Matt Lorrain, Pastor
St. John the Baptist Church
A new documentary entitled “Obit” profiles the staff writers and inner workings of the New York Times obituary desk. The Times employs five full-time obit writers who attempt to summarize a “person’s life, work and historical significance” in time to meet the day’s deadline.
One of the obit writers featured in the documentary, Margalit Fox, says that people often assume her job to be sad or morbid but she says it’s not. “It’s counterintuitive, ironic even, but obits have next to nothing to do with death, and in fact absolutely to do with the life.”
In that sense, a New York Times obituary might more closely resemble a eulogy given by a family member or friend at a funeral. Even in a moment of profound grief and loss we pause to remember the unique qualities of a life well-lived in order to pay respect and give thanks for a person well-loved.
The Times obit for baseball great Yogi Berra included some of his more famous sayings called Yogi-isms:
On describing his strategy as a manager: “You can observe a lot just by watching.” When giving advice to a young player adopting the batting stance of Frank Robinson: “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.” And when giving directions to his house: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Our local obituaries typically mention a person’s birthplace, occupation, and living and deceased relatives. They sometimes include hobbies and achievements and, very frequently, nicknames if the deceased’s given name was not all that well known.
Priests are reassigned by our bishop every few years and so we come to know quite a few people as parishioners or former parishioners. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t recognize one or more names in the obituary section. We often pause to offer a silent prayer for the deceased and his or her family, and call to mind one or two fond memories of the person.
One of my favorite funeral quotes comes from St. Therese of Lisieux who said: “Love can supply for a life that is cut short. God does not look at time, for he is eternal. He looks only at love.”
The Cornerstone is a weekly column in the West Side Journal that features a West Baton Rouge Parish pastor’s thoughts, teachings and writings. The inspirational messages by the participating pastors are not edited for content by The West Side Journal staff. If your pastor would like to participate in this column, please have them contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone, at (225) 343-2540.