Your funeral experiences

I am right now talking on the phone with a friend (who is beating me up for even thinking about changing the blog).

I am presently being asked to ask you something:

Describe some of your experiences of Catholic funerals, good and bad, together with, perhaps customs.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Randommer says:

    Good, if I had your number I too would be verbally beating you up for changing it!
    Never been to a funeral before so I can’t help with he second part

  2. Ottaviani says:

    My grandmother’s funeral was novus ordo, vernacular, versus populum, white vestments with an Irish priest whose accent was so thick, it was barely possible to understand what he said. The hymns were also trite with the usual over-used “The Lord is My Shepherd”. The sermon was also a eulogy of her life.

    I feel sorry for my grandmother to this day.

    This was around the time I knew something was wrong with the missa normativa. Thank God I stumbled on the traditional mass towards the end of my school education by randomly walking into the Brompton Oratory one evening.

  3. AnnaTrad says:

    I have been to a number of very good Requiem Masses and to tell the truth some NO funeral that were tolerable but the wurst I did not acutely attend. I was doing a holy hour in a chapel attached to a church when there was a NO funeral taken place. One of the songs that was sung was the “Green green grass of home” which if memory serves me right is a some about an execution.

  4. Not Getting Creaky Just Yet says:

    Please don’t get rid of the blog.

    I’ve only ever been to two Catholic funerals. One was my grandmother’s and mostly all I remember about it was being bothered that Father was sprinkling WATER on that GOOD WOOD (of the casket.)
    The other was much more recent, the uncle of my son’s friend. Our pastor gave a beautiful, enlightening sermon about how the deceased, who had been disabled for many years, was now outside of time and could see for himself the events of Jesus’ life on earth, etc. Mass was, of course, the standard type of Mass. (Hey down here nobody even knows there was such a thing as SP. I only know about it because of your blog.)

    God bless you, Father.

  5. John6:54 says:

    Its an opportunity for Priests to explain parts of the faith to non-catholics who are in attendence. Its not a time to be an apologist for the faith but it is a time for education of why we do things especially to a non-catholic crowd. It drives me nutes when Priests skip/overlook these teaching opportunities which for me seems to be the norm.

  6. Nicholas says:

    I recently attended the funeral of Fr. Kevin Fitzpatrick of the Diocese of Bridgeport. It was a Solemn Requiem Mass according to the 1962 Missal. The bishop chose not to attend. The Mass setting was Victoria’s Missa pro Defunctis, and all the proper Gregorian chants were sung. It was the most moving funeral Mass I’ve ever attended. I don’t believe there was anything particularly unique about it, apart from the fact that it was celebrated with all the precise pomp and glory of traditional Catholic worship. The homily, given by Fr. Richard Cipolla, was a model of a Catholic funeral oration: forthright about the deceased’s virtues and shortcomings, deeply personal, and, above all, hortatory. All three sacred ministers executed their roles flawlessly, and of course wore sumptuous black vestements. The acolytes were legion, and very well coordinated with one exception. Apparently it was the funeral home director’s first experience of a traditional requiem, and he remarked afterward to the celebrant, “I’ve never seen one of those before. That was really something.”

  7. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Years ago, when my mother asked the priest to recite the Dies Irae for my Godfather’s funeral, not even at his NO Mass but graveside, he refused. It was one of Godfather’s express wishes. Added to the grief.

    The eulogies! Have been brought up to know that eulogies have no place at the Funeral Mass, but this is practiced just about everywhere. I see the point of not dwelling on the person’s life when we should be directed to pray for their soul. Can we save eulogies for the wake? I do appreciate the Funeral Masses where the priests make short and polite eulogies. How many times has a priest spoken about the deceased that they didn’t even know. gak.

  8. bryan says:

    Last “Catholic” funeral I assisted at:

    1. Trite, sentimental, barely religious music. Think “Amazing Grace” (which is certainly NOT appropriate in ANY Catholic Church, “Here I Am, Lord”, which is presuming that He is meeting the deceased at the Gate, and some other unforgettable hymn.

    2. White vestments.

    3. Lots of happy talk. The gentleman in question had survived 18+ years after being diagnosed and treated for glioblastoma multiforme; in the last years of his life, was pretty much running on what was left of his autonomic nervous system. He was most decidedly not happy with the fate he was dealt though he accepted reality and did what he had to do. But there was NOTHING to be happy about the 18+ years he suffered and depended on the care provided by his aging parents.

    4. The number of eulogies was 3, by three different cousins. After communion, but, 3 eulogies?

    I’ve already written, even at 52, my instructions based on good catechesis, study, and faithfulness to the Church. FWIW, it does NOT include trite readings, Amazing Grace, the second Canon, or white vestments.

    I doubt that any priest will follow them. Most of their attitudes, that I’ve come across, is ‘I’m the priest, I know what’s best” though nothing I would like my funeral to be (not that I’ll be there necessarily to see…) is in violation of any rubric or tradition of the Church.


  9. Mia Storm says:

    I’m a convert, so I’ve only been to a couple of Catholic funerals, both standard Roman rite.

    The first was very dignified, with some Latin chant. Family had specially requested “Be Not Afraid,” but that was the only “modern” selection. The closing song was “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.” The readings were well-chosen and the priest gave a good homily.

    The second was okay. The choices the family made were good but the priest gave a long, rambling homily with all the Usual Annoyances (canonizing the deceased) and some Unusual Annoyances.

    In my very limited experience then, I’d say that the dignity and solemnity of the funeral depends on the priest and on what he allows within the funeral.

  10. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Eulogies again: When I die, please don’t “canonize” me during the sermon but encourage everyone to pray for me! Pretending I was a ‘good’ person is uncharitable when I’ll be desperate for relief in Purgatory suffering for my rotten behavior.

    I see the effect of the backwash of Protestantism into today’s Catholic funerals where one objective appears to be comforting the living and convince the attendees that the deceased is in heaven and everything is okay.

  11. Un Mexicano Tradicional says:

    I will compare the last two funerals I went to. The first was a Novus Ordo Service. Although the family was grieving, the service was not conducive to what the family was experiencing. There was much clapping going on. The Presider was vested in white, and the casket was as well. Some family members spoke and talked about the recently deceased, and the life he had led (which was indeed a remarkable life). Then the Presider gave his homily, and did in fact proclaim that the recently deceased was in Heaven. The music was what passes for funeral music in a great majority of churches, “Be Not Afraid,” and such.

