My Father’s “Eulogy”

“We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more. A man loved by many, scorned by others. A man known for great controversy, and for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.”

That is how Fr. Paul Scalia began his homily during the funeral Mass for his father, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in 2016.

What Fr. Scalia said caught my attention because MY father was loved and scorned, controversial, and compassionate.

Some people just didn’t like him. A lot of people didn’t understand him. Others were intimidated by him.

But the people who knew him the best loved him very much.

Regardless, you knew where you stood.

He was a man of integrity and a man of few words. He was intense. But my dad was also more gentle than you think, funnier than you know, and more kind than you can imagine.

But what Fr. Scalia said about why we gather at Catholic Mass, I liked even more.

We are not gathered here today because of my father. We are gathered here because of Jesus.

In the Catholic Church, we’re really not supposed to do eulogies at a funeral. We’re here to worship God the Father – through, with, and in Jesus Christ. It is only because of Jesus’ Life, Death, and Resurrection that we can even think of commending my father to the mercy of God and have any hope to be reunited with him in the House of the Lord one day.

In the Mass, every Catholic Mass, we experience Jesus in the past at the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection, all right there on the Altar. And He comes to us now in the Eucharist to let us offer God our prayers along with Jesus. And we get a glimpse of an eternal future where we hope to be with Jesus in Heaven, along with my dad and all of our friends and family, and with all of the saints.

So instead of eulogizing my father, I would like to take this time, on behalf of my sisters Amy and Missy, and our entire family, to thank everyone and ask for a few favors.

When I took my dad to the hospital last week, we weren’t quite sure what to expect but once the tests started to show some grim results the word went out and people started praying.

The support we received during his short hospital stay was incredible and he appreciated all of the prayers.

More than a dozen years ago, my dad was told that he had about five years live because of his lung disease. The sheer will to live and his love for his family absolutely crushed that prognosis in spite of the heart disease, adult onset rheumatoid arthritis, and even a few cancers that piled on since then.

He had great friends and he enjoyed being with them. He adored our mother, loved his kids, and he cherished being Boompa go his grandkids and great-grandkids.

In spite of the deaths of my brother and my mother, he went on living.

A couple of years ago, he told me that he wasn’t afraid to die but he wasn’t ready to die. But I think our prayers helped him get ready to transition to his new life on Sunday.

God hears our prayers and then He decides what’s best to do.

I spent a lot of time with my dad at the doctors’, and it allowed me to come up with an analogy about how God answers our prayers. When we pray, it’s like going to the doctor. We tell the doctor what’s wrong, and then the doctor decides what the best course of action is.

God heard our prayers and he decided what was best for my dad.

Some people might be surprised at how much my dad appreciated their prayers or even more surprised how much he prayed himself. He was more religious than you think. He wasn’t raised Catholic but converted when he married my mother. He learned from the best. The medals on his keychain and the prayer cards in his wallet are proof that she rubbed off on him.

His faith was strong and he leaned on it when Nick and my mum died. He believed in God and he knew that Jesus was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

My dad cared about people very much and he knew that Christian love means willing the good of the other and making sacrifices. And he also knew that love includes humility and asking for forgiveness. When he screwed up, he redeemed himself 1000 times more than he need to.

So, I pray that God will reward him for his strong faith and for how he lived out his faith with works of love and mercy.

I hope that he is included in that part of the Communion of Saints who are in Heaven, the great Cloud of Witnesses that we call the Church Triumphant.

I can hope. I can be confident. But I can’t be certain. Because it’s not up to me. God is the judge.

So, I’m asking for some favors:

  • I ask that you pray with me, asking God, in his mercy, to welcome him into his presence so that he can rest in the peace, warmth, and light of his face forever.

Pray for him, and ask him, to pray for you and with you.

And just in case there is anything that would keep him apart from God, pray with me, that God will lovingly purge and purify it from his soul in Purgatory.

  • Pray for my mother Margie, my brother Nick, our other deceased family and friends, and for your own family and friends who are no longer with us.

Visit cemeteries and come to Catholic Mass. You are never closer to your deceased loved ones who are in Heaven than at Mass, because Catholic Mass is Heaven on Earth. Mass for me will now be an opportunity to spend time with both of my parents.

  • Pray for the forgotten dead, those souls who have no one to pray for them because of neglect of their loved ones or because too much time has passed.

There are neglected graves and even neglected cemeteries where people are buried and whose souls need our prayers.

  • Pray for our family and pray for each other. Pray that our faith remains strong and that we continue to find comfort and consolation in Jesus’ promise of the resurrection and everlasting life. Pray that we all stay close to Jesus because that’s the only way we can stay close to all of our deceased loved ones and have any hope of seeing them again.

If you would do these things, I would appreciate it, my family would appreciate it, and my father would be eternally grateful.

Thank you and God bless you.