Homily for the Funeral of Daniel L. Power
“Eternal Rest grant unto him O, Lord.” This is a very common prayer surrounding Catholic funerals, “Eternal rest grant unto him O, Lord and let the perpetual light shine upon him.” Dan did not like this prayer! Eternal rest did not appeal to him. He wanted eternal activity! In this regard he was like St. Therese, the Little Flower, well no he is nothing like the Little Flower, but she said she wanted to spend her heaven doing good on earth. Dan would go for that.
I don’t think heaven will be big enough for Dan. He will want heaven and earth. He was not a man for boundaries, boundaries were just indications where you could cross over. Whenever the family would visit New Melleray I would ask Danny what were the latest buzz word and one time it was, “living large” – you could say of someone he is living large. Dan was doing this way before it was a buzz word. I never met a guy who could party late into the night and still get up at 6 AM and go jogging followed by 7 AM Mass.
Dan could easily see the humor in life and he was quick on his feet. He loved theater and loved to perform in the court room. In the 1960s when he worked for the Justice department and tried tax cases in Chicago there was a famous trial for protestors of the Viet Nam war. They were called the Chicago Seven and the trial judge was a notorious stickler named Judge Hoffman. He didn’t like anything remotely connected with hippies. Dan had a tax case in front of him and Judge Hoffman said to him, “counsellor I see you have a beard”, as quick as anything Dan said, “yes your honor I am playing St. Joseph in the Christmas play”.
Dan had a great influence on many young people aspiring to be lawyers. Not that that is such a great job in everyone’s eyes. When Justine was dating Dan I told our Grandma, “Justine is going to marry a lawyer,” and she said in her thick Irish brough, “Ah a lawyer, the world is full of them and half of them are starven”.
To show their appreciation for Dan the Law class of 1981 petitioned the law School to name the courtroom at the law clinic Dan started and directed from 1971 to 1994, the Daniel L Power courtroom. This law clinic has received national recognition.
But, as some famous person once said we are not here to praise Dan Power but to bury him. And this is where his faith comes in. as Dan is crossing the last and most formidable boundary, death. There is only one thing we can take with us as we
cross and that is our love. Faith and hope will pass away only love endures into our new life. And this is what will save Dan and any of us. Did we love anyone but ourselves during our lifetime? Did we help less advantaged people, did we share what we had with the needy. When Dan and Justine moved to Arlington Virginia the little mission Church they attended used to have a Matt 25 Bazaar. Matt 25 refers to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25 which is the story of the last judgement. There are plenty of charlatans out there telling us what the future will bring. I stick to Matt 25 which tells us what we will be judged on and it is how we treated those in need. “I was sick and you visited me, I was hungry and you fed me, I was in prison and you visited me.” The basic message here states, we live by faith not by sight. Our eyes deal with appearances whereas
faith deals with inner truth. Our eyes tell us this person in front of me is a looser, faith tells me Christ lives in him just as he lives in me. As one author put it we can have flaws, be anxious, and even angry but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world.
Part of that enterprise is to find the truth about ourselves, who we really are in the sight of God. James Joyce describes one of his characters as walking nine feet behind himself. In other words, he is alienated from himself. The last line from the reading we just heard from Job says, “My inmost being is consumed with longing.” We are all searching for our inmost being, that part of us that will never die. We are all a work in progress, daily striving to be who we are meant to be. One Saint said “Only when I arrive at heaven will I fully be a man.” Dan now is aware of his God-self, his inmost being.
I have noticed in the monastery when a monk dies his life takes on a luminosity to such an extent that all his foibles and failures fall away and the real person shines out. His goodness is all that is remembered because his failures were little in comparison, God work with Dan is complete. Following the description of what life and death are in the second reading where it says, “When this earthly dwelling, a tent, is folded up we have a dwelling with God not made with hands but eternal in heaven.” Dan is now in his eternal home with the God who created him and in whom he never lost faith. And one last thing, as the Gospel tells us in in my Father’s house there are many rooms and I can see Dan not settling for one room but enjoying roaming around from room to room for all eternity.