31 October 2008

Whatever happened to the Resurrection?

The other day I went to the funeral of a dear friend, Jack; and came away wondering where God had been. The service seemed so Man-centred. There was no emphasis - as there would have been in a Medieval rite - on the need to pray for the dead lest he end up in Hell. Indeed, white rather than black or even purple stoles were worn by the clergy. But this was not an indication that Resurrection Glory had become the major theme of the celebration. It was barely mentioned except in some of the set Common Worship formulae. There were tributes, there was extensive biography; there was indeed a beautiful singing of the Hail Mary, but it was in Latin which, I imagine, must for most of those present have thrown a veil of opacity over any idea that Mary, sweetest advocate of the departed, was at the heart of the ceremony (this is confirmed by the fact that the tributes were all in the vernacular). Dr Cranmer's own typically late-medieval use of funeral rites as a sort of memento mori ... repent, for you will die too ... was also lacking. In few areas of Liturgy can there be as little of a Hermeneutic of Continuity as in those surrounding Death.

I left feeling very weepy, and grateful that divine grace had moved me to say a Requiem for Jack.

1 comment:

Fr.Ogs said...

Dear Fr. John,
I don't suppose Mr. Wesley Carr can be held completely reponsible ('Candle in the Wind' & a 'Sermon' - arguably treasonous - by, shall we say, a notably uxorious layman) - after all, long before the much-disliked 'ASB' Eternity had been abolished. 'Realised Eschatology' ('Keep you in eternal life' , not 'bring you to everlasting life') had reduced Heaven to Earth, so, to the Protestant 'You can't pray for him: he's dead!'notion, had been added the notion that so vexed Basil Fawlty, that this life is all. We are, in Paul's words, 'of all men, most miserable'. Islam at least offers its devotees the prospect of the enjoyment of a considerable number of virgins.
Fr. Ogs