A very sad Fr. Z and the promise of a Mass

Today, at the top of the hour (1600 UK – 1700 Rome – 1100 NYC) I will say Holy Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum for the repose of the soul of Fr. Dan Schuh.

I never met this priest.  I had never heard of him until just a few minutes ago when I read something that filled me with profound sadness.

Friends, take to heart what I wrote about the need for a return to black vestments and a proper sense of what a funeral is for.  We must pray for the dead.  Let us not canonize them or ourselves.

Read this and weep.

Priest’s funeral a celebration

St. Susanna flock says goodbye

By Sheila McLaughlin
smclaughlin@enquirer.com

MASON – Father Harry Meyer tried to imagine God’s reaction when St. Susanna pastor Dan Schuh appeared in heaven.

Probably, he said, it was the same as the teenaged skier who witnessed the 50-something priest tumble head over skis down the slopes one winter night at Perfect North Slopes.

"Awesome, dude!" Meyer told the 1,500-plus parishioners and priests who gathered for Schuh’s funeral Mass Wednesday morning.

Schuh, who was diagnosed with ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease – last year, [poor man] died Friday, only six weeks after handing over most of his church administrative duties to an associate pastor and hours after attending a staff meeting. His death caught many by surprise.  [The more reason to be prepared.  This will come to all of us.]

Wednesday’s funeral was more of a celebration of Schuh’s life as a widower, father, grandfather and former Kroger manager turned Catholic priest than a solemn affair[Because the "solemn", which in this case probably means something like "somber/focused/serious" would actually call upon those present to have an encounter with mystery.  Instead, most people want to be distracted from what St. Augustine calls "our daily winter".]

The presence of more than 80 priests in cream-colored vestments and Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk set it apart from the usual service.

The music was upbeat. The message was hopeful and light, often drawing chuckles from the crowd.

Meyer, St. Susanna’s pastor emeritus, referred to the 57-year-old Schuh as "Father Father" because of his dual role as father to his family and his church.

He joked about how Schuh – a hefty 280 pounds until ALS rendered him thin and frail – would certainly enjoy some of the benefits of heaven.

"Rich food and fine wine," Meyer quipped. "So, big Billy Pork Chop will no longer have to raid the refrigerator or be parched."  [Yah... that's the sort of elevating rhetoric we need during the funeral of a priest.]

In the end, Pilarczyk prayed over the casket, dispersing incense as he asked God to "open the gates in paradise for your servant."  [Thanks be to God for that prayer.]

He thanked all who had cared for Schuh in his last months.

Then, the archbishop and the priests led Schuh’s draped casket through the vestibule of the church, to the hearse waiting outside for the trip to Calvary Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.

The procession passed easels with hundreds of photographs of a usually smiling Schuh in every facet of his life, even as a young baseball player for the 1959 Fort Thomas All Stars.

It passed poster boards of farewell messages from students at St. Susanna School.  [Fine. There is plenty of room for that, too.  There is a time for celebration and the sentiment.  In. Its. Time. And. Place.]

"I will miss Fr. Dan," one boy scrawled in purple crayon alongside a stick-figure drawing of him and Schuh.

"And, I am happy that he is in heaven."  [And we hope... and pray that he is.  But let us first pray that God will show him mercy.]

I beg you, dear readers… for the love of God… If I have ever done anything to merit your attention, if ever you hear that I have died, please pray for me.  FOR me.

Priests, so much under attack, need your prayers, especially in death.

Why does this account bother me so much?

Let’s drill.

Christ’s death is a mystery, because mysteries reveal something hidden. They show us something unknown, something outside our experience.  In this case we are considering death as a mystery. 

This mystery’s allure and repellence come from the fact that we all must die. 

We instinctively flee from this reality. 

Consequently, we arrange our worlds so as to avoid the fact of death and distract ourselves from it. 

We look for way to occupy out time, shuttling from activity to activity.  We surround ourselves with noise.  We kill time with television, or the internet, or sports or endless forms of play, or even our work, noble though it may be. 

Silence and solitude are shoved aside so that we are less likely to confront the terror. 

That terror is death. 

What terrifies us about the mystery of Christ’s death is not just that He died, but rather that we still have to die even though He died and rose for us. 

We can’t avoid death.  We cannot control death.  We don’t understand death and we fear what we don’t understand.  Fear, at its root, is a result of the Fall.  Death and fear are inseparable, as cause to its effect. 

This is why, I think, so many funerals today are as described above.

Death’s mystery is supremely confronted in Holy Mass, and in its deepest way during the Requiem.    Perhaps this is why funerals tend to reveal the worst of our tendencies toward illicit liturgical creativity and bad taste.  Corruptio optimi pessima.

Holy Mass must be celebrated in such a way that it leads us into the mystery of Christ’s death, and our death.  Mass is therefore like the Cross.  It is a mystery.  It thus will allure and repel, reveal that things are hidden and demand faith in what is unseen, or rather seen only darkly as if through a glass.

We mustn’t dodge the reality of death.  We shove death aside, or paint it over with bright colors and candy music, at our peril.   So many funerals are arrange so that people can get through another hour or so without having confronted anything either frightening or meaningful.  We avert our gaze from what Christ did for us and from what we must yet experience.  

If Holy Mass is reduced to the banal it becomes merely another worldly distraction.  It becomes a show.

But Mass is a sacrament, in the sense of its being a mystery.  It prepares us for death, Christ’s and our own.  What other reason is there to go to any Mass, much less a funeral Mass?

The elements of solemnity, the focus, and the confrontation which characterize the older form of Requiem Mass, are a fearsome challenges to 21st century man. They are precisely what we need to train the soul for an encounter with mystery.  They purify us of our over-attachment to the immediate, to the easily and instantly comprehensible. 

The soul grows in faith, hope and charity only in contact with a reality so far beyond itself, so transcendent, that it cannot be grasped or controlled. 

The soul stands back in awe, in fear and wonder at what it cannot understand and yet knows somehow to be deeply true and necessary. 

Holy Mass necessitates our own sacrifice, deprivation, self-emptying, even unto death.  In this earthly life we are waiting for the Lord, watching for Him to come to fulfill His promises in us.  We are waiting for Him to save us from our incessant fear of death, which St. Augustine called “our daily winter” (ep. 38). 

Only by detachment from the merely worldly and through an interior movement of the soul upward, can the seeker come to “awe at transcendence” (William James), the experience of mystery.  Awe at transcendence, which is the very object of religion, cannot be induced by empty spectacle or too much manipulation of those very elements which draw us to mystery, or, above all, the removal of those elements. 

It must instead be promoted by a purification from distractions, from a measure of deprivation, of hunger, of longing for that which we glimpse only through the cleft in the rock, through the dark glass, through the mystery of the Cross.

Rest in peace, Fr. Schuh.  At least one Mass will be said for your soul’s repose.

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98 Responses to A very sad Fr. Z and the promise of a Mass

  1. Ohio Annie says:

    That is so sad. I will say a rosary for Fr. Schuh today.

    I have specifically instructed my parish to pray for me at the funeral and leave the happy stuff for the wake. A convert, I suspect I will be in trouble when I die and will need all the prayers I can get.

    I once heard a funeral Mass in my former parish. It was all “he’s in heaven now” happy talk and white vestments and that eagle song. gaack.

  2. jarhead462 says:

    Thank you Father. That was spot-on.
    I will pray for this Priests’ soul.

    Semper Fi!

  3. Baron Korf says:

    I’ll pray for your soul when you leave us. In return, once you get out, you pray for me because I know I’m really going to need all the prayers I can get! ^_^

  4. TNCath says:

    Since 2005, I have attended the funerals of 5 priests and 4 religious brothers. At every one of them the sentiment “Father/Brother _____ went to heaven” is touted. At the funerals of the religious brothers, they use the term “Mass of Ressurection” on the program for the Funeral Mass. The story of Father Schuh and his Funeral Mass is a perfect example of the complete misunderstanding of the Catholic understanding of death. It has evolved, in some aspects, into a very protestant and/or secularist observance.

  5. As a deacon I will commemorate the soul of Father Daniel during our services this weekend.

    I agree with your points here wholeheartedly, Father Z.

