Breaking the rules

Life in a parish is a microcosm of what happens in the lives of people.There are moments of great joy and times when the pain of others is searing.For me that first summer in Westfield the pain of another was not just something academic.A vibrant normal 14 year old boy dropped dead on a blistering hot day during football practice.The attempts to revive him were heroic but he was pronounced dead at Overlook hospital in Summit.The Westfield police had a policy that stated in case of sudden
death they would notify the Church or Temple if the family belonged to a particular religion.In this case the family was Catholic and being on duty I was requested to accompany a police sergeant and break the news to the family.Together we rang the doorbell and a woman answered and I could she that our presence was confusing to her.
She knew who I was and there are no easy words to convey the message.When I told her she screamed and collapsed in my arms.I stayed with her until family members arrived and proceeded to contact the funeral director and began planning her son’s funeral.
That afternoon the woman’s sister called and told me that the boy’s mother wished him to be buried at the non sectarian cemetery,Fairview because it was close to her home.Being new and somewhat naive I did not think that this would be an issue.However,I was stunned when informed that the boy could not be buried in non consecrated ground.If the family chose this place for burial we could not have the mass at Holy Trinity.I understood that there have to be rules but I could not conceive that the Jesus I believed in would have been so cold and I uneffected by the pain of this family.A young boy had tragically died and I requested that I go to the cemetery and bless the grave.My request was denied
so I visited the chancery and put forth what I believed was a cogent argument.My premise was that in her grief if this mother were to commit suicide we would bury her on the presumption that her grief had led to that decision.If that be the case why can’t we presume that she cannot make a rational decision and wave the rule so that we can comfort her,again the request was denied because we might be setting a precedent.
The boy was buried by the Episcopal Church in Westfield and though told that I could not attend I sat with the family during the service and proceeded with them to the final resting place.In my heart this was not an act of disobedience but rather a gesture of Christian witness and compassion.

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