    The most recent funeral I went to was the first Traditional Requiem Mass at MissionSan Juan Bautista, CA late last month. It was a full Solemn High Requiem Mass. The priest was vested in black, as well as the coffin. A small schola chanted the propers,including the Subvenite. There was no comparison between
    the two in terms of solemnity. At this Requiem Mass, we prayed for the soul of the
    deceased. There was reverence, and the servers knew their roles and what to do.
    The servers in the first example tried to do their best, God bless them, but they were
    simply not trained for what they were asked to do. The schola really did pray and
    sing the Mass, as opposed to songs that were performed with guitar in the previous example.

    As for myself, there is no doubt which Mass I would want for my funeral.
    I would choose that Mass, the Requiem Mass, in which the faithful would pray for my soul.

    Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis.
    Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna in die illa tremenda.
    Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra:
    Dum verneris judicare saeculum per ignem.

    Keep up the good work, Fr. Z!

  12. Phillip says:

    I have never been to a requiem mass. I am basically the only trad in my family. My uncle, rip, had his at parish run by the Jesuits. I still believe it was conducted poorly, and I wish I could fix it. My father had his funeral in Spanish. It was pretty solemn. Also, the church it was in is very nice. Communion rails and an altar rood/grill separates the old altar from the people. It was a solemn Spanish NO. However, I don’t remember much as I justnlearned Spanish recently. In my chorus, we have sang many Latin masses, and also Fauré requiem. That’s the closests to attending a requiem in San francisco.

  13. R says:

    The last time I attended a funeral Mass, the priest did not administer communion at all but left it all to the EMHCs.

  14. Ed says:

    I’ve been to two Catholic funerals–my grandfather’s in March 2002, and my grandmother’s in March 2007. Both Masses were novus ordo, versus populum, liturgical white. Same priest (who was unlucky enough to be the pastor to meld four distinct parishes in four different towns into one) for both Masses.

    Unfortunately, as with the above, the Masses were simply a way to “celebrate the life” of the deceased. I distinctly remember at my grandfather’s funeral, the priest said that we should be saying “aufwiedersehen” to Grandpa, because we would “see him again.” (I had to smile though–Grandpa, WWII vet that he was, was terribly upset that I flew to Germany to learn German.) The same basic premise ran throughout the homily at grandma’s funeral. There were also two eulogies at Grandma’s funeral–and I gave one of them. I was well aware that eulogies have no place in a funeral Mass, but considering that out of 20+ grandkids there are maybe 5 of us who regularly attend Mass (and I’m the only weekly Mass goer), I decided not to turn it down. My cousin gave the same talk as the priest–here are my memories of her, she was great, she’s happy now. Now, I won’t deny that I made mention of the resurrection and my hopes of seeing her again, but I focused my eulogy on her faith in God and our need to “worship Him as she had.” I tried to close with prayer, but no one responded to “God grant unto her perpetual rest,” so I completed it myself.

    I’ve already instructed my wife that a) I am not to be “canonized,” b) I would like to have many Masses offered for my repose, and c) I’d prefer the priest to wear black.

  15. AnnaTrad says:

    The difference between the Requiem Mass and the NO funeral is that at the RM it is said for the sake of the soul for most of us pray that we even make purgatory and if we do that or family and friends will pray for us and have Masses said for us so our time may be shortened there. At the NO funeral with the eulogies every one is a saint and needs no prayers. I have ask our priest if he should be the one to offer the RM for me to say nothing nice about me but ask people to pray for me.

  16. I have sung in the choir at a number of funerals in both Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, the most recent one being in the Diocese of Bridgeport one week after Fr. Kevin Fitzpatrick’s funeral described above by Nicholas.

    Apparently the deceased, having attended Fr. Fitzpatrick’s funeral, was so moved by that occasion that he wished the exact same funeral to be held at his death. Little did anyone realize how soon that was. So, the Solemn High Requiem was sung again, Victoria’s Requiem a 6 with chanted propers, Communion motets Credo quod Redemptor meus vivit (Lobo) and Byrd’s Ave verum Corpus Fr. Cipolla celebrating.

    There were no unique customs, just the intense prayerfulness of a well-celebrated Mass. Perhaps that is in itself an all-too-unique custom.

  17. Lucia says:

    My experience is such that I had no idea eulogies weren’t supposed to take place at a Catholic funeral Mass.


  18. Maynardus says:

    Where to begin?

    I’ve been two two N.O. “Masses of Christian Burial” in the past year:

    “Eagles’ Wings”, “Be Not Afraid”, “Here I Am, Lord” “I am the Bread of Life…(and I will ra-aaa-se you up, I will ra-aaa-se you up, I will ra-a-a-se you up on the la-a-st day)”

    One Mass served by girl altar boys in white albs, the other by an elderly gentleman in civvies.

    One featured a deacon wearing sneakers, but he didn’t read the Gospel.

    Non-practicing and/or irregularly married relatives proclaiming santized readings and delivering sappy and secular “eulogies”.

    The low point was a eulogy by a priest who knew about the sinful lifestyle of the deceased (who among other things hadn’t bothered to attend Mass for over 30 years) yet nonetheless prophesied that he was even now being shown around Heaven by his older sister!

    The last one before those was for a elderly priest who had resumed saying the TLM in the last few years of his life. The Mass with the Bishop in attendance was the worst of the N.O. with a vengeance. The homilist spoke about the deceased’s love of opera! Toward the end he alluded briefly to Fr. G.’s “love for Latin” and hinted that there’s be a little special something for him later in the Mass. Apparently that was the Agnus Dei, yodeled by a second-rate lounge singer attempting some facsimile of Gregorian Chant. And he didn’t even do the Requiem version, i.e. “Dona eis requeim”, etc.

    On the other hand I’ve served at at least three Solemn Requiems in that same time preiod. the effect on the congregation is always stunning to me. It’s common to hear folks express the same sentiment as after a Baptism in the traditional rite or even a Solemn Nuptial Mass: “How did they ever get rid of THAT?” And I have also heard, more than once, funeral directors and pallbearers express wonderment at the solemn dignity of the traditional requiem.

    Enough from me. The funeral Mass is like a crash course in the most telling differences in…EVERYTHING: liturgy, theology, ecclesiology… between the pre- and post-V2 Church!

  19. Anonymous says:

    As a priest, I was delighted to receive this Order of Service for a recent Funeral Mass.

    Introit: Requiem in aeternum
    Entrance Hymn: Holy God we praise Thy Name
    Kyrie Eleison: Mass of the Dead
    1st Reading: “The souls of the virtous etc..”
    Responsorial Psalm: The Magnificat in Latin
    Epistle: “…at the Trumpet of the Lord etc..”
    Gospel: “There are many rooms in my Father’s house etc..”
    Homily NOT Eulogy
    Offertory: Schubert’s Ave Maria sung by Solo
    Sanctus: Mass of the Dead
    Latin Pater Noster
    Agnus Dei: Mass of the Dead
    Communion Motet: Panis Angelicus Louis Lambiotte (?) spelling
    Hymn: Jesus my Lord my God my All
    Pescador de Hombres
    Commendation: In Paridisium
    Recessional: Salve Regina
    Organ Voluntary: Marche Pontificalle.

