Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Something in the Singing

So, I’ve been to DC and back since Monday, and I'm tired. Since Christopher lived and worked there, they decided to hold a funeral there as well. I debated whether or not to go given that it is finals week, but finally decided I should. Took the train, which allowed me to do some work. The funeral was nice, and a lot of people showed up—Jesuits, co-workers and people from the community. It was an intense and strange experience. We form such a strong bond as we move forward in formation together, that for something like this to happen is like having part of us taken away. It was good to be there with the other members of my province who live and work in Washington, and with the other Jesuits who were Christopher’s close friends and housemates. It was a time of sadness, but also of celebration. We reminisced about the time we spent working together with Christopher at the pilgrimage in Canada before World Youth Day at the martyr’s shrine in Midland. At one point in the Mass we sang together acapella Ignatius’ prayer from The Spiritual Exercises, Take Lord, Receive . . . It brought me back to a moment in the days when I was considering becoming a Jesuit. I was visiting with the Jesuits at the ordination at Spring Hill College. We gathered for Mass the day before, the Jesuits and a few guests like myself. It was in a small chapel and I remember being entranced by the sound of all these men singing together. There was something special about it, and I may have made my decision right then to be a part of that, a part of something bigger than me, something for God. Joining in song with my brother Jesuits Monday brought that memory back. And even though it was on the sad occasion of saying goodbye to one of our brothers, it still had that quality to it, it brought home to me what a privilege it is to call men like Christopher my brothers and to see displayed in those present, in the words said, the prayers prayed and the songs sung together the care for each other that, though we manage it imperfectly, still binds us because of our common commitment to the greater glory of God. May Christopher rest in peace, and may his prayers be with us in our service to God, our brotherhood, and even in our singing.

Chris attended World Youth Day last summer, and had this to say to Company magazine:

On an upper deck is Fr. Christopher Lockard, SJ, who works for the Jesuit Refugee Service in Washington, D.C., and is accompanying the Marquette group. Despite some fatigue, he is enjoying the experience, taking vacation time to participate. Students drift in and out of his orbit, sitting down for a chat and invariably leaving smiling. "It's awesome," he says, stretched out on the floor in a corner of the boat, sipping a beer, watching the German countryside roll by. "I'm all about encouraging people to improve their prayer and spiritual life," he says, and that can take many forms, including pilgrimage, perpetual adoration, and social justice work, all of the things Magis participants engaged in during their time in Europe. The key, Lockard reminds, is always to challenge the self. "There are other ways to encounter Christ," he says thoughtfully, "not the least of which is each other."

(Tomorrow, I'll tell you about what happened when I got back!)


Blogger angelmeg said...

"It is good to die a Catholic," isn't that a quote from Oscar Wilde?

Community is one of the great things about Catholic Mass of Rememberance. We gather to celebrate life and share the experience. I am glad you could go.


4:23 AM  
Blogger ShadowMayhem said...

That sounds butiful. Alas I had a final monday night, I wish I could have gone, the entire "family" (jebbies,friends coworkers) were in my prayers.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Huck said...

Mark - Went to Christopher's funeral mass at Loyola this morning. Sat next to Larry who, as you know, entered the novitiate with Christopher. I've honestly never been so sad, and I only knew Christopher a little bit. Perhaps it was because I attended Christopher's first mass as a priest in the same chapel his funeral mass was held.

He and I did have some close moments in Mexico City some 10 years ago, when we happened by chance to be there for an extended stay and we made a point of getting together a couple of times.

The singing that so impressed you about the Jesuits back when at Grand Coteau had its powerful moment today. At the end of the mass, when Christopher's casket was being loaded into the hearse for the drive to Grand Coteau, in a completely unplanned moment, his and your Jesuit family, these lovely, grieving men, began to chant the Salve Regina. It was a beautiful moment. I'll never forget it.

Now, Christopher is surely lying in the sacred ground of Grand Coteau, and I will visit him when I make my next retreat there.

God bless.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Thanks Jimmy, I appreciate you sharing that with me.

I'm hoping a few others will report in from New Orleans as well.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey . . . thanks for the reflections. I met Chris a few times while I was a Jesuit Volunteer in Boston and he was at WJST. He was an incredibly kind man and a brilliant lawyer and advocate. It was a shock to hear of his death, particularly one so young, but it is a comfort to know that he is with his Father who loves him.

4:54 PM  

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