SEPTEMBER 27 2009, Vol 59, No 20
A pilgrimage on foot
The attraction of walking hundreds of kilometers towards an assured destination grew on me, day by day, from the moment I discovered an ancient pilgrimage path in Spain. My month-long journey on foot across the steep slopes, lush valleys and forests of the Pyrenees, and through countless small towns and villages, was part of a subconscious quest to find depth and meaning in my life.
At the age of 33, I was approaching - prematurely, perhaps - what seemed to be a mid-life crisis.
Suicide is a tragedy. Whatever the motive might have been, the family never fully gets over the pain or the questions. Each family member will spend the rest of his or her days wondering what could have been said or done to prevent such a death. All too often, in spite of the queries, the answer is that there was probably nothing that would have made a difference. Until the very last spark of life was extinguished, the one who died knew that there was a place where, regardless of everything, those who loved him or her would have shed their own last drop of blood to protect and defend someone who was so precious and central to their own lives.
CATHOLICNEWS: What is a Catholic funeral, and what is its significance?
FATHER JOHN-PAUL TAN: A Catholic funeral is essentially there to pray for the deceased and to console the family members at their loss. Liturgical symbols remind us of our gift of baptism and its promise of eternal life. These prayers and symbols reassure faith and give hope during this time of grief.
“In the Catholic tradition, the Mass of Christian burial weaves together memory and hope,” said the senator’s Cape Cod, Mass., pastor. “The worship of the Church locates us precisely between a past we reverently remember and a future in which we firmly believe.”
The University of Minnesota academic challenged some 200 participants at the 20th Marriage and Relationship Educators National Conference in Melbourne, held from Aug 27-30, to get involved in promoting marriage.