    …and promise to remember your soul the day you are called to be with the Lord.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  6. Matt says:

    I was taught a long time ago that at every single mass we attend we need to practice dying with Jesus during the sacrifice on the altar. That way, when the day comes for us we won’t be scared, because we’ll know we’ve done it hundreds of time before.

    I always liked that image….

  7. TNCath says:

    I hit the submit button too soon! Mi dispiace. May Father’s soul rest in peace.

  8. Patricia Gonzalez says:

    Dear Father, rest assured that you have my prayers in life and (if you precede me) in death as well. This post was especially appropriate because I will soon be playing at a Memorial Mass for the member of the parish KofC who have died during the past year. I can safely say that it will be a Mass such as you have described, a “celebration of their lives” rather than a heartfelt plea for God’s mercy on their souls. The music reflects that, including my least-favourites How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace. When I suggested the Salve Regina during a quiet part of the Mass, the choir director said that it had no “meaning”, that Amazing Grace was more meaningful and better known. It’s a sad situation, and I will be leaving that (unpaid job) after Christmas. It’s just not worth the trouble. Forgive the rant — I will definitely, as I said, remember you in my prayers. God bless you, and please pray for me too.

  9. mysticalrose says:

    This is quite a profound reflection, Fr. Z. Thank you.

  10. Mitch says:

    I fail to see how the majority of Funeral Masses state the individual is in heaven now…And this is not from the lay people who maybe have been denied proper Cathecis but from the Priests who actually know the truth about the whereabouts of the soul. How do we as lay people help to turn this around? It would seem that this needs to start with the Priests, am I correct? I too, like you Father, would like someone to pray for me and my soul when my time here is over, but fear that by that time no one will know how to anymore. Or even that they are supposed to. I guess I should write it down somewhere, and soon, as we never know when out time has come. And people still complain how sad funerals are or even worse do not attend them, even spiced up and watered down.

  11. Nathan says:

    Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

    I think that the TLM Requiem Mass is one of the most pointed contradictions with the world that Holy Mother Church has given us.

    In a culture where feelings and experiences are percieved as truth and objective truth derided, the black vestments, the constant prayers to God for mercy on the soul of the departed (and all the faithful departed as well), and especially the “Dies Irae” are a shot across the bow of those of us tempted to become “in the world, and of it as well.”

    O Lord, mercifully grant us the grace not to make feelings the basis of our faith.

    Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
    Quem patronum rogaturus?
    Cum vix iustus sit securus.

    Rex tremendae maiestatis,
    Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
    Salva me, fons pietatis.

    In Christ,

  12. Joan says:

    Fr. Z, I have just sponsored your enrollment in FOSS (Friends of the Suffering Souls). While you are alive (and me, too) I will undertake, on your behalf, to have a Mass offered for the Souls in Purgatory once a year. That is the undertaking when enrolled in FOSS.

    After your death, as a Deceased Member, you will be one of those souls for whom these Masses are offered.

    You can see what FOSS is all about at http://www.knocknovena.com/

  13. From Bishop Vasa’s latest column:

    It often happens at funerals that the consoling hope that the dearly departed is in heaven with God leads to an over-exaggerated statement that the newly departed is in heaven already. This, of course, is merely conjectured and not known. It is hoped for but not certain. Nonetheless these compassionate sermons can generate within us a profound sense of peace and even joy at the thought that our loved ones are with God. This does sound wonderful but we do not know if it is true or not. Imagine yourself having just died and having discovered that all of your past attachments to sin, which were never completely denounced, have trailed you into eternity. Imagine your shock as you discover that you must now spend (by analogy) one hundred years in purgatory. Imagine your hope as you recognize that the assiduous prayers and Masses offered by your friends and relatives on earth will greatly reduce your purgatorial sentence. Finally, imagine your shock and dismay as you see your family and friends still on earth “canonizing” you and rejoicing that you have no need of their prayers because you are already enjoying the beatific vision, already seeing God face-to-face. These are the ones whom we in the Church refer to as the Poor Souls.

    Undoubtedly, it is consoling for us on earth to envision our loved ones as already united with God in heaven but it is much more consoling for the poor souls in purgatory for us to presume that they are not yet fully reconciled with God. There is no harm done in praying for someone as if they were still in purgatory even if they are, in fact, in heaven. There is, by contrast, great harm done in not praying for someone because of a conviction that they are in heaven when they are, in fact, among the Poor and forgotten souls in purgatory. Put yourself in their shoes and pray for them as you will want your children and grandchildren to pray for you. A simple test. Call to mind those whom you know and love who have died in the past year. While you will certainly have recalled them many times in memory, have you also remembered on those occasions to say a decade of the rosary for them, have a Mass offered for them or gathered the family together to pray a rosary for the happy repose of the soul of that loved one? It is good to be remembered, it is better to be remembered in prayer.

    http://sentinel.org/node/9617

  14. The “Awesome, Dude!” celebrant Fr. Meyer is the previous (and now retired) pastor at St. Susannah. He is every inch the Bernardin man and was known to pray to a “Father/Mother God.”

  15. Choirmaster says:

    “Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, free the souls of all the faithful departed from infernal punishment and the deep pit. Free them from the mouth of the lion; do not let Tartarus swallow them, nor let them fall into darkness; but may the sign-bearer, Saint Michael, lead them into the holy light which you promised to Abraham and his seed.

    “O Lord, we offer you sacrifices and prayers in praise; accept them on behalf of the souls whom we remember today. Make them pass over from death to life, as you promised to Abraham and his seed.”

    -Offertory, Requiem Mass

    Just another gem from the Treasury of the Church. It would serve us (and the Faithful Departed) well to restore these prayers to our ordinary parish funeral rites.

    They are most beautiful, of course, in Latin. This quick translation was quoted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Requiem.

    Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
    et lux perpetua luceat eis.

  16. Tim Ferguson says:

    I plan on requiring that whomever preaches the homily at my funeral spends a little time reminding the congregation (howsoever small it might be) of what a terrible sinner I was, and exhorting them to pray for my soul. If need be, I’ll leave in my will a catalogue of my own sins.

    Fr. Z, insofar as I am capable, I will ensure prayers for your soul as well (nunc et post horam mortis). I will also bring a bb gun to your funeral, just in case anyone tries to release balloons, or pigeons for that matter.

  17. Calleva says:

    Amen to your wise words. Susan Tassone suggests leaving money in one’s will to have Masses said for one’s soul and recommends the practice of Gregorian Masses (a Mass for thirty consecutive days).

    The speed at which people canonise their beloved dead is cruel to the deceased. Is bad catechesis to blame or have these people really not understood the doctrine of Purgatory? No prayer for the Holy Souls is ever wasted; if you have a Mass said for Grandma and she is already in heaven, the merits will fall to someone else who needs it.

    Isn’t it ironic how ‘serious Catholics’ seem to be more concerned about not having an unexpected death, and having prayers said for their own souls? We’re more than half-way through November, but it’s never too late to pray for the Holy Souls!

  18. a catechist says:

    I agree 100% with you, Father. It is very serious. And yet, I can’t help but think about the kids for whom I’m a catechist at a very liberal parish–they all pray for the souls in purgatory. How did that happen? Because of one or two volunteer catechists who had them before me, who taught them about it & led them in prayer, esp. when someone in their family was dying or had died.

    Don’t get me wrong–liturgy matters now!!–but there is good news out there & I sincerely hope that many of the laypeople who post here will ask God if he’d like them to be catechists for an NO parish, to offer the next generation sound liturgical catechesis. I find the kids are open to hearing about traditions they haven’t seen for themselves. Brick by brick.

  19. J. Wong says:

    Thank you for reminding us Fr. Z.

    I will pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Schuh.

    “Ave Maria, gratia plena……ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.”

  20. Baron: In return, once you get out, you pray for me because I know I’m really going to need all the prayers I can get!

    I do pray for people who participate here. For example, as I have announced quite a few times, I will at times post ahead when I am going to say Mass and I remember people and their intentions, with a special remembrance of those who have been benefactors. It is an honor to pray for people. And one of my constant daily petitions is “for those for whom I have promised to pray”, just in case I have forgotten anyone.

