I think it was St. Robert Bellarmine who said priests should preach on the four last things at least once a month. Pondering on death and judgment, heaven or hell, has a way of focusing the mind. What’s really important in this life after all? It’s to live in a way that leads us to our God-ordained destiny. As the old Baltimore Catechism put it. “God made us to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world so we can be happy with Him in the next.” The big question is, “How am I doing, Lord?” The answer points to our final destination.
This weekend we are out of town for a funeral in Wheeling, WV for a wife, a widow, a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother, a friend. She lived a long life, a vibrant life until the last year or so when age (92) and infirmity took a heavy toll.
And now we all meet today and tomorrow to grieve and celebrate the end of a marathon life. I can’t think of Martha without smiling. She had a sardonic sense of humor adding to the fun of every family celebration. I never heard of euchre until I added Kreitzer to my name and if anyone in the family was the player par excellence, it was Martha. Sometimes when I step out of my comfort zone to make a bold bid on a weak hand, I do it in Martha’s name. She taught me to take the risk.
It’s particularly fitting that Martha’s wake and funeral are taking place in conjunction with the Feast of Corpus Christ, since she spent most of her life as a parishioner of Corpus Christi parish in Warwood, a suburb of Wheeling. She will be buried tomorrow from the parish and laid to rest next to her husband of many years, Calvin, in a cemetery filled with Kreitzer relatives and friends. To visit there is like a family reunion. My husband’s parents and grandparents, two siblings, aunts and uncles all wait there for the resurrection of the dead — so unlike my family spread all over the country from the Naval Academy in Maryland to Virginia to Ohio to Vermont to Wisconsin and farther west.
Today and tomorrow are reminders that we need to be ready at every moment for that last moment. After birth and baptism, the most important day of our lives is death day. And today and tomorrow I’ll be praying to St. Joseph for the grace of my own happy death.
Martha received the last rites and was surrounded by family in her final days and hours. She met her little great grandson in April, the first boy, who joined four big sisters in April. She had two goals in those last months - to celebrate her 92nd birthday and meet her little great grandson. Those events were culminating joys of a long life.
In your kindness please pray for the repose of her soul. May she rest in peace and may God lead us all to everlasting life.