This is the document in my Evernote, but just in case my children don’t think to look in there. Here are my Funeral Wishes
To my beloved children: Liam, Emma and Zoë
Although I have spoken of this often, and you all know my funeral wishes generally, this is where I write it out.
My faith in the victory of Christ and the promise of the resurrection is total, and therefore I want my funeral to reflect this conviction. Whether there are 5 people at my funeral or 500, the message that they should all hear is that of John 10:10 – Christ came that we may have life, and life in all its fullness. Hold onto that. I want you to know that I love you, that I have had a good life, filled with the joy of marriage, children and loved being a priest. I know I moaned a lot, but that’s because it mattered. Don’t think about the last bit of my life, but look over the whole of it and see a life fully lived and a life fully enjoyed.
I would like a full Requiem Mass, with as much outrageous celebration as possible: acolytes, thurifer, invite as many people to concelebrate as they wish: this is all about the resurrection, so WHITE vestments.
I don’t want a coffin: it shields us from the reality of death, which comes to us all and is very much a part of life. Wrap my body in a hessian sack, or even better used coffee bean sacks, which is an irony which will continue to tickle me for ever. You don’t therefore need to have me carried in: use the trolley. Inside the sack, dress me in my cassock, alb and if it is still there, my first mass WHITE vestments: it was my greatest privilege to celebrate the Holy Mysteries and when I see my Redeemer face to face, I hope that he will forgive my many sins and recognise how much I loved him in his Holy Eucharist. Put my biretta on the top and a single red rose. No other flowers, because I trust that whatever church this happens in will have it all sorted by Sunday. If I die in Lent or Advent, then you shouldn’t have flowers in Church anyway.
This bit needs to be passed to the principal celebrant, as it might sound a little bit prissy, but the priests will know what I mean. It’s their Mass, but I would prefer the 2nd Missal (1998) Roman Eucharistic Prayer III because it was what I always used for a Requiem, and the words are so lovely. The Preface and Collect of Christian Death from the same Missal would be nice, but as was my practice, frame it within a Common Worship structure; but no collect for purity (use it as the vesting prayer) and definitely no prayer of humble access: I always hated that prayer.
Bring me into Church the night before and say the Vespers for the Dead over me.
Philippians 2:5-11 – the kenotic hymn – God loved us so much that he poured himself out for me. And you.
John 14:1-6 from “do not let your hearts be troubled” to “I am the way, the truth and the life” – take both of these ideas to heart… it’s all true.
Mass Setting: James MacMillan St Anne’s Mass (which will remind me/us fondly of St. Thomas the Apostle, Elson my first Incumbency), but that doesn’t have a Gloria, so use David Thorne’s Gloria from the Mass of S. Thomas. These are congregational mass settings and people know them. For a Requiem you can still use a Gloria in Lent/Advent.
(very much a work in progress)
Introit – Christ Triumphant
Creed – to the tune of Blaenwern/Hyfydol (I always get them confused)
Offertory – Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
Communion – Let all mortal flesh keep silent
Post Communion – We want to see Jesus lifted high (actions are mandatory!!!)
Recessional – Sing my tongue the glorious battle. Take my body out to Pangua Ligna, just like Maundy Thursday.
I would prefer to be buried, anywhere convenient. However, if that isn’t practical, then go ahead and cremate me: if you do that, then perhaps you might like to dispose of my ashes around Walsingham – a place so central to my faith. You can go to the field where we did the Youth Pilgrimage for so many years, and put me there: never feel you need to return to my grave/ashes because by then I am in Christ and with Christ and be very assured that it’s okay.
After the Requiem Mass, much Plymouth Gin, Malt Whisky, Wine and Real Ale should be drunk: remember me fondly, forgive me my failings, my insensitivities and shortcomings as a person and a priest, tell some funny stories (usually at my expense) but most of all remember that Christ has defeated sin and death and know the promise of the resurrection: God wipes away every tear from your eyes, so do not be sad: know that I love you all and in the presence of the Lord, I will be praying for you. Forever.