  21. Gramps says:

    This parish is filled with issues and nothing that happens here surprises me nor does Pilarczyk presence. One quick story. I attended a mass there one sunday when Pilarczyk was present. The entire mass was a farce. The kids leave to go to a kids area during the gospel and are released back into the mass right about time for the Eucharist and it is chaos. Everyone there seemed to be oblivious to what was going on in the mass but not surprised because it seems like the priest and bishop were too busy having fun smiling and laughing. I left and went to find an actual mass and never went back there again.

  22. Jason Keener says:

    Wonderful post, Father Z.

    Another wise thing to do when planning for death is to specify in your final wishes that you would like prayers for the repose of your soul and money for Masses in lieu of flowers, etc. This information can be put right into one’s obituary, of course.

    Some of you might also be interested in the work of the Trappist Monks in Iowa who make beautiful handcrafted caskets. http://www.trappistcaskets.com/ (Never too early to prepare!)

    Pax Christi!

  23. Rather than share horror stories, I think our real focus here should be,…

    First, to say a prayer for this priest who died.

    Second, think about our own death.

    Third, think about our need to pray for the dead, constantly.

    Fourth, what Mass is really about.

  24. Paul Rimmer says:

    Father,

    Your words here are simply amazing. Thank you for your wisdom.

    I do indeed fear death a great deal. Please pray for me.

  25. Agreed, Father. To the extent I shared a horror story, it was to set context. We’ve been praying for Fr. Schuh since news arrived of his death.

  26. William of the Old says:

    Whispers in the Loggia has just posted this———-he doesn’t get it either.

  27. Patrick says:

    Fr.,

    “Fourth, what Mass is really about.”

    What is Mass really all about? I need to understand this better.

    Can you direct me to a good book or source or something that will help me get it?

    God bless,
    Patrick

  28. Ohio Annie says:

    Jason, I’m ordering an Abbey Casket from St. Meinrad. Plain poplar, just like the monks get.

  29. Peggy says:

    Thank you for the clear and catechesis, Fr Z. I pray for the soul of Fr. Schuh and all the faithful departed. I haven’t been to a Roman Catholic funeral since my youth–1970s. Most extended relatives and friends who’ve died were not Catholic. The hagiography and tributes were odd for me coming from a Catholic tradition.

    God bless you also Fr Z.

  30. I agree with you, Fr. Z., that so few realize the point of a funeral Mass (or All Soul’s Day). I have been to two funeral Masses this year in which the deceased was “canonized” at the funeral as the priest or deacon said in the homily “we know [insert name] is in Heaven” My first thought is: “why are we even here then?” Then in the next part of the Mass we are praying for their soul in the intercessions. What gives? I undestand wanting to console the grieving, but it’s not right to distort the reality of the situation.

    I ranted about this on All Soul’s Day this year. In fact, when I was growing up, I always thought that All Saints was for all the canonized Saints and All Soul’s was for the uncanonized Saints. And I grew up going to Catholic grade school.

    I will pray for this priest since it seems as though some of his friends are not.

  31. freddy says:

    Thank you for your prayers! Just wanted to let you know that you and all our priests are in our familys’ daily prayers. Will add some prayers today for this departed priest as well. God bless you!

  32. John 6:54 says:

    You mean all dogs go to heaven but all priests do not?

    Thank You Fr. Z for smacking us with some reality when it comes to the subject of death. We don’t get much of it out here in the secular fairyland we call the world.

  33. James Capaldi says:

    May God have mercy on the soul of Father Schuh. And may he bless you for another truly solid Catholic commentary.

  34. RichR says:

    I’m tempted to print out your OP, Fr. Z., and have it read at my own funeral. It captures the frustration and sense of injustice I feel at contemporary funerals. I think one of the most efficacious ways to get this point across is to 1) live as saintly a life as you can in God’s grace, and 2) make sure to have the homilist at your funeral beg the congregation for prayers for your soul. If most of them knew you as a godly person, the shock of hearing such a petition would really impress upon them the reality of Purgatory.

  35. Derik says:

    Dear Fr. Z.

    Thanks for your comments on this story. I keep you in my prayers.
    I will pray also for Fr. Dan Schuh. May God in his mercy forgive his sins and call him to His Right.

  36. Jason Keener says:

    Patrick,

    Here are some good internet resources about what the Mass is and its basic structure as found in the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms of the Roman Rite:

    http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/resources/books/calvary/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tridentine_Mass

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novus_Ordo_Missae#The_term_.22Novus_Ordo_Missae.22

    Some might not agree with the Wikipedia recommendations; however, Wikipedia does seem to provide an accurate and very understandable introduction to the structure of the Mass, its history, its development, etc.

    Pope Benedict XVI has written a book called the “Spirit of the Liturgy,” available from Ignatius Press. TAN Books sells a book called The “Incredible Catholic Mass: An Explanation of the Catholic Mass” by Rev. Martin Von Cochem.

    That should be enough to get you started.

  37. Matt says:

    I could be wrong, but at no less than Pope John Paul II’s funeral, didn’t then Cardinal Ratzinger make a specific reference to how we could all picture Pope JPII looking down at us from his window in the house of the father?

    Was he fast tracked to heaven or should the Cardinal have told the millions gathered to pray for the pontiff that he may enter heaven?

  38. AnnaTrad says:

    I have been to a few NO funerals where your left with the feeling of why would this person need prayers (though we know that they do) But at a Requiem Mass you are left in no doubt for the need for prayer for the person who is in the presence of God been judged, you are also strongly reminded that you will soon be there yourself especially in the Sequence:Dies ires, dies illa (Dreaded day, that day of ire)

  39. kat says:

    When our dear Father Damian of St. Benedict’s Chapel in VA died a few years ago we were all asked to pray for his soul. Many, many Masses were offered for this dear servant of God. He was a priest for 65 years, and came out of retirement for his last 13 years to offer the TLM.

    It really drove home to all the parishoners that if this saintly man needed our prayers after death, then we who couldn’t have served God as faithfully must need many more prayers and Masses said for us to get us into Heaven.

  40. Matt: I could be wrong, but at no less than Pope John Paul II’s funeral, didn’t then Cardinal Ratzinger make a specific reference to how we could all picture Pope JPII looking down at us from his window in the house of the father? Was he fast tracked to heaven or should the Cardinal have told the millions gathered to pray for the pontiff that he may enter heaven?

    As Fr. Neuhaus mentioned on TV at the time, Card. Ratzinger was nothing if not theologically precise, so his statement surely was somehow nuanced properly.

    But this past April, I attended a solemn high Requiem Mass for John Paul II (on his 3rd anniversary) conducted by the FSSP at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament (Mother Angelica’s) in Alabama. It being an EF Mass for the dead, there was of course no sermon at the usual point.

    But after the Mass and before the blessing at the black catafalque topped with papal red, the celebrant replaced his black chasuble with a black cope and mounted the pulpit for his “tribute”, which never until the last two sentences mentioned the deceased. Instead he outlined why the solemn Requiem Mass is the most impressive (and expressive) of all Catholic liturgies, dealing directly as it does with death as the wages of sin — after which each of us can expect judgment followed by either purgatory or hell — with the sole and undiluted purpose throughout of offering sacrifice for the repose of the soul of the deceased.

    He ended by saying (very closely, as I recall): “Perhaps someday we will be privileged to pray to John Paul as Blessed. But today we pray instead for the repose of his soul, that he may in time be permitted to join the ranks of the Blesseds.”

    Afterwards, there was some discussion why this Mass had not been televised by EWTN — there being do many JP II devotees worldwide who surely would have wanted to see it. Someone conjectured that it was considered just too hardcore Catholic too be shown on “global Catholic television”.

  41. Patrick,
    Speaking of John Paul II, he gave a wonderful summary of “what the Mass is about” in Chapter 1 of this encylical

    Ecclesia de Eucharistia
    http://www.adoremus.org/EcclesiaDeEucharistia.html

    Although a “chapter”, it’s just 11 paragraphs, which explain the first 4 sentences:

    “The Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed” (I Cor 11:23) instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His body and His blood. The words of the Apostle Paul bring us back to the dramatic setting in which the Eucharist was born. The Eucharist is indelibly marked by the event of the Lord’s passion and death, of which it is not only a reminder but the sacramental representation. It is the sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated down the ages.

