Thursday, November 21, 2013

"...And Where There Is No Vision, The People Perish"

So they say, it was the day everything changed forever – The President of the United States, the first Catholic to hold the office, gunned down at 46 in Dallas.

50 years later, while the tributes on the airwaves are running rampant on this side of the Pond, the image here comes from the one place that could rival, and arguably even exceed what the Yanks among us are seeing. It's the JFK memorial slipped at the last minute into Galway's Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, the towering edifice dedicated some 18 months after the assassination by Richard Cardinal Cushing... and – at least, as the old Boston line goes –
 only subsequently "paid for by Humberto Cardinal Medeiros."

As this month dedicated to the Four Last Things begins its close, a half-century's worth of American Catholics have come to see this anniversary as an even more emphatic reminder of what awaits us all in time. Given that, especially on this milestone, below is fullvideo of the eulogy given at the 25 November 1963 Pontifical Requiem Mass in Washington's St Matthew's Cathedral by the capital's auxiliary, one eminent Philip Michael Hannan....

(Along the way, for those who missed it earlier, here's a full retrospective of the day and what followed as they played out at Vatican II.)

A celebrated World War II chaplain in the field, then "quiet" adviser to the eventual POTUS after both returned home, while protocol dictated the choice of the auxiliary's superior – then-Archbishop Patrick O'Boyle – for the funeral's last word, Jacqueline Kennedy reportedly insisted that "It’s going to be Hannan or no one."

Named archbishop of New Orleans within two years – and having become the Crescent City's "first citizen" in his own right over a 23-year tenure and another quarter-century there in retirement – the venerable field-marshal of a prelate went to his reward at 98 in 2011.

Keeping to his interminable form, unlike much of the clan to whom he remains eternally linked, the Archbishop who wore combat boots departed precisely on his own terms: in the bed in which he was born... and with his beloved protege as the first native son to hold the chair of St Louis Cathedral.