In Lent we remember the passion and death of Our Blessed Lord. Somehow, funerals during this time seem to me to share in a special way in the death of the Lord. That's how I felt this morning at the funeral of a dear man who was a deacon at our parish until he retired a few years ago. He was 87 and a veteran of World War II and the Battle of Iwo Jima. The closing hymn from the service was taken from the Navy Hymn, the verses relating to Marines. I heard that same hymn at my own father's funeral in 1985. He also was a World War II veteran and a survivor of Pearl Harbor. These two men were linked across the years by their service to God and country. It is comforting to think of the veterans meeting together to share stories and pray for their families still on earth. Daddy never knew our deacon, but I'm certain they would have liked one another because they were both honest men without guile like that true Israelite Nathaniel whom Jesus saw under the fig tree.
To bury the dead is a corporal work of mercy; to pray for the dead a spiritual one. Tonight I'm offering my rosary for the repose of the soul of the deacon and the comfort of his wife and family. I pray that he will be welcomed into the heavenly banquet where he and my dad will sing the Navy/Marine hymn together. "Eternal Father, strong to save...have mercy on them."