Friday, August 20, 2021


 Even in the Bible Belt, so many obituaries today indicate no church or faith affiliation and often there isn’t even a memorial service planned. So much for the corporal work of mercy of burying the dead.

Often obituaries are quite banal and written for the therapeutic needs of the writer.  But I saw this obituary this morning and was touched by the Catholic sentiment it contained. I doubt if Protestants or non-practicing Catholics would appreciate the implied gratitude for the day on which this person died, a wife and mother of five children:


November 10, 1937 - August 15, 2021 

Bluffton, South Carolina - CMH of Bluffton, SC and formerly New York City, died last Sunday, August 15 on the Feast of the Assumption. She passed peacefully in her home, surrounded in her last days by family and close friends.

Catherine lived an extraordinary life. Born in 1937 to Irish-immigrant parents, she grew up in the Bronx, NY, where she loved swimming in the sea and school -- especially math. In 1959 she graduated from Good Counsel College College magna cum laude.  She was an active member of St. Gregory the Great parish and traveled to Rome with her church group to meet Pope Benedict XVI. 

Funeral mass will be held Saturday, August 21, at 10:30am at St. Gregory the Great church in Bluffton. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Gregory the Great Church.


TJM said...

Beautiful that she died on a Sunday which happened to be the Feast of the Assumption this year. What a privilege. May she rest in peace

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I hear or read that someone "passed" and I often think of kidney stones...

My obit is written: "Fr. Kavanaugh died on (date). He did not pass, he did not go home to be with Jesus, he did not go to a better place, he did not meet is maker or enter his eternal reward. He just up and died. What happens next is up to God."

178,000 people die every day worldwide. In the USA, 7,122 folks shared the "privilege" of dying on Sunday, August 15th. (Stats from Georgetown University Kennedy institute of Ethics.)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Passed away is a more pastoral way of saying "dying" or less edgy. I think it is fine to say passed away to his/her just reward,which implies they get what they deserve, heaven or hell. I've also hear, they entered eternal rest or born to eternal life, but eternal life could also mean hell.

At any rate, died is just as good although somewhat blunt during bereavement.

rcg said...

Even your passing will be noted where it matters, for if even a single sparrow falls, it is noted by the Father and you are worth more than many sparrows. Soft words are often all we have to offer to the family and friends and express respect for to person of whom we speak. That is feature of Traditional Catholicism.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think too that passing has a biblical tie to Passover in the Christian context of passing over death to eternal life.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The Hebrew pesach, translated Passover, is not a reference to death or to passing from this life to the next. Rather, it refers to the angel of death passing over the homes of the Israelites in Egypt. Pesach means "to skip over," "to have compassion on," or "to protect." It is not a reference to a person dying.

We never say, “Jesus passed away on the cross” or that “Jesus passed to save us from our sins.”

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (Gospel of John 11:25-26), not “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he has passed, yet shall he live; and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never pass.”

Our ritual prayers reflect the biblical texts.

"Remember also our brothers and sisters
who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection,
and all who have died in your mercy:
welcome them into the light of your face."

"To you, O Lord, we commend the soul of N. your servant;
in the sight of this world he/she is now dead;
in your sight may he/she live for ever."

"Into your hands, Father of mercies,
we commend our brother/sister,
in the sure and certain hope
that, together with all who have died in Christ,
he/she will rise with him on the last day."

Are the ritual prayers insufficiently "pastoral," or is the Church being too "edgy" or too "blunt?"

rcg said...

Rather, Fr Kavanaugh, we are responding the dismissive nature of your first comment toward the anguish of the family.

rcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

rcg - I made no mention of the anguish of the family. I work with families of the deceased frequently and am entirely solicitous to their grief.

My comment was on the wording chosen to describe death. It was Fr. ALLAN McDonald who suggested that we should tailor our words to be more "pastoral" or less "edgy." Frankly, I don't think that "he passed" is any less painful than "he died." The reality is the same.

Unknown said...

I tend to prefer, and use, the words "passed to eternal life" or "passed from his/her earthly life". Certainly, eternal life may mean heaven or hell. All anyone left on earth can do is pray for their soul and to the mercy of God. He alone is the ultimate judge. All we do here is speculate and wonder what's over the great divide. Of course, we don't hesitate to opine with absolute certainty on the person's fate, good or bad.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Unknown, if you wish me to publish your comments in the future, you need to enable access to your profile and choose a name. Thanks.

Unknown said...

I thought I did enable access.
I'll figure it out.
Thank you