Orationes Mortuorum (Complete Text)

Orationes Mortuorum (Complete Text) February 21, 2023

*The complete text of Orationes Mortuorum:  40 guided meditations based on the last words of the last 40 people who’ve been executed in the United States (as of 2/1/2023).  If you would like a print/ereader copy with pictures : CLICK HERE

Orationes Mortuorum  (Prayers of the Dead)   A Lenten Series, 2023   Jeff Hood   Sponsored by:   Saint Miriam Parish and Friary Death Penalty Action Clergy United Against the Death Penalty Red Letter Christians

The season of Lent is about grief.  It is a time to consider what it must have been like for Christ to have realized that he was about to be given over to his oppressors to be executed.  Aware of what was coming, Christ grieves.  In this season, God calls us to grieve.  We are not eternal.  We will die.  The question thus becomes what are we willing to give so that others might live?  In the pages that follow, I engage the words of others who were about to be executed to see what they might offer us in terms of lessons in grief…and, for that matter, lessons in life.  Each reflection is from one of the last 40 people to be executed in the United States.  Every reflection offers brief information about the execution, a picture of the executed, the final words of the condemned person, words of Christ’s from the Garden of Gethsemane, a response to all previous words and a final prayer.  There are italicized words to help guide you on what to do on each page.  In these reflections, it is my hope that God might find us in the last words of others so that we might find and advocate for life in the here and now.  Salvation comes from giving ourselves so that others might live.  May the lessons contained herein manifest in us so that we might manifest life in the lives of those we have condemned.

The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood February 22, 2023

Though the circumstances are varied and a few were undoubtedly innocent, the following 40 people were convicted of the murders of over 60 people.

1. 07/17/2020   Federal   Dustin Lee Honken, 52   Concentrate      Meditate   “Hail Mary, Mother of God, pray for me.”   Pray   “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane…”   Reflect   God, I keep reflecting. God, I am in deep sorrow. God, I am in the valley of the shadow of death. God, sustain me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

2.  08/26/2020   Federal   Lezmond Charles Mitchell, 38   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “No, I’m good.”   Pray   “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”   Reflect   God, draw us to sit. God, draw us to wait. God, draw us to know. God, draw us to pray.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

3. 08/28/2020   Federal   Keith Dwayne Nelson, 45   Concentrate.   
   Meditate   No Response.   Pray   “He took his closest friends with him…”   Reflect   God, you are friend. God, you love us. God, you never leave us. God, you never forsake us.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

4. 09/22/2020   Federal   William Emmett Lecroy, Jr., 50   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “Sister Battista is about to receive in the postal service my last statement.”   Pray   “Jesus became paralyzed with sorrow.”   Reflect   God, cry with us. God, feel our pain. God, know our suffering. God, don’t hide our hope.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.    

5. 09/24/2020   Federal   Christopher Andre Vialva, 40   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I’m ready, Father.”   Pray   “Jesus was deeply troubled.”   Reflect   God, is silent. God, doesn’t care. God, I am grieved. God, I am in tears.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

6. 11/19/2020   Federal   Orlando Cordia Hall, 49   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “Our justice system has never been fair when it comes to the poor and people of color. On this fact alone, there shouldn’t be a death penalty…”   Pray   “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”   Reflect   God, this is too much. God, I am overwhelmed. God, the sorrow is drowning me. God, I am dead.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

7. 12/10/2020   Federal   Brandon Bernard, 40   Concentrate
     Meditate   “I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t.”   Pray   “Stay here and keep watch with me.”   Reflect   God, don’t leave me. God, just stay right here. God, just keep watch with me. God, don’t go.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.   

8. 12/11/2020   Federal   Alfred Bourgeois, 56   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I ask God to forgive all those who plotted and schemed against me, and planted false evidence.”   Pray   “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground…”   Reflect   God, I can’t go any further. God, I have fallen. God, I can’t get up. God, help me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.  

