Spiritual Transport

A few years later, in January, my sister Aloise died, aged forty-nine, eldest of ten children, mother of ten. The family — her children and her siblings — were catapulted into a dumb grief. We took refuge in our conviction that our separation from her was impermanent. It was for us acutely the time not merely to recall the promises of Christ but to invoke their magical capacity to mitigate grief. We wanted to relive, in the funeral ceremony, the liturgical experience we had all grown up with — indeed, what had been the universal practice up until a few years before — the Mass in Latin. This request the priest we dealt with gladly granted.

And so on January 17, 1967, the weather in the little town in northwestern Connecticut, at subzero, in the homely brick church we had all known since childhood, the priest recited the Mass of the Dead and the organist accompanied the soloist, we sang the Gregorian dirge in words the mourners did not clearly discern, words which, had we discerned them, we could not exactly have translated; and yet we experienced — not only her family but her friends; not alone the Catholics among us but also the Protestants and the Jews — something akin to that spiritual transport which, in the late sixties, many restless folk were finding it necessary to search out in drugs or from a guru in Mysterious India.

William F. Buckley, Jr., Nearer My God: An Autobiography of Faith (New York:Doubleday, 1997).

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