Family Tradition

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

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.)


Comments (26)

Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It is ridiculous and small minded to limit the reading of anything the family wants read at a funeral service.  Good for you for sticking to your guns!

Jul 02, 2011 06:53 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


Seems to me the funeral should be for the person who has died and the family, and respect their wishes. Good for you!


Jul 02, 2011 07:29 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Thank you all so much for your comments.  I realized when I re-read this that I made the priest sound like a bit more of a heavy than he actually was.  It was a beautiful service, and the things he were perfect - the homily, which can get a bit scary for families - was totally appropriate, and the music was lovely, with a soloist who could go on American Idol and win.   And I so agree that the churches need to accommodate the families, who are often crazed during the planning period.

Funerals are a lot like weddings - you have a church, a ceremony, a lot of people and later food and drink.  But with a funeral, you only have a few days to plan. 

Jul 02, 2011 07:54 AM
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Patridia - words of wisdom, and so wonderfully said. Who wiwll not sign on it? Let the life cycle keep on.

Jul 02, 2011 08:36 AM
Kathleen Vetrano
RE/MAX Gateway - Falls Church, VA
Helping YOU Achieve YOUR Dreams

Patricia,  It is a beautiful prayer, a prayer of hope and understanding.  These are the words that bring us peace and clarity through very difficult times.  You, your Mom and family are in our additional prayers and thoughts.  Thank you for sharing this beautiful prayer which I am sure many of us will hold dear. 

Jul 02, 2011 08:44 AM
Carol-Ann Palmieri
RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group - Franklin, MA
"Cal" the Real Estate Gal

Patricia.   Those words are comforting and I thank you for sharing them.   My sympathies to you and your family.   Cal   

Jul 02, 2011 10:22 AM
Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!


Very nice passage and very comforting words. I can see why it was fitting

Jul 02, 2011 11:25 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Pat --- I'm glad the prayer was a part of the service --- I have bookmarked it.  My condolences to you and your family.  

Jul 02, 2011 02:16 PM
Jeanne M. Gavish
Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - Spring Hill, FL
Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S

Pat, Beautiful and thank you.  I am an Irish Catholic who was married to an Israeli Jew, and my children benefit from the beauty and rich heritage of both faiths.  Very comforting.

Jul 02, 2011 02:48 PM
Jackie Connelly-Fornuff
Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY - Babylon, NY
"Moving at The Speed of YOU!"

What a beautiful passage. It shouldn't matter where it comes from. Glad you did it!

Jul 02, 2011 04:28 PM
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Pat, My Sincere Condolences. The priest was a heavy and wrong. So caught up in all the dogma and appearances instead of the wishes of the family. I was honored to be asked to deliver a Jewish Prayer in a large Temple as a Gentile and guess what I was followed by? 2 Protestant ministers who came and sang Christian songs to share in a tribute to a Jewish Man of the Year at this temple. 

Prayer is Prayer, all good words of faith makes God smile. 

Jul 02, 2011 04:52 PM
Vickie Slade
Colorado Landmark, Realtors - Boulder, CO
Service You Can Trust ~ Someone You Can Depend On

Pat, a moving and meaningful passage and.... such a wonderful family tradition. No doubt, your Mother is smiling upon you for sticking to your beliefs and...  your traditions... and such a beautiful tribute. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers to you for your loss.   No doubt, your Mom, was a wonderful woman... Wish I could have known her.

Jul 02, 2011 05:05 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Pat - You honored your Mother in a beautiful way by insisting upon that prayer. Good for you. I'm sure your Mother was watching and approving.

My thoughts are with you - and you have my heartfelt condolences.

Jul 02, 2011 05:21 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

My sincerest condolences. You honored your mother with thoughtful words, you handled it with grace and comfort to those who attended the services. Your words came from the heart and you spoke with eloquence that conveyed a message to the family and friends of the people who loved your mom by being yourself, the daughter of a loving and caring woman who I'm sure always was proud of you.

That priest was out of line. I'm Catholic too and gave many eulogies. I've always customized my eulogies to fit the person who the reading was about. No priest ever had a problem with what I said, nor did they tell me what to say or what I couldn't say. That was inappropriate of him. For my own husband, I chose a verse that is not accepted by the Catholic faith; yet it spoke words about him. When my dad died, my dad was a fisherman and I talked about his fish stories that had nothing to do with scripture, but my mother, my sisters and family members were moved and it gave them a sense of peace because anyone who knew my dad, knew he'd approve. I could go on, but this is not about me, it's about you.

I'm sorry for the loss of your mom. Losing a mother is very emotional. You don't owe any apologies to any priest or anyone about the words you chose to speak. Your tribute to your mom was heartwarming and meaningful. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Jul 02, 2011 11:35 PM
Tish Lloyd
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Wilmington, NC
Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches

Pat ~ My most heartfelt condolences to you and your family on the passing of your Mother.  How proud of you she must have been and how fitting you honored her regardless of the priest's wishes.  I'm sure God handled his heart just as surely as you handled your Mother's legacy by doing the right thing at the right time.  May God continue to hold and Bless you as you grieve. 

Jul 03, 2011 04:53 AM
Debbie Atwood
Century 21 Real Estate Center Everett, WA - Everett, WA
Real Estate Broker

Beautiful words and I'm glad you included them in your service.  My condolences to you and your family.

Jul 03, 2011 05:45 AM
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Pat, what an amazing prayer, I am glad you decided to just do it instead of listen to some silly rules that were totally meant to be broken.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I know how hard this is.

Jul 03, 2011 05:52 AM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Pat, I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful picture of your mother. I am so happy you chose to have this passage read. It is so appropriate for such an occasion. Many blessings.

Jul 03, 2011 06:36 AM
Ron Marshall
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire

Pat, that was so beautiful.   And, thank you for sharing that with us. 

I cannot imagine why that particular clergy would have an issue with much of anything that the bereaved wanted to include in a service unless it was completely sacreligous. 

Comfort is the key.....and something that has been in your family for years should be not even an issue.

Thanks for sharing another great photo of your mom!

Jul 03, 2011 11:25 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Patricia, Alice would be so unbelievably proud of you. You have paid her great honor and tribute. She was lucky to have you for a daughter.  The world is better because, for a brief space, they lived in it.  Amen!



Let's talk when you have a moment.



Jul 03, 2011 05:04 PM