By now, you may have heard the horrifying story of Nathan Trapuzzano, a 24-year-old man married for just a year, eagerly awaiting the birth of his first child, and gunned down a few days ago while going for a morning walk in Indianapolis.
The killing sent shockwaves through the Catholic community there, where Nathan was known as a loving husband and a devoted pro-life advocate and sidewalk counselor. A fund was set up to support his wife and unborn child. At last count, it has raised over $130,000.
The Indianapolis Star reports on his funeral today, which included a Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form:
As the choir sang, the unmistakable sound of sobbing cut in and out, rising above the music this morning at Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
Murder victim Nathan Trapuzzano’s widow, Jennifer, was consoled and supported by family members as she cried throughout her husband’s funeral mass.
But while the grief at Trapuzzano’s funeral was nearly palpable, forgiveness was the focus of the day.
Trapuzzano, a 24-year-old computer programmer, and his wife had been married less than a year and were expecting a baby — a daughter to be named Cecilia — in May. But his life was cut tragically short when he was gunned down for no apparent reason early Tuesday on the Westside.
The Rev. Christopher Roberts, who met Trapuzzano while he was attending Ball State University and who was the priest at the couple’s wedding, spoke briefly during the funeral service Saturday morning, which was a solemn high requiem mass as requested by Jennifer Trapuzzano.
The funeral homily has been posted online:
His friends report that during his college years he went to confession very frequently, even weekly, so that he could become more and more the man that God had created him to be. Less than a year ago when I celebrated his wedding Mass, he asked me to hear the confessions of all of the Catholics in the wedding party after the rehearsal. While I cannot remember his exact words, they were something like, “Father, don’t be surprised if some of them have not been to confession in a very long time.” His wife Jennifer wanted everyone to know that celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation was one of the last things that Nathan did, going to confession a day before he died earlier this week.
We know Nathan to have been an exceptionally good person. Why then, we might ask, did he confess his sins to a priest so frequently?
This special young man went to confession so often because he had a deep desire to love others with the love of the heart of Jesus and would stop at nothing until he did. He didn’t just want to be good as the world reckons it; he wanted to be like Jesus. He wanted to love others with a pure and humble heart.
One of the most important aspects of having such a heart is being able to forgive unconditionally. Nathan knew that the best way to learn how to do that was to ask for such forgiveness for himself. He prayed the Our Father frequently and asked,
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is not looking at an evil and being too cowardly to call it evil. Nor is forgiveness acting as if something that is a big deal really is not. Rather forgiveness looks at something done that is evil and recognizes it as evil, comes to a sober conclusion about the extent to which the guilty party is responsible and then extends love to the offender and hopes for repentance and change of heart.
Our Blessed Lord teaches us what forgiveness is from the Cross when He says, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He looked squarely at the crime being committed, namely the execution of an innocent man who also happened to be God in the flesh, and recognized that what was happening was an unspeakable injustice. He knew that those killing Him did not have full knowledge of what they were doing, which diminished their guilt. Most importantly, Our Lord did not withhold His love from His executioners, but desired their repentance and return to communion with His Father.
Nathan would have wanted everyone here to know something in our bones. Each one of us here is loved with an infinite, personal and unconditional love by a merciful God. There is nothing that we can do that God will not forgive. We can refuse to accept that mercy, but God will never stop extending it. God loves each one of us more than we can ever know. He wants nothing more than for us to return to Him and let Him fix His merciful eyes on us and say, “You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter, in whom I am well-pleased.” He wants to run out to meet us just as we decide to come back to Him, to embrace us and to shower us with kisses. This is true no matter how grievous our sins are.
We cannot be certain exactly what was going through Nathan’s mind in the last moments of his life. But as one who knew Nathan’s soul well as a priest, I believe that he would have desired to do God’s will with all his heart, just as he sought to do throughout the entire time that I knew him. For myself, I have little doubt that as his soul drew near to his particular judgment on Tuesday morning, perhaps even after he had passed out of consciousness, Nathan forgave his murderers. That was the kind of man that I knew him to be.
You’ll want to read it all.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…