By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter
When I was a young lad, about 1959, I was out walking one summer Saturday morning in Leeds, Iowa, and went by the old wood-framed St. Michael Church, only one-half block away from where I lived. The doors were open, and I noticed a large crowd inside. Curious, I went in and kneeled down in one of the last pews.
Several times during Mass people would glance back and smile at me. I smelled incense, noticed six large candles, three on each side of a coffin and saw the black vestments the priest was wearing. Even though I didn’t know the individual who had died, I could tell he or she was loved by many and prayed for during this requiem Mass.
Since I became chaplain in 2003 at Holy Spirit Retirement Home in Sioux City, I have celebrated funeral Masses of the Resurrection for many residents, some I have known for many years, others briefly.
But, just like that little boy at the requiem funeral Mass, I know that every resident who dies is loved by someone. Even family members and friends who cannot attend the funeral Mass should know that their deceased loved one is being prayed for by all.
At one morning Mass, I heard the Lord’s parable about “the last one hired,” who received the same pay as those who worked in the hot sun all day. The master of the vineyard paid his workers the same amount, regardless of how many hours they worked.
This really tells us of the generosity of God who welcomes someone to heaven, though he or she only worked an hour. Whether a resident was a “long timer” or a “short timer,” we know that God is so much better than the generous master of the vineyard. In fact, we know that our Divine Shepherd invites us to the heavenly banquet table, whether we are the first or last hired.
Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.