  20. Rose in NE says:

    Attended two funerals this year–one ordinary form, one extraordinary form. The NO homily talked about the deceased as if he was already experiencing the beatific vision–we did all we could for him, he’s at peace, let him go. The rest was a eulogy. (As an aside, if I hear “On Eagle’s Wings” one more time…)

    The homily at the extraordinary form funeral spoke about the need to pray for and offer masses for the dead. The person may be in purgatory and need our prayers. It spoke about God’s perfect mercy and perfect justice. If we die in a state of grace, death is a merciful thing, because we will obtain what we have been seeking–God. If we die in disobedience to God, He will exact his justice and we’ll get what we deserve–separation from God. Death is a dose of reality for the living. We need to think about how we are living our lives.

  21. Jeanne Hunter says:

    Oh my gosh….where do I begin…..I was a choir director for 30 years….New Order….
    …drunk eulogizer exclaiming how much he was going to miss his drinking partner…..weeping sobbing unable to continue….etc… awful…….as with many, many, who could not finish and had to be escorted back to their seats……song (not hymn) requests….”New York – New York”, “Off (HE) Goes, Into the Wild Blue Yonder”, “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen”, “Danny Boy”…….so many show tunes….I’ve forgotten……ALSO….everyone is immediately in heaven with God……..purgatory is out….

    I’ve been instructed to have just “upbeat” tunes, nothing sad….

    On Eagles Wings and Be Not Afraid are the alltime favorites…..

    I have already requested a Requiem (Gregorian) Mass…….with Purgatory pamphlets distributed and fervant requests for prayers for the repose of my soul…..

  22. Rose in NE says:

    P.S. Father, I like your friend–listen to him!

  23. Maynardus says:

    Two other brief points:

    1.) At the parish where I attend the TLM the pastor has been using black vestments even for the N.O. funerals and a black pall as well. There have been no complaints, except for the time a deacon related to the decedent showed-up at the last minute. He was taken aback both by being told to wear a dalmatic and expecially by the fact that it was black! But from the people, and especially the familes, nothing but positive feedback. People want this!

    2.) With the thought in mind that I will eventually be responsible for arranging funerals for certain elderly relatives I started a few months ago to canvass some of the orthodox priests and parish musicians I know as to what vernacular music would be suitable and dignified for use at a N.O. funeral. I was quite discouraged by the slim pickings, if one stipulates “no Latin” (not my stipulation!) they seem to consist mainly of what one might hear at a high church Episcopal funeral liturgy. I’m not enamored by the English version of the Dies Irae but it’s better than nothing…

    When one considers the differences in the funeral rites it’s obvious how disasterous the litirgical revolution has been to the Church…

  24. Brian says:

    1. White vestments (isn’t there a place for black anymore?)
    2. Old lady singing “On Eagle’s Wings” (oy)

    People deserve better, especially the poor teenage kid whose funeral it was.

  25. Tina says:

    I will agree with the On Eagle’s Wings is really overdone at funerals.

    When my uncle died a few months ago, since he hadn’t seen the inside of a Church since my grandmother’s funeral 2 years ago and before that his father’s funeral 30 years ago, we elected not to go the funeral Mass option but to have a service at the funeral home and graveside. The Catholic priest/deacon/guy with a collar was not very good. The first clue was when he didn’t know the name of the deceased….

    For my grandmother’s funeral I felt more sorry for the priest as my grandmother had been home bound for years and the priest didn’t know her at all. It turned into a homily about Cheers…

    I went to a Marionite Catholic funeral a few years ago and I think the priest wore black. I do know his praising of the deceased was after the Mass. You knew the praise was coming going into it because she was one of the founding members of the parish and gave $ to help build the church building.

    Every funeral I’ve been to has had white vestments. I thought the vestments were supposed to be white because you don’t actually die, you are resurrected in the Lord or somesuch.

    I think it really depends on the parish and the priest. I’ve been to funeral Masses at 4 different Churches and they have all been different.

    I also think it depends on how much family there is to compromise with. I ran into this with my grandmother’s funeral. My aunt who was in charge wanted all the grandkids involved and this and that. It lead to family fights. I landed up doing all the lectoring because I was the only one not crying….

  26. SARK says:

    The Requiem Mass in the 1962 missal is always achingly beautiful especially when chanted. The NO version is nearly always trite and painfully vacuous.

    The one exception to this was when my wife’s ten year old severely intellectually disabled Godson was buried last year – his father’s ‘speech’ was incredibly moving and for once the Priest was almost certainly right in canonising the deceased.

    My guess is that the only way for most people to guarantee a Catholic funeral is make sure your nearest and dearest can contact the SSPX.


  27. Daniel Latinus says:

    My granfather was named Daniel, with a recognizably Irish surname.

    When Grandpa passed away, my grandmother requested “How Great Thou Art”, and a couple of other songs in a similar vein. I also told the music person to stick to older, more traditional stuff, and everything would be okay. Or so I thought.

    Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my grandfather’s youngest sister approached my mother, and said, “please don’t let them play ‘Danny Boy’.” It seems this was done at the funeral of a beloved uncle in 1962(?!), and all it did was make everybody cry. I did not know this at the time I talked to the music person.

    The next morning, the funeral arrives at the church, and the Mass (English Novus Ordo) is celebrated. The only jarring point is that the priest placed a “St. Daniel” in the Eucharistic Prayer. I am not sure if the priest was invoking Grabdpa’s patron saint, or if the priest was canonizing Grandpa. I will tell you it is an eerie thing to be sitting in a church, at a funeral Mass, and to hear one’s own name in the prayers for the guest of honor.

    Mass ends, and the organist starts singing and playing “Danny Boy”.

    I would have slain the organist then and there, but thrice, my hand was stayed by pity: “It’s a pity I am unarmed; it’s a pity I am in a church; it’s a pity I have to push Grandma’s wheelchair,” I thought to myself.

    A few years later, when Grandma died, I gave similar instructions to presumably the same musician. I also asked for some Latin. I got all the exact same music, except for “Danny Boy”, which was replaced by “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name”, “On Eagles’ Wings” for the Responsorial Psalm, and a Latin Agnus Dei. A friend of mine was the celebrant this time, so we avoided any premature canonizations. (He did recite part of the Eucharistic Prayer in Latin.)

