered in Christ and His gift of Himself to us in this most holy Sacrament. This is not the time to talk about the life of any human being. The funeral Mass, as any Mass, is a celebration of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Mass is about Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. The funeral Mass is a time for us to present the dead to Christ and commend them to almighty God for a merciful judgment. It is a time for us to pray that the sins of our loved ones may be forgiven so that they can share totally in God’s life and love.