Today, I listened to two friends cry on the phone. The first, I called to say hello, and he told me of a brother from the Knights who died this week. The fellow was very involved with the youth of the parish, and boys came from all over town to the funeral. They had the maximum altar servers, and numerous other boys who had volunteered. They all lined up after Mass to process with the coffin, standing in the rain when no one else had left yet.
The other was one of my oldest friends in the world, whom I’ve known since I was Allie’s age, talking of the death of his father. He informed me last week of his father’s death, by e-mail. I told him I’d wait till things calmed down a bit and give him a call this week.
He told me of his father’s extreme generosity and forgiveness. His father’s lifelong best friend was arrested for a Ponzi scheme, of which his father was himself a victim, and his father actually wrote a statement asking the judge for leniency. He said that he and his brothers agreed that, compared to that example of Christian forgiveness, battling over the estate would dishonor their father (as they’re having some issues with other family members).
It was very moving. One area where the liberals are right is that, back in the Middle Ages, canonization was as much a matter of popular appeal as Papal investigation. The people would recognize the outstanding holiness of a person and rise up, often on the day of the funeral, calling for the Church to recognize that person as a saint.
We often, myself included, criticize the modern tendency to “canonize” everyone at their funerals, especially the canonically illicit practice of eulogies at Catholic funerals. However, one of the very reasons that is bad is that it detracts from the heroic virtues shown by those who really deserve our praise after their deaths.