Last Saturday a young couple in our parish, Kyle and Katie Thorpe, suffered an unimaginable loss – the sudden and unexpected death of their 22 month-old son Mason. On Thursday February 5th, Mason’s family and friends gathered with our extended St. Mark community for a Funeral Mass. It was an occasion of great sorrow. We who work in the church as professionals or regular volunteers – clergy and laity alike – are accustomed to the Church’s funeral rites and the various emotions that come with serving at them. But this was quite different.
“Come, all you who pass by the way, and see: is there any sorrow like my sorrow?” (Lamentations 1:12)
In times like this, the Church calls us to reflect on the sacred scriptures rather than on secular or popular words of comfort and consolation. This may seem strange and “aloof” at first. We may not have an emotional connection to the Lamentations of Jeremiah, or the Psalms, or the writings of St. Paul, not the same kind of connection we have to beloved songs or poems. But the funeral rites of the Church call us to plunge ourselves into scripture, for this is where God speaks directly to us.
Thursday’s funeral was filled with God’s voice, both in reading and in song. Take some time today to read these passages and contemplate their meaning. Use these words to pray for Mason’s family.
PROCESSIONAL HYMN: “The Lord is My Light” – Psalm 27
FIRST READING: Lamentations 3:22 – 26
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: “How lovely is your dwelling place” – Psalm 84
SECOND READING: Romans 14:7 – 9
GOSPEL READING: Mark 10:13 – 16
COMMUNION: “Taste and See” – Psalm 34:1 – 9
RECESSIONAL HYMN: “On Eagle’s Wings” – Psalm 91
In the midst of this great sorrow, the funeral presented a vision of what CHURCH really means. There was one spiritual family present at that funeral, and all were there to comfort Mason’s earthly family with whatever gifts they could provide. Many parishioners donated funds to help defray the family’s burial expenses (here is another site if you choose to help). Others served in the liturgy as sacristans, readers, musicians. Dozens contributed and served food for the reception afterward. Hundreds of students from St. Mark Catholic School gave hand-made cards to comfort the family.
The choir from St. Mark School sang the Offertory anthem, a work that was composed three years ago for another family who had experienced a similar loss. For a moment of prayer and comfort, here is a recording of those 5th – 8th graders singing at the Funeral Mass. While these words and melodies cannot heal the hearts broken by such a loss, they provide a comforting balm and a fragrant reminder of the Beauty which awaits us all – the face of Jesus Christ in glory, and the loving arms of his Blessed Mother.