Requiescat in pace
February 22, 2016 10 Comments
And so Saturday, I watched the funeral of Antonin Scalia.* It was a most moving service, from the processional
Which is, of course, one of the great old English hymns, based on the 90th Psalm, written by Isaac Watts, a nonconformist, and the father of English hymnody and the tune (St Anne) by William Croft. At his death, Watts’ papers were given to Yale Univesity in the Connecticut Colony, which the nonconformists had founded. Watts is on the Calender of Saints of the CofE and the Lutheran Church 25 November, and the Episcopal Church the following day. Knowing some of that is why it struck me, both because it was a Catholic Mass, and its connections with early America, as so very appropriate.
I’m no expert on Catholic Masses, funeral or regular, although I note that Justice Scalia preferred the Latin Mass, while this was in English, a great gift to those of us not Catholic. My friend Cultural Limits is something of an expert, though and she had some thoughts yesterday on the Mass. Let’s let her guide us.
After what is a typical 24 minute procession for such an occasion, Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington gave remarks of welcome, and apologizing for the seating and scaffolding as the Basilica is currently being renovated. The principle celebrant for this Funeral Mass was Rev. Paul Scalia, son of the judge, of the Archdiocese of Arlington, where the Scalias live. (He has a lovely singing voice and chanted the prayers, and led the congregation in the Our Father chant that every Catholic knows.)
As the Mass proceeded, the First Reading was from the Book of Wisdom* from the Third Chapter read by the Executive Vice President of Federalist Society Leonard Leo.
But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery: And their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace. And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality. Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of himself.
The Responsorial Psalm was a modern setting if the now fairly traditional or a Funeral The Lord is My Shepherd. The Second Reading, Hope Does Not Disappoint from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, was read by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The Gospel from St. Matthew, Praise to You, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth…Come to Me all who are labored and burdened and you will find rest, was proclaimed by a Deacon from the Archdiocese of Arlington.
“We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us. Known only by reputation to even more. A man loved by many. Scorned by others. A man known for great controversy. And for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.” (Fr. Paul Scalia, Homily at his father’s funeral)
Father Paul gave a moving homily relating the connection of the Funeral Mass to Christ, the past, the present and the future, and told a charming story of his father finding himself in Fr. Paul’s line for confession once. Justice Scalia promptly removed himself from the line and later told his son that he’d be darned if he confessed his sins to HIM. Father Paul readily agreed with his Dad. […]
Writer’s note: no, this was NOT overdone for a simple, parish Mass as the Scalias requested. We do this music all the time in my parish. The incense and the bells weren’t even too much. [I don’t doubt anything she says here, but it looked to this liturgical Lutheran, as the next best thing to a state funeral, which would have been earned by his service. Neo]
As is actually liturgically correct at a Catholic Funeral Mass – or because, as Father Paul told us, Justice Scalia HATED eulogies – there was not one. In attendance of note: Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife, Jill, Former Vice President Dick Cheney, Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich whose wife, Calista, is a member of the professional choir at the Basilica, the full Supreme Court, and countless mourners who were not recognized formally.
Do read it all, it’s very interesting, link here.
CL reminds us that:
The Funeral Mass of Justice Antonin Scalia ended with “O God Beyond All Praising,” a hymn set to THAXTED and one of the themes from the Jupiter movement of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” In great keeping of the idea of vocation, Justice Scalia was led to his rest to one of the great hymns imploring the people of doing the job God put you on earth to do. Justice Antonin Scalia was put on this earth to defend the Constitution of the United States, raise a family of good citizens and faith, and give us all an example of courage in the face of adversity. He accomplished that in spades.
Indeed, he was, and he did.
The rightscoop shared a story last week from a US Marine about Justice Scalia:
My cousin is a U.S. Marine. He shared this on Facebook tonight about Justice Scalia:
I once had the pleasure of hearing Justice Scalia speak. He told a story about a small dinner he attended in England. His hosts raised their classes and said “God save the queen.”
He asked his hosts what the equivalent statement would be in the United States. They responded, “God save the President.”
Justice Scalia said, “no, God save the Constitution.”
I’m quite certain that as he crossed over, he was welcomed with the words,
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
And now it is up to us.
If you missed the funeral, or just want to see it again, here is the video