    Even briefer: Christ offered Himself on the Cross as a sacrifice in propitiation for our sins. That same sacrifice is re-presented — or made present — on the altar at every Mass.

  42. therese says:

    “It was all “he’s in heaven now” happy talk and white vestments and that eagle song. gaack.” was the comment by Ohio Annie

    Bear in mind that the opening line of eagle song is based on the “tritone diabolus” or the Devil’s tritone. In my former parish (in charge of choir with an average age 60 and the pitch awareness of a flatulent cow) I beat off all requests to play it by insisting that they turned up for an hour’s rehearsal beforehand. Luckily they never called my bluff.

  43. John says:

    Father Z;

    Welcome to the bankrupt liberalism of the rainbow Pilarczyk regime (successor to the bankrupt liberalism, or worse, of the rainbow Bernardin regime). Please keep tabs on Cincinnati on your blog now and then, as we have a new Coadjutor who has his work cut out for him. I will say a prayer for Father Schuh.

  44. Henry,

    How about do you go to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament?

  45. dymphna says:

    “Rich food and fine wine,” Meyer quipped. “So, big Billy Pork Chop will no longer have to raid the refrigerator or be parched.”

    I just don’t get this. Where does it say in the catechism that we will
    spend Heaven pigging out?

  46. Greg,

    Only on special occasions like the one mentioned, it being over 400 miles round trip for me. I’d probably find an excuse more often if we didn’t have weekly and sometimes biweekly TLM’s here now. Because in addition to the occasional TLM at the (monastery) Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, their daily OF Mass is the most sacral I’ve ever experienced personally — ad orientem, Latin, chant, wonderful ars celebranda, etc. Seems to me that showing it regularly on EWTN would be quite a boost for Benedict’s “reform of the reform” agenda.

  47. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Fr. Z: Thank you so much for posting this. As a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, who knew Fr. Dan Schuh, and who concelebrated the funeral Mass, I was very disappointed for two reasons. First, Fr. Schuh was a good man and a good priest, deserving of the prayers of his flock, his family and his friends, for the forgiving mercy of God and for the repose of his soul. We are certainly not doing him, or anyone else, any favors by stating categorically that he is already in heaven. Second, I believe a very powerful teachable moment was wasted, as hundreds and hundreds of young families were present at that funeral, many of whom were probably quite unaware of the fullness of the Church’s teachings on the four last things, and the need for prayers for the dead.

    We have certainly moved into an age of false compassion, when the funeral Mass becomes an occasion to “celebrate someone’s life,” rather than to pray for God’s mercy and entrust Him to Christ’s purifying love.

    For us who are priests, it is very important for us not to slip (even unintentionally) into the increasingly popular heresy that salvation is automatic for anyone we personally believe to have been a “good person.” Christ is our judge, not the affirmation of a community. We must never forget that, and never be presumptuous.

    One thing that would help move the faithful to be reminded of this, I believe, is the complete elimination of eulogies at funeral Masses, still quite prevalent in many parts of my diocese (and I suspect others). Bishops: please make it easier on your priests by establishing a uniform policy on this, so that they do not have to take the heat for eliminating a practice which may have been allowed to become entrenched by their predecessors. Priests and pastors: please step up to the plate by gently correcting your parishioners whenever they talk about how they “know” or are “certain” that their loved ones are in heaven. Lay faithful: Please continue to pray for your beloved dead, for all the holy souls in purgatory, and especially for your priests, both living and deceased. We are sinful men, too, with great responsibility, and are in need of your prayers before and after our death.

  48. A word about Father Schuh, my classmate: he was a good priest, who loved being a priest, and was generous in his love for others. If you knew Father Schuh, you would certainly understand references to his humor, his gregariousness, and his love for good food and company. I think such things can be included, appropriately, in a homily — not that anyone questioned that. And not that anyone said anything against Fr. Schuh, I just thought you’d like to know a little more about the man, a priest just 5-1/2 years.

    A word about preparing for your own funeral. My advice is to plan, in detail, the readings, music and yes even vestments you want worn at your own funeral. Nothing is a lock — and your parish may not have black vestments — but most priests, I think, would not refuse most requests insofar as they happen to be legitimate options. The issue with music may be, sadly, not having someone who can, for example, lead chant or sing Latin. I ran into this for my father’s funeral, the musician couldn’t sing Panis Angelicus.

    Sadly, so many have become accustomed to seeing funerals as “celebratory,” it is hard to undo the damage that results from the omission of all other considerations; not impossible, but folks are extremely sensitive at such moments.

    Finally, I want to second Father Z’s request to pray for priests. When it seems so many think we have a golden ticket to heaven–and then I am painfully aware of my own sins, and my accountability, it is sad to contemplate being in purgatory while everyone canonizes me and heads off to the party.

  49. Father Totton says:

    I have attended several priests’ funerals lately (our diocese has buried 13 (10 of them retired) in the last twelve months. I have noted that eulogies (“would you speak well of me when I am gone?”) were often given in homilies, even when the deceased priest himself requested that such not be done. On a couple occasions I was impressed when the bishop (who was the celebrant, though not the homilist) reminded us at the end of the funeral to pray for the soul of this servant). His Excellency did get his chance to speak of the need to pray for the dead at the annual Mass of the priests’ purgatorial society during the week following All Souls. His Excellency always leads the clergy in chanting the Salve Regina just after the commendation – the faithful (and not a few priests) are surprised that so many men of disparate ages and temperaments are able to sing an archaic latin hymn invoking the intercession of our Blessed Mother (and nearly on key) though we never complete the hymn “Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genitrix…”

    I used to think if I specifically designated my homilist (and had several contenders lined up, in case one or more should die beforehand) I could avoid a fate similar to Fr. Schuh. I am not so sure now, for how many would get weak knees when standing before their brothers in the presbyterate unless the culture of Catholic funerals experiences a radical conversion between now and, well, then!) Now I think I should write the homily/sermon for my own funeral (an exhortation to pray for the souls of the faithful departed) with the specific instructions that it be read in its entirety with no further appendix. I think about it from time to time, but then I wonder if such would not be considered micromanaging. Hmmm. I wonder what the good fathers will do when they learn that my funeral Mass is to be a REquiem in the extraordinary form.

  50. Michael J says:

    I am a bit confused by the terminology being used here. I thought “homily” meant “an explanation of the readings at Mass”. If so, I do not understand why the Deceased would be mentioned at all. The definition of Sermon, does not seem to lend itself either so maybe there is not a better word to use.

    In any case, didn’t Rome specifically warn against any sort of eulogy a few years back?

  51. Volpius says:

    Looks like the sin of presumption of Gods mercy has gone mainstream, at one time only protestants used to believe and act like this, I guess none of them will be bothering to pray for him then, poor soul.

  52. Maureen says:

    The thing is, solemnity creeps in anyway. I was designated by my family to sing “On Eagles’ Wings” at my grandfather’s funeral. (I didn’t know “Dies Irae” or “In Paradisum” back then, okay?) Sure, the organ was upbeat; but the way I sang it was solemn, and quite frankly they were lucky not to have me crying. Most of the time at funerals I’ve been to, “On Eagles’ Wings” is the opposite of upbeat.
    “Desperately clinging to God by your toenails” is more like it.

    I mean, geez, listen to those first few notes. It sounds like a sob or an ambulance coming.

    Of course, it’s different if the musicians don’t know the people involved and don’t care about the inherent dignity and sorrow of the occasion. But it’s a real weeper for everybody if the musicians feel at all sad.

    Totally unintentional by the composer, of course. But songs do ultimately bend to the will of those using them, however much they may influence their singers in return. There’s not a song on earth that will sound happy if sung by someone heartbroken.

  53. In any case, didn’t Rome specifically warn against any sort of eulogy a few years back?

    Yes, which you can read here:

    http://catholicexchange.com/2007/01/25/92709/

  54. (My apologies for the self-promotion in the last post, but it’s on point.)

