Friday, June 18, 2010

St. Joseph of Arimathea (1st century)

"Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God." (Luke:50-51)

You might think a funeral director/embalmer would find it hard to get a date, but according to one I interviewed when I was a journalist, it's quite the opposite.
"Women find me very attractive because what I do is so interesting," explained an embalmer who worked in East Providence, Rhode Island.
"Maybe if you're Morticia Addams," I joked.
As a way to relax families during the loss of a loved one, many local funeral homes have been "upgrading" with a choice of music in the viewing rooms, comfortable furniture, and coffee and pastries. What's next? Wine and cheese?
But, the strangest thing I ever encountered was when we were planning my mother's funeral, and the director, Rudy, spun a revolving wall and took us into a casket showroom, quite similar to walking into a car dealership.
Bright lights, shiny coffins, and fancy displays.
"Would you like the 200-year warranty or perhaps the 500?" Rudy asked pointing out the latest models.
What I felt like saying was that we just wanted the funeral to be over with, but of course, we had to be gracious so looked at 20 caskets within our price range. I also did not feel like thinking about my mother's body decomposing like in Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet." And, I recall my mother saying she was very upset the first winter after her cousin, Pat, had passed away because she thought about him buried beneath the snow.
As they say, death is a part of life. And the very person that gave up his tomb for Christ's burial is the patron saint of funeral directors and undertakers.
St. Joseph of Arimathea was born in the 1st century. His story is told in the Four Gospels. Along with Nicodemus, he took the body of Jesus down from the Cross, wrapped it in fine linen, and annointed it.
St. Joseph of Arimathea is depicted in legends of the Holy Grail. His feast day is March 17.

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