Funeral Readings and Homily
Job 19: 1, 23-28 (789,1)
A reading from the book of Job.
Then Job answered and said:
Oh, would that my words were written down! Would that they were inscribed in a record: That with an iron chisel and with lead they were cut in the rock forever! But as for me, I know that the Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; Whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another's, shall behold him. And from my flesh I shall see God; my inmost being is consumed with longing.
The Word of the Lord.
Reid Perkins-Buzo, O.P.
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18 (591)
A reading from the second letter of Paul to Timothy
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is coming to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power, I charge you to preach the word, to stay with this task whether convenient or inconvenient -- correcting, reproving, appealing -- constantly teaching and never losing patience. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires, will surround themselves with teachers who tickle their ears. They will stop listening to the truth and will wander off to fables. As for you, be steady and self-possessed; put up with hardship, perform your work as an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For my part I am already being poured out like a libation. The time of my dissolution is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on a merited crown awaits me; on that Day the Lord, just judge that he is, will award it to me-and not only to me but to all who have looked for his appearing with eager longing.
The Word of the Lord.
Fr. James Marchionda, O.P.
Mt 5:1-12 44
A reading from the holy gospel according to Matthew
When Jesus saw the crowds he went up on the mountainside. After he had sat down his disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them:
"How blest are the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs.
Blest too are the sorrowing; they shall be consoled.
[Blest are the lowly; they shall inherit the land.]
Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill.
Blest are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs.
Blest are the single-hearted, for they shall see God.
Blest too the peacemakers; they shall be called sons of God.
Blest are those persecuted for holiness' sake; the reign of God is theirs.
Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward in heaven is great,"
The gospel of the Lord
This Gospel of Matthew is a very familiar passage to all of us who are preachers. Jesus pulling his disciples aside and teaching them the words of comfort. Teaching them about those who suffer and equipping them with the kinds of words that will help them minister to the suffering, will help them know in his place and in his words how blest are all who suffer. I've used these words many times myself and cited this passage, to speak to those who are suffering greatly. I have also used the words many times to preach to those who are not suffering about how they share in the ministry of Jesus and how they have to pay particular attention to those that are suffering, with words such as these that they might bring the comfort of Jesus to everyone who needs that comfort brought to them.
Every time I read the Beatitudes I always seem to want to add to them, and especially because of the people I've met along the way who have taught me more about the suffering of life. Especially when I meet old people, and old Dominicans, I want to add to the Matthew text, "Blessed are the old, for they shall be reborn....and, they shall be young forever." "Blessed are the tired and weary and weak, for they shall receive strength that the never knew possible. Blessed are those who diminish, and are limited in their abilities, for they shall dance before the Lord. They shall play like a child, once again, before our God..
Whenever I've preached on the Beatitudes or thought about the Beatitudes, I've always been speaking about someone else or speaking to someone else. The Beatitudes and the meaning of the teaching has always been "out there." As I watch our brothers age and become more limited in their own lives and ministries, and as I experience ageing myself, I realize that they come home. It's not just "out there," but here with us. It is right here. And for Dominicans when we acknowledge that that suffering and the Beatitudes is right here among us and we also can acknowledge the challenges that are presented to us, two very important challenges. The challenge that faced Job, the challenge to stay faithful, the challenge just like the challenge we present to the people among whom we preach, to hold on to faith, no matter what. To stand firm in the faith like Job did. To be able to yearn so much for the fulfillment that can come from God alone, that we are afraid of nothing on this life, not even the things that threaten life. We are challenged in the first place to hold on to the inner part of our faith that allows us to suffer too, just like the people among whom we preach. And to suffer well, and to suffer with integrity and dignity, and to demonstrate even through our suffering that we believe totally in what we preach.
That leads to what the second wonderful challenge is. The same challenge to Dominicans that Paul made to Timothy. Preach! Preach, whether it is convenient or inconvenient. Never, Dominicans, stop preaching. Never for a moment. Stay with the task. Hold on to that whether it is convenient or inconvenient. Put up with your own hardships the way everyone else puts up [with] their own, with theirs. Perform, perform the work that you have been given as evangelists. And fulfill the ministries. Fulfill them. No matter what you face. No matter what trials or challenges confront you. You are Dominicans, you are preachers.
We hear that reading from Paul to Timothy at all of our gatherings, don't we, at our professions. We claim that as part of our identity, that we are the Preachers of the Word and we claim that for a lifetime no matter what that lifetime brings. We claim it. As we live it. And whenever we confront death and our own diminishment then we are challenged to continue claiming it no matter what we have to face. The challenge of Paul to Timothy is the challenge of the holy preaching. The opportunity in our own suffering to practice what we preach, and to stand for the integrity of this teaching, no matter who we are or what we must endure.
Into that context, enter Patrick Joseph Clancy, a giant among us for his whole lifetime.
When I entered the Order in 1967 Patrick was just finishing his third year as socius of this province and vicar provincial. In transitioning from Chicago to Rome to be an assistant to the Master of the Order, he was a giant. As a matter of fact I heard all the stories about " the days of the giants," and he came from that era, he came from the days of the giants, he came when Dominicans were courageous and going out across the country, and discovering new frontiers. And he was at the top of the list of those "giants."
