February 18, 2018

Friends,

This may sound strange but I had the privilege of celebrating the funeral on February 9 for a 2 ½ month old boy who died very suddenly. I married his parents, both of who I know from Sacred Heart in Roslindale and I baptized his sister 2 years ago. There were more than 500 people in the church most of whom were young and devastated. I use the word “privilege” because I do consider it an honor to be invited by a family to support them during the painful and sorrowful times in their lives. I also am blessed to celebrate the wonderful occasions as well. I guess you could call it accompanying people on their journey, which I believe is exactly what God does. The Church is invited by Catholic families to revitalize the sacred moments that we all experience from birth and baptism through death and resurrection.

With so many young men and women in the church for this funeral, I consider it an opportunity to share my understanding of God’s role in the world. I realize many see God as the one who orchestrates the events and the happenings on earth and is responsible for every blessing and tragedy. I was brought up to believe that, and saw everything as part of God’s will and God’s plan. We were taught that God’s ways were beyond ours and someday we would become aware of why God appeared to be so cruel at times. Until then it was to be looked at as “a mystery.”

However, over the years through studying, reading, praying and my life experiences I have had a paradigm shift in my understanding of God. “Paradigm” to me means “life changing.” I am convinced that my concept of God (and yours) determines everything in my life, especially as it relates to myself, my relationship with others, and the Church.

I now know that God is devastated by tragedies as we are; we us the word “heartbroken” to describe ourselves when terrible accidents take place. Why can’t we attribute the same emotion to God?

Those who believe God is responsible ask “why?” Those who no longer see tragedies as part of God’s plan ask “how?”

I believe God is enlightening us every day and that is why our concept of God is changing. It is much healthier for us, our church and our relationship with God. 

I have come to the conclusion that the closest we come to experiencing God’s unconditional love for us is a parent’s love for their children. Healthy parents would never want or permit any tragedy to happen to their child. If they did we would know there is something wrong with them. Many of you have finally come to the realization that parents’ love for their children is modeled after God’s love for us. Once I discovered that, why would I not want to share that joy with as many people as possible? I had that privilege at this infant’s funeral. So many of the young people at this funeral are raising the next generation of Catholics. If I can instill in them the desire to rethink their understanding of God’s presence and how they speak about God with their children, I will take that responsibility very seriously.

May God bless the Bissonnette and Grande families. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely,
Fr. Coyne

 

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