FishEaters Traditional Catholic Forums

Full Version: Requiem for my father: a rant
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2 3 4
The following is a rant of sorts that I posted on Facebook, so if you're one of my friends there, I may have already tagged you. This is, of course, related to the topic I posted in the ORatory, R.I.P. my father.

His Grace Wrote:My dear friends,

(First, for those who don't already know the details, my stepfather, Joseph Michael Baca, passed away two days ago in Austin where he was residing in a nursing home for the past few months. He was suffering from a brown recluse spider bite on the foot.)

(And no, just because I tagged you doesn't mean I expect you to attend the funeral; this is mostly a rant.)

Now, for the substance of this letter...

Even before my stepfather passed away, I had already envisioned that I would honour him with the most dignified funeral I could manage. At his wake, he, as a veteran of the Korean War and retired Air Force officer, would be laid in state with his full dress uniform and all his medals arranged on his chest. I would give my eulogy and my friends and I would celebrate his memory and keep watch until the break of dawn. Then my stepfather's casket would be escorted to the church for the Office of the Dead and a traditional, solemn Requiem Mass with the Dies Irae and other Latin chants featured in the rites. At the graveside, the flag over his casket would be folded, the rifle team would fire their three volleys over him, and Taps would be played. Perhaps I would have been part of the military detail myself. But one way or the other, my stepfather would be sent to his grave with the dignity I believe is fitting for him.

As for why I bothered to describe all that.... well, as I write this, I've just returned home from Austin, where my stepfather was residing when he passed away two days ago, and where his oldest daughter lives. She is his senior next-of-kin and has authority over what to do. I spoke with her about plans for the funeral, and she informed me that the body has already been signed away to the county clerk's office, and that he will be buried at some government lot (not yet determined) within the next couple of days. There will be no ceremony and no attending party or witnesses of any kind allowed for the burial. While it's good that this is done without any cost, I still feel robbed. There will be no wake. No graveside rites. No military honours. I won't even be able to see my stepfather's body before it's buried!

Because my mother divorced him, I suppose I can't even technically say I'm his stepson anymore. But he was a father to me nonetheless, even closer to me than my biological father; and I was closer to him than any of his quite several children, except perhaps my brother and sister who live with me today. And today, I've never felt like such a failure as a son. I'm also mad that it seems I'm the only one who cares about ensuring he has a proper funeral or any sort of memorial. My mother seems almost glad that he's dead, and I'm turning into a bad parody of Hamlet. I do have one comfort, and that's that my stepfather passed away right before the feast day of the husband of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, another adoptive father; indeed, the greatest of all fathers. And my stepdad's patron saint by name, of course.

Anyway, although there will be no body or remains present, I intend to see that my stepfather has at least a solemn Requiem Mass for the repose of his soul. His next-of-kin has left it up to me to arrange any memorial services, so I'm going to speak to my priest tomorrow and draw up a plan. When there is a concrete schedule of events, I'll let you all know.

Until then I remain yours,

James Thomas More Griffin
I'd like to enlist the forum in helping me with something. Namely, I want to prepare elegant, traditional funeral stationery, such as invitations or cards. I'm not sure exactly what these would contain, though. For example, the FishEaters article on "Burying the Dead" states:

FishEaters Wrote:If the wake takes place in a funeral home, funeral cards, a type of holy card, are usually present (ordered through the funeral home's funeral director), with a Catholic image on one side and, on the other, a prayer, and the name, birthdate, and (pray God) Heavenly birthdate, of the dead. If the wake is not held at a funeral home, one can still order custom-made funeral cards or make one's own.


What exactly do these look like?

They look like these but you could probably make or find better ones. It's usually done via the funeral home.  I bet you could find out what printer they use and go around them, though.  Priests and deacons generally know this sort of thing, as do cemetery office staff. 

I'm so sorry to hear about your step father.  I'll say a prayer for him and your family.
frerejacques Wrote:They look like these but you could probably make or find better ones. It's usually done via the funeral home.  I bet you could find out what printer they use and go around them, though.  Priests and deacons generally know this sort of thing, as do cemetery office staff. 

