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Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 4.1 (2001) 196-201
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Homily Preached at theMass of Christian Burial forSally Fitzgerald
Arthur L. Kennedy
Saint Paul's Church
June 30, 2000
We come together in Saint Paul's Church bearing the body of Sally Fitzgerald. The Gospels, in enunciating the mystery of the appearance of God in Christ to the whole world, refer to Kings of the Orient bringing treasure of gold, frankincense, and myrrh at the time when the Word of God was made flesh. We bring to the Incarnate Word, who died for us and is resurrected, the earthly treasure of the body of Sally.
Here in Saint Paul's where she gave glory to God, and where in the midst of successes and sufferings she knew the peace which her share in divine glory bestows, we accompany her on this last visit with our prayers.
Here in Saint Paul's where she not only knew peace but exercised the office of Eucharistic minister, she presented to her fellow communicants the Word made Flesh in the gift of bread and wine, [End Page 196] while affirming to them the words: the body of Christ; the blood of Christ.
While this was only one of the ways that Sally lived into the mystery of her faith and belief, it was the one which penetrated the whole of her Christian vocation. This nourishment of divine love, which she sought and found, enabled her to imagine and comprehend, to reflect on, and to live with the complex paradoxical virtues of fortitude and humility, or judgment and mercy, of critical analysis and charity. It is no wonder that her children chose the reading from the Second Letter of Peter, chapter 1, verses 2 through 7; verses which they found deeply underscored in her Bible.
In this passage of Scripture is affirmed the blessing and promise of God leading to "the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. For his divine power has given us every requisite for life and piety . . . who through his glory and excellence called us to him. For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with steadfastness, steadfastness with piety, piety with a spirit of brotherhood, and the spirit of brotherhood with love. For if you have these qualities in their fullness, they will make you neither idle nor unproductive when it comes to the understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ." The invitation to this blessing and promise was fully and deeply accepted by Sally Fitzgerald. Those who knew her know that she supplemented her faith with all the actions urged on those given the gift of faith. All this nourished her.
Such nourishment prepared her for being able to read all events and history as participating in "two cities." Not Charles Dickens's two cities, but St. Augustine's--the city of man and the city of God. Thus did she engage the world and her life sub specie aeternitatis.
It appears that the early Christians had a much keener awareness of the complexity and importance of imagination in the procession of human living than do we moderns. It came from their lively sense of the Biblical images and accounts of human living before [End Page 197] God. In the face of a world growing tired and weary, we can imagine the liberating gift that comes with a vision that grasps, to paraphrase the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, the "deep down things" and their connection with the simple events and routines of living. To imagine from the view point of eternity permits intimations of the connections of all things; it offers a participation in the infinite life of God; it envisions the communion of saints; it revises purposes and goals.
Thus did some of the early Christians, informed by the testimony of Genesis that humans are in the image of God, speak of Christ, the Word made Flesh, as the Imago Dei...