Friday, April 08, 2005

The Pope's Funeral

It was incredibly windy last night (gusts up to 45 mph) and I couldn't sleep from all the racket the wind was making, so I just got up and worked. While I frantically strung beads on wires and tended to Bagel (whose meds had worn off), I watched the funeral of Pope John Paul II. It was an amazing funeral.

The first thing that struck me was the casket. It was, essentially, a pine box. Cypress, actually, but I'm assured that cypress out there is what pine is out here-- a common, cheap wood-- and is additionally associated with cemeteries. My father-in-law's casket, by contrast, was the most expensive one the funeral directors could sell to my mother-in-law. If I remember correctly, it was adorned with metal relief pictures of the Last Supper (if not, that Last Supper casket was one they tried to sell to Mom). Dad's casket cost as much as my wedding. My father-in-law was neither famous nor particularly materialistic. So to see the Pope, head of a worldwide church, buried in a cypress box was quite moving.

I've been to funeral masses before, but this one was much more interesting. The part I liked best was at the end when the patriarchs from the Eastern Rite did their bit. Besides the fact that Eastern musical ideas are fascinating, it was really awesome (in the non-90's sense of the word) to think that the same rite was being said for the Pope as was said for Constantine. I know the Roman Catholic rites are very very old too, but they just don't seem quite so old when they're in a language I understand.