On an overcast day, an American flag draped the lower half of the open casket of Patrick James “Mac” McGrath in the chapel of the funeral home. His 82 year old father, his daughter, her husband and their son sat in the front row on the left, his brother and others sat to the right.
Deacon Manuel Montoya officiated with the Catholic funeral liturgy outside Mass. He wore a white robe with a multicolored stole, a long, narrow strip of cloth which is a symbol of ordination.
He sprinkled Holy Water on Mac’s body in the open casket while saying “In the waters of baptism, Mac died with Christ and rose with him to new life. May he now share with him eternal glory.” He invited all to pray.
A friend did the readings from the Book of Wisdom: “The souls of the just are in the hand of God… They are at peace… As gold in the furnace, he proved them.” And from the second letter of Paul to the Romans: “We who are baptized into Jesus are baptized unto his death… A sinful body might be destroyed… freed from sin, Christ once raised from the dead dies no more.”
Deacon Montoya gave a homily speaking of Mac as a good, kind-hearted man and gave thanks for his long service in the Air Force. “Dying is a part of life, isn’t it? God gives us our life, all are put here for a different reason and purpose. Mac was here to serve in the armed forces and for his family. I can only imagine how difficult it is to be apart from your family in service to your country.”
Following his talk, he led a responsive reading of the 23rd Psalm. Then he said, “Faith helps us get through the grieving stage. There’s a special place for each and every one of us. It’s a very special place up in heaven with eternal life. There’s a place for Mac, who will live on in our hearts.”
Mac’s grandson then played guitar and sang “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones. The refrain “still I’m going to miss you” still rings in my mind. Mac’s brother played “Amazing Grace” with a steel slide on the same guitar.
Deacon Montoya invited all to stand for The Lord’s Prayer, which was followed by offering the sign of peace among the attendees. He sprinkled more Holy Water while the assembled responded to his prayer, “Receive his soul and present him to God most high.”
At the end, a video montage of Mac McGrath throughout his life was played. I’m not sure, but I think the soundtrack was an Allman Brothers song with the refrain, “time goes by like (different things).”
The rain began to fall like tears from heaven as the service ended. Mac was taken for burial with military honors in the Santa Fe National Cemetery that afternoon.
Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 10501 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Suite 300, Albuquerque, NM, 87111.