Earlier this week I attended the funeral mass of a departed fellow parishioner. He lived a very full life – and lived it well.
His wake and funeral mass were a somber and fitting going-home for my departed brother in Christ and a corporal work of mercy for those most devastated by his passing. They also were a serious reality check for me.
Unlike me, many who were there had known him for decades. “If you didn’t get to know [him] like I did,” said one, “you missed out on a real man.” And that much was very clear. The sanctuary was packed as full as we usually only see around Christmas or Easter. His pre-funeral wake was a never-ending string of tributes from those whose lives he had touched along the way.
But his grown daughter’s cries of “Daddy” before his open casket made me think about my own little girl, who at this writing is due in less than three weeks. One day it’s going to be me in the box and my daughter and her mother in the front row, God willing. I should remember to act accordingly in how I serve my God, my church, and those around me, especially my family.
I’ve written before about why I keep a spiritual devotion of memento mori, that is, reminding myself of my own mortality. More than simply keeping a facsimile of a skull on my desk or being reminded through films, this was a real-life reminder of what a Christian husband and father should want his legacy to be when he goes on to his reward.
This man lived a life worth emulating. His deeds may not go down in history and books alongside the great saints and evangelists, but he was definitely what Pope Francis calls “an artisan of the common good” – a man who cared for his family, his friends, his church, and his community through a life of humble, selfless service.
Put simply, this was a man who had faithfully done his job. I’d better get back to work with the time that I have if I want to accomplish the same.