Please don’t indulge in godless modern paganism and set up homely, self-indulgent makeshift memorials with cheap flowers and teddy bears. Don’t hold hands and sing bad pop songs.
Go to church. That’s what it’s for. For centuries, people smarter than you and with more finely honed aesthetics worked on rituals that actually do what they’re supposed to do.
Those people who hung around outside the Palace after Princess Diana’s death looked like fools and you will too if you cave to the lure of cheap grace and post-modern superficiality. Those British mourners displayed as much gringe-inducing [sic], pan-generational learned helplessness as Katrina survivors, but their laziness and ignorance was spiritual.
Worse, you will still feel as empty as you did before, maybe more so, and wonder why.
Don’t make America look stupid and shallow to the whole world by Disneyfying your grief.
Kathy Shaidle says what most of us don’t have the wit or courage to say. The Disneyfying of grief is quite accurate, but what has also started is the hobby-horsing of this tragedy in that groups are once again using the pure evil or insanity of one person’s act as a bullet point for an agenda. The only agenda right now should be prayer.
gringe-inducing [sic], pan-generational learned helplessness as Katrina survivors,
You know, as a Katrina survivor myself, I resent being painted with that overly-broad brush. I and my family and hundreds of thousands of my law-abiding, responsible, and competent neighbors don’t deserve to be thoughtlessly grouped with the feckless or criminal characters that appeared on TV.
Other than that, Kathy’s point about the Disneyfication of grief is spot-on.
Amen, Ms. Shaidle.
Anyone interested in the topic of ‘grieving well’ should rent The Queen starring Helen Mirren.
And prayers for the deceased and their families, preferably in church.
By a happy co-incidence this article will appear in my diocesan newspaper next week.
The Quiet Corner
by the Reverend John A. Kiley
26 April 2007
For over sixty years my family home has been directly across the street from Cold Spring Park in Woonsocket�s fashionable North End. The eponymous spring no longer supplies water to area residents and the flower beds of my youth now blend with acres of lawn. The athletic fields have improved vastly and the paths and roadways are neatly paved. Alas, four young men recently and tragically crashed through the wrought iron fence that surrounds the property, three of them dying when their vehicle struck a tree. Since that sad event, a shrine has evolved at the foot of the tree that marked their final moments. Vigil lights, photographs, poems, teddy bears, crosses and angel paraphernalia commemorate their dreadful end. May they rest in peace.
Shrines at the point of death have long been popular in Europe. Flowered crosses are seen along many a European highway indicating someone�s heartbreaking demise through an automobile accident. Nearer to home, the Station fire in West Warwick has produced a veritable sanctuary of vigil lights and floral displays testifying to the loss of life there. Elsewhere in the area, telephone poles into which cars have crashed with lives lost have been turned into private oratories where the bereaved may express their disappointment and their discouragement.
Mourning the dead is a natural human instinct, certainly not limited to Christians. Every culture has built up some mythology regarding death and dying. The frequently visited catacombs in Rome indicate the early Christians� respect for the dead. The churches of Christendom with their votive plaques and memorial inscriptions signify later generations� concerned for the faithful departed. And of course our Catholic cemeteries, as well as cemeteries in general, imply an enduring reverence for those who have gone before.
Until recently Catholics articulated their grief in mostly sacramental, that is, church-oriented ways. Catholics expected prayers at a wake, a funeral Mass, and burial in consecrated ground. They lit candles, sent spiritual bouquets, had month�s mind Masses offered, and requested contributions to their parish church as a tribute their loved ones. Maybe a chalice or a stole was donated to a missionary in their name. And, most of all, people actually prayed for the dead ��that they might be loosed from their sins.� Clearly, grief was expressed through very church-centered customs.
