Monday, August 19, 2013

Funeral Envy

Throughout my life, whenever someone has hurt or rejected me, I get even by fantasizing about my future funeral.  I picture scads of people talking about how much they love me and how wonderful I am, and there is the offending party in deep anguish, saying, "If only I had been nicer to her when she was alive!  If only she were here so I could tell her how much I love her and how sorry I am for having hurt her!"  It's my imaginary way of building up my wounded pride, I suppose, and I admit that I take more than a bit of comfort from it.  It's definitely a self-esteem booster.

But in reality, I really do have the perfect funeral planned out in my mind.  When I die, I want Roses for Our Lady to lead the congregation in the rosary right before the Mass.  Panis Angelicus, Ave Maria, and Pie Jesu have to be sung.  And years ago I made up my mind that I want three priests to concelebrate and they must all cry because when my aunt Monica died three priests all cried for her at her funeral.  I thought that was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

With each funeral that I attend, I add or subtract another element from my dream funeral. 

A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of Mary Ann Kitzke, the mother of  Fr. Tim Kitzke. Clearly,  Mary Ann was a warm and loving woman of strong faith who did much good in this world.  There were one thousand people, two bishops and 40 priests in attendance, all praying fervently.  It put my three priest dream right to shame, although I'm not sure that any of the forty priests were actually crying.  The funeral choir was outstanding, with all three of my required funeral songs perfectly performed.  I cannot fathom how a priest is able to say the funeral Mass for his own mother, but Fr. Tim was well composed, sharing humorous stories that he fondly recalled about his mother and his family life.  At the final commendation,  Archbishop Listecki mentioned that each priest present at the funeral represented a Mass offered on behalf of Mary Ann's soul.  I left that funeral thinking about how much I want to be the mother of a priest!  How I would love to know that there would be 40 Masses offered for my soul upon my death, all by priests who knew me personally.  And I am certain that my soul will need those Masses with all of the sinful spiritual avarice and funeral envy that dwells within  it!  It looks like I'm going to need a lot of help in getting to heaven!

Then I thought about my own parent's funerals, both lovely Masses, with lots of prayer and the rosary, and a delightful luncheon, but only one priest present at each.  Both of my parents, Elmer and Mary, were holy and prayerful people.  They had pre-planned most of the details of their funerals well in advance.  But most important to both of them was that there would be lots of Masses prayed for their souls after their death.  They knew that a period of purgation was inevitable before they could rest eternally in heavenly joy and peace, and they further knew that it would take a lot of prayer to help them get there.

And so ultimately, based on the example of my parents,  I know that whether I have one, three or forty priests at my funeral, whether the Ave Maria is sung off-key or Pie Jesu is omitted, whether anyone laughs or cries, whether I'm laid to rest in a mahogany casket or a cardboard box, all that really matters is that my family and friends who know and love me, band together to pray my soul from purgatory to heaven, offering Masses and rosaries as well as the joys and sorrows of their everyday lives.  With that promise of prayer I will have the richest funeral of all.  And to that end, why wait until I'm dead to ask for prayer for my soul?  Why not begin right now?  Here's a beautiful prayer for a good death.  Let's pray it together!

Eternal rest grant unto Mary Ann Kitzke, Monica Geiger, and Elmer and Mary Reindl, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May their souls, and all of the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

For a Good Death

O most merciful Jesus, I praise and thank Thee for Thy most bitter death, and I beseech Thee, by Thy death and by the breaking of Thy Heart, to grant me a happy death. When my soul leaves my body, may it be immediately delivered from all sin, set free from all debt, and mercifully received into eternal joy. I know, O Lord, that I ask of Thee a very great favour, and a sinner like me ought not to presume to ask it; but it is as easy to Thy goodness to forgive few or many sins. It is not, indeed, our merits, but Thy infinite mercy that procures for us even the least share of heavenly beatitude. In order to be made worthy and fit to receive this favour, grant, O good Lord, that I may now truly and completely die to the world and to myself. From this time forth, may all appear to me worthless that is not Thee. May nothing interest me but Thee alone. For Thy sake may I look on everything with contempt, and may I rejoice when I am despised for Thee. O good Jesus, may I ever be wounded with Thy most pure and fervent love; may all that is not Thee be bitter to me, and may all that is pleasing to Thee become dear to me. Be Thou, my Lord and God, dearer to me than all besides, or rather, be Thou truly all in all to me."

~Dom John of Torralba, Ancient Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus


  1. Anne..loved this. I too have visions of my funeral...that there will hardly be anyone there! Ooops, how embarrassing, and how dreadful to have pride/vanity following me even beyond the grave :) Surely I will need many Masses to be purged! '

    I have a friend who is enrolled in a Purgatorial Society where you pay a stipend once yearly to contribute to Masses for other souls, and once you are deceased, you benefit from the hundreds of Masses offered through this Society for its deceased members. She is also leaving $2000 in her will for Masses to be said.

    I'm not going that far, but have asked for the Gregorian Masses to be said for me. It must be wonderful to be in a family where there are priests...such a special blessing. One of my Carmelite sisters has two sons who are priests and her brother is a bishop! What a precious soul she is...suffers much but with great joy.

    Sorry that I wrote you a post! Glad I'm not the only one with "funeral envy." Maybe I can pay some professional mourners to show up! lol

    Love and blessings to you...

    1. Patricia, thank you for sharing your thoughts! I had never heard of the Purgatorial Society before. I'll have to look into it! Your Carmelite friend is certainly blessed!

  2. I was just talking about my funeral with one of my (grown) children last week; I think my kids think it a bit weird that I think about such things! But not thinking about such things (or at least about preparing for eternity)is like knowing you're going on a trip and not bothering to prepare, but just pretending that you aren't going at all. Only - this is the most important journey we will ever make. I like the idea of beginning prayer right now!

    1. Nancy, I suppose the only proper thing is to try to keep our soul prepared for inevitable death at any moment, since we know not the day or the hour. I like your comparison to preparing for a journey!

  3. You know I'm laughing and you know why too, don't you? Remember the funny back and forth we had going on about your future funeral a few years back? And I insisted on being allowed to attend!

    Like you, what I really want are prayers and Masses said after I
    die :)

    (Though a few tears REALLY wouldn't upset me.)

    Great post, Anne!

    1. Mary, I'm so glad that I could bring some mirth into your day! I do remember that back and forth and I do hope you will attend my funeral. I'll take all the pray-ers in attendance that I can get! And if you should pass to the next life before me, I will pray and cry for you, I promise!

  4. Thank you, my kind friend! I promise to pray and cry for you too! Would you prefer soft weeping or loud sobs? Lol.