BEAUTIFUL FUNERAL MASS CELEBRATED FOR NINA OGDEN

March 8, a beautiful Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by Father Ronald Escalante in the St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville, Virginia.   A large turnout for the mass, the burial ceremony  and the reception following, where many friends and family members offered eulogies and remembrances, bore witness to how much Nina was loved, and helped make the celebration uplifting for all involved, focusing the minds of many present on the beauty and possibilities of their own lives, through a loving look at the way Nina touched lives and truly shaped the world.

A vocal quartet of Jennifer Pearl, Jessica Tremblay, Reginald Bouknight, and Frank Mathis, accompanied by pianist Jesse Ratcliffe, provided sections of the music that Nina wanted for her funeral, the Mozart Requiem. The Recordare quartet from the Requiem marked the Presentation of the Gifts: “Remember, blessed Jesus… You who absolved Mary Magdelene and listened to the thief, give me hope also…” And for the meditation at holy communion, the quartet sang the Benedictus quartet from the Requiem: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” Mr. Bouknight also cantored the mass and sang a chant on “Lux Aeterna” (eternal light), and for the Final Commendation, the Song of Farewell, “In Paradisium.” The people sang the closing hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” to the Irish folk melody “Slane.” The piano prelude performed by Mr. Ratcliffe at the beginning of the mass was an arrangement of the Lacrimosa from the Mozart Requiem.

In his homily, Fr. Escalante spoke about how Nina was one of the few who could say she worked with a living saint, Saint Teresa of Calcutta. He discussed how if one can understand how the work of a composer such as Mozart can affect the whole world and the universe itself, and how Nina’s actions for the “common good” have shaped human society, then one can begin to understand Heaven. He explained that the love lived by a person, even though she die, is permanent in its real existence and its effect. Thanking the musicians, he said that the music was the most beautiful music he has ever heard in a funeral mass, and that it made him feel that he was already experiencing Paradise. He said that the words of John Keats that were a watchword of Nina’s and were chosen by the family for the funeral program, captured perfectly the embrace of Heaven: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,__ that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”  “God is truth and beauty,” Father Escalante concluded.

The Old Testament reading was from the Book of Wisdom, Chapter 3: “The souls of the just are in the hands of God….as gold in the furnace he proved them…In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about us as sparks through the stubble…” The New Testament reading from Chapter 15 of First Corinthians includes this idea, “…when that which is mortal clothes itself in immortality, the word that is written shall come about: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where O death, is your sting?’…” The Gospel reading was the beatitudes from Matthew Chapter 5, containing the words of Jesus, “…Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God…”

The Intercessionary Prayers included the following: “…For those who came to know Nina in whatever capacity throughout her life, may they use the inspiration they gained from her to continue to find strength to tirelessly do the good. {We pray to the Lord.}  Help us in our sincerest intentions to do justice to the memory of Nina, to bring her unfinished work to fruition, for peace between nations, dignity and justice for all peoples, and international cooperation for the economic development of the world, {We pray to the Lord.}.”

During the reception, warm remembrances of Nina were spoken by Nina’s daughter, son, and sister, and by a number of co-workers and old friends of Nina. A recording of a phone call placed by Nina to Mother Teresa in Calcutta in 1997 was played, in which Nina and Mother Teresa discussed the strategy  for making a public issue of Mother Teresa’s  campaign to have Virginia Governor George Allen or Supreme Court Justice Scalia step in to commute the sentence of death row inmate Joseph Roger O’Dell, and in which Mother Teresa recorded her famous public appeal to Allen and Scalia. Three of the hundreds of messages honoring Nina received by her family were read aloud, including one from Ray Flynn, former Mayor of Boston and former US Ambassador to the Vatican.  Flynn, calling Nina “remarkable,” wrote, “She certainly left her mark in the world, especially fighting for the poor and for economic justice.”
For Nina, with her background since the early 1960’s as a young civil rights worker and labor organizer, fighting – fighting – for dignity and social justice was as natural as breathing air. Excerpts from the short biography of Nina Ogden which appeared in the funeral program read as follows: “She signed up with Lyndon LaRouche’s political movement in 1971, and has represented LaRouche effectively since then. Nina then, and continuously until the present time, has been a forceful and effective initiator, always establishing a personal relationship of trust, honesty, and intellectual seeking, equally with the blue collar worker and the most highly-placed and influential people, to challenge them, to collaborate with them, literally to change the world. From Nebraska to Germany, from France to Slovakia, from the Middle East to the Lakota Reservations, from Vatican City to Belfast, from New Delhi to Boston, the world-changing force of Nina’s optimism, her passionate love of humanity, has been felt. It was always her attitude, her conscious intention, and (as James Fenimore Cooper would say) her nature, to rise above the moment, to rise above the conflict, to rise above the obstacles, to live in the ethereal, to live for humanity and for the future. Nina despised pettiness and pretense, because it interrupted her concentration on the good. Nina truly lived a world-changing life, and it was always her joy to do so, with her particular unique and vigorous style. We are still affected by her and inspired by her, and will be still, long, long into the future.”

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