Friday, May 14, 2010

Why I Pray the Roman Canon

Death, dying, and funerals are par for the course when it comes to priestly life.  Most often, priest seem to approach these issues with a level of profession objectivity that permits them to do what needs to be done to meet the needs of the family.  There are occasional deaths, however, that cut a bit more deeply; the priests mourns not only in empathy with his people but out of his own sadness as well.  Such was the case when I recently learned of the death of Ron.

I was not especially close to Ron, but he was one of those unavoidable types - always around the Church, dedicated to making rosaries for whoever would take them, and speaking to the priests of whatever special message Our Lady had most recently given him.  Moreover, I had special care for him inasmuch as he resided in one of the assisted living facilities over which I have primary care.  In the fall, he confided that he was thinking of moving to Colorado to be near his daughter.  Apparently he followed through on that decision.  That may have been the last time I saw him.  In fact, other than a passing reference to him here and there, I seldom thought of him.  However, where his absence was most obvious was at the assisted living facility where I celebrate Mass on a monthly basis.  Though a daily communicant, he came to that Mass when it was offered.  Since leaving Rapid City, the people of that facility receive occasional updates about Ron which they have passed along to me.  Most recently, I was told that that he had died.  Beyond that fact, I know little about the circumstances surrounding the end of his life.  Neither, it would appear, does anyone else. 

Today, at that assisted living facility, I celebrated Mass for the repose of his soul.  When I arrived to do so, I was saddened to learn that another resident had also died.  Loretta had been struggling with a heart problem for some time.  I visited her before Easter to celebrate the last sacraments.  I had not expected her to survive the week.  She did.  Last week, she and I prayed the Rosary together as she awaited the end of her life in hospice.  She was kind, generous, and grateful.  Hers was a truly holy and happy death.

So, in celebrating Mass with the small Assisted Living community today, I prayed the Roman Canon (Eucharistc Prayer I).  This prayer, besides being most similar to the prays in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (the Old Latin Mass), also provides moments where one pauses to pray for particular intentions by name.  "Remember, Lord," the priest says, "Those who have died, especially those for whom we now pray."  As I pause at that moment, the reality of what I am doing impacts me deeply.  In the Mass, the sacrifice of Christ is perpetuated throughout the rest of time.  In celebrating the Mass, the saving work of Christ is applied once again to those for whom the Mass is offered.  When I pause in the moments called for by the prayer, I have time to recall this truth.  Today, in a special way, Christ's sacrifice was made new for Ron and Loretta.  May they rest in peace.

1 comment:

  1. Someday in the not-so-distant future I hope Gabe will read these posts...


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