  28. Matthew says:

    My Grandmother recently passed away at a ripe old age, and organizing the funerla mass became my responsibility. The priest who offered the mass was a 28 year old newly ordained priest, and it was his first funeral. The family came down hard on the two of us for refusing to allow a euology, but I made it very clear it isn’t part of a Catholic funeral–even Catholics monarchs don’t get them. I don’t understand why people are so hung up on these. Where does the tradition of having a euology come from anyway? Regardless, the choir performed very well at a decently celebrated Novus Ordo mass, performing an English Kyrie with the latin in counterpoint that I thought was well done, all things considered.

    In my experience, the family (especially when they are not practicing Catholics) often think that because their loved one has passed away, they are entitled to do whatever they like to the liturgy. Also, the concept of praying of the dead has gone out the window at most funerals. Many of the funeral masses in my Diocese seem to canonize the person on the spot. Funerals are a genuine problem where I live–we have enough priests to minister to the number of faithful we have, but people seem to crawl out of the woodwork asking for Catholics funerals. My Pastor does four or so a week, and sometimes as many as ten or more.

  29. RBrown says:

    I recently attended the funeral of Fr. Kevin Fitzpatrick of the Diocese of Bridgeport. It was a Solemn Requiem Mass according to the 1962 Missal. The bishop chose not to attend. The Mass setting was Victoria’s Missa pro Defunctis, and all the proper Gregorian chants were sung. It was the most moving funeral Mass I’ve ever attended. I don’t believe there was anything particularly unique about it, apart from the fact that it was celebrated with all the precise pomp and glory of traditional Catholic worship. The homily, given by Fr. Richard Cipolla, was a model of a Catholic funeral oration: forthright about the deceased’s virtues and shortcomings, deeply personal, and, above all, hortatory. All three sacred ministers executed their roles flawlessly, and of course wore sumptuous black vestements. The acolytes were legion, and very well coordinated with one exception. Apparently it was the funeral home director’s first experience of a traditional requiem, and he remarked afterward to the celebrant, “I’ve never seen one of those before. That was really something.”
    Comment by Nicholas

    Right in the face–I hadn’t heard.

    He was a very good friend from Rome. I hadn’t talked with him since Bill Buckley died. In act, Fr KFitz appeared on a Firing Line show on Euthanasia.

  30. Fr. Z,

    I wrote a piece for Catholic Exchange last year about the popularity of “eulogies” at Catholic funerals that you and your friend may find helpful.

  31. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Though I’m a convert, I’ve been to about a dozen Catholic funerals in the past 8+ years.

    All but one of them fit what’s described above: banal 70s faux-Broadway music with theologically objectionable lyrics, effusive eulogies, proclamation that the deceased is surely already in Heaven, etc.

    My mother-in-law’s funeral was different. It was in a rather decrepit church in a rather decrepit neighborhood in New Jersey near where she had lived much of her life, though not the last several years. One large piece of art featured the death of St. Joseph. With one exception, the music was traditional. The priest was a recent arrival from Italy. He preached straightforwardly about the four last things and requested prayers for the deceased. There was no eulogy. The priest was scrupulous that only Catholics in a state of grace should receive communion.

  32. Phemie says:

    My parish is strictly Ordinary Form and funerals are white vestment/white pall. That I have no problem with.

    If there is to be a eulogy, it’s given 15 minutes before Mass.

    The Mass setting, when we have a choir, is Mass of Creation and the songs are usually, in some order, “Be Not Afraid”; “I Am the Bread of Life”; “How Great Thou Art” & “Amazing Grace” — with Dufford’s “Songs of the Angels” thrown in at the Final Commendation.

    But…we don’t always have a choir, depending on when the family wants the funeral, so canned music is often used with rather ridiculous results. For example at the recent funeral of someone named Danny we had Elton John’s “Danny” (Danny you’re leaving tonight on a plane…) as the processional and something by Dolly Parton as the recessional. Pastor refuses to vet the music and we don’t have a music director.

    At my Dad’s funeral in 2004, the choir refused to do any of the Ordinary in Latin “We don’t do that in our church anymore” and grudgingly had a solo “Ave Maria” because I said that Dad had spent 30 years of his life as an altar server before Vatican II and would appreciate some of what had been such an important part of his life.

    In that parish they don’t use a pall and I had to ensure that no flowers were placed on the casked after it came into the church. His parish priest didn’t remember his name and mistakenly spoke of him with my cousin’s name during the Mass. At Communion, rather than let us go receive, the priest came and gave communion to everyone in the first pew, including to a Jew who didn’t know how to refuse.

    The worst funeral in recent memory was that of a local politician. It was held at the Pentecostal church simply because their church is the most spacious in town. Two people (politicians) got up to give eulogies and one talked for 40 minutes. The bishop told the aide of some dignitary who asked if his non-Catholic boss could receive Communion, “Pretend you didn’t ask this question” and later gave him Communion.

  33. Daniel Latinus says:

    I had an otherwise good priest, at two separate funerals, throw the floor open to anyone who wanted to give a eulogy. The problems with this are:

    1. Some families do not give eulogies. None of mine ever have.

    2. At least one of the funerals was for a person who could be characterized as “difficult”, and whose demise was greeted with a sense of relief. No one stepping up to speak calls attention to these difficult family conflicts.

    3. There are a lot of reasons why someone might not use such an opportunity. A lot of people do not like to speak in public. However, by not accepting this invitation, it might create questions in those present about the character of the deceased, or of the deceased’s immediate family. (“Joan must must have been a bad mother that her kids wouldn’t say a word for her at the funeral.” or “Ed’s rotten kids couldn’t bring themselves to praise their father.”)

    4. For a number of reasons, a particular eulogist and/or his comments may be unacceptable to the family, the deceased himself, or violate decency. (Imagine a friend getting up in a church to describe some rowdy times; or an estranged spouse airing her grievances against the guest of honor and/or his family.)

  34. Chris says:

    I have recently been to the “funeral masses” (more like disasters) of my grandfather, great aunt and wife’s grandfather. All were at different churches (two in the Erie Diocese, one in Brooklyn).

    All three were the same — you didn’t know where the mass started or ended, every was talking and happy because, as each priest said over and over “He/she is in heaven and with Our Lord.”

    It just made me so sad, for two reasons: one, because our Church has fallen so far in just 50 years. How can our theology have gone so far off course so fast?; and, two, if they’re in heaven what in the hell are we doing having a mass for them? Have they been canonized before our very eyes?

    Now, what do all the novus ordinians do when they leave? They surely don’t pray for the repose of their souls, have masses said for them, etc., because they’re already in heaven. So what would be the point?

    Every time I try to be charitable about the new mass and faith, and tell myself not to be critical, I go to a novus ordo wedding or funeral and all those bad thoughts come flooding back.

  35. A Seminarian says:

    In addition to some of my own family, as a seminarian, I’ve been to several, professionally as it were.

    The state of funereal liturgy in America seems to be dire.

