The memory and sadness of Fr. Maciel’s death that went without the recognition, the thanks and the heartfelt farewells came back to me. He received no acknowledgement from the Church he served, there was no celebration of his work or achievements, his funeral was hastily and perfunctorily carried out in the backwater of Cotija, attended only by those fortunate enough to be called in by the higher powers. The entire affair was shrouded by a furtive and clandestine fog.
Other Founders of our time (J.M.Escribá!, Mother Theresa!, Chiara Lubic!) were celebrated by their Church and the obvious affection of the many people whose lives they touched. Fr. Maciel himself never imagined the final chapter of his life being written in such ignominious shorthand. There was to be a crypt in Rome, a pilgrimage of LC and RC members, unabashed signs of gratitude and admiration...
It has been a hard pill for us to swallow. It was an event we should have been allowed to experience as a congregation and a movement and it was callously taken off the agenda at the last minute. And the leadership of the LC has opted to leave each of us with our own doubts, questions and frustrations as it has all gone down.
When Fr. JME died – has it been three years already? – I could not attend the funeral, much to my deep regret. He was a friend and a mentor, a sage and a humble brother. He was kind to a fault, had a razor sharp wit and could be piercingly critical. I quote him frequently to this day. He was an LC that gave hope to many other LCs and RCs because he would go beyond the packaged advice and tired clichés that, unfortunately, often pass for spiritual direction in our system and he would speak from the heart, with real compassion for others, with depth and thoughtfulness...
Anyway, I missed the funeral because in Chile there is no practice of embalming, no routine of funeral homes that give family and friends a few days to arrive. Folks are normally buried within 24 hours of their passing. That’s no one’s fault. I simply couldn’t get there on time.
In retrospect, it was probably better for me that I be absent. There was no sincere tribute paid him at his funeral and again the LC was incapable of truly celebrating the life and legacy of one of its great men. The local superior at the time - a self-absorbed, politically astute homunculus who had little use or admiration for Fr. JME in his lifetime – was hopelessly off the mark when he delivered a generic homily that only served to reconfirm his blatant detachment from all that is real or important to the rank-and-file of the LC and RC. It was the same homily that he rattled off at two other funerals of deceased LCs.
And they think we don’t notice.
# posted by Fr. Karras @ 11:06 PM on his blog here