9. 01/13/2021   Federal   Lisa Marie Montgomery, 52   Concentrate   
   Mediate   “No.”   Pray   “Jesus prayed.”   Reflect   God, I pray. God, I know you hear me. God, please listen. God, I need you right now.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

10. 01/14/2021   Federal  Corey Johnson, 52   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I am not the same man that I was…The pizza and strawberry shakes were wonderful, but I didn’t get the jelly-filled doughnuts that I ordered. What’s with that?”   Pray   “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”   Reflect   God, I don’t know what to do. God, I don’t know where to go. God, I don’t know how I got here. God, please save me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

11. 1/16/2021   Federal   Dustin John Higgs, 48   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I’d like to say I am an innocent man…I did not order the murders”   Pray   “Not as I will, but as you will.”   Reflect   God, I trust you. God, I don’t know what is next. God, I don’t know how this will work out. God, I just want to do your will.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

12. 05/19/2021   Texas   Quintin P. Jones, 41   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I hope I left everyone a plate of food, full of happy memories…”   Pray   “Then he returned and found them sleeping.”   Reflect   God, the hour is difficult. God, help me not to sleep. God, help me to know. God, help me to be.    Pray   God, don’t execute me.

13. 06/30/2021   Texas   John Hummel, 45   Concentrate   
  Meditate  “I love each and every one of you.”  Pray  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”   Reflect   God, I am watching. God, I can see. God, evil is close. God, keep me from temptation.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

14. 09/28/2021   Texas   Rick Allan Rhoades, 57   Concentrate   
   Meditate   No Statement.   Pray  “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”   Reflect   God, hold my spirit. God, keep me strong. God, death is near. God, I am weak.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

15. 10/05/2021   Alabama   Willie B. Smith III, 51   Concentrate   
   Meditate   Silent prayer.   Pray   “…if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it…”   Reflect   God, take this cup. God, I’m not thirsty. God, don’t force me. God, show me another way.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.   

16. 10/28/2021   Oklahoma   John Marion Grant, 60   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “Let’s go, Let’s go, Let’s go!”   Pray   “…may your will be done.”   Reflect   God, I don’t know. God, I might know. God, I know. God, help me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

17. 11/17/2021   Mississippi   David Neal Cox, Sr., 50   Concentrate   
  Meditate  “And don’t ever read anything but the King James Bible…”  Pray  “So he left them and went away once more…”   Reflect   God, don’t leave. God, please stay. God, death is so close. God, I am yours.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

18. 12/09/2021   Oklahoma   Bigler Jobe Stouffer, Jr., 79   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “My request is that my father forgive them.”   Pray  “My Father…”   Reflect   God, I am calling. God, can your hear me. God, answer me. God, hear my cries.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

19. 01/27/2022   Oklahoma   Donald Anthony Grant, 46   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “Yo, God I got this…”   Pray   “… if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it…”   Reflect   God, don’t stop. God, please be near. God, help me.. God, I am here to do your will.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

20. 01/27/2022   Alabama   Matthew Reeves, 44   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “Don’t allow the state to use me or u as escape goat…”   Pray   “…may your will be done.”   Reflect   God, I don’t know you. God, I just want to know you. God, you are strange. God, you are the way.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.   

21. 02/17/2022   Oklahoma   Gilbert Ray Postelle, 35   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “No.”   Pray   “Then he returned to the disciples…”   Reflect   God, where is everyone. God, you said I wouldn’t be alone. God, I am afraid. God, there is no one but me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

22. 04/21/2022   Texas   Carl Wayne Buntion, 78   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I am ready to go to Heaven, warden.”   Pray   “Are you still sleeping?”   Reflect   God, is asleep. God, needs to wake up. God, I am counting on you. God, this doesn’t feel right.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.   

23. 05/03/2022   Missouri   Carman L. Deck, 56   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “Please give love, show love, BE LOVE!”   Pray   “Look, the hour has come…”   Reflect   God, I am dying. God, I can feel the last breathes. God, you weren’t supposed to leave. God, the hour of my death is here.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

24. 05/11/2022   Clarence Dixon, 66   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “Now, let´s do this shit.”   Pray   “…the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.”   Reflect   God, my feet are heavy. God, my mind is full. God, my soul longs to escape. God, save me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

25. 06/08/2022   Arizona   Frank Jarvis Atwood, 65   Concentrate  
   Meditate   “I pray the Lord will have mercy on all of us and that the Lord will have mercy on me.”   Pray   “Arise!”   Reflect   God, I didn’t sign up for this. God, I am walking alone. God, there are so many people.
God, no one will listen.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

