UPDATE 23 March 20:19 GMT:
From the questioner:
Father, I just wanted to thank you for your response to my question. I wanted to follow-up with you about the funeral.
The vigil and the funeral went beautifully. The priest did not make the announcement to remain standing, per his usual protocol. I could tell he was miffed at the vigil and before the funeral, but he did not say a word to me directly, nor to my family. He spoke a little like he was canonizing my relative, but it was not as bad as some funerals that I’ve been to.
ORIGINAL 20 March 12:28
From a reader:
At planning a funeral Mass for a relative, knowing what a particular priest does usually during funeral Masses (which is to say he makes an announcement to remain standing during the Eucharistic Prayer), we asked that we kneel. He gave some excuse about kneeling being awkward because some (non-Catholics) will not kneel, so you have some kneeling and some sitting. Basically stating, “I’m still going to make the announcement.” Not wanting to cause a scene in front of the spouse of the deceased, we let it go. Later, a family member called the priest and left a message stating that we wish him *not* to make the announcement, as we will be kneeling. The funeral hasn’t happened yet, but we don’t have much hope that he will respect our wishes.
My question is, should we contact the bishop, and tell him how inappropriate the priest responded to our reasonable request, or not?
This has caused distress and added stress where there should not have been any during a time of grief. Any helpful advice would be great.
While funerals are also for the sake of the living, they are mainly for the purpose of praying for the deceased. Catholic funeral Masses are not about accommodating non-Catholics who may come to the Catholic parish for the Catholic deceased. Catholics have the right to pray like Catholics in their own church. Protestants who come at those moments can pray with us or sit there and do nothing. I would expect precisely the same treatment were I in some Protestant church.
The law of the Catholic Church is that people should kneel at a prescribed moment for the Eucharistic Prayer. In the USA people are to kneel from the end of the Sanctus to the end of the great Amen. Elsewhere, in Italy for example, people must kneel for the consecration.
Priests have an obligation to adhere to the liturgical law. They are not to cause others to violate it. Redemptionis Sacramentum states:
6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters
[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.
[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.
I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask the local bishop why Father tells congregations to stand, in clear violation of the rubrics.
However, I suspect this is a no win situation for people. The priest, being selfish, will do what he wants to do and by the end of this process, everyone will be angrier than they are now. That doesn’t mean that people should do nothing in the face of liturgical abuse. It means that when you act, you have to act with motives that you have carefully reviewed and purified.