    About 2/3rds of the funerals I’ve been to has the musical anti-trinity: Eagles wings, Be Not Afraid, and Hear I am Lord, and often some kind of degenerate version of Amazing Grace whose lyrics I can never figure out. The heartbreaking thing is that I’ve been a member of a full Schola which is perfectly competent to sing quite good stuff, and we’ve been expected to do these pieces: heart breaking, really – what’s the point? (Said Schola has also done a very good funeral mass with the Requiem entrance and recessional, offertory in organum, and a couple of pieces of polyphony, which worked out quite nicely).

    The fault lies not so much in the people (although some of them would choose even more hideous music), but in the “stars” – that is, the music directors who give the list of acceptable tunes to the funeral directors. I’ve seen those lists, and invariably, you don’t even get to choose something that isn’t objectively terrible, except for (maybe) an Ave Maria, sung by someone who may very well not be competent to do so.

    There have been funerals where every family member out to the third degree of consanguinity has to come up to do “their own thing” in remembrance of the deceased. Mind-numbing poetry, 20 minute piano recitals, the cringeworthy guy who ‘tells it like it was’ in the eulogy. Those (women usually) who break down during the mass readings so you can’t understand them (who knew they were going to break down, since they had to bring someone up for ‘support’). That said, the occasional solo liturgical song (Shubert’s Ave Maria) by the family soprano went okay (much better than the hit-or-miss cantor who has the mass that day) the two times I recall it – I think people generally don’t volunteer to do it unless they know they can pull it off.

    Priests almost invariably extemporize during the vigil and entrance prayers (messing the proper forms, which when done right have a correct order and lead people on a journey which may lead some back to their proper place in the Church). I’ve heard homilies which were merely eulogies, homilies which were hagiographies, homilies where it was mostly about the priest himself, and homilies which were downright theologically mutton-headed. It’s like, in an effort to end the pain of loss (which in hubris they think they can do), they’ll say any goofy thing to make people feel better (except, perhaps, speak the truth).

    Now, while I know eulogies are not appropriate to the mass, but I can, pastorally, see a little leeway given to someone who is a competent and effective speaker who wants to do a short commendation to remember the life of the deceased and personalize the proceedings, say, before the mass begins or (rarely – I wouldn’t do this) before the final commendation. But, is it so hard to require the speaker to pony up a copy of the work ahead of time for review? I’ve seen people who can’t speak extemporaneously get up with nary a note and blather on for 15 excruciating minutes.

    Finally, I commend the practice I’ve seen on rare occasion of reminding people before communion of the requirements of communion within the Catholic Church (especially that of sacramental confession), and that, in addition to everything else, it is for us a profound sign or pledge of unity with the Church and Her Vicar. It is heart-breaking to me, as someone who was himself a bad catholic and received not in a fit state, to see so many of the unchurched and those not in a fit state to receive, getting up to receive communion anyway because everybody else is doing it, too. This easy reception in an unworthy state does tremendous harm to the soul, and pastors who don’t maintain the discipline of the sacrament do violence to the people they are sworn to shepherd. The opportunities for conversion that are available when that rare person who has lived a virtuous life dies are lost on them.

  36. Charlie says:

    I had to serve at a funeral where the priest arrived an hour late (leaving the family waiting in the pews), carelessly ad libbed Mass, and didn’t explain anything that was happening to the primarily Protestant gathering. It was awful. What otherwise would have been a good opportunity to witness the Catholic faith and liturgy to non-Catholics was turned into a nightmare.

  37. ckdexterhaven says:

    I have only been to 2 Catholic funerals, both were typical NO stuff. Not inspiring, not awful. (which is pretty sad when you think about it)

    But folks, remember to be thankful that there is a funeral. My husband’s father led a sinful life, was married to a gal of questionable character and she had an attorney phone my husband and his siblings to tell them their father passed away. There was no funeral. Even at some of the worst funerals I’ve been to, I was thankful that there WAS a funeral. I pray for my father in law’s soul every day, but it would have been nice to have a chance to pray with others for his deceased soul. I know it’s kind of OT-just wanted to throw that in.

  38. RBrown says:

    I just read that Bp Lori said a NO funeral mass for Fr Kevin, but the next day was the 1962 Requiem, followed by burial.

  39. KK says:

    Just curious, did your friend imply that you should have funeral plans should you decide to close the blog? Just wondering about the connection :-)

  40. Christopher says:

    My Grandmothers Mass of Christian Burial, was the reason I reverted back to the faith and I then went to seek out the traditional liturgy.

    here is what I posted on my blog about it:

    a few things bothered me and I’m not just trying to be picky here

    * Minimal Holy Water
    o For some reason I was expecting holy water to be sprinkled on everyone during the procession and after… maybe I was fabricating this one in my head, My later talks with a different priest said this was not common practice….but I just expected more

    * Sloppy Accord
    o The Priest started mass with the sign of the cross in the back of the church with the body in the back, after the procession in, he started to say the sign of the cross again but halted to an “Let us Pray”
    o Priest tried to do some eulogizing at mass in a round about way but not proper for a Catholic Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    * Rushed a Burial Site
    o The burial site ritual, was lacking. Father seemed to be in a hurry to eat back at the church hall.

    I had since attended a few requiem low masses and another Mass of Christian Burial for a young woman that died in a fiery car crash, Contemporary music was played at the young womans funeral mass, the servers were inattentive and lazy.

    I have expressed my wish of a Solemn High Requiem Mass when I die to my family, I hope they can make it happen

  41. Bill Haley says:

    My brother’s and mother’s were both Novus Ordo with no noticeable effect from the Marshall Plan; they were before 7/7/07.

    The parish scheduled them at the same time as their daily 8:30am Mass.

    The celebrant for my brother was respectful and explained the readings and the importance of the Faith. But my mom was canonized with the rest.

    The Rosary services, however, were both led by the same deacon and he canonized both family members, but we were still to pray for them. He hid his knowledge of the Faith well, and he gave my father a tea cup.

    It was left to my mother (for my brother’s) and me (for my mother’s) to give any catechesis in the eulogy (the night before the Mass). Needless to say, that really should be the role of the clergy.

    Since then I have served a Requiem Mass. Never having encountered one prior, my impression was what an incredible amount of time spent in prayer for the repose of the departed soul. How appropriate!

  42. Supertradmom says:

    OK, at some of the funeral Masses at my parents’ N.O. parish, and at two parishes in Calgary, where I attended funerals, home-made triptychs were in front of the caskets in the sanctuaries,and not only photos of the deceased at various stages were displayed, but items, such as, in the case of a person connected to football, helmet, football, pom-poms, school flag, etc. in garish and obvious display. The purpose of these exhibits seemed to be a tribute to the dead persons, but were tacky and in the way of the celebrants. I felt I was in witnessing some sort of ancestor worship.

