The funeral Mass for Justice Antonin Scalia was held over the weekend at the National Shrine Basilica in Washington DC. Scalia’s son, Rev. Paul Scalia, was the celebrant and was fantastic. People were curious if it was going to be a Latin Mass given the Justice’s TLM attendance and the fact that Fr. Scalia offers the TLM in the diocese of Arlington. It ended up being a very well done Ordinary Form Mass, especially considering the massive scale. He gave the novus ordo Mass the way it was meant to be given.
Fr. Scalia kept it beautiful and traditional. Everything from the vestments, the large procession, plenty of intense, the Latin hymns in both Chant and polyphony, the Latin ordinaries (Agnus Dei, Sanctus), sung prayers, the Eucharistic prayer, to the overall reverence and tone.
The homily was, as quoted below, masterful. Understanding he was speaking to an enormous audience both in attendance and on television–practicing Catholics, cultural Catholics, protestants, and more–he made sure everyone realized the purpose of a funeral. He didn’t fall into sentimentality. “Only those who are perfected in Christ can enter Heaven. We are here to lend our prayers to that perfection […] freeing dad from every encumbrance of sin”, he said. Of course, this is shocking for many protestants to hear! He furthered the point by telling of how his dad, after going to a Presbyterian funeral, commented on how funerals seem to now always be about praising the deceased, assuming they automatically enter Heaven rather than it being prayer for the mercy of a sinner in hopes for a “swift entry” to Heaven.
Go to 1:32:30 for the homily. Video set to start at procession.
He told us how his dad saw his faith as a blessing when “it is being removed from the public square or when we refuse to bring it there”–both great for the politicians and the weak-kneed Catholics in attendance. He stated that his “dad knew the deeper he went into his Catholic faith, the better the citizen and public servant he became”
He also gave plenty for our protestant siblings to chew on with great references to “Our Lady”, Jesus’s body being “The Church”, confession, and the Eucharist.
Quoting Fr. Z on Rev. Paul Scalia’s Sermon:
“Justice Scalia’s son, Fr. Paul Scalia of the Diocese of Arlington, was celebrant for the Mass and he preached. His sermon was masterful. It was a model of decorum, admirably shaped for that congregation and for broadcast to a wide and diverse audience. It was replete with excellent teaching about the reason for the Mass (prayer for the deceased). He called on all of us to consider our own death. He continually brought the focus back to Christ and our need for His saving merits. Well done.”
On a petty side note: I’m happy Cardinal Wuerl (in attendance) wasn’t allowed to stroke his ego by giving the high-profile Mass as he no doubt enjoys the prominence and luxury that comes with that diocese. I like how the only Cardinal there (who’s known for taking the Eucharist lightly) was also pretty much the only person to receive in his hand.