A couple of weeks ago, a memorial Mass for Michael was held here in Birmingham at the Cathedral. The bishop presided and offered a very nice, even charming homily in which he first focused on the Scripture readings of the day, and then turned to Michael, whom he remembered, among other things, as one who continually encouraged him, among other things, to keep his preaching rooted in the Scriptures.
I blogged about that before, and once the archives have moved over here, I will guide you there, if you are interested.
(Update: It’s this post.)
The Responsorial Psalm at the Mass was Psalm 23.
The Lord is my Shepherd. There is nothing I shall want.
As I sat there listening and attempting to join my weak, unenthusiastic voice to the others, a question came to me.
There is nothing I shall want.
Really? I thought. Do I really believe that right now?
I have written before and will write more at length in the near future about how Michael’s death has body-slammed me into confronting the nature and content of my faith, this faith about which I write and speak, which I have been paid to communicate off and on for a couple of decades now.
There are various dimensions to that challenge. The most obvious is that of mourning loss. Doss the reality of Michael’s physical absence overwhelm my faith in the Resurrection? Am I actually no better than the pagans in my response?
The other dimension is that of the sufficiency of God. As I have written before, in my prayer, which is centered on the prayer of the Church – the Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and then the rosary – I am forced to center my focus, not on my own loss, but on God’s glory, mercy and my hope and trust in him. This is no surprise, intellectually speaking. It was the whole point of an entire book that I wrote – The Words We Pray.
But now ideas, theories and intellectually-accepted notions confront cologne, clothes, shoes and Jacksonville Jaguar hats untouched now for almost five weeks. They confront absolute silence in a bedroom in the darkness of night, a silence undisturbed by breathing, shifting presence on the other side of the bed.
God is God…The Lord is my shepherd…is there really nothing else I shall want?