    At another funeral, a video on a sophisticated sound system was played, showing aspects of the deceased’s life, with favorite songs. Eulogies are the norm here, and not homilies…..I have a Tridentine Funeral request written in my will and I now have some hope this would actually happen.

  43. Supertradmom says:

    P.S. Please, please, please continue this blog for our sanity and amusement…

  44. Jason says:

    I have never been to a Catholic funeral. My own may be my first. :P

  45. Anthony says:

    Recently had the honor of attending a Solemn High Requiem Mass (1962) for the mother of a local priest. Though communion was chaos due to the lack of a proper altar rail, and the lack of any instruction for the NO attendees on how to receive, it was great to see so many priests int he diocese present at the Mass. Three bishops were sitting in choir curing the Mass, 2 of the 3 had an awful scowl on their face the entire time.

  46. Dan Hunter says:

    My wifes brother was killed in a car wreck in 1978.
    He had a protestant service at the time.
    [His Catholic mother who was civilly divorced from her husband had attempted remarriage to a protestant.

    In January of 2007 Father Novak of the FSSPX offered a Requiem Mass for Salutario’s soul, at the request of my wife.
    It is the only Requiem Mass [Missal of ’62] that I have assisted at.
    It was unbelievably moving with a catafalque, and Father chanting the “Dies Irae”.
    Before Mass Father came out and explained that this Mass is being offered for the soul of Salutario, and if God forbid he is in Hell, then the Lord God applies the graces to anther poor soul.
    He explained about the unbleached beeswax candles and the prayers themselves.
    Then Mass began.

    It moved Salutarios father to tears and bothe my wife and my father in law felt such a sense relief and peace, that they had not experienced 30 years earlier at the protestant service

  47. Simon Platt says:

    I have three things to say which I hope will be tangentially relevant:

    1. I share the experiences and concerns of those many commentators who have copared typical moder catholic funerals with taditional ones.

    2. I carry in my wallet a card, courtesy of the Latin Mass Society, which says

    I instruct as a Catholic that in the event of my death my Requiem Mass and all other iturgy be celebrated strictly according to the Roman Missal of 1962. This instruction forms part of my last Will and Testament.

    The Latin Mass Society has been

  48. Gleb says:

    To “A Seminarian”:

    I hope you are a seminarian in my diocese.

  49. Simon Platt says:

    […cont (sorry)]
    zealous in promoting the right of catholics to a funeral rite of their preference. I am sure the same thing applies outside England and Wales, too.

    3. In that vein, please pray for Roy Griffiths, lately dead, whose traditional requiem will take place tomorrow, Friday 8 August, at 12.00 at Our Lady Star of the Sea, St. Annes, Lancashire.

  50. The comments about I have read about the proper way to conduct a funeral, only proves that the NO liturgy is false. So, how can those who probscribe to it dare call it the “Sacred Liturgy”?
    Thank God for our Pope and his propagation of the Latin Mass, the true indult according to the pope saint, Pius IV
    Thank you, and God bless us, all

  51. John Polhamus says:

    Okay, I can’t withhold this any longer, though it is really quite pathetic and bespeaks more poor formation than ignorance. I was the organist at an inner city parish recently, and at a family funeral the order of mass (which the family produced themselves) had the list of “Pall Bears” as those who would accompany the coffin.

    But the real capper was that at the end, Fr. X was to render the “Prayer of Condemnation.” This can’t be the only time that this has happened, but I have the paper to prove it, and these weren’t witty people. Oh, my goodness!!

  52. mysticalrose says:

    The last funeral I went to was like every other funeral I’ve been to: On Eagles Wings, Gelineau’s Psalm 23, I Am the Bread of Life — call it the NO funeral canon.

    I love the blog Fr. — there is no place else on the web for this kind of Catholic dialogue. Please continue!

  53. James W. says:

    Like many others I am bothered and offended by the eulogies. He/she is walking with the Lord in Heaven etc. White vestments bug me as well. I was a pallbearer at a Catholic funeral a few years ago and the white pall and the entire joyous approach irked me endlessly. So much so that I had a set of traditional black vestments and pall made for use at my demise. They have already been used a couple times.

    Priests miss this huge opportunity for authentic teaching at funerals. On the other hand they seem to look away when non Catholics receive communion . Amazing grace and other horrible music seems to dominate. A mess!

  54. Tomás López says:

    I think nearly everything we do here in Puerto Rico is the same as in the States, but two differences come to mind:

    1) You put a big black bow on your front door and in your place of work when a close family member has died. The bow can be white if the deceased is an infant. I am trying to find a picture of this on the web.

    2) You have prayers for the dead (usually a rosary) in your house for nine days after the person dies.

  55. TKS says:

    After attending usual bland NO Masses for deceased relatives, I took out a piece of paper and wrote down what I want at my Requium Mass. Since I’m relatively young, the reaction from my family was hilarious. Then I wrote my own obit so I could make sure at the end I asked for prayers instead of flowers.

  56. Gladiatrix says:

    When my Irish Catholic grandmother died her funeral mass was organised by my great aunt, her sister. It wasn’t the full requiem mass as has been described by other posters on this blog, as far as I can tell. There was no choir or schola as I don’t think the church had one and no modern music. There was a hymn called something like ‘At the Sign of the old wooden Cross’ (?).

    There was no eulogy that I recall, I don’t think my great aunt would have permitted it. As a non-church going Protestant I have to admit to feeling hopelessly ignorant.

  57. Father John Horgan says:

    I have had a set of white funeral vestments made which has a dark grey orphrey with heavy gold crosses embroidered overy a black foral pattern; the casket pall matches. In this way, even when white vestments are used, the presence of the black and grey orphreys makes the “liturgical point.” A single eulogy, if required, takes place after the Post-Communion Prayer and before the Commendation (incense and holy water). This gives the celebrant (me) time to bring everyone back from their tears and memories to prayers for the deceased through the Church’s rites before the casket is taken away. Since the Canadian Funeral Ritual offers a lot of leeway for the priest (“In these or similar words”), I tend to interpolate some of the prayers of the 1965 Ritual in English. I always explain the Thomistic understanding of the body and soul (memory, will, and intellect), so that people will understand what their deceased loved one “is” in the sight of God. I also stress the importance of the Bodily Resurrection of our Lord and our resurrection of the flesh (no silly Manicheaism or reincarnation). I also use the Prayer at the Time of Death, “I commend you now to Almighty God. . .”which is one of the most beautiful summaries of Christian hope to be found in any Rituale Romanum. People invariably ask for printed copies.

