Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Good Day for Religion

A dear friend from Ireland shared this with me. It's so lovely... Something in honor of our ecumenical services that our parish takes part in during the Wednesdays of Lent.

Today was not an ordinary day – For one family in my parish it was a day to say farewell to a beloved one – After ninety years of life family and friends converged on a lakeside village in North Tipperary and filled a beautiful church to overflowing. There they prayed together, sang beautiful songs and shared happy memories of a good and fulfilling life.

None of this would this be unusual but we were in a Roman Catholic church and this was a Church of Irelandfuneral! The deceased had lived in the village all his life – He was, like his surviving family, a part of the place - It was his home and ordinarily he would have been buried out of the local Church of Ireland church in the same village. But that church is now a private dwelling and so not for the first time the local Roman Catholic community threw open their doors so that a member of the Church of Ireland could have their funeral in their own hometown – the place they loved in life. No less than three Roman Catholic clergy turned out to show their support and not alone that but the church choir turned out in force and sang the traditional Protestant hymns with gusto that Wesley himself would have been proud of. It was as one family member observed in the eulogy, like playing rugby in Croke Park. It was a beautiful gesture and an example of true Christianity in action. I would like to think we would be as generous if the shoe were on the other foot.

But there was more to come. The burial was to take place in the Church of Ireland graveyard which is adjacent to the old church. As I and my fellow clergy led the coffin through the churchyard the occupant of the now converted church, a lady from Thailand, and I presume a Buddhist, though I don’t know, lit dozens of incense sticks along the route the coffin was to take to the grave. Totally unexpected it was intensely moving and impressive. I am not well versed enough in world religions to know the exact significance of this ritual but it just seemed right and was yet another example of the generous respect of one tradition for another. Today truly was no ordinary day – it was a good day for religion – a day on which its true role as a source of reconciliation and peace was demonstrated so very well. Would that it could always be so.
(taken from PaddyAnglican)


Debby@Just Breathe said...

That is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this story.

Noelle said...

Thank you for sharing this.

paddyanglican said...

Michelle - thanks so much for re-posting this good news story. I am so glad that it has brought encouragement to others as well as myself.
I have been reading your blog this afternoon and am hugely moved by your experiences and your strength in finding words to express your love and loss. I served for a short time as a part-time chaplain in a maternity hospital and I will never forget the mothers and fathers - especially those who walked the road you have travelled. Yours is a powerful witness - all the more so because of your openness and vulnerability - If we would only show each other our hurts we might be less inclined to compound them.
Stephen aka Paddyanglican

Paula said...

That was beautiful

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