Ted Kennedy: mercy or damnation? What do real Christians think?

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In the week since the obsequies for Edward Kennedy, Senator, not a few self-appointed ministers of God's justice and mercy have rendered their judgement: the Senator should not have been buried using the rites of the Catholic Church. Interesting.

The sacred Liturgy tells us what we who are baptized believe: we are sinners and God's mercy is in abundance. Sinners need and want mercy from God almighty. I want and need His forgiveness and His tender embrace. I am sure Ted Kennedy wanted the same. Since I was not at his bedside when he was sick, nor did I hear the Senator's confession and nor was I present when his priest gave him the Sacrament of the Sick, Viaticum and the Apostolic Pardon. Presumably he received these sacred rites before his death. In short, I don't know the state of his soul. I do know that he wrote to the Holy Father and a kind reply was received.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley has been criticized for being a pastor of souls; he explains as much on his blog this week. The bishop of Madison, WI, Robert Morlino, has a wonderful piece on this subject and I highly recommend your reading it. Use it for you lectio. Bishop Morlino's reflection is found here.

Is a lack of mercy to a sinner the demonstration of Christianity's decay? What virtues are being taught and lived when Christians so violently pontificate that mercy is not possible for the sinner, even such a public sinner? Does Christianity have any real meaning left? If we break mercy from the Christian life then we no longer have a Christian religion that leads one to salvation in Christ. To whom do we witness: Christ or the self?


Because funerals have become 'celebrations of life' rather than prayers and sacrifice offered for the continuing journey of the dead, those who do not find the life worth celebrating will object. In other words, had the funeral been about prayer for the deceased rather than civic beatification, there would have been less to object to. But don't mind me, I turned it off when--amidst a crowd of outstanding musicians--they failed to sing the Alleluia.

I agree, funerals rarely use the words mercy, forgiveness, purgatory, etc as they tend more to canonization ceremonies. I do think, however, a distinction needs to be made between speaking about the mercy of God and willingness of the Church to offer the Mass for people like Ted Kennedy and the sloppy ceremonial & weak liturgical theology. Some people will not allow sinners to be buried from Church. What I saw of the funeral Mass I was highly disappointed in because it was so poorly done. While music was fine it was not appropriate for the funeral Liturgy; the introductory rites were ugly, etc.

From what I read on the Sacred Music forum, the lack of music for the Ordinary parts of the Mass appears to have been an attempt to make the funeral imitate the Mass offered for JFK in Washington in 1963; that was a low Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral.

I didn't watch this Mr. Kennedy's funeral, because it was easy to foresee the civic beatification Br. Charles mentioned.

A few days before the event, canon lawyer Ed Peters explained the law on Catholic funerals on his blog at www.canonlaw.info, and that made it clear enough that Mr. Kennedy was indeed qualified to get a Catholic funeral, so I don't object to that. And I don't mind that Cardinal O'Malley was there.

If I do write to the Cardinal in protest as one of his subjects, it'll be about the Archdiocese's cooperation in liturgical abuses.

It is hard enough for conscientious pastors to keep funerals focused on the worship of God and on prayer for the repose of the departed, and many funerals fall short in this regard; some become undignified exercises of cheap sentiment. So when the Archdiocese lets a high-profile funeral include three eulogies, all of them apparently contrary to liturgical law, the Church is not being served well.

The Archdiocese's own regulations authorize one eulogy, something which the universal Church forbids, so it seems as if the local church's rules may themselves be contrary to law.

On top of that, according to press reports, the celebrant ad-libbed his own clumsy changes to the prayers of the Mass to make them "gender-neutral", so to speak; and the intercessions referred to a laundry list of public policy initiatives.

I thought the prayers of intercession were a wonderful and moving part of the Mass. It was quite emotional for me.

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Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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This page contains a single entry by Paul Zalonski published on September 5, 2009 11:47 AM.

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