    Another suggestion regarding non-Catholics, etc.: It is always useful for the priest to explain the symbols of the liturgy, etc. in his funeral homily; most Catholics do not understand them, let alone the non-Catholics. After the Sanctus, I invite all Catholics who are present to kneel for “the holiest part of the Mass,” non-Catholics are told they may be seated. This allows me to distinguish the Citizens from the Beloved Visitors; it also subtly communicates the distinction between the two groups as a prelude to my pre-Communion announcement. That announcement, of course, invites practicing Catholics who are prepared to receive Holy Communion to approach the rail (!). Non-Catholics are invited again to be seated and use this time for their own prayers for the deceased. I state again that “Because of our belief in the literal, actual Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, we do not offer Communion to other Christians.
    However, if you are not Catholic — or a CATHOLIC NOT RECEIVING COMMUNION TODAY — you may come forward to receive a “blessing,” by placing one arm across your chest.” — This has become a diocesan custom in Canada with both negative and positive dimensions. The advantage to all this explanation is that the non-Catholics feel welcomed, the non-practicing Catholics don’t feel embarassed, and the Catholic family feels relaxed. –And it cuts down enormously on inappropriate receptions of Holy Communion. I do think that since funerals are an EXTRAORDINARY occasion of grace and conversion and return to the Faith, it is the priest’s duty to make the most of this opportunity. I realize that not all Traditionalist laity will agree with my approach, but I do speak as a priest of 23 years standing (kneeling?) and someone who has had a Personal Indult from Ecclesia Dei since 1989.

  58. Kate says:

    As liturgy chairman, my parish priest asked me to bring the funeral masses into conformity with the mind of the church…before my time there was actually a baseball “mass” with the altar servers dressed as players. To his credit, the priest refused to dress as an umpire.

    My son served at funeral masses during the day because we homeschool. Once they played Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” from a DVD with a microphone in front of it for contemplation after Holy Communion…

    Once, because my son served, we went to a Mass where the deceased was a devout Catholic and her whole family was Mormon. The church was packed. My little family and 2 elderly daily communicants (the funeral would be the only Mass that day) were the only people to stand, kneel and respond during the entire Mass. Talk about having to be brave for our faith!

    Finally, my tiny niece died about a month before her due date, suffering from a trisomy disorder. The funeral Mass was NO. The priests wore white–which seemed to me to be correct for an unbaptized baby. The homily spoke about the value of human life–that even this child who never took a breath had an impact on people. It was holy, respectful, and awe inspiring in its dignity. Many protestants attended and were moved by this “Catholic” thing–a funeral for a baby that never really lived? One fallen away Catholic man told my sister that he thought he needed to get back to the faith of his childhood… Another Evangelical woman called my sister the next day to ask for the readings and where she found them (The O.T. was from Lamentations and PERFECT for a funeral). Lots and lots of opportunities to explain the merciful existance of purgatory…

  59. mao now says:

    The music at the end of the movie “Blackrobe” would be very appropriate for A Funeral. Simply stunning, on the other hand. My “best Funereal experience was at my friends requiem. It was 2 months after Hurricane Katrina, the city was for the large part abandoned and shattered. (new Orleans) my Parish was still open, we have the 62 missal in all its solemn glory. Anyway, my neighbor and good friend waqs found dead. His Parents came and took his body back to another state. I requested A requiem for him, The Priest available was not yet trained in the Ext. form. So we did the N.O. in Latin, black mass vestments, ad orientam, the Dies irae, the in paradisum, The non Catholics who were there were moved to tears. It was truly beautiful. The soloist did a wonderful job accompanied by our magnificent pipe organ. it was almost A Requiem for the city itself, and all we lost.

  60. JohnE says:

    There were 7 priests concelebrating at my aunt’s funeral — and this was in a rural area. She recently died after a long fight with cancer, but was faithful to the end. She prayed for a miracle and we were praying for her as well, but whatever God decided was just fine with her. Although I don’t wish for suffering, if it comes I hope I can die like she did.

    I see the funeral as not only a way to pray for the deceased and their family, but to whatever degree the person led faith-filled life, I think it’s important to bring that out. It is hopefully an opportunity to plant a seed with fallen-away Catholic relatives and friends, and even non-Catholics, that will hopefully lead them back to the Church.

    My dad gave a nice eulogy at the Rosary that touched upon her life and trust in God. At the funeral Mass, two of the priests gave eulogies. They stressed the importance of praying for her soul and that she had specifically asked that people pray for her. I cringe a little when I hear people say about someone who has died, “She’s in Heaven now.” I know they mean well and they’re just trying to comfort, but it seems a little presumptuous. We’re there first of all to pray for the deceased, who may indeed be in Heaven “now”. Saying “She’s in Heaven now” seems like it would cause some to be lax in their prayers.

    The Mass itself was Novus Ordo and reverently done. Before Communion the priest gave a brief explanation of what we believe about the Eucharist and guidelines for receiving/not receiving for those present, Catholic, non-Catholic Christians, and non-Christians. I rarely hear the guidelines, but I think that’s important for such occasions, and perhaps should even be said with more frequency such as Sunday Masses.

  61. Gloria says:

    Having attended NO funerals, I’m not taking any chances. Not only have I filled out a “Five Wishes” booklet for end of life medical treatment, etc., but instructions for a trad Requiem Mass now that I have an FSSP parish and skilled schola, choir and choristers. (I’ll never move away from St. Stephen’s unless they take me kicking and screaming). The chant Ave Maria and and Ave Verum would be fine. Copies are in the hands of the one of my children who is designated,St. Stephen’s Church and my doctor. If there is a wake, then they can damn me or eulogize me as they wish. I even have typed out some readings for the wake from the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, which touch me and are instructive to my children. With the instructions is the following, meant for family and friends, Catholic and non-Catholic: “I insist that no one say that they know I’m in heaven. “We know Mom’s with the Lord, looking down on us (sob).” I am not perfect and will probably spend time in Purgatory, enduring the temporal punishment due to my earthly sins, major and minor, even though forgiven through the Sacrament of Confession and performing the penance required. This is the justice of God, tempered with mercy. We don’t get off scott free just by saying we’re sorry. There has to be atonement to satisfy justice. I also urge people to pray for the repose of my soul, so that I don’t spend too much time in Purgatory. I hope to live out my life in sanctifying grace and merit heaven eventually. That’s my goal and what I pray for all my children. But do not ever think that it is a given. It’s up to each one of us individually whether we attain that goal. Of course I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He died for my sins and the sins of the world. He doesn’t expect me to enjoy the fruits of His Sacrifice without living my life in charity and obedience to the laws of God. Even St. Paul wasn’t sure of his salvation. It’s in the Bible.” See – I don’t give up preaching and teaching even after I’m gone.

