Saturday, May 4, 2013
AN ECUMENICAL REQUIEM
One of our oldest members, Mrs. Margaret Raney, 98 (would have been 99 in August) died this week. She became a Catholic in the 1960's due to her husband being a Catholic. Her entire family, though, is Methodist and Baptist. As with the majority of our funerals, and weddings for that matter, our congregation was predominately Protestant. At these Masses, the wider community in Macon sees how Catholics worship and many are stunned by the beauty and the "worshipful" atmosphere of the Mass. They feel the "awesome" presence of God, as one staunch Baptist family member told me on Thursday following Margaret's Requiem.
This is the homily I preached:
I was always amazed by Margaret. At Tim and Melissa’s house where she celebrated her 95th birthday, she was sure to introduce me to all who were there and did so by naming each person without any hesitation whatsoever. I remember Margaret also inviting me to have dinner at Tim and Melissa’s house prior to that in order to make sure that she could get a good Catholic funeral. We had a wonderful time and we all tried to reassure her that her wishes would be respected and that we would do what she wanted. Last night we had a wonderful Rosary and I think she would be pleased at how well our Methodist congregation did with it! Who would have thought? I know I would not have thought! I have a blog and this will be a good story for it, practicing Methodists praying the Holy Rosary. I know that Margaret must have been smiling down on that.
Today we commend Margaret, LaVona to her family, to God’s loving embrace as He restores Her completely to Himself made perfect in the image and the likeness of Christ.
There are many wonderful things that we can say about Margaret, but the most wonderful thing is that she participated fully in the grace that God gave her to be faithful to Him and His Church.
Margaret was brought up a very good Methodist. In fact very good Methodists make wonderful Catholic converts precisely because of their very good Methodist upbringing which is very biblically based and expects that a person lives by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I think her Christian faith first as a Methodist and then as a Catholic enabled her to abide by the teachings of Christ, to be a good member of her family, to be a good wife and co-worker to be a person who wanted to be involved in the life of the Church, whether it was the Saint Monica Guild or the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus or a volunteer for our Mother and Child Ministry which is now Family Advancement Ministries. She did all that she did out of a love for God and Church.
I am sure the Beatitudes from the Gospel of Saint Matthew was selected for today’s funeral Mass because Margret certainly shows us how to live these Beatitudes. She did so by the grace of God. She knew that by living those as directed by Christ that all of us could rejoice and be glad for our reward in heaven would be great. There was a great peace in Margaret that came from this Blessed Assurance that she had received from God.
Margaret indeed lived a blessed life and was a blessing to all who knew and loved her.
I think what I was in awe most about was her fierce independence and willingness to go, to be on the go, well into her 90’s and all the way up to her death. I was amazed by her driving skills and the two major accidents that she had in her 90’s that were not her fault. The first one a sheriff’s deputy totaled her car and he was at fault and that enabled her to get a brand new car. She was able to drive even when she turned 97 years old. But coming to Mass on Sunday was the highlight of her week, but I normally saw her each Saturday around midday as she did her personal devotions and prayed the Holy Rosary here in the Church. At this Mass we commend her to almighty God and to the eternal Banquet of heaven. She won’t have to drive there, she will be permanently in the presence of the Lord and the communion of saints and she will be praying to our Lord on our behalf. It will be a great reunion for her to be with Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all those redeemed by Christ and to see the angels and saints.
In this Mass we have a foretaste of the heavenly banquet of which the Book of Revelation refers. There shall be no more death but perfect happiness in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living. We pray today that Margaret inherits these gifts as she is made completely new in Christ.
In conclusion we say to Margaret LaVona: "Go forth, Christian soul, from this world in the name of God the almighty Father, who created you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who suffered for you, in the name of the Holy Spirit, who was poured out upon you to defend you, go forth, faithful Christian. May you live in peace this day, may your home be with God in Zion, with Saint Mary, the virgin Mother of God, with Saint Joseph and all the angels and saints.”
Requiescat in Pace
May Margaret LaVona rest in peace, Amen.