  55. Fr. BJ says:

    [Michael J I thought “homily” meant “an explanation of the readings at Mass”. If so, I do not understand why the Deceased would be mentioned at all.]

    Homilies are supposed to comment on the readings, on the prayers of the Mass, and/or on the saint/feast of the day. However, there is also the element of a connection to our lives, and in that sense there certainly can be mentions of the deceased and references to his life and to his family and friends. But obviously it should not devolve into a knee-slapping comedy act.

    [Michael J In any case, didn’t Rome specifically warn against any sort of eulogy a few years back?]

    Eulogies are forbidden by the GIRM: 382. At the Funeral Mass there should, as a rule, be a short homily, but never a eulogy of any kind.

    See this page: http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/current/chapter8.shtml

    Note that there is no USCCB adaptation to that number of the GIRM. The US Bishops have not made special provisions for eulogies. While “contrary custom” might conveniently be invoked here, I don’t think it could stand a canonical test. Eulogies are not allowed!

  56. Christabel says:

    Father, I think this is one of the best posts you have ever written. Thank you.

  57. John Enright says:

    Father, I pray for you daily.

  58. Mike B. says:

    Oh how beautiful, Father Z.! You write and think like a poet. May God bless you always.

    And my God welcome the soul of his true servant, Father Schuh.

    Mike

  59. Sara says:

    A few years ago I had the personal honor of attending the funeral of one of our Trappist monks. Very reverent Mass…the homily briefly outlined his life, his service to our country before he became a monk, as many who attended were not familiar with his story, but made no attempt to canonize him. He was a quiet man who dedicated his life to praying for wreched sinners like myself. We quietly stood by as the monks processed by with their brother to the little cemetery off to the side of the church (even though it was during frozen February), and each monk put a handful of dirt in the grave. Very solemn and moving service, but yet a quiet inward joy about it.
    The luncheon afterwards in their community dining area was filled with wonderful food, warm beverages, compassionate visitors, various shared photos of the dearly loved brother, and many shared stories. I wish my funeral Mass could be like that.

  60. Doug says:

    Father,

    You have reopened my eyes to the fundamental need of prayer for the very souls of our priests, our families and ourselves. It is so easy to forget (because we want to forget) that the need of prayer for all our souls, the dead included, is ever present.

    God help us to be ever vigilant in our prayers for the souls of others and ourselves.

  61. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    When I heard Fr. Schuh died, I was very sad. I never met Father, though I was present at his ordination. He and my cousin were in seminary together. It was a happy day, and I always loved looking at the pictures of him at his ordination, especially the big smile on his face. He also reminds me a lot of my dad, who has also died, and it is bittersweet, but also a comfort to me.

    I most certainly am happy to read the comments of Father Martin Fox, Fr. Schuh’s classmate.

    It seems to me it is a good and healthy thing to both pray for the repose of Fr. Schuh’s good soul, and to celebrate his life. At a Requiem Mass, one of the things we do, I think, is to thank God for His gift of this person we are giving back to Him.

    Some years back, my grandma died. I loved her, and I still love her. As it happens I was the last family member to be with her when she died. That is hard to bear sometimes. It was hell walking out of the hospital room; I didn’t want to go, and I remember exactly how it felt a couple hours later when my mom called to say that grandma died.

    One of the reasons why I can’t stand the music of Haugen and Haas is because it makes me relive grandma’s funeral; in some ways it felt like a Haugen/Haas concert. It makes me want to scream. That, and the pastor damn near instantly canonized grandma. Grandma was, I believe, a good woman, a loving, caring, generous, and holy woman. But I also believe, in hindsight, that one of the reasons I found her funeral so difficult to be at, and why I have difficulty thinking of it even now, is that there was very little room to grieve, to pray for her, and to enter more fully into the act of giving her back to God.

    I think there are many mixed messages in our Church in regard to those who have died.

    Memory Eternal for Fr. Dan Schuh. And, please God, for my dad and my grandma.

  62. Fr Z, as usual, right on the mark. We had a priest in my diocese, Fr. Curtis Delarm, who also suffered and died from ALS. His cross was indeed very heavy as in his last days (weeks and months) he was unable to speak and could no longer celebrate Mass. Before that, up until he lost his voice, he struggled to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and parishioners volunteered to clothe and bathe him as he was completely unable to help himself even to eat. He was only a year younger than me and ordained a year after me. Every time he and I met, he asked how my family was doing. He never complained about his condition. Unlike others who become discouraged and disillusioned, Father Delarm kept the faith. He believed in redemptive suffering. He did not become bitter as some do, in fact, he became more compassionate with heroic empathy and courage. He knew my Mom had buried three of her five children. He knew my brother Michael died at the age of 26 from Muscular Dystrophy and that my brother Joe was killed at the age of 33 by an underage drunk driver. He knew my dad died six months later from leukemia and that my only surviving sibling is in remission from leukemia. Nonetheless, he always asked how I was doing and how my mother and my brother were doing. He never focused the conversation on his trials and tribulations which were enormous. ALS is a horrible disease which leaves the mind intact but destroys the body from head to toe. You end up a prisoner in a body which cannot even speak or write or type. Communication is taken from you at the end.

    Father Delarm’s funeral was sad as was my brother’s. I am grateful to have been the Celebrant and Homilist (at my two brothers’ and my father’s funerals) so that I could preach on the efficacy of praying for the dead. Yes, innocent suffering takes place and I am sure many souls are purified here on earth by the cross they bear. Even though their purgatory may have been on earth, WE NEVER KNOW FOR SURE, hence, the prudent thing is to still offer Masses and to pray for our beloved dead, no matter how good and/or how much they suffered in life. Even Pope John Paul the Great had Masses offered FOR his immortal soul and he suffered enormously at the end of his pontificate but also early in his life when his mother, sister and brother died while he was still a boy.

    I wear purple vestments at funerals and black for memorial Masses for the dead. It is more than just being Italian (actually, Sicilian) in that I want the family and loved ones of the deceased to know that Holy Mother Church GRIEVES the loss of her children as does any mother. My mom misses her three children and her beloved husband. She hopes they are in heaven BUT she also prays DAILY for their souls and has Masses offered for each one of them on their birthdays and on their anniversary of death.

    God forbid we should one day be fortunate enough to get to Purgatory but unfortunate enough to have no one on earth to pray for our souls or to have Masses offered for us.

  63. Philip-Michael says:

    Fr Z: It cannot be impossible now for a priest to request their Requiem Mass to be said according to the 1962 Missale Romanum. My question is: if so requested could the diocese, e.g. the Bishop who typically celebrates a Priest’s Requiem, disregard that request?

    I can see now the objections that both bishops and priests would raise. 1)other priests will get angry because they wouldn’t be able to con-celebrate. 2) Another could be the bishop saying that they are unfamiliar with the celebration in the 1962 Missale Romanum and so they will not do it. 3) That out of a sense of unity all priest’s funeral are to be celebrated in the same manner. This would follow along the lines of one fraternity of priests all conformed to the same manner of priesthood. The frater-centric model. Could any of these objections or any others actually carry weight and have a priest’s decision for his final Mass overturned?

  64. JarheadGB says:

    As an active member of Fr. Dan’s parish, and a participant at his funeral Mass, I do believe that your perception of the conduct of that liturgy is way off mark. I am also surprised that you base your opinion on one reporter’s description, presented in one news article. Frankly, I observed a high level of solemnity, and a dignified approach to the rite, during the entire progress of the rite. Yes, those of us who watched his walk with ALS over the past two years were truly jubilant that he was finally released from his ordeal. And, yes, all of us who knew him realized that he would want our last moments with him to be a communion of joyful prayer. Harry Meyer’s description of the “Awesome, dude!” incident did make us laugh, because we could instantly visualize Father Dan laying in the snow, smiling. However, Harry’s description of Dan’s fierce dedication to Faith, Hope, and Love, especially during his last days; his unyielding submission to God’s will; and his dedication to his children (both his family and his parish) to the end, reflected God’s glory in a crystal-clear , inspirational manner. The ultra-solemn, somber and sad ceremony which you seem to prescribe as approriate would have been, in my opinion, totally foriegn to Fr. Dan Schuh, and, to those of us whom he touched, as well. God bless Fr. Dan as he sits at that feast on the Holy Mountain…job well done. And, god bless Fathers Harry, John, Phil and all other priests, as they strive to lead us into the Light.

