This was first published on All Souls Day of 2009.
I’ll stay Catholic as long as it means I can have a Catholic funeral. Okay, that’s not the only reason I’ll stay Catholic, but it helps—especially if there’s an Irish touch to it.
Today, All Souls Day, I attended the funeral Mass of my friend and fellow Lay Carmelite, Mary McComb. It’s quite significant that her funeral Mass was held today, because this is the one day in the universal Church, when, in every parish throughout the world, a Mass is celebrated in remembrance of those who have died and gone before us to eternal life. That’s a lot of prayer!
Some of the last words I heard from Mary were an intercessory prayer she said at our Lay Carmelite Day of Recollection. She prayed that her husband Bill and her 4 children, all of whom preceded her in death, would be in heaven so they could all be together. Now Mary is usually quiet during our intercessory prayer time, so the fact that she made this prayer struck me as significant. I thought to myself, “Mary knows something.” When I shared this with my other fellow Lay Carmelites during today’s reception meal, many of them remembered that and said they were thinking the same thing.
A half hour before the funeral Mass began, we prayed the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary for Mary. Five of us Lay Carmelites took turns for each decade of the Rosary. The theme of the Glorious Mysteries is Resurrection. It was so apropos as preparation for a Catholic funeral, because it is a celebration of immortality and the Resurrection of the dead.
Our pastor, Fr. John Cantwell, was fond of Mary. She and Bill welcomed him when he arrived as pastor by taking him around our town and the other local areas and telling him the history. Fr. C. loves history.
Here are some of the memories that were told about Mary, but I can’t remember all of them.
- Mary came to daily Mass every day. And on the weekend she came to all three parish Masses, one on Saturday evening and two on Sunday morning.
- When Bill was living the two of them would rise very early and drive around the perimeter of Placerville praying the Rosary as the went. En route they stopped at the City Hall, the Courthouse, the local hospital, the Police and Fire Stations, and Schools as they prayed. They ended at Church where they remained for morning Mass.
- Every Friday Mary changed the holy water fonts located at every door of our Church. She disposed of the old, soiled water; washed the container; and placed fresh holy water in each one. [Catholics bless themselves with holy water when entering Church as a reminder of their baptism, which is the entrance into the life of Christ.]
- Mary was the lemonade lady. When the Ladies’ Society had social events or funeral receptions, Mary prepared the lemonade. No one else was allowed! But today someone else prepared it.
- Mary had the faith. Yes, she had a hard life. I can’t think of anything more difficult than to bury one’s own child. Can you? She buried four of her eight children, two before her husband Bill died, and two since then. There are two benches in our Church courtyard in commemoration of the first two who died.
- Mary will be inurned in St. Patrick Cemetery Mausoleum, in our parish cemetery. She will be near her husband and children. Father said Mary sometimes lamented that the ground by their grave sites was uneven and it was hard to grow grass there. So he promised to level the ground for Mary. [The mausoleum is a recent addition, so I’m not sure Bill is in it.]
Mary was one of a kind. She wore her heart on her sleeve, yet she had a backbone and was strong.
I loved the music that was chosen for her funeral Mass. All, but one, were familiar to me. The one I didn’t know did have a familiar tune. It was the words that were new. It’s called, “O Loving God,” and it is sung to the tune of “O, Danny Boy.”
O loving God, we send you daughter home to you,
home to a place of everlasting love, to join there
with the angel choirs and blessed saints, and to be-
hold your glorious holy face.
Receive her soul and
let eternal light shine, eternal light forever on her
soul, so she may be forever in your dwelling place,
and be at rest in peace until we meet her there.
O loving God, have mercy and forgiveness
upon your servant’s now departed soul, and may you
grace and love enfold her evermore, so she may
dwell in paradise at last.
Back to refrain.
(Copyright: 2004 by Paulette M. McCoy and published by OCP)
Yes, I definitely love a Catholic funeral! And I recommend planning out the kind of funeral you want to have before it happens. I feel motivated to start planning mine soon.