John Paul II or Ted Kennedy?

By | September 1, 2009

Whose funeral Mass had more influence in the area of faith? Pope John Paul II’s or Ted Kennedy’s?

The hot topic over the weekend, and into Monday on Catholic radio airwaves, was the funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy. Was it, many asked, truly a Catholic funeral, or the canonization of Ted Kennedy and the Democratic party’s social agenda? Still others wanted to know if there should even have been a Mass in a Catholic church.

Today, a week after the senator’s death, should this debate, heated at times, continue or will it do us more harm than good? (Yes, we do need to better understand the proper form of the funeral Mass – especially the place of "a eulogy" in the funeral rites. Hint: it’s not at the Mass.) But is it perhaps simply time to commend Ted Kennedy to the mercy of God and remember that we will also face that throne of mercy soon enough?

One of the most thoughtful comments I found is that of Deacon Greg Kandra, News Director for the Diocese of Brooklyn’s cable channel, NET (New Evangelization Television). He posted the following at his blog spot, Deacon’s Bench, yesterday:

I know: people are anguished about the Kennedy funeral. The liturgy, the politics, the conspicuous silence on abortion, the media over-kill…it’s all too much for some folks. They fear many Catholics (and non-Catholics) got the wrong idea about how we do funerals on this side of the Tiber. Some readers have gone a step further, discerning cynical political manipulation in the events surrounding the funeral.
Okay. Take a breath. Everyone. Please.
The funeral may have been more theater than liturgy, and may not have been to everyone’s taste. But what is done is done.
Me, I take solace not in the scattered thousands who watched the Kennedy funeral, in between picking up the dry-cleaning and driving the kids to the pool on a summer Saturday, but in the countless millions – billions? – who dropped everything a few years ago to watch the funeral of John Paul the Great. Lives were transformed that day. In the wake of that event, church attendance soared, conversions climbed. People saw what we are really made of.
For now, we move on, in joy and in hope. We pray that the Father of Mercies will be merciful toward Ted Kennedy, toward his family, and toward us, as we continue our pilgrimage on earth. We are all sinners. We all need whatever grace we can find, however and wherever we may be able to find it. Prayer is a good place to start. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, even better.

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