  65. The ultra-solemn, somber and sad ceremony which you seem to prescribe as approriate …

    Your target isn’t so much the posters on this thread, but the objective reality of the Mass and what the Church teaches about it.

  66. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    If anyone has time, it is well worth the time to read the article about Father Dan Schuh in the Catholic Telegraph today (catholiccincinnati.org), the Cincinnati Archdiocesan newspaper.

    However one feels about how Requiem Masses should or should not be celebrated, I doubt anyone could walk away from this article and not be inspired.

    I also believe Jarhead’s comments above are very well said. It makes a great deal of sense to me that when we commend a soul to God at a Requiem Mass, we should keep in mind the way this soul strove to love God and neighbor, and we commend ALL of this to God.

  67. Nick says:

    I will pray for you, and Mary will pray for you, and the Apostles, and the martyrs, and the confessors, and the consecrated men and women, and the angels, and all of heaven. We will pray for you to the Lord our God.

    And I ask you, Father, to pray for me too. God bless.

  68. Susan Peterson says:

    Apposite of this post and one previous, those of you who knew blogger Gerard Seraphim,formerly Gerard Bugge CSSR, will be glad to know that a friend of mine, an Oratorian, said mass for him in the extraordinary form, with black vestments. Gerard is someone for whom many prayers may be needed, but also someone for whom they will be of good effect.
    Susan Peterson

  69. Susan Peterson says:

    I know this isn’t supposed to be horror stories, but I can’t resist mentioning a practice I have run into, of putting the names of all the members of the parish departed in the past year, into the litany of the saints on All Saints day. This is an extreme form of canonizing all the deceased. I found that people took any objection to it as offensive to their friends and relatives. Alas.
    Susan Peterson

  70. Michael J says:

    Jarhead,

    I was interested to note that you stated:
    “Yes, those of us who watched his walk with ALS over the past two years were truly jubilant that he was finally released from his ordeal.”

    Seriously, do you not find anything at all troubling about this? Has Father Schuh truly been “released from his ordeal” or has it just begin in Purgatory?

  71. Susan Peterson says:

    Michael, I don’t think we need to think of purgatory as an “ordeal” in the same way as ALS is.

    It is the fire of God’s love which burns us in Purgatory, and it is something we want. You wouldn’t want to portray God as a torturer. Recently a priest in a sermon on purgatory read what Pope Benedict says about it in Spes Salvi and I suggest you read that.

    ALS is part of what has come into the world through the sin of Adam; it is part of the evil of a fallen world. Of course a Christian offering it up can turn it into something redemptive, and I would guess that Fr. Shuh did that.

    Susan Peterson

  72. Black vestments? Dream on! For my mother’s funeral I couldn’t even get violet (ss a compromise). I was told I was denying the resurrection of the body even though black and violet are both allowed in the Novus Ordo. Fortunately I was able to keep a tight grip on the music (much to the disatisfaction of the celebrant. aFter it ws all oer I was left to wonder whether it was my mother’s funeral or the priest’s liturgical play pen.

  73. Michael J says:

    Susan,

    Do the souls in Purgatory suffer more or less than those on earth? I honestly would find it difficult to answer. I am glad though, that you mentioned that ALS has come to the world through the sin of Adam.

    I submit that death itself is also “part of the evil of a fallen world”. Death is undeniable proof positive that we are all sinners and have fallen. Do you really think it appropriate that it be an occasion for celebration?

  74. St. Susanna Parishioner says:

    As a St. Susanna Parishioner who attended the funeral for Fr. Dan, I am deeply saddened by this blog and comments. I know this is considered a space for “Traditional Catholics”, and I can respect that, but after reading through this, I can see why so many current and former Catholics are turning away from their religion. The way in which the St. Susanna Parish celebrated Fr. Dan’s funeral mass was essentially disrespected by Father Z in his blog entry. We, apparently, didn’t do it “the right way” and now Fr. Dan’s soul is “in peril” because of it. Do you honestly think that the people at Fr. Dan’s funeral for one second didn’t pray for his soul? Just because a little humor was injected into the homily does not deter the meaning of the mass. Fr. Dan is the kind of man who would have balked at a “tradition funeral”. He wasn’t a traditionalist — which is evident in everything from his path to the priesthood to how weekly mass was celebrated. And that’s why the St. Susanna Parish loved him. St. Susanna is a parish made up of young, progressive families who want the Catholic church to move out of the dark ages and into more modern sensibilities. Fr. Harry exemplified this; Fr. Dan exemplified this; and now Fr. John exemplifies this. Shame on you for disrespecting Fr. Harry and St. Susanna. We may have not done it “your” way, but we did it the way Fr. Dan would have wanted it. And that, to us, is the right way. Finally, one final note: if a man like Fr. Dan is not already in heaven… then there isn’t much hope for the rest of us.

  75. Patrick: What is Mass really all about? … Can you direct me to a good book …

    I just received a flyer from Angelus Press (www.angeluspress.org) that reminded me of one of the classics among this type of books, maybe the very best, and a pretty quick read:

    HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE MASS
    Dom Gaspar Lefebvre
    STK# 8285

    By the author who compiled the St. Andrew Daily Missal:

    Unique in that it strongly focuses on the Sacrifical aspect of the Mass. The first seven pages are dedicated to explaining “What is a Sacrifice?” The remainder of the book focuses on each part of the Mass explaining it in simple, doctrinal terms along with 39 brilliant illustrations by classic St. Andrew missal artist, Joseph Speybrouck, each with its own explanation.

    Each illustration has three parts. In the foreground to the right, we see the action of the priest via the “pew-view.” To the left, we see a close up image of the priest. In the background, is an historical or eschatological image depicting the action at the altar or the prayer being said.

    121pp. Softcover, illustrated.

  76. GemmaRose says:

    Fr. Z. has, once again, written with excellent insight.

    Although I am NO-all-the-way (nothing wrong with TLM, just not my preference), I have been dismayed at some funerals I have attended where I’ve almost expected a team of cheerleaders to come cheering down the aisle for the deceased! And (whether licit or not) when some mention of “Grandma” is inevitably made at the homily, at the absolute barest minimum, there should at least be some reference to Catholic teaching such as, “Although we know Grandmother to have been the most saintly of women, let us pray that her time in Purgatory, if any, be brief.”

    What I fail to understand, however, is the statement, “Silence and solitude are shoved aside so that we are less likely to confront the terror.

    “That terror is death.”

    Anything that leads me closer to God is not a terrifying thing, but a welcome friend. Death is as much a part of life as is birth, except it’s even better because it will bring us directly to the Lord.

    Don’t get me wrong… I’ve probably wracked up a gazillion centuries in Purgatory, but at the end, I will be with God – and that’s the only important thing. Being with Him is what I yearn for, so how terrible can death be?

    As for judgment, my own sins will judge me before the Lord. If there is fear, it is of my own sins, not He who forgave the woman caught in adultery, He who forgave the sins of the paralyzed man, He who was the friend of the murdering and adulterous King David, He who welcomed public sinners as friends.

    I hope that one day at my funeral, that yes, people will be reminded to pray for me, but that they also be reminded that my death was a long-awaited friend which would lead me face to Face with God… and if they fear death… if they are terrified of it… then the time to do something is now – live a life in accord with the will and law of God, confess regularly, attend Mass as frequently as possible, and pray, pray, pray.

    A life of prayer, obedience and Sacraments is the surest way to joy on earth, and eternal life and joy in heaven.

  77. Henry Edwards says:

    St. Susanna parishioner: Finally, one final note: if a man like Fr. Dan is not already in heaven…

    You mean right now? When his funeral was just this week, and on his anniversary this year requiem Masses for the repose of the soul of Pope John Paul II were still being offered three years after his funeral.

    Who knows how time is measured in purgatory? Surely not by revolutions of the earth about the sun. But the most saintly priest I’ve ever known died almost three years ago, and I intend (God willing) to continue praying for his soul at every Mass, seven days a week for many years to come. And surely most Catholics pray for the souls of their parents for the rest of their lives.