26. 07/28/2022   Alabama   Joe Nathan James Jr., 50   Concentrate   
   Meditate   Silence.   Pray   “Let’s go!”   Reflect   God, I hear you. God, I don’t want to move. God, I’m trying. God, I’m standing now.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

27. 08/17/2022   Texas   Kosoul Chanthakoummane, 41   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I hope my death will bring them peace…”   Pray   “Here comes my betrayer!”   Reflect   God, I trusted you. God, evil surrounds me. God, you brought this to me. God, I am trapped.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

28. 08/25/2022   Oklahoma   James Allen Coddington, 50   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “Governor Stitt, I don’t blame you and I forgive you…”   Pray   “While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived.”   Reflect   God, that was my friend. God, I loved him. God, I feel abandoned. God, I am betrayed.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

29. 10/05/2022   Texas   John Henry Ramirez, 38   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “Just know that I fought a good fight, and I am ready to go.”   Pray   “With him was a large armed crowd…”   Reflect   God, there are guns everywhere. God, there is no escape. God, I am doomed. God, I asked for another way.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

30. 10/20/2022   Oklahoma   Benjamin R. Cole, 57   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I forgive everyone that I have done wrong…”   Pray   Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them…”   Reflect   God, you made the signal. God, you sealed my fate. God, you have left me. God, you kissed me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

31. 11/09/2022   Texas   Tracy Lane Beatty, 61   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “See you on the other side…”   Pray   “Judas went straight to Jesus…”   Reflect   God, I know them. God, they smiled at me yesterday. God, they were supposed to be my friends. God, they are here to kill me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

32. 11/16/2022   Arizona   Murray Hooper, 76   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “It’s all been said. Let it be done…”   Pray   “Judas kissed him”   Reflect   God, I can smell your breathe. God, I can hear your lies God, I know what you are doing. God, death is close this night.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

33. 11/16/2022   Texas   Stephen Barbee, 55   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “God knows the truth. He is the truth, the way, and the life.   Pray   ““Do what you came here for…”   Reflect   God, I am not afraid. God, I am in your hands. God, I will not turn back. God, I am yours.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

34. 11/17/2022   Oklahoma   Richard Fairchild, 63   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “Do not grieve for me.”   Pray   “Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.”   Reflect   God, I feel their hands. God, I feel your hands. God, I feel the world’s hands. God, these hands are going to kill me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

35. 11/29/2022   Missouri   Kevin Johnson, 37   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I apologize…”   Pray   “Put your sword back in its place…all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”   Reflect   God, I see the sword. God, it cuts deep. God, I am bleeding now. God, I thought the sword would save me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

36. 12/14/2022   Mississippi   Thomas Edwin Loden, Jr., 58   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I love you.” *in Japanese   Pray   “Do you think I cannot call on God to stop this?”   Reflect   God, I am doing what you told me to do. God, I am being who you told me to be. God, I am following your will. God, tell me what to do.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

37. 01/03/2023   Missouri   Amber McLaughlin, 49   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I am sorry for what I did, I am a loving and caring person.”   Pray   “It must happen this way.”   Reflect   God, you forced me here. God, there is no way out. God, don’t leave me. God, you can make another way.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

38. 01/10/ 2023   Texas   Robert Alan Fratta, 65   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “No.”   Pray   “Am I of any danger to you?”   Reflect   God, I am weak. God, you are strong. God, I didn’t do anything. God, they are determined to kill me.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.

39. 01/12/2023   Scott J. Eizember, 62   Concentrate   
   Meditate   “I’m at peace. My conscience is clear, completely.”   Pray   “Then all the disciples deserted him…”   Reflect   God, they have run away. God, it’s just us now. God, I lay down. God, don’t leave me here.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.   

40. 02/01/2023   Wesley Ruiz, 43   Concentrate 
  Meditate   “Don’t worry about me.  I’m ready to fly.”   Pray   “…and fled.”   Reflect   God, I’m confused. God, I’m afraid. God, I’m alone. God, I’m tired.   Pray   God, don’t execute me.    

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