Fr. Jože and I went to Baselj yesterday. We had a super lunch at his sister's home and then drove the few miles back down into Preddvor to concelebrate Mass with the pastor at the Church of St. Peter. I was unprepared for the way in which Slovenians commemorate their dead.
The small church was packed and overflowing with people standing six and seven deep at the back and, I assume, flowing down the steps. At the beginning of Mass we three priests followed eight altar boys as the choir in the loft sang. Following Mass we replaced our white vestments with purple, Fr. Jože and I in stoles and the pastor in a purple cope. We then processed in silence about one-half kilometer down a gently sloping road to the cemetery. As the cemetery came into view so did a line of cars that extended close to two kilometers from the church.
When we entered the cemetery I was stunned to see perhaps seven hundred people standing in front of what seemed like every grave. They stood in silence on the paths between the plots facing the tombstone. No one turned to face Father as he arrived at the crucifix in the middle of the cemetery. The choir, now singing a cappella, was joined by many of the mourners.
The prayers and readings were short. The entire service took perhaps ten minutes. As we left the cemetery in silent procession again no one moved to rush out so as to beat the traffic. I didn't see anyone on a cell phone either. After taking off our vestments Fr. Jože and I returned to the cemetery so he could visit family graves. I grabbed the camera.
Following the evening Mass at sv. Jožefa the Jesuit community went to a cemetery to pray the rosary at the Jesuit section. One of the men asked if I was taking my camera. I hadn't planned on it. He told me I would regret it. Took the camera. Definitely would have regretted had I not taken it.
It will take a little while to put this experience into perspective.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis!
"Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon him."
Dessert was delicious
The cemetery crucifix at Preddvar
An individual grave
The Church of St. Peter as seen from the cemetery
Cemetery in LJ. Candles were crowded around the entire perimeter of the church.
Candles and flowers at the Jesuit section.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD