Thoughts of the Old Man II

The eulogy almost didn’t happen. My sister-and-law and I met with Father Maurice just before the funeral mass to tell him which readings we had selected and ask at which part of the ceremony I could give the eulogy. “But we don’t do that,” he said. “It’s a directive from the archdiocese…”

Minutes before, as I was walking to the church with my niece, I had told her that I was expecting Father Maurice to protest. I could tell from the brief and largely useless meeting my family had had with him the previous Saturday that he expected us to select one reading from the Old Testament to be read by a lay person of our choice, one from the New Testament he would read, and four “universal prayers” — which included some drawing from the freakin’ Apocalypse! — to be read again by a lay person of our choice. “That’s how it’s done,” he told us, “and that’s it.” So once we returned home and my brothers and sister started talking about a eulogy, I thought to myself, “That’s not going to go over very well.” I, the partial namesake of Father Maurice, never got good vibes from him, the personification of why I left the Catholic Church as a teenager, never to return.

— Right now I don’t really care about the archdiocese,” I told him.
— But if I give in to one, I’ll have to give in to all the other families,” he clipped back. But seeing he’d be Swiss cheese if my hazel eyes had been the barrels of two loaded guns, he tentatively added to his defence, “It’s something that should have been done at the funeral home.”
— My family chose not to have a funeral home visitation for my father, so this is the only opportunity we have to bid farewell to my father. You can’t deny us that.”

My sister-in-law by my side, she added after a short pause in this duel between the two Maurices, “Father, perhaps a bit of flexibility…”

To that he whisked us out of the sacristy, nodding simultaneously both yes and no, but indicating he was caving in.

— Did you have that argument ready for the serving?” my sister-and-law asked me as we were walking away.
— Nope, it just came out,” I said. “I just couldn’t bear the thought of having someone else dictate how to bury my father.”

Though he relented, add this incident to my list of why (alas, unlike my father) I consider the Catholic Church evil. Plus Father Maurice’s line to the effect that “it’s a directive from the archdiocese” and “if he gives in to one..” are stunning illustrations of cowardice and refusing to assume responsibility for personal preferences. There was no need for me or anyone to go through such unpleasanteries minutes before the funeral of the patriarch.