Friday, July 05, 2013

Celebration Of A Life

I got up this morning and drove through the rain to the Abbey of Gethsemani for the funeral of my dear friend, Father Dennis Borca.  I listened to Mozart on my morning drive.  Dennis was a great lover of classical music.  The Mozart I choose was prayerful and a bit sad befitting the occasion.  The reality of today's event was very apparent as soon as I pulled into the monastery parking lot.  In the drizzling rain, but under a canopy, Dennis's grave was still in the process of being dug.  Dennis had been cremated so the actual grave was rather small.  Eventually I found my way to the small chapel where the funeral mass would take place.  One of the first people I saw was my son, Father Nick.  Much to my happiness, and I'm sure Dennis's delight,  my son was going to concelebrate the funeral mass with the Archbishop and other priests who were present.  It was a very quiet mass.  I did one of the readings.  I started out with a strong voice but began to lose it as I got near the end of the reading.  The more difficult task went to Father Curtis Thomas who gave the homily.  Curtis is a another dear friend of Dennis and his homily was very heartfelt and emotional.  When the mass was complete we walked out of the chapel and down the steps of the Abbey church to what is called the secular cemetery.  The cemetery contains a variety of people dating back to the Civil War era.  The monks are buried in a different cemetery within the monastic enclosure.  The Archbishop blessed the grave and led the final prayers.  When the service was over and people began leaving, I got down on one knee and put my hand on Dennis's urn.  The urn was actually a small wooden box made by monks.  Dennis's name was carved into the box with an inscription that said, "I give myself completely to God.  May He not be disappointed".  It was my final farewell to a man who was my mentor, my spiritual brother, and a dear friend.

I then took my son out for lunch where we had some good conversation.  It was a comfort for me to have Nick there today.  I was very proud of him. 

On the drive home I took the scenic route through the countryside.  This time I played a CD called "The Troubadour of the Great King" by John Michael Talbott.  It's a joyful piece of music, with a medieval feel, that celebrates the life of Saint Francis.  Dennis and I both loved Saint Francis.  In fact, when we first met we were both living in a Franciscan community.  It seemed fitting to listen to something joyful and Franciscan as a way to celebrate Dennis's life.

On the way home, the sun began to shine.        

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