Sunday, November 02, 2008


I don’t know if this is strictly a Midwestern tradition, but in Alexandria, Minnesota, whenever a parishioner dies, the head of the funeral lunch committee at the local Catholic church gets out her call list and starts speed-dialing her way down, snapping out the order, “Hey! Two dozen bars and have them at the church by noon on Saturday.”

There’s a sense of urgency in the chairperson’s voice, like an E.R. doctor barking: “Nurse! Get me a 5000-unit heparin intravenous bolus followed by a drip at 1000 to 1200 units per hour—STAT!” There’s almost an insinuation that if we all make bars and if we all hustle them to the church within a prescribed amount of time, that somehow, someway, the corpse will rise from the dead.

Or maybe the urgency isn’t because of the deceased parishioner. Maybe the bars are for the mourners as part of the grieving process—you know, the eight stages of grief: SHOCK & DENIAL; PAIN & GUILT; ANGER & BARGAINING;DEPRESSION and LONELINESS; UPWARD TURN; WORKING THROUGH; ACCEPTANCE & HOPE; and THE FINAL STAGE, HEALING THROUGH BARS.

Tollhouse bars cooling on the kitchen counter, ready for delivery to the church.

So it’s a call to action when the phone rings and the chairperson of the funeral lunch committee urgently requests two dozen bars in a disposable container (no glass or aluminum 9 x 13 cake pans, please, as they just pile up in the church kitchen). What will it be this time? scotcheroos? turtle brownies? caramel dream bars? lemon delites? What recipe will help the family cope better?

That’s our Christian mission: Make those bars and get ‘em to the church on time. If we do, perhaps the mourners’ grief will be lessened as they munch on krispie marshmallow squares in the church basement following the graveside service.


Anonymous said...

My daughter's mother-in-law is one of the funeral coordinator's at St. Mary's. She is so glad that others say 'yes' when they are called to contribute for the funerals. Aren't we glad that we can help in this way?! So healing for us! (I was a Carlisle Girl also.)

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