Connecting local responses around the world
There we were, my stepmother, my sister with her husband, me and my wife, gathered around Jos the deacon in the Saint Michael’s parish office in Keerbergen. On this cold Sunday evening, we prepare for Dad’s funeral scheduled for the following Wednesday. It had been a while since I actively participated in the preparation of a catholic ceremony. I had read the guidelines to prepare the funeral, and frankly, I was a bit concerned as I was wondering whether these guidelines would allow us to celebrate dad’s life.
My concerns evaporated as soon as Jos opened the conversation on the first phase of the ceremony, which calls for repentance. “The guidelines tell us to ask for the forgiveness for the sins of the deceased. I propose that we don’t do that. I don’t think this is the moment to establish a laundry list of Louis’ sins. Shall we rather focus on his strengths?” We look at each other, surprised as we hadn’t anticipated Jos’ question! And so, together we reflect on my father’s strengths and build the ceremony around them.
What happened, then, during the repentance phase at the funeral? We did not focus on Dad’s shortcomings, but rather on our own. Jos invited us to ask for forgiveness for all the occasions when we did not appreciate enough my father’s strengths. I then realized such occasions were many! Here I was, promoting SALT around the world, but falling short so many times in my approach to my own father!
People say that I am Dad’s carbon copy. I always took this comment as pertaining to my physical appearance. But as we proceeded with the celebration of Dad’s life, it dawned on me how many of his strengths he had transmitted to me and possibly through me to others…. This realisation made me pronounce the final farewell (attached) with a sense of peaceful joy. See%20you%20again%2C%20Papa.pdf.