I am a parishioner of IHM and have been going to this church for over 30 years. I remember as a small child not being too happy when Msgr. Smith was the celebrant since his homilies always seemed long. My mother and father were big fans of his and always told me and my 3 older sisters that we would one day appreciate what a great theologian he is and only want to hear his sermons. How right they were! Each week I always tried to attend mass he celebrated and looked forward to his insight to the Gospel and his correlation to modern day life. His dry humor was unmatched as well! I am so happy I attended his mass 2 weeks ago; I believe the last mass he celebrated. What a huge loss for the IHM family and all Catholics.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
I went to the wake tonight. Kind of shock to see him dead. But the demeanor wasn’t that much different than when he had breathed out one of his laconic absolutes that always resonated in me as truth itself. It was rarely bitter and always emerged with a curlicue of humor.
I had to finish my breviary (Office) and sat there beside the coffin at the head of the nave. People came up in drips and drabs. 8.30 p.m. A number of us sat there in prayer. I was invariably looking up from what I was supposed to be doing to watch the people come.
The most interesting was to watch the sisters of life who came a bit late, especially toward the end, when it was coming time to say goodbye. They came up real careful, fixed on the Smith’s body and poured themselves out. Most knelt down by the coffin, shook a bit, exhibited deep emotion, some touched, then turned to sit close by and watch too. I felt like we were all "Gigot" (Jackie Gleason [find the movie]), whose mission in life was to follow funerals and weep for the unknown dead in intimacy with those who loved him. I found myself weeping with each sister in whom I could sense deep emotion.
Because in this case I knew the dead. I had his sacramental trust for years.
Thanks for posting the chapter from John Janaro's book. That was very inspiring. It seems to me that Msgr. Smith was one of the first people to sound the alarm on assisted suicide, back in the 1990s. I will always remember him for a saying he repeated often: "All social engineering is preceded by verbal engineering." R.I.P.
Distinguished Theologian, Moral and Medical Ethicist Monsignor William B. Smith Dies At Age 69YONKERS, New York, January 26, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After the recent deaths in New York of Fordham University theologian Avery Cardinal Dulles, and prolific pro-life activist and intellectual giant Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, the pro-life and pro-family movements and the Catholic Church are mourning the passing of another brilliant star. Monsignor William B. Smith died on Saturday, January 24, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Yonkers.