The particular lesson that I learned this past week was the value of ritual. I was reminded of its value when the ritual wasn’t present at a time in which I was accustomed to having it at the front and center of events. There was something missing and I felt uneasy about moving forward. Quite simply, I realized that rituals have helped me during my entire adult life to say good-bye to relatives and friends who have died. The experience this week of the absence of ritual was both disconcerting and enlightening at the same time.
The Catholic funeral rites have three main “stations”: (1) the visitation, (2) the funeral liturgy, and (3) the burial. As a life-long Catholic I have become extremely comfortable with this solemn ritual. It is how we grieve; it is how we pray; it is how we say our farewell. This process gives us hope in the resurrection as we express our trust in Jesus Christ. We can still grieve, pray, and say good-bye without the ritual, but the solemnity of the funeral rites are a bountiful treasure indeed. I, for one, am grateful for this blessing of the Church.