Celebrating my brother’s funeral Mass

My brother died last Friday. He had dementia for a number of years, so we were gradually losing him, and in the end his death was a relief, and a release for him. He was 78 years old. He had been a Redemptorist, like myself. As the oldest in the family he led the way, and to some extent my decision to join the Redemptorists was partly due to the fact that Peter had gone before me.

The various authorities relented and gave permission for me to celebrate the funeral Mass. I was glad to do it. Apart from the occasion in which I celebrated a public Mass in the village hall for my seventieth birthday, this was the first time I had said Mass in a church in over twelve years. The location was the Redemptorist church, Mount St. Alphonsus, in Limerick, where I had been superior of the monastery back in the nineteen nineties.

I was a bit nervous beforehand, but to my surprise when I stepped up to the altar and faced the microphone it quickly felt as if I had never been away.  There was only a small group in the church, but the event was streamed and many people tuned in. Standing up there, as I settled into the celebration, for me it was as if this was where I belonged. And when it came to the homily, I had so much I wanted to say, though I did manage to keep it short.

I have often said in recent years that I didn’t have much interest in going back to ministry, if Church authorities were to allow me. But after the experience last Monday, maybe I need to re-think that. Maybe I still have something to give to the ministry, and maybe I would benefit from being able to minister again. 

But, in case anyone gets me wrong, this does not mean that I am now willing to sign the CDF document. That will not happen; and that I suppose means that my ministry days are over. After my experience at the funeral Mass for Peter on Monday last, that is a pity.