Friday, August 13, 2010


Specifically, this “park” is St Mary’s Cemetery in the Evergreen Park neighborhood, and it is a place of exercise as well as remembrance. This morning early there were a few of us trying to hit our target heart-rate. Three were on bicycles: one was a man who was clearly a casual rider; the others were women who were more intense—racing bikes, spandex togs, helmets… and then there I was, doing my stand-up comedy imitation of power walking.

Cemeteries bring out wonderful opportunities for prayer and for reflection. The names on the tombstones reflect the ethnic variety of Chicago: Cavallini alongside Reyes alongside Kovacecic alongside Callaghan alongside Vrdoljak. These grounds (you will pardon the pun) are great levelers.

The gravestones themselves are also intriguing. Some are simple headstones, and some are more ornate, shaped like open books. Some are small monuments, and some are full-scale. Some are personal or family mausoleums. And of course there are the larger mausoleums with many burial slots.

Beyond the names and dates and family relationship, typically there is little inscribed on them. A few have Rest In Reace. A few more have My Jesus, mercy or Eternal rest grant unto them… And I just wrote a piece (two pieces, actually) based on the citation (originally on a funeral monument in a painting) Et in Arcadia ego, so my mind was already in gear to think of such things for myself. What would I want on my monument? And this is not so “rhetorical” a question as one might think—what would you want on your headstone?

On the side of one of the multiple-slot mausoleums, there is a bronze plaque that speaks of being wakened to glory. I am not so sure that’s what I want to look forward to; I think I’ll be just as happy being in the presence of the One who loves me; after that, blending into a crowd (especially a crowd around the Lord!) wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. If our hearts are restless until they rest in Him (as St Augustine wrote), then who would need anything more than that rest?

For myself, I think I would want my headstone to designate me simply “Priest,” and I would like one verse of I Corinthians 15 chiseled in: “Thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

How about you? This really isn’t morbid; after all, it’s all about our Faith.
[The headstones for my parents are actually in Resurrection Cemetery, which I'll be visiting on Sunday.]


  1. The departed....remind me that it Would be wonderful if we as a people in general would expend as much (genuine) time and attention to matters of eternal consequence, as we spend (boucoup $$$$ and time) on matter that will one day return to dust.

  2. Going on an economic 'bender', as well as offering medical insight to the fledging doctor in training, we are giving our bodies to a medical school. After their learning is completed re our donations, we shall hope to have only a small monument that conveys a brief sentiment of love for our Lord and the human race.