The Funeral That Never Was

A woman with one wish
by Matthew Schneider | Source: Virtue's Clues
Fr Joe Spitz was doing his regular rounds of visiting the sick. As he finished with the anointing of the sick and communion, Mary Santos asked him if she could discuss something.

“Father, I don’t know if my kids will know how to prepare my funeral. Can we plan it out now so it is all done right?”

“OK, what do you want?”

“Well, I want you to celebrate it in St Steven’s – can you right this down? – with my favorite songs: …” After a few more details, Mrs. Santos took the paper and read it. Before leaving, Fr Joe mentioned with a bit of irony,

“But don’t you be dying on me too fast. I’m going back to the farm to visit my parents tomorrow and I won’t be back for a week.”

A few days after he got back from his parents, the Parish secretary said a lawyer was on the phone for him.

“Hello, sir, how can I help you?”
“Hello, are you Fr Joseph Spitz?”
“Well, did you celebrate the funeral Mass for Mary Santos?”
“She’s dead? I didn’t even know she passed away. The last time I saw her was when I brought Communion a week ago Monday.”
“She died that Tuesday, but I need to be certain that you didn’t celebrate the funeral and she didn’t have the funeral at St Steven’s.”
“No, I’ve been back at my parents’ farm most of the time since then and the assistant pastor only celebrated one funeral while I was gone. I hope I’m not being too curious, but why do you ask?”
“Well, tomorrow is the reading of the will and it reads more or less as follows. If my children gave me a funeral Mass with Fr Joe at St Steven’s as I sent them all in a registered letter, the will is divided thus. If not, each child gets $1 and the rest is divided between these three charities.”
“OK, thanks. I think I definitely need to offer a prayer for her.”The next day, as expected, one of Mary’s kids called Fr Joe.
“Can you celebrate a funeral Mass for my mother, Mary Santos?”
“Well, where is the body.”
“We buried her a week ago.”
“Well, I’m sorry but once a body is buried, a funeral Mass can’t be celebrated.”
“Is there a possibility of digging her up for the funeral? I mean, we really want to have one.”
“Nope. The lawyer already told you that you aren’t getting the money.”
“How do YOU know?”
“Your mom’s lawyer called yesterday. How do you think he knew there had been no funeral? But the real question is why you didn’t carry out your mom’s wishes?”

Mary Santos estate of several hundred grand was divided among the three charities (none of which was St Steven’s). She never had a funeral Mass, but somehow in the providence of God, I think she received the grace of having one.

(The names here are all totally made up but the details were told me directly by “Fr Joe.”)


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