Thursday, April 7, 2011

chaplain versus 'chaplain'

"Whatever your personal beliefs, let us use this time to celebrate life and remember that we don't know how long we have on earth. 'John' was a loving husband, a wonderful father. This grave now symbolizes life. And we remember with fondness 'John's' life. God, be a comfort to his family. Let us all have a moment of silence.....Now- let us hear some personal remembrances about 'John.' "

The hospice chaplain prayed these words; nothing about God's judgment and mercy, nothing about Jesus,  really not much of substance. Her entire presentation seemed to rest on the fact that she was desperately trying to not offend anyone. I surmised that 'John' and his family wanted a very secular graveside service and that this is what he wanted. I am not about to 'argue' with the departed. But after the eulogies, a sister in full habit walked up to the microphone and started the rite of committal. Any priest parts were missing, but the rich language of mercy, forgiveness, and heaven were there. This sister was part of the nursing team that made home visits to 'John' for a year. I marveled at her courage in the face of secularism, but then a friend alluded that 'John' had (perhaps) converted with the help of the sisters. Chaplains will meet patients 'where they are.' Making converts in a hospital and hospice setting isn't what professional chaplaincy is about- but the hospice chaplain should have met 'John' where he is now- with a true Christian service. But she was too concerned about offending the Buddhists and New Agers and others.So I was relieved to hear Sister pray.

I love the richness of the following prayers of committal:
Lord Jesus Christ,
by your own three days in the tomb,
you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you
and so made the grave a sign of hope
that promises resurrection
even as it claims our mortal bodies.
Grant that our brother may sleep here in peace
until you awaken him to glory
for you are the resurrection and the life.

Because God has chosen to call our brother from this life to Himself,
we commit his body to the earth,
for we are dust and onto dust we shall return.
But the Lord Jesus will change our mortal bodies to be like His in glory,
for He is risen, the firstborn of the dead.
So let us commend our brother to the Lord,
that the Lord may embrace him in peace and raise up his body on the last day.


  1. Oh yes,I agree.What a wonderful and right prayer she gave.Even brings peace to my spirit now.

  2. May John Rest in Peace - in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen !! Praise to Jesus ! Mary, please pray to your Son for John and his family.

    I'll make that comment anonymously since my identity would compromise yours.


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