  78. RBrown says:

    St. Susanna Parishioner,

    1. I have no idea what went on at the priest’s funeral, but I recently attended the funeral of a 101 yr old loyal Catholic. There was no part of the Eucharistic liturgy that indicated that Purgatory existed. The only hint was the Requiem Aeternam (in English) at the graveside.

    Belief in Purgatory is a manifestation of the virtue of Hope. And any lack of belief in the same is little else than presumption.

    2. What do you mean when you say:

    St. Susanna is a parish made up of young, progressive families who want the Catholic church to move out of the dark ages and into more modern sensibilities.

  79. wsxyz says:

    one final note: if a man like Fr. Dan is not already in heaven… then there isn’t much hope for the rest of us.

    But that is exactly the point. There is very little hope for the rest of us to be admitted to the presence of God immediately after death. Most of us will need to be purified in Purgatory, assuming we aren’t condemned to the eternal torments of Hell.

    Both you and “JarheadGB” need to wake up and realize that you need to pray for the soul of Fr. Dan Schuh exactly because you believe and hope that he is not damned, but you cannot know if he is in Heaven.

  80. GemmaRose says:

    I just wanted to add that even though I prefer the NO, I consider myself to be a “traditional” Catholic because I am faithful and obedient to HMC and to Christ’s successor on earth.

    Though I do sometimes miss the processions, the incense, the bells, I don’t believe these externals are necessary to lead us closer to God. (And I certainly don’t believe that “puppet” Masses etc. are a solution to anything, however I don’t even worry about such things because they usually are “celebrated” by women “priests” anyway.)

    Regarding Purgatory, Michael J said, ” *Do the souls in Purgatory suffer more or less than those on earth? I honestly would find it difficult to answer.* ” I think that if there is some sort of fire, or a physical-type of pain, it would only be God’s mercy that sends it to distract from the pain the soul feels because of the absence of God’s Presence.

  81. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    Maybe I’m living in a cave, but I didn’t see anything in Fr. Z’s column that indicated or suggested that Fr. Dan’s soul was “in peril.”

    I’m also not sure what good telling Fr. Z. “shame on you” does.

    Nor can I understand the over-stated and worn-out idea that the Church “move out of the dark ages and into more modern sensibilities.” Why is everything before Vatican II considered “the Dark Ages?”

    Please, please, take time to read the beautiful article about Father Dan in the Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph. It is well worth the time.

    Another thing to consider is that there may well be people in Heaven totally unlike Father Dan Schuh.

    I’ve encountered a number of “progressive” Catholics who don’t seem to care a damn about anyone’s thoughts, sensibilities, or feelings than their own, and feel that those who do not stand up and salute their “inclusive” agenda are among the unwashed Philistines. “All are welcome in this place.”

    Right.

    One of the reasons why “so many current and former Catholics are turning away from their religion” is because of the arrogance, elitism, and exclusionary attitudes of people people in the Church, be they traditionalists or progressives. It’s been my experience that traditionalist Catholics don’t have a monopoly on Orthodoxy, and progressivists don’t have a monopoly on charity.

    I wish I had known Father Dan. I hope more people who attended his funeral and his parish write in to this blog. Sharing ideas in an abstract way is one thing. But I think these people who were part of Father’s life and attended his funeral Mass have that on one else could have – a lived experience of this good priest.

    These statements are observations and ideas, and I mean no disrespect to Father Dan, or to the people from his parish who wrote here. Please do not take these things personally. I’m very sad for you all, and I wish I had known your pastor.

  82. Luke says:

    On a personal level, is it okay if you don’t fear death? I don’t think I do at all.

  83. Please, please, take time to read the beautiful article about Father Dan in the Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph. It is well worth the time.

    You can read it here:

    http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/tct/nov2108/112108schuh.html

    And that, to us, is the right way.

    Res ipsa loquitur

  84. mrs. rene o'riordan says:

    In conversation with a fellow parishoner a priest of our parish who had died two years ago came up and I said I pray for him every night. She got really cross and said he’s in heaven, and I said it would be unfair to him if he needed our help and we didn’t give it to him. And also I impressed on her that I ask my children (adults) that at my funeral I want no big speech about what a wonderful person I was, that my funeral Mass was to be all about God’s love and mercy. I hope she had a good think about that. We do get oportunities like this and we should use them. No need for a big fight just the gentle truth. May God have mercy on Fr. Shuh’s beloved soul. Blessings – Rene

  85. Gail Finke says:

    Bob Glassmeyer, I understand exactly what you mean: “one of the reasons I found her funeral so difficult to be at, and why I have difficulty thinking of it even now, is that there was very little room to grieve, to pray for her, and to enter more fully into the act of giving her back to God.”

    I find “celebratory” funerals to be bizarre. I do think that Jarhead may be correct, and that the article in the Enquirer may have overemphasized parts of the funeral so that it did not convey the tenor of the whole thing. But I have been at enough funerals (and really, I haven’t been at all that many) to know what is all too often the case. There is nothing wrong with remembering and celebrating the life of a dead loved one; but mass is not the place to do it. When family and friends are grieving we come to grips with death and what it means, and why we need the hope of resurrection. The Church is with us from birth to death (if we are not converts), and her work is to get us to heaven — eventually. Without the hope of heaven, there is nothing. That is what a funeral mass is supposed to be about, not memories of happy times.

  86. RBrown says:

    In conversation with a fellow parishoner a priest of our parish who had died two years ago came up and I said I pray for him every night. She got really cross and said he’s in heaven, and I said it would be unfair to him if he needed our help and we didn’t give it to him.
    Comment by mrs. rene o’riordan

    That is presumption, which is a sin opposed to the theological virtue of Hope. It is the consequence of not believing in Purgatory.

    There are two contrary vices of Hope. The first is depair, through which a man despises the Divine Mercy. The second is presumption, through which a man despices the Divine Justice.

    I’ll repeat what I have said here before: IMHO, the indicator of the health of the Church is how prominent the belief in Purgatory.

  87. RBrown says:

    By coincidence, the 19 year old son of friends was killed in a freak auto accident a few days ago while on the way back to college. A wonderful family of South African immigrants (Afrikaaners), four children (the deceased was the oldest), and the father a doctor.

    Young, well liked, good looking, highly intelligent, good athlete, and great kid, dead a few hours after visiting his parents. Even the funeral buffoons wouldn’t try to turn that into a celebration.

  88. Marie says:

    Hello,
    I am a parishioner at St. Susanna and knew Father Dan pretty well although I never got to ski with him. He was actually a traditional priest and not a “progressive” priest and we are not a “progressive” parish although there are quite a few liberals in the shadows who indeed would love to make some changes- sorry Rbrown you are dreaming for I am the mother of a young family too at St. Susanna and seems you have forgotten what faith you are. Progressive indicates a tip towards liberalism. These are like oil and water if you are Catholic and can confuse a Catholic these days, especially if they are a Democrat from the Kennedy era, when abortion was illegal and life quite frankly was more traditional and simple those days. If you are a traditional Catholic and also a liberal, what a personal struggle this must be. The parish allows this sort of “talk” because quite frankly it needs the money from all the parishioners to build the undercroft. The Catholic church is in a huge struggle right now due to all the lawsuits and doesn’t want to turn anyone away. That is the only way I can make any sense of some of the more “progressive” happenings of our parish. However, in allowing this, the wolves of the parish are being tended to rather than the sheep. The sheep are running away. The majority of our parish is not progressive, contrary to the above person’s remarks. The volunteers of our parish – the ones who actually put in more than 5 or 6 hours a week to keep it going are traditional Catholics. When it comes to education I do believe we are on our way at St. Susanna to being progressive in a positive way regarding education & technology and a new principal too who’s goal is to attain the Blue Ribbon award. The old principal ran off a bunch of other families for many terrible reasons. These traditional families have money but aren’t giving because they are angry. There is a problem when there are 4,000 plus families and only 1/2 are giving. Most of these are giving way too much to make up for the ones who are angry. You need to feel pretty good about the parish to give extra money in this economy and when a priest gets up there and talks about taxes and not abortion before an election, while surrounding bishops are calling for a Pro- Life vote- it is pretty disheartening. The competition of Mason City Schools demands excellence of St. Susanna and they are finally figuring that out.

