From today until the 30th of this month, a mass will be said each day for the peaceful repose of the soul of my deceased friend Courtney. He was my mentor in bookbinding and restoration and a fellow fan of Baroque music and great literature. When I met him and became his apprentice he was an apostate, an embittered Catholic, and I was just beginning to fall in love with Christianity and in particular with the Roman Catholic Church. I didn't dare tell him of my inclinations for fear of him crushing my still-fragile faith.
My husband and I moved away, and I entered RCIA. Not long before my baptism, I finally told Courtney, via telephone, that I intended to be baptized a Roman Catholic. He was slightly scornful.
"I hope you're not becoming a Catholic because you like Gregorian Chant," he said.
"What do you take me for," I responded. "I like green eyes, but I didn't marry Bret because he happens to have them."
I was baptized and a couple of years passed. One Christmas I sent Courtney a rosary I made for him. Unpolished agate beads and a Celtic crucifix, a nod to his Irish heritage. He called to thank me.
"It's been so long...I've forgotten how to pray the damn--um, how to pray it." I sent him a hand-written rosary booklet. And he began to pray the rosary nightly.
One year he apologized for not sending me a Christmas present, so I asked him, "If I ask something of you within reason, would you do it?"
"I would if I could, " he responded.
"Go to mass this Easter, Courtney."
Well, I think he would have, but he had emergency gall bladder surgery just days before that Easter. And after that, he didn't go anywhere much. His eyes were getting poor and he didn't like to drive, and he didn't want to ask his Episcopalian wife (who only went to services on Christmas and Easter anyway) to take him to mass. I think if Bret and I had been there, he would have fully returned to the Church.
As it stands, he died shortly after a stroke two years ago this month. As far as I know, he prayed the rosary daily, and it was brought to his hospice room where he died. I don't know if he was buried with it, for he was cremated. His widow is a lovely woman, but we have not kept in touch.
I sent a stipend and a request for the Gregorian series of masses to be offered for Courtney to the Benedictines of Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma. I will unite myself in prayer with them for the next thirty days, and on the first Saturday (our Lady's day) after the masses are completed, I hope and pray that Courtney's soul will be released and that his guardian angel will accompany him to heaven.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon him.