Today I served as deacon at a funeral for a young police officer of Haitian heritage.Today the church was full. Many funerals these days aren’t well attended. Too many people go to the wake and skip the funeral.
Many in attendance were officers in uniform. I can’t imagine how comforting that kind of support is to the family. A social-media friend says that police are a special family and I definitely saw that today.
Likely many of them weren’t Catholic, but I guess with the uniform comes familiarity with ceremony and knowing how to act at such times. They were a very respectful, solemn, attentive group. One mobile phone went off during the Eucharistic prayer, but that’s par for the course — and hey, it was only one.
I chanted the Gospel. To me, one Gospel among dozens I’ll read or chant this year, but some of those present will recall it gratefully for years. To play even a small role in their grieving and healing is beyond humbling and gratifying.
A humble suggestion: If there’s a funeral for someone you know, go. Just go. Whether you’re religious or not, practicing or not.
Sit up front. Participate as best you can. It will be remembered. It does matter.
Steven D. Greydanus is a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Newark and the film critic of the National Catholic Register.