    When it comes to the faith, “progressive” is a scary adjective. According to my dictionary, it is defined as “relating to politial Progressives, believing in moderate or political change and especially social improvements by governmental action, a member of a political party in 1912 split off from the Republicans”. Describing our parish like this is unacceptable and not true. Our parish priests are consistently pressured by some unknown force to break away from traditional family Catholic practices that other parishes have been practicing for years, such as the Right to Life program, which finally has been brought back by none other than Father Dan. Our parish is going to be worse off without Father Dan and I am worried. I am literally holding onto my purse strings and waiting and watching. Father Harry talked all about taxes the week before the election, while there was a collection for a local pregnancy center that evening. He talked about the “least of our brothers” but not once did he include aborted children in his homily. There was a collection in the next 10 minutes for a pregnancy center and he could not say anything? This must be an example of progressiveness or left wing liberalism that Rbrown is speaking of. This is very confusing to parishioners and our children and quite frankly, it makes me want to hold onto my money. Not once did he mention the Pro-Life candidates and to help the fight against abortion but talked all about taxes. This is the type of junk we have had to listen to often Father Harry comes for the past 14 years. Don’t get me wrong, Father Harry is a good person and has done many wonderful things in his life yet his agenda is changing..and I don’t want to know why..Father John on the other hand is awesome and has a youthful angelic force about him that is encouraging. He looked pretty sad on the altar. He needs help and from what I hear, we won’t be getting any help until July with a possible new priest. How can this be? We should have had someone ready to step right in.

    Father Z, there were beautiful parts of the service, yet I agree, however, the “awesome dude” was off base and was not appropriate at all. We also have a parishioner who is making a buck off of Father Dan’s life story, interviewing him on his death bed so she can write a book. He told her no, but she pressured him into it and he “warmed to the idea” and was still being interviewed up until the day before he died! He could barely talk! This is not the type of man who wanted to talk about himself, he wanted to help our parish and did so by leaps and bounds until the end. It really is troubling to me and dreadfully unfair to the family to publish this little announcement just a day after his funeral. Have we lost all respect for the dead? These are the selfish types that sit in the front row of our church.

    Back to the service. Frankly, I sobbed through the whole thing anyway and it was kind of weird that some were laughing at times during Father Harry’s chat. I wasn’t laughing. Many of his words were appropriate, but these were trumped by his remarks about the business manager and the “awesome dude” chant. I felt kind of stupid and forgot where I was a couple of times. The priests singing the last song was the most beautiful part and they did look somber and at times a bit bewildered- they walked right by me- but I have to admit, the overall temperature was not as solemn as it should have been. It is kind of hard to go from tears, to laughing, tears, laughing at a funeral. My only prayer was that maybe Father Harry was trying to cheer himself up and his nerves got the best of him. I was not at the burial service afterwards and the viewing was well done. I think it would have been appropriate to show the family the “material” before he went on “stage” oops- I mean the altar.

    The fact is, our parish has big problems. Some of the office staff members are very liberal minded and like to take control of our parish and they tend to try and push the priests around. One article from the Archdiocese mentioned that “parish leadership would be consulted to see what they think they need in a priest”. HUH? Has the staff already made up their own resume? What does this mean? Our family minister is divorced as are 2 other key staff members. Yep, we could be on our way to being a progressive parish and a progressive Archdiocese if the parishioners get to pick the priest and these all happen to be liberals. I just hope and pray that we get a strong minded and traditional priest like Father Dan to put them straight. If you are priest interested in St. Susanna, make sure you “fake them out”!Be sure to put an ad in the bulletin to Marie, frustrated and sad and I will be happy to be your office manager! Our parishioners listen to what the Pope says and we like him. We want a priest who is mirroring his teachings. We have lost enough students and parishioners. I have been with the parish for 14 years now and the years that Father Dan has been here have been uplifting. Our youth need role models in priests. Priests need to stick to the program laid out by the bishops and the Pope’s teachings and have the courage to lead us. If our new Bishop is reading this, please pay our parish a visit and help out Father John. Please include our parish in your prayers. God Bless Father Dan, may he rest in peace. Father Dan deserved better and was one of the best priests I have ever known.
    Thank you Father Z, it is good to hear from someone traditional…
    - Frustrated and still sad

  89. Thomas McKinney says:

    Fr. Z,
    Thank you for speaking the truth on a difficult subject. The soul instinctively recognizes The Truth, when it is spoken with conviction and clarity. A few years ago, one of your truthful answers in the Ask Father Queston box inspired me to get my irregular marital situation normalized.(I and my wife both got declarations of nullity for our invalid first marriages, and had our marriage convalidated by the church.) This past Easter, my wife received her confirmation and First Communion. Now we attend Mass regularly as a family.
    (I’m still working on turning her on to the Traditional Mass.) God Bless you Father.

  90. RBrown says:

    I am a parishioner at St. Susanna and knew Father Dan pretty well although I never got to ski with him. He was actually a traditional priest and not a “progressive” priest and we are not a “progressive” parish although there are quite a few liberals in the shadows who indeed would love to make some changes- sorry Rbrown you are dreaming for I am the mother of a young family too at St. Susanna and seems you have forgotten what faith you are. Progressive indicates a tip towards liberalism.

    I have absolutely no idea what you’re trying to say to me. I think you might have looked at my questioning the quote from Sta Susanna Parishioner (which I put in italics) and assumed that it was mine. It was not.

  91. Marie: I am not sure what all that was about. I got that you think Fr. Schuh was a good priest and that some people got carried away.

    But that really doesn’t touch the core of what I wrote in the top entry.

    Funerals and Requiem Masses have a reason which must not be obscured.

  92. Rich Leonardi: Thanks for that link.

  93. Cynthia says:

    IMHO this is an over-application of the Vatican II corrections. When my mother was a child, funerals were dark, depressing and sad. We grieved as those who have no hope. Vatican II counseled that we should look at death as not so much Good Friday as Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, this ties in well with the human tendency to avoid the unpleasant, so we go to these funeral/canonizations and neglect to say Masses for those already dead. I’m not sure what the corrective is; in charity we should not speak ill of the dead (who can’t do anything about it at that point anyway), but it does seem presumptuous (in the common meaning, if not the theological) to blithely assume the deceased is enjoying the Beatific Vision. (Oh, there’s another influence; Protestant instant-saved, no purgatory theology and sloppy ecumenism.)

  94. Marie says:

    Father Z,

    The core issue in my mind is that it seems like our parish does many things a lot differently than some (in this case a funeral mass)and I agree with your assessment. Rather than shake my head and follow aimlessly, I suppose I was asking for help. I am sorry I went on so much about the other stuff.
    Rbrown, I did get you mixed up with the Saint Susanna Parishioner and for that I am sorry. Our parish is grieving right now and we are worried about who will be leading us next. We were blessed to have Father Schuh and I am thankful for that.
    God is in control now and for this I take comfort and will keep praying.
    Thank you Father Z for keeping us on track.

  95. Cynthia: Vatican II counseled that we should look at death as not so much Good Friday as Easter Sunday.

    It did? Where, I wonder.

  96. JarheadGB says:

    Absolutely the last thing that Fr. Dan would have desired would be that anything connected with him might cause conflict in the parish. I apologize to Rich Leonardi if he perceived my post as “targeting” anything, as I did not intend offense or criticism of people or Catholic doctrine in my post. Pride of intellect is an extremely dangerous vice, and I honestly not trying to “stir the pot” here for vicarious satisfaction.
    If I may, I would just end my last post with some words which may be of value to us all…Dan’s Schuh’s words in his last interview with The Catholic Telegraph (Father Schuh: “Please Write about Hope”), which clearly express his thoughts about entering heaven were, and may help some to understand the hope that we were truly celebrating on the day of his funeral:
    “What I would give to experience a miracle! But I must have hope that I have lived a good enough life and through the passion, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ my sins have been forgiven and I am able to enter the everlasting place of peace and tranquility where God is love.”
    God’s Faith, Hope and Love to all.