But lately Americans, including Catholics, have taken a decidedly secular bent in their treatment of the dead. Biographical videos of the deceased are all the rage. Wakes and their prayers are �respectfully omitted.� The prospect of a funeral Masses is an embarrassment to those left behind because few go to church anyway. A few prayers at a grave side chapel seem to satisfy the contemporary survivor. Yet, as was observed at the beginning, people still need to mourn. The elaborate roadside shrines bedecked with vigil lights purchased at Shaw�s or plaques bought at Hallmark�s Party Store are an indication of some inner compulsion to express regret and possibly even hope on behalf of a loved one. The eulogy, of course, has become the premier tribute to the dead in our faithless society. Citing the deceased�s fondness for peanut butter or ability on the golf course or another whimsical recollection might temporarily relieve the tension experienced by a grieving family. But in the end these quirky accolades and, with all due respect street memorials as well, are a cheat and a disappointment. They clearly fail to introduce the bereaved to any ultimate consideration of death and life after death.
Non-believers who choose secular mourning rites have already decided that there is no hope beyond the grave. Memories, fond or otherwise, are all they have left. But Catholics who want only a video memorial or a personality-over-theology eulogy or a graveside �service� deny their own traditional beliefs in redemption, judgment, resurrection, heaven, hell, purgatory and especially in the �eternal life� mentioned in this Sunday�s Gospel. Secular rites look to the past and promise nothing. The authentic Rite of Christian Burial looks to the future and promises everything. COMPLETE
Go to church. That�s what it�s for. For centuries, people smarter than you and with more finely honed aesthetics worked on rituals that actually do what they�re supposed to do.”
As for “more finely honed aesthetics” things like taste and aesthetics are positional goods, that is they are a matter of opinion and are used by subcultures and classes to make themselves distinct from the unwashed masses. Tastes in literature, movies, music, and other cultural productions are an indictator of social standing and group membership- nothing more.
Kathy Shaidle is nothing more than a snark elitist.
You constantly amuse me. An atheist troll calling someone a “snark elitist” is funny indeed.
Kathy Shaidly is certainly entitled to her opinion, but her posts definitely sounds ethnocentric, rude, ignorant and frankly incensitive. Setting up a roadside memorial, or ANY type of memorial is hardly “pagan”. This is just stupid. Memorials and shrines have been a part of Catholic tradition since the very begining. I am reminded of an annecdote about the Nazi invasion of Poland; the Nazis rounded up random citizens for firing squads off the street, lining them up and shooting them against a wall in Warsaw. Immediately, people went up and put flowers in the bullet holes. The Nazis were amuzed, and took THOSE people, lined them up and shot them as well. Then another group immediately went up and put flowers in those new bullet holes.
The point is that of COURSE we should go to church and pray. Of COURSE we should memorialize those who have fallen within a Catholic setting. But setting up other memorials (often including a cross, crucifix, votive candles etc) are other outward signs of memorializing the fallen in a way that shows our love for them AS WELL AS our faith in God. This type of display is commonplace in ALL Catholic countries, but the US, being predominantly Protestant has not traditionally seen them. Such displays began a few decades ago with the influx of CATHOLIC Latin Americans, who of course practice this.
To summarize, Kathy, the practice is NOT Pagan, but Catholic. You should be asking yourself why you are so ashamed and adverse to Catholic practices and traditions. I’m guessing you don’t like incense either.
Fr. JAK has it right here, people.
The focus should not be on those who have lost loved ones.
The principal focus must be on the loved ones we have lost.
Souls are depending on us and I fear that Kathy Shaidle is right when she recognizes the disconnect between secular memorials and principally religious ones.
She is obviously not referring to genuine outpourings of grief. She is railing against the memorials that are in essence, remembrances of the mourners, not those who are mourned.
Souls are in jeopardy- they need our prayers. The pain we experience from their exit from this earth cannot distract from our mission.
While everyone is free to grieve in their own way, kudos to Shaidle for her post. She’s dead-on.
How long till the secular media starts the “Why did God let this happen?” claptrap? It seems the only time they want to mention the Lord is to blame Him for not stopping tragedies that we bring on ourself through unrepentant, continual sinning.
Wow, great thread. I was inclined towards Shaidle’s/Fr. Jak’s view until reading QualisRex. It don’t get more Catholic than Poland, after all.
I’m with Kathy. Please no tacky teddy bears, no pop songs. That’s no real grief it’s grief porn.
When there is no faith, there can only be the maudlin.
Dymphna: grief porn … good one!