Those are exactly what Vox is referring to in that article.  They are like holy cards on one side, and on the other the name, date of birth and death, and possibly some short remembrance and then a prayer or psalm appropriate to the memory of the person.  They are made available at the funeral parlor (or in the home) when the wake is held.  If there isn't a wake, or for people who cannot attend, the cards are often made available at the Requiem Mass as well.

People often keep them as a remembrance of a loved one.  I keep the ones from both my parents' funerals in my Missal, and I kept a few extra for my kids.  I also have my grandmothers' and one of my grandfathers. From that site, some of the St. Joseph ones seem nice and possibly appropriate.

But, they don't serve as invitations or notices.  These days those are just printed in the newspaper as an obituary and it give the days and times of the wake and Mass.  You just call up the newspaper and submit an obituary for a small fee.  Some people clip the obituary of loved ones and save that as well.

That's the state of things, but I think you should do what feels appropriate to you.  If you want engraved notices or such sent to close people instead of a notice in a newspaper, that is what you should do.  I think handing out funeral cards at the Mass is a good idea, though, because people do save and cherish these.
I'm very sorry to hear about your stepfather.
In my experience, Quis is right about obituaries in the newpaper.  Also, family members often call each other and their friends to make arrangments known.  Unfortunately, sometimes people don't see the obits until after the funeral is over. 

In this case where there will be no visitation at a funeral home (what my family also always called "the wake") I think it would be fitting for you to design some sort of invitation or announcement of the Requiem Mass.  I'm not sure how it would be worded, but let me think about it for a little while and maybe I will come up with something.

The holy cards would be separate.  People do save them.  I have old missals from my grandma and her sisters, and they each have several from funerals held decades ago.  The link already provided shows them but if you want to see them in real life, PM me your address and I'll send you a couple that I have.

Since there will be no wake or graveside ceremony, maybe you could host a gathering after the Mass.  Perhaps a meal in his honor, with his military uniform and honors displayed?

I'm sorry that you lost your father and I will be praying for you and for the repose of his soul.

-Kate-
James,

How about offering the Gregorian Mass (30 consecutive requiem Masses).  Your step-father deserves and is entitled to it.  When my father passed away in 2005, I had the Gregorian Mass said by the Benedictine Monks at Clear Creek, OK, in the traditional Rite.  I searched but could not find any trad priest who could take time to do the consecutive 30 days.  Not even the FSSP. 

frerejacques Wrote:They look like these but you could probably make or find better ones. It's usually done via the funeral home.  I bet you could find out what printer they use and go around them, though.  Priests and deacons generally know this sort of thing, as do cemetery office staff. 

Thank you. Hmm, those cards aren't exactly what I had imagined... (I had imagined cards with artwork resembling the black-and-white woodcut art you see inside hand Missals).... but I suppose I could reproduce something similar to those in the link.

Vincentius Wrote:How about offering the Gregorian Mass (30 consecutive requiem Masses).  Your step-father deserves and is entitled to it.  When my father passed away in 2005, I had the Gregorian Mass said by the Benedictine Monks at Clear Creek, OK, in the traditional Rite.

I had thought of that, and will consider it. Thank you.
James, I'm very sorry for your loss.  And very sorry to hear about his funeral arrangements.  That's sad.  Will you be able to receive a funereal flag from the government in honor of his military service?  I also like Kate's idea of having a gathering in his honor following the Requiem Mass.

The formal announcements are a lovely way to honor your father.  Having them engraved in black ink by a stationier is both dignified and appropriate.  This link might be helpful in designing them: http://www.thecatholiclibrary.org/gallery/lineart  Friends of mine put this gallery together.  All of the images are free from copyright, so you may use them as you wish.  Depending on when the Mass is and how many announcements you are ordering, you may need to move quickly because engraving is a time-consuming process.

+Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.+
Pages: 1 2 3 4