Monday, May 4, 2015

Impressions of a Vigil and Funeral Mass

Lt. Col. H. Clifford Colvin,
requiescat in pace
Ms. Barbara Etter of Bend, Oregon, writes here about a vigil and a funeral Mass she attended recently in Baker City, Oregon, at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral parish. The deceased was Lt. Col. H. Clifford Colvin, a local parishioner who served with great distinction in the US Marine Corps.

Vigil and Rosary
 Introductory Rite:
The greeting of the body at the church with the sprinkling with Holy Water was followed by the family placing the pall on the casket.  During the procession the small schola (two singers) sang the Latin chant Subvenite Sancti Dei.  When the casket had been brought to the front of the Cathedral, the cross was placed upon it.  Father Colvin then extended the invitation to prayer and sang the opening prayer.

Liturgy of the Word
The first reading:  1 John 3:1-2  We shall see God as He really is.
Responsorial Psalm, also chanted in Latin was Unam petii a Domino
Gospel:  John 14:1-6 In My Father’s House there are many mansions…. This was sung by Fr. Andrew Colvin.  Fr. Colvin proceeded to give a homily which included reminiscences of growing up in the Colvin family and the intensity of his father’s faith, how he lived his faith, and instilled the Catholic Faith in his children.  It made me think what it would have been like to grow up in a caring, sharing, faithful family.

Recitation of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Reading of the poem High Flight was done in honor of his being a Top Gun fighter pilot.
Prayers of Intercession included the litany, the sung Lord’s Prayer, and the concluding prayer.
Concluding Rite was the Blessing and the hymn “For All the Saints” led by the folk group.  We sang all eight verses so it was the first time I had heard some of the verses.
We were then invited to come forward to pay our respects.  When it was my turn I could not help but give a salute and say, “Well done Lt. Col. Colvin.”

Afterwards, I heard people making the comment that it was so good to hear Latin chant in the Cathedral again.  To me it was touching and prayerful; in fact when I closed my eyes it sounded as if the Angel Gabriel was singing with a soft voice of another angel.  I don’t know how it was done, but the two voices sounded like a whole choir of heavenly angels. It was a beautiful experience for me.   I can only dream of having such a beautiful wake service.

Funeral Mass
This was a concelebrated Mass with several priests and two prelates: Bishop Liam Cary (in choro), Right Reverend Joseph Stanichar (of  the Duchovny Dom Monastery near Weston, Oregon; Ruthenian Rite), Reverend Andrew Colvin (son of the deceased), Reverend Robert Greiner (Cathedral Rector), Reverend Stanislaw Strzyz , and Reverend Andrew Symakowski.
Gold vestments were worn.

I had never met a Ruthenian Rite priest or prelate before, and found Father Stanichar’s vestments striking; he had no miter, but a gold crown of sorts.  It was beautiful.  When it was time for him to pray his section of the Eucharistic Prayer (Roman Canon), he sang it.  He told me later that they always sing their prayers, that prayer should be sung.  I thought that was interesting; by singing, one is not just saying words, but is also lifting one’s voice to God in true prayer. Perhaps that is why we sing the Divine Office.  I learned something new from him. [Ed. note:  Father Stanichar is a mitered archpriest of the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Rite; he is not technically a bishop, but is given the right to wear the vestments of a bishop.]

The Mass itself followed the Novus Ordo funeral rite, but instead of all being English, most of the singing was Latin Gregorian chant.

Introductory Rites
The opening song was “On Eagles Wings” (folk group).  The entrance procession was the Introit antiphon Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis, followed by several verses.
The Kyrie was from the Requiem Mass, using double, not triple, invocations, but it was done in Latin.  The Gloria was sung by Fr. Colvin himself.  I don’t remember ever singing a Gloria at a funeral Mass before, but I do not know all the rubrics of the Easter Octave – maybe it is done at this time.

Liturgy of the Word
Following the proclamation of the first reading the response Requiem (same as the introit antiphon) with psalm 112 v.7
The Gospel Acclamation was Alleluia alleluia. Laetatus sum in his quae discta sunt miki: in domo Domini ibimus. Fr. Colvin sang the Gospel if I remember correctly. A homily and General Intercession followed.

Liturgy of the Eucharist
The offertory hymn was the traditional text of the prayer Domine, Jesu Christe…..
The Sanctus and the Agnus Dei were sung in Latin from Mass XVIII, not the Mass for the Dead. The Agnus Dei used Miserere nobis instead of dona eis requiem.  This is the rubrics for the Novus Ordo Mass.
The Communion Hymn was the antiphon Lux aeternam luceat eis, Domine, cum sanctis tuis in aeternam: quia pius es. This was with the verses from  psalm 130.

Final Commendation
The Responsory was Libera Me…  The Song of Farewell was the antiphon In paradisum… followed by the Prayer of Commendation with the antiphon Chorus Angelorum.

The concluding song was the Navy Hymn: “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”, with all verses, including one that was written especially for the Marine Corps:

            Eternal Father grant we pray to all Marines both night and day
            The courage, honor, strength and skill their land to serve, Thy law fulfill
            Be Thou the shield forevermore from ev’ry peril to the Corps.

At the reception afterwards, I was approached by several people who heard me singing and said, “Keep up the good work.”  Again I was told that it was good to hear chant in the Cathedral.  Two people even looked at my Liber Brevior [which includes Gregorian chant propers for Sundays and major feast days in the Extraordinary Form]. Maybe this is a sign that perhaps chant will come back now that people have heard it and know it can be done.  I know if people only had the opportunity to hear chant again it would be used more frequently.

This is almost the way I would envision my funeral to be, but… in the Extraordinary Form.

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