Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Marine from Virginia died on Friday in Iraq. Another family starts this journey.

The main body of the church was full: there was family which had made the drive from New York, my family from the West, my husband's two brothers who were local, and friends who had come from as far away as Texas and Georgia and Indiana or who lived nearby but we had fallen out of touch for several years. Nearly every priest who had ever known Thomas as a parishioner came, and the bishop of the Military Vicariate. The 10:30 singing group had volunteered to provide music and, since they were the people Thomas had heard most often, we accepted happily. We had asked that people donate to Catholic Relief Services in lieu of sending flowers to the funeral but some had gone ahead and sent flowers (which we later realized Thomas had asked for on his instruction sheet. Hopefully he forgave us).

The service began with "The Song of the Body of Christ". I haven't found a sung version online, but the words are here: http://www.spiritandsong.com/jukebox/songs/13460 I have always loved this song, even if it did make me cry before all this happened. You can imagine the effect now.

I don't really have much in the way of clear memories of the liturgy. I thought Fr. Kazista gave a good homily--he had known Thomas when Thomas was very little and he was pastor at St. John's when Thomas was confirmed. We had reminded Fr. Kazista that Thomas had taken St. Maximilian Kolbe's name for Confirmation when he was fifteen and he used that story. I remember expressing the wish that Thomas had picked a saint whose claim to fame was not self-sacrifice, though perhaps some would now find it prophetic. Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was a Franscisan priest imprisoned at Auschwitz who had offered his life in place of the life of a young Jewish father (these executions were punishment for the escape of other prisoners).

We took Communion standing very close to the casket. As we were in the front of the church and kneeling, we could only see the people who passed directly in front of us, many of whom I did not know. I could only think that Thomas knew many, many people we never heard of because he just did not talk much about his life outside of home.


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