In the old days, the Anointing of the Sick was called Last Rites. In the really old days, it was called Extreme Unction. The sacrament is available to those who are seriously ill, not just those who are dying.
My friend Karin was, in fact, dying when she received the Anointing of the Sick in February. She battled cancer for almost four years. When Fr. Randy Stice asked if there was anything else he could do for her, Karin said there was. She wanted permission to have some of the old musical settings used for the parts of the Mass at her funeral. Karin’s husband Steve was impressed by his wife’s willingness to speak her mind and to ask for the music she loved singing. Similarly, Karin had no qualms about asking my wife to sing “Ave Maria” at the funeral.
Karin was a member of the contemporary choir at Sacred Heart Cathedral. They provided the music for her funeral yesterday, using an acoustic guitar, an electric bass, drums, a violin and other instruments. The whole service was perfectly planned, mostly by Karin herself. I felt a surge of nostalgia and emotion when I heard the gospel acclamation “Alleluia! Give The Glory” by Bob Hurd and Ken Canedo. The uplifting tune reminded me of attending Mass with my kids at the Catholic centers on their college campuses.
The gospel and the homily both stressed the importance of the Eucharist. The gospel selection was John 6:51-59. In his homily, Fr. David Boettner explained the meaning of viaticum, which is the final Eucharist received by a dying person. The word viaticum means something you take on a journey. Fr. David told us how Karin had a hunger for the Eucharist.
Karin and Steve’s children all participated in the service. Their oldest, Stephanie, proclaimed the first reading. Their son Kyle sang a solo during a meditation song after Communion. Their youngest, Kristen, delivered Remarks of Remembrance that told of Karin’s final trip to the beach last month. Kristen is a telecommunication major at the University of Florida. She has contributed news stories on WUFT-FM and is now starting to take classes in television production. I have no doubt that we’ll be watching her on the news in a few years.