For his whole life he taught. I have spoken to people he's taught. He was a fine teacher. He taught Canon Law, Moral Theology, Catechetics, Patristics. He taught here at Thomas Aquinas Priory when it was the Dominican House of Studies, he taught at Dominican University when it was Rosary College, he taught the sisters in summer school at St. Xavier's here in Chicago. He taught at St. Theresa's College in Winona, and Loras College in Dubuque. He was also Dean and Director of Smyth Hall which many of you went through. He taught at the Angelicum in Rome. He served us as a leader here and as a leader in Rome, and he taught his entire life. He was truly "a giant." And at the peak of his years, he represented to all of us what it meant to be a Dominican. And to go out and to teach, and to enlighten, and to preach, and to bring all the fruits of his accomplishment and studies and degrees to the fore, in service of the Gospel.
He was very direct. That may come because he was a teacher. He never minced his words, and many of you who know him, know that. It might be a special gift of the Irish. You never wondered what he thought, whether it was at community meetings, around the dining room table, no matter where.
For many years I was his barber at St. Pius and gave him haircuts. Imagine the earful I received during those haircuts. And even when you thought you were impressing him he came forth with a word of challenge. During 11 years when I lived at St. Pius, he and I shared the two front choir stalls on the right closest to the altar. For 11 years at least 90% of the time I was always late for morning prayer. He always would lean over and tell me what the hymn number was. After one of my retreats to the Trappist monastery at Gethsemane, I decided to change and reform my life. And that from now on I would go early. It lasted a good month. The first day of that month I was there a half-hour before office. Pat opened the door and came in. He stopped and paused and saw me in the stall. He came in front of my stall, paused again. Came around and sat down. Opened his hymnal -- I already had the hymn number. He leaned forward and he said, "What's the matter? Couldn't sleep?"
He was direct, and strong and sure, and clear. No matter what he did.
I met him in his declining years. I met him in what you all now call, "limited service." When he came back from Rome. When He lived at St. Pius for his last years. When he was an associate director of the Shrine of St. Jude and when he worked at ministry...at prayer ministry that the Shrine offers hundreds of thousands of people in this country. It was in the declining years. In limited service that I came to know him and I came to fully understand what "days of the giants" means. We seemed to think that "days of the giants" were days when we were in our prime. I learned from him that days of the giants are powerful in our not-so-prime. We seem to think that the days of the giants were when we were young and vibrant, and energetic and able to run all over the world. I learned from him -- and from Matt Breen-- that the days of the giants shine like the sun. When we can no longer move about freely. When we are not so young, not so energetic, not so vibrant, not so capable, not so able of moving.
What an honor it was to be with him, to accompany him through some of those years of life at St. Pius, and to observe him as he declined, as he became more limited, as he struggled to walk, as he struggled to see. Take him to the doctor and share with him the frustration of things not working like they used to work. And yet see him go up with his walker to his bedroom, open his bedroom door and on his desk there would be hundreds of letters from the clients of the Shrine of St. Jude, that he faithfully sat with his magnifying glass and read so that he could continue praying for these people. So that he could write back to these people, so that he could call them on the phone on occasion, and speak with them. He taught me when the days of the giants truly come to be in our diminishment, when we transition from all that energy to becoming the subjects of the Beatitudes. When we go from being the readers and the preachers and the callers out loud of comfort to people who need to hear that, to the receivers of those same words. But who listen to Paul to Timothy and realize that no matter what we endure we are preachers to death. The style of our preaching might change. But we are preachers whether convenient or inconvenient, and we show by practicing what we preach, that we believe the word that we preach. We show in our declining years and in our personal diminishment, that we believe the Gospel because we refuse to obsess about ourselves and about our health and about our limitations and we continue to work and preach by the way we live. Therein lies a heroism and a magnitude of what it means to be a giant in the Order of Preachers that sometimes far outshines the energy of youth and the ability to run around.
We've been speaking for the last couple of weeks of the heroes in our own country...the people who bravely gave up their lives,...the people who believed in something more important than life itself, the people who never hesitated for a second to give up themselves for something they believed in. Those same kinds of heroes are all around us. We live with each other. We live with those kinds of giants. We live with those kinds of people who demonstrate the preaching charism no matter what they face. Pat was at the top of the list.
There are others among us who are still doing it. There's Oakie, there's Gerald, there's Carlos, there's Regis, there's Paul. One after another of people, who alive in whatever limitations face them are preaching the Gospel. And surely by their fidelity, that they believe more in the Gospel than they do in their confrontations and their diminishments. That's what Patrick Joseph Clancy gave to us. He stayed faithful to his ministry of letters, mail to the Shrine of St. Jude, he stayed faithful and appreciative to members of his family, his cousins here in Chicago. He stayed faithful to friendship, his dear, dear friend Eleanor that our dear Mrs. Molina used to help him visit weekly. He never flinched, he never retreated, he never drew back from preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter how much he diminished, no matter how difficult it became to walk, no matter how difficult it became to see. The more inconvenienced, the louder his voice, the voice of his life. These are the days of the giants. And I wish to say, "Blessed are they who preach when it becomes increasingly difficult. Blessed are they who can no longer see well enough to read the Gospel first hand, but who preach the Gospel by the very way they live among us. Blest are they who diminish more and more, and in their diminishment preach louder and louder. Their preaching will ring out through the heavens, for all eternity." Thank you to our brother, Patrick Joseph Clancy for being a giant among preachers, from day one until the day he died..