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Priest-son celebrates Justice Scalia’s funeral Mass at National Shrine

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Just as many pilgrims are passing through the Holy Door at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in this Year of Mercy, the casket bearing the body of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia entered through the door Feb. 20.

Family members follow the casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to a hearse waiting outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington after his Feb. 20 funeral Mass. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Family members follow the casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to a hearse waiting outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington after his Feb. 20 funeral Mass. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Father Paul Scalia, the justice’s son and the main celebrant and homilist at his father’s funeral Mass, said the fact that Scalia’s casket was carried through that door of mercy was a great blessing. In his homily, he emphasized that his father was a man of faith, dedicated to his family and service to his country, a man who relied on God’s mercy and was sustained through the sacraments.

“We give thanks that Jesus brought him to new life in baptism, nourished him with the Eucharist and healed him in the confessional,” Father Scalia said in his homily. “God blessed Dad with a deep Catholic faith, the conviction that Christ’s presence and power continue in the world today through his body, the church.”

Speaking of his father’s devotion to his Catholic faith, Father Scalia said, “He loved the clarity and coherence of the church’s teachings. He treasured the church’s ceremonies, especially the beauty of her ancient worship. He trusted the power of her sacraments as the means of salvation, as Christ working within him for his salvation.”

Father Scalia, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, is episcopal vicar for clergy for the diocese, where the late justice lived with his family.

The elder Scalia died Feb. 13 of natural causes while in Texas for a hunting trip. He was 79. He is survived by his wife, Maureen, and by the couple’s nine children and 36 grandchildren.

The family then sat in a front section as the casket was placed at the base of the steps leading to the main altar.

At the Mass were the eight remaining members of the U.S. Supreme Court: Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. and Associate Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Retired Justices John Paul Stevens and David H. Souter also were present.

Other dignitaries in attendance included: Vice President Joe Biden; U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch; former Vice President Dick Cheney; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; and Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Cruz, currently a candidate for president, once served as a Supreme Court clerk.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, welcomed Justice Scalia’s family members and friends and the dignitaries to the Mass and acknowledged the presence of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, and Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde.

Other Catholic leaders at the Mass included Auxiliary Bishop Richard B. Higgins of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services; Msgr. Walter R. Rossi, rector of the national shrine; and John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America. Nearly 100 priests concelebrated the Mass and were joined by about 36 deacons. The congregation of 3,300 people included Catholic laypeople and women and men religious, as well as guests of many different faiths.

Leonard Leo, a friend of Justice Scalia who is executive vice president of the Federalist Society, read the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, which opened with, “The souls of the just are in the hands of God.” Justice Thomas read the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, and Deacon Colin Davis, of the Diocese of Arlington, read the Gospel reading from St. Matthew.

The liturgy also reflected Scalia’s sense of humor, with both Cardinal Wuerl and Father Scalia joking about the family’s desire “for a simple parish family Mass” for the justice’s funeral, which ended up being held in the largest Catholic church in North America to accommodate the number of mourners.

Since his death, Father Scalia said in his homily, the justice had been praised by many for his intellect, his writings and speeches. “But more important to us and to him was that he was Dad. He was the father God gave us for the great adventure of family life,” Father Scalia said. “Sure, he forgot our names at times or mixed them up, but there were nine of us.”

On a serious note, he added, “He loved us, and sought to show that love, and sought to share the blessing of the faith he treasured.”

The priest also expressed thanks for his parents’ marriage, noting that “Jesus bestowed upon him 55 years of marriage to the woman he loved, a woman who could match him at every step and even hold him accountable.”

“God blessed Dad, as is well known, with a love for his country,” Father Scalia said. “He knew well what a close-run thing the founding of our nation was. And he saw in that founding, as did the founders themselves, a blessing. A blessing quickly lost when faith is banned from the public square, or when we refuse to bring it there.”

The priest said Scalia “understood that there is no conflict between loving God and loving one’s country, between one’s faith and one’s public service. Dad understood that the deeper he went in his Catholic faith, the better a citizen and a public servant he became.”

Later during the prayer of commendation, Father Scalia, prayed that God would grant the justice a merciful judgment.

As the congregation sang, “O God Beyond All Praising,” Scalia’s casket was carried down the shrine’’s center aisle, accompanied as he had been in life by his family, and then they left for his private burial ceremony.

     

Zimmermann is editor of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Bishop at March for Life Mass in D.C. calls for pro-lifers to ‘connect the dots’ on life issues

By

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh urged Massgoers preparing to rally in Washington for the annual March for Life to “connect the dots” linking all manner of life issues.

Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh walks with his crosier during the closing Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 22. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh walks with his crosier during the closing Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 22. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

At a Jan. 22 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Zubik invoked his fifth-grade teacher, Sister Mary Richard, who “taught me how to be a pro-lifer.”

The nun “did it in an interesting and an unexpected way,” he said. “If you have any hopes of getting to the sixth grade,” he remembered her saying, “you’d better know more than just the Hail Mary. You’d better know the prepositions,” at which point Bishop Zubik reeled off a string of prepositions in alphabetical order, from “above” to “with.” “Needless to say,” he added, “I made it to the sixth grade.”

But prepositions, he said in his homily during the Mass, “give sentences their meaning.” He added, “Every one of us is called by God to be prepositions in life.”

Bishop Zubik said that while people engage in fasting, often interpreted as giving up something valuable to them, God has no interest in that. Instead, the bishop added, one has to go to the root of the word “sacrifice,” in Latin, “sacrum facere,” or to make holy.

The way to do that, Bishop Zubik said, is to “connect the dots” of life issues as prepositions connect the key words and phrases in a sentence.

“To connect the dots in 2016 takes on its own flavor,” he said, “to make holy all of life, by connecting the dots to every single person,” from the unborn to the born to the elderly, to those “suffering from human trafficking” and those “exploited by pornography,” and “to the unemployed and the underemployed, looking not so much for a hand out as a lift up.”

Connecting the dots to all persons is what God intended, Bishop Zubik said, “to see each other as God sees us all.”

He lamented the Supreme Court decisions of Jan. 22, 1973, that legalized abortion virtually on demand, as it “opened the door” to a host of other legal, legislative and proposed initiatives that reduce the sanctity of human life.

He suggested twice, during the homily and in a post-Communion reflection, that Massgoers think about the people who brought them to Washington on the anniversary date. “Not by wheels and wings” to come to Washington, Bishop Zubik said, but by their example and formation.

Bishop Zubik offered as one such example, his mother, who he said “taught me to get down on my knees” to pray at bedtime each night, and upon waking, “to get down on my knees again” at the same bedside. He also exhorted them to “make sure you’re very careful”as threatening weather approached.

Fears of a storm system dumping a foot or more of snow in the Washington area kept attendance down for the closing Mass as it had for the Jan. 21 Mass that started the overnight vigil. For this Mass, many pews were not packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people, and even a few pews in a far transept were empty.

Even so, the size of the national shrine’s upper church ensured that there were thousands of people attending.

Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the national shrine, in welcoming remarks shortly after the Mass began, said, “We are pleased to have so many of you who have braved the threat of Winter Storm Jonas.”

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