August 7, 2017

Regrets on the dying

10 Regrets people confess on their deathbeds at Aleteia

Father Nelson Medina, lists the sort of regrets he has often heard while accompanying the dying.

1. For complaining much more that I gave thanks.
2. For the times when I set a bad example and there were people who followed my lead.
3. For my indifference in the face of someone's suffering.
4. For failing to say so many words of praise to those who deserved them or needed them.
5. For claiming credit for my triumphs but blaming my failures on circumstances.
6. For having failed to respect someone's innocence or having blocked someone's dreams.
7. For wasting so much time on empty things...time that can't be gotten back.
8. For taking advantage of someone who loved me in order to get something for myself.
9. For not being careful to guide those I should have educated better before it was too late.
10. For the promises I didn't keep.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:20 PM | Permalink

July 18, 2017

The purpose of a funeral in the Christian tradition

When funeral sermons fail, a review of Speaking of the Dead by Russell Salzman

". . .how does death serve God's purpose? The answer -- biblically and theologically -- is it does not. This is why God must promise to restore all that death claims. The promise of God is to destroy death, the final enemy of God's creation. There is the Good News. But it must be said so we can hear it in our lowest moments. It must be spoken at a funeral."

 Catholic Funeral

An interview with Russell Saltzman, author of Speaking of the Dead, When We All Fall Down, which was written when he was still a Lutheran pastor before he entered into full communion with the Catholic church in 2016.

I wanted to pay tribute to some memorable people to whom I was pastor, their last pastor. The funerals are categorized — children, atheists, nice old ladies, others. But each includes a biography of the person, to the extent I knew it, and the funeral sermon as it was delivered. And each reflects my notion that every Christian life (even for the non-Christian) reveals to us something of the Gospel. That’s what I fish for in the death of the Christian, the proclamation of the Gospel as ordinary people lived it, sometimes in ways they never imagined. Also there are essays on death and dying; my distaste for the “death awareness movement,” and my opinion on what the funeral sermon should say, and what it should not. I had started on the book in 2010, and stalled. I was able to resume work only after the deaths of my parents.
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Death is a hard thing to look at. Christian pastors must not, cannot treat it as a “celebration of life,” just another phrase for denial. Death is the penalty for being human, our reality. And without saying that bluntly, we have no real opportunity to grasp the the equally blunt wonder of resurrection. We must be able to say “as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all rise.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:18 PM | Permalink

March 20, 2017

Ten days after his son was killed in an auto accident ....

From the Art of Manliness Eulogy for Alex:

Editor’s note: Ten days after his son, Alex, drove off a bridge and was killed in a car accident, Reverend William Sloane Coffin delivered the following sermon to his congregation at Riverside Church in New York City.

I was first introduced to this sermon years ago in a college communications course, and I have thought of it with surprising regularity ever since. Its presence in my mind has been so frequent, especially recently after the loss of a dear friend, that I finally decided to share it here. Not because our diverse readership will agree with all of its theological underpinnings, but because I
think  it offers wise advice on what to say (and not say) when someone dies tragically, a poignant window on the human experience, and a lesson in the art of effective rhetoric (hence why we were discussing it in a communications class). It’s just one of those things I think is worth a read by all. Actually, it’s even more worth a listen; it’s considerably more powerful in the oral form in which it was delivered, and the audio can be accessed here (1/23/1983)
As almost all of you know, a week ago last Monday night, driving in a terrible storm, my son — Alexander — who to his friends was a real day-brightener, and to his family “fair as a star when only one is shining in the sky” — my twenty-four-year-old Alexander, who enjoyed beating his old man at every game and in every race, beat his father to the grave.

Among the healing flood of letters that followed his death was one carrying this wonderful quote from the end of Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”:  “The world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places.”

My own broken heart is mending, and largely thanks to so many of you, my dear parishioners; for if in the last week I have relearned one lesson, it is that love not only begets love, it transmits strength......

This is one of the most beautiful eulogies I have ever read.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:27 PM | Permalink