The Mass of Christian Burial for Fr. R. Kevin Seasoltz, OSB was offered yesterday at St. John’s Abbey. The following is excerpted from the homily delivered by Abbot John Klassen, OSB.
One of Father Kevin’s great gifts, among many, was his ability to read, study, and synthesize ideas and insights from across a wide range of fields: liturgical studies, canon law, history, anthropology, art, architecture, and literature. In his teaching, conferences, books, articles, and homilies, he would regularly engage with material across that intellectual horizon. Kevin was unusually attuned to beauty in all of its forms, especially the visual. There is no question that the long friendships with Father Michael Marx and Brother Frank Kacmarcik were hugely formative. …
We may think of liturgical scholarship as being done with dusty collections of texts, carefully observing the nuances of rites and words. But as always the field has a human element, the network of relationships, who is on the outs with whom, who is moving where, and so forth. While Kevin was a well-known professional, both nationally and internationally, he could trade stories with the best of them!
The last fifteen years have been very difficult for Father Kevin. He had always had a positive relationship with the young, in teaching and mentoring, and by the mid-1990s the young were changing and some were looking for something he couldn’t offer. With the publication of Liturgiam authenticam, and its revised principles for translation of liturgical texts, Father Kevin and many other liturgical scholars felt that that the vision of liturgy and life that inspired the creation of Sacrosanctum concilium at the Second Vatican Council was being abandoned.
Though intellectually Father Kevin knew that history moves, that the pendulum must swing, on an emotional level these changes were heartrending. For Kevin and many others in liturgical studies, it felt like their life’s work was being ravaged. That grief, that frustration sometimes poked its head out with students who challenged him, in homilies, or in conversation. It was a huge challenge to trust that the pendulum will swing back and that the Holy Spirit is working in the Church through all of it. The Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to be a linear thinker or actor.
Father Kevin often said that a monastic life well lived should prepare one to die. If this comment is taken in a reductionist sense, it could sound like a symptom of untreated depression. But Kevin intended it in the sense of really understanding and owning the reality of death for each one us, not in a general sense, but personally, and living into the dying and rising of Jesus. We need people around us who show us how to live the Gospel. We also need people around us who show us how to die as faith-filled, hope-filled Christians. Father Kevin surely did this for us. …
As we give thanks for the gift of Father Kevin’s worship, work, and life with us, we do so in the sacrament that meant so much to him. We bless the Lord of righteousness and acknowledge God as a God of life, as a source of forgiveness and resurrection. May all of us join Father Kevin in that great heavenly liturgy in the New Jerusalem.
Abbot John Klassen, OSB
May 2, 2013