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catholic calisthenics

August 2, 2010

Recently I attended the funeral of a co-worker.  It was my first non-Catholic funeral.  I’ve been to other non-Catholic services, mostly weddings, but no funerals.  It was a lovely service and a beautiful tribute to the deceased.  And while I don’t want to sound irreverent or disrespectful toward the deceased and his family, I have to admit I found myself missing a few Catholic elements.

Aside from the obvious lack of the Eucharist, I missed the Say-The-Black-Do-The-Red structure of the Mass and the ability to follow the program.  Still, I was surprised to discover that one of the things I missed the most was Catholic Calisthenics.

The service was just over an hour.  You would think I’d be used to that since it was the typical length of a Mass, but we just sat there.  I’m not used to sitting for one entire hour.  I’m used to Calisthenics: stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel, etc.  That’s a lot of moving around over the course of one hour!  I got rather restless and fidgety near the end of the funeral.  Ok – so it was more like the middle of the service.  I tried not to distract the people around me, but I had to shift around periodically or my backside would’ve gone numb, something that would have been easily taken care of by a little exercise.

I also found that the lack of movement made it more difficult to concentrate, particularly during the pastor’s sermon.  Sometimes I struggle to pay attention during a really long homily, and that’s after standing through the Gospel!  By the time the pastor began his sermon, I had already sat through the opening remarks, three eulogies (two of which were exceptional), several Bible passages, and a musical tribute, with no Calisthenic relief.  Suffice it to say, I thought the bits and pieces I did hear brought honor to the deceased and comfort to the family, so I’m sure the rest of it was decent.

When it was all over, my legs were stiff and sore*.  I don’t know how non-Catholics do it, but I suppose they are just used to non-movement as I am conditioned for Catholic Calisthenics.  At least I will be prepared for any future non-Catholic services I may have to attend.  I’ll make sure to do stretches ahead of time!

*I already had a lot of respect for the co-worker who had passed away.  My frustrations of not being able to stand or kneel at his funeral gave me an even deeper appreciation for the man who was confined to a wheelchair for the last nineteen years of his life.  He never let his paraplegic status hold him back, nor did he ever complain about it.

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