If the text recently sent to me really was the homily that Fr. Don LaCuesta preached at the funeral Mass of a young man who suddenly killed himself a few days ago, for which homily LaCuesta has been savaged in the print and electronic media and even (temporarily, I assume, while the facts are sorted) deprived of faculties for preaching, all I can say is, God bless Fr. LaCuesta.
Note, first, how short this homily is. Perfectly in line with canonical and liturgical norms for such cases.
More importantly, and flatly contrary to how LaCuesta’s homily has been portrayed in the media, I don’t see Hell mentioned anywhere, anywhere, nor any language that relegates this poor young man thereto, and instead I see clarion reminders of the mercy of Christ recited at least half-a-dozen times. I see, too, the moral gravity of suicide—itself approaching epidemic proportions among Americans today—directly acknowledged and fears about its eternal consequences candidly admitted, but I also see consoling references to how much more God knows about one’s life than do those even closest to him and how much that deeper, likely mitigating, divine knowledge leaves the rest of us mortals, grieving a suicide, room for real hope. And I see sincere sympathy for the powerless, abject suffering visited on those left behind by a suicide, on people who would have moved heaven and earth to help a child seriously considering self-destruction, but who are now forever bereft of that chance (save for their prayers for the departed, of course).
And yet these few, balanced, honest, words were twice interrupted by family members for their failure ‘to celebrate the life of the deceased’, and the secular media, always ready to encourage a ‘Let’s you and him fight’ scenario when it comes to Catholics and the Church, fomented a picture of this priest as a heartless thug without citing so much as a single independently-reported word of his homily? Criminy.
So here’s my suggestion: when the perfect homily for funeral Masses of those who kill themselves is composed we’ll send it right off to all priests ever called upon to deliver one. Till then, parish priests might want to look at Fr. LaCuesta’s homily for some good thoughts and ideas.
(This post originally appeared on the “In the Light of the Law” site and is posted here by kind permission of Dr. Peters.)
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