I attended the funeral of a young man I taught in 8th grade religious ed today. He was a good guy: fun, sassy, typical 8th grader. He helped me one year in the kitchen for vacation bible school and when we had a break, we went out to the basketball courts when the director was not around and played a round of "P.I.G." I won, even though Matthew told me quite frankly that I didn't have any "ups."
Bless his heart.
He was killed in an ATV accident on Tuesday.
I knew I would attend his funeral because I know his parents from church but mostly, because I liked him and was hoping that he knew how well he was loved; he was loved tremendously.
The same priest who heard my *confession* presided over mass. I told him if he needed help with distributing Communion, I would be honored to help him; he said he'd been trying to reach me and my phone number was disconnected. I said, "yes, I know -- I will call you next week." I ended up helping with Communion, but I will save that for the end of this post.
I paid my respects to family and prayed for Matthew at his open casket for the repose of his soul, made the sign of the Cross, kissed my hand and put it to his hand. I know he was a good kid and and if God used me at all, it was to lead Matt to Himself. I pray that occurred.
There was no eulogy. I watched from my pew, teenager after teenager mournfully hugging his mother, the balance of the family and then his father further down. They were tall and lanky, short and stout. So many precious children of God, hurting, tears streaking their faces as they stood awkwardly as Matt's parents hugged each and every one of them. My heart ached, but I felt a peace that surpassed the scenes I witnessed: I knew Matthew was with God and what rejoicing he did.
Not surprising, there was no eulogy. However, the homily of the priest left a lot to be desired. Not knowing the full details of the accident, something came up in me very strongly that Msgr. used it as an opportunistic moment to *preach* to the teens that stayed for Mass. It was a tragedy, there is no doubt about that; however, did the details about Matt's using the ATV as his own choice (*read: w/out permission) need to pay into the sermon that should have brought peace to his family and friends but instead, made me feel uncomfortable in my seat and wonder wtf he was talking about.
I seem to be down on this priest right now, but I am wondering: if you have a room full of teens and you want to teach them about the love of Christ, should you continuously refer back to the "bad decisions you can make" as a teenager "seeking thrills?" It's just wrong on so many levels.
So many levels. It was sickening.
Forgive me for my trespasses, I've had a a few drinks this evening.