|The start of JFK's funeral procession shows the privilege of Christian burial.|
We attended a cousin's funeral today, a very tragic and sudden death. Although shock, grief and depression were what I expected at such a tragic time, I was impressed today with only a very Christian resignation. The grace that her husband and family received was overwhelmingly apparent and instead of witnessing unbearable sorrow, I perceived only peace.
My feelings progressed into meditation as we drove through the funeral procession to the cemetery. People slowed down and stopped at intercessions when they saw the little orange flags on our vehicles, a respectful deferment to the age old dignity of Christian burial. The police acknowledged us solemnly, allowing this ceremonious occasion to override the common traffic laws.
What is this almost patriotic respect people intuitively show to someone laying in a coffin?
Some would argue that respect for the dead is meaningless and empty, a sentiment of egalitarian despondency. Some put on black and stand in Church out of a sense of mediocre decency. But for Catholics it is beautiful, awe-inspiring and even comforting.
A funeral procession exercises Christian privilege and recalls the purpose of civilization, not to guard against death, but to guard against damnation. Those who witness such a formidable occasion momentarily remember the reality of God's judgment and mercy.