I'm writing this one to share something that is becoming a family tradition with the Kennedy's.
About ten years ago, a dear friend died, and there was this incredibly beautiful and somewhat comforting reading during his funeral service. When my father died, I tracked it down and my nephew read it during his funeral Mass. Since then, whenever any member of my extended family has passed away, the reading was included in the service.
This week, as we were working out the details of my mother's service, her parish priest balked at including a Jewish prayer in a Catholic funeral Mass.
"Oh, sorry. Not in my church." While trying to be very understanding, he explained we had to stick to one reading from the Old Testament and one from the New, and there were very limited choices.
Well, now, that was like waving the old red cape in front of the bull!
So I just put it into the program. And one of her favorite grandsons read the Jewish prayer during her Catholic Mass. It was beautiful, and I know that my mother loved it.
Lightening did not strike, and the priest was a little annoyed, but very gracious.
And here it is:
If some messenger were to come to us with the offer that death should be overthrown, but with one inseparable condition that birth should also cease; if the existing generation were given the chance to live forever, but on the clear understanding that never again would there be a child, or a youth, or first love, never again new persons with new hopes, new ideas, new achievements; ourselves for always, and never any others --- could the answer be in doubt?
We shall not fear the summons of death; we shall remember those who have gone before us and those who will come after us.
Alas for those who cannot sing, but die with all their music in them. Let us treasure the time we have and resolve to use it well, counting each moment precious ---a chance to apprehend some truth, to experience some beauty, to conquer some evil, to relieve some suffering, to love and be loved, to achieve something of lasting worth.
Help us, God, to fulfill that promise that is in each of us and so to conduct ourselves that, generations hence, it will be true to say of us: The world is better because, for a brief space, they lived in it.
(From the Yom Kippur Memorial Service iGates of Repentence, The New Union Prayer Book, 1978, p. 484.)