Friday, November 3, 2017

all souls

Tonight I could have watched some of my favorite comic book characters combine forces to achieve a victory over Death. It was the kind of arena-rock scale movie that requires big gestures, broad humor, and lots of noise. 

Instead I went to a requiem mass for all faithful departed, at my local Episcopal church. There were production values there too. Cordial neighbors, marvelous music, beautiful art, lovely building; in the midst of it was a man raising a piece of bread and saying, "This is my body."

And so in the midst of a remembrance of death, of a death in particular, came the gift of life.

As long as we have the story, the bread and wine, the water and oil, each other and the Spirit, we will be all right. 

(Herb O'Driscoll said that; he was right.)

In the midst of a celebration of death, a remembrance of the dead, and a solemn liturgy, a simple gesture reminded us: that in that very moment of perishing, of emptying out, of offering his very substance of life, the Christ Jesus did achieve a victory over death - a victory that was final. And has yet to be completed. As we have yet to be complete. For we are part of that victory. 

Not by bombast or melody, not by might or mousy self-erasure, but by a simple act of substance: a giving of ourselves commensurate with that victory: total.

And in the midst of it, amidst well-meaning neighbors and uncomfortable feelings breaking me out of the spell of the liturgy, I remembered my mother, who died this past August, reciting for me in June something surprising, a poem she must have learned as a little girl. It was a private smile to share amid the tragic solemnities:

Bean soup
tastes so bad
it makes me mad
when Mother gives
such stuff to me;

But when I pour it 
on the floor
I am as happy 
as can be.

When Mother spanks
I give her thanks 
for I know
'tis good for me.

Thanks, Mom.

All Souls' Day Mass and Reception 
The Commemoration of All Faithful Departed, also known as All Soul's Day, is this upcoming Thursday, November 2nd. At 7:00pm we will hold a Requiem Mass in memory of all those who have died. You can submit names of loved ones you would like to have remembered at this service by emailing Kelli at by Wednesday, November 1st. The Saint Philip's Staff Singers and the Canterbury Choir will perform Requiem for My Friend by Zbignew Preisner and In Paradisum by Eriks Esenvald, in what will be the Southern Arizona premiere for both works. Following the Eucharist there will be a reception hosted by the Parish Life Committee in the Perry Garden. Please don't miss this wonderful and moving service!  -- from the parish news, Saint Philip's in the Hills, October 26, 2017.