Sermons for the older form, Extraordinary Form, Requiem Mass are to be pronounced only with the permission of the local bishop and are to be delivered after Mass concludes, while wearing no vestments.
There is a lot of wisdom in this, especially in the older form of Mass which people knew well. First, the Church herself presented what she knows we need to hear as we all march equally toward heaven through the doors of death. In the traditional Requiem, we are equal.
Also, consider the possibilities of putting your foot wrong in a delicate moment or having a sermon turn into a political harangue or emotional outburst. You can multiply examples of things that can and do go wrong.
And they can and do go wrong, often very wrong, when in the Novus Ordo eulogies are given at funerals.
This is why some bishops are wising up and beginning to restrict, in a more direct way, eulogies at funerals. For a good example of that, and some background on the Church’s law, go HERE. Bp. Morlino of Madison issued directives about this for the Diocese of Madison.
Bishop issues rules for funerals to stop ‘dumbing down’ of Mass
The Bishop of Meath in Ireland has issued new guidelines for funerals to counter the “dumbing down” of the Mass.
The guidelines clarified that eulogies had no place during a liturgy, but should take place outside the church.
They received some criticism, including from the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP). [To avoid the offense implied in this abbreviation, which we all know is a type of .45 cal ammo, it is better to use Ass.CP.]
In a statement Bishop Michael Smith thanked his priests for upholding the dignity of the funeral liturgy “often in difficult circumstances”.
Quoting a book by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he said secular culture tended towards the “materialistic trivialisation of death”. Cardinal Ratzinger, he said, wrote that: “Death is to be deprived of its character as a place where the metaphysical breaks through. Death is rendered banal so as to quell the unsettling questions that arise from it.” [Example: covering graveside dirt with artificial turf.]
Bishop Smith said the funeral liturgy had a clear focus. “It is a prayer of petition for the deceased, a prayer commending the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion, a prayer rooted in the hope engendered by the Death and Resurrection of Christ.”
Eulogies, therefore, as well as secular songs, poems and readings, “should not take place” during the Mass, the bishop said. He added that priests should only engage with the family about the Mass, not with a “funeral planner”. [Depending on the “funeral planner”, of course.]
His guidelines were criticised by ACP spokesman Fr Sean McDonagh, who said he “doesn’t really understand” the reasoning behind the directive. He said: “As far as I can see there is no way that eulogies interfere with the integrity of the Eucharist. [aka “Mass”] Most of them are totally appropriate for funerals.” [The Church disagrees.]