  62. momoften says:

    The last funeral was my mothers…planning it with my father and siblings, I thought the choices
    for music were horrible!!My sons had to bring their own cassocks and surplices or be faced with
    (ugh) albs. It was ok, but I prefer more (or all)Latin, and don’t care for the cantors they had. I hoped we could have given her a better last Mass. The reverence in church lacked greatly. People just don’t GET the presence of Jesus in church. I think the priest should offer Communion guidelines for Holy Communion, as I know for a fact many received who should not have either out of ignorance-or disrespect. My father was satisfied as she had 3 priests for her funeral Mass, and she had it at the church she was baptized and married in. Thank God there
    was no personal eulogies preceding the service as I have seen in the past!

  63. Jayna says:

    I was not able to attend my grandmother’s funeral (something I still hold against the director of the play I was doing at the time), but knowing her I can imagine it was dignified and true to the rites.

    The one I most recently attended was for the patriarch of a family that had grown up with my mother’s family (in the days when all the families had a million kids and they all went to the only Catholic school in the city). The funeral was in the cathedral of the parish we all grew up in and while I’d hoped that it would mean a somewhat more traditional service, I was proven quite wrong. The priests, of course, wore white, no traditional hymns whatsoever and there were eulogies from each of his children. The altar servers were almost all girls and, of course, they were all wearing cassocks and surplices, which, if I’m not mistaken, they are not supposed to do.

    There was one part though (and I’m pretty sure it was actually supposed to be done graveside), because he was in the service his coffin had been draped in an American flag and the honor guard came up and folded the flag and gave it to the family while “Taps” was played. Whether it was supposed to happen in the church or not, it was the most moving thing in the entire ceremony (I barely even knew the guy and was still tearing up).

  64. Maureen says:

    I guess I’ve been lucky, as the funerals I’ve attended have always been beautiful and holy. The OF can be done well. Of course, I had no idea what used to be in the funeral masses, back then. (I did have a sort of vague idea that we should do “Dies Irae” at my grandfather’s funeral, but I wasn’t real clear on what the words were, when it should be sung, etc. Also, I wasn’t in charge of planning, and there was a lot of family politics already going on, so I didn’t press matters.)

    One thing I heard recently at my godmother’s brother’s funeral was a hymn tune setting of “In Paradisum”. It was very nice. Of course, chant would be better, but that’s a nice bridge to make people interested in a part of the tradition they’ve never gotten to hear.

  65. My first funeral was in grade school when I had to serve for it. It was for a highschool boy who had committed suicide. I remember his Eddie Van Halen guitar on a stand, and for some weird reason the priest allowed them to play his favorite song “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zepplin right after the homily. I was just completely creeped out after that Mass.

    Another one was really odd, where a Catholic family had somehow convinced the priest to have a Mass with the ashes of their son present, even though he had run off to India and become a Hindu hermit.

    I also had to go to a funeral where a Jesuit said a Catholic Mass for a non-Catholic lady. It was planned by a marginally Catholic family where it was just a memorial service that was more of a celebration of her life than a praying for the repose of her soul. They acually had a soloist sing “You Lift Me Up” and they had the obligatory “Amazing Grace” to bagpipes (complete with kilted bagpiper).

    There was also the funeral Mass for a Knight of Columbus where a Freemason did the readings. He had his little Masonic lapel pins so it was pretty obvious.

  66. Ygnacia says:

    I have told my children on many occations that they absolutely must not play Amazing Grace at my funeral…or any of the foolish ditties that have been mentioned above…Please, please a Requiem!

  67. dcs says:

    With the exception of one Requiem for Pope John Paul II, all of the funeral Masses at which I have assisted have been Novus Ordo, white vestments, alleluias, eulogies, etc. One particularly horrible example was when a friend passed away during Holy Week and her mother insisted upon having the service in a funeral home on Good Friday (no Mass at all – my friend was a convert and her family was not Catholic).

    While “Holy God We Praise Thy Name” is a great hymn, it is a paraphrase of the Te Deum so IMHO, a bit out of place at a funeral Mass.

  68. Dominic says:

    My father died last year, and an already difficult period was made worse by the expectation that the family “be involved” in preparing the funeral liturgy – rather than immerse themselves in the Church’s liturgy that was already set.

    The expectation was that everybody should be “doing something” – the readings and bidding prayers were divided out, someone had to do a eulogy, etc. I felt it was more than enough to be present participating in prayers for the soul of my father. Instead, it almost became a ‘performance’ with different members of the family being ‘on show’ as though this was the only way to demonstrate how much my dad was loved and mourned. I declined to do anything apart from carry my father’s coffin into and out of the church.

    The most objectionable thing about the Requiem Mass was that it was presented as a Mass “to celebrate the life” of my father, not to pray for the repose of his soul. Some of my siblings (who rarely or never go to Church) wanted some secular music and poetry. (“Dad’s favourites” of course.) This has become such a feature of funerals that the priest did not object. It was ghastly.

    The homily said nothing about the Christian understanding of death, but just gave a biographical account of my dad’s life. The eulogy (given by my brother) was heart-felt but, ultimately, trite. Overall, I was deeply saddened that there were so many attempts to “make the occasion meaningful” because many of the main participants failed to understand the meaning of the liturgy itself – and the priest failed to assist their understanding of it.

    I’ve told my nearest and dearest that I don’t want anyone to say nice things about me when I die (not that I expect them to anyway!), but to just to stick to the ritual and pray for my soul.

  69. A. Noel says:

    I am the family mezzo-soprano and had the privilege of singing at the funeral of an aged friend of the family many, many years ago. Although NO, it was dignified and simple. I heard later that her husband sobbed broken-heartedly while I sang. Afterwards he told me how grateful he was for it.

    Some years later, I had the honor of singing the mezzo solo in the Mozart Requiem at St. Vibiana’s (when it still was such) in Los Angeles. Not at a funeral – a concert. But that’s the Requiem I want at my funeral!

  70. Justin B. says:

    I have been to one funeral since I’ve become “liturgically aware,” and that was my uncle’s (also godfather) two weeks ago.

    My aunt and her daughters had me come to meet with the priests because they knew they’d be presented with options and wanted me to choose what was best. The priest, our pastor and a monsignor, met us dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. He opened the meeting with a prayer for the comfort of the survivors and no mention of the soul of the deceased. When I requested I Thess. and II Mac., he attempted to bully me into believing that they weren’t options. I politely showed him in the missal that they were, indeed, options. In passing I used the term Requiem, and it was met with a sharp rebuke: “You mean funeral!”

    The Mass itself was the usual affair: white vestments, white pall, euology homily,etc. In his homily the priest said “I’ve been a priest for 34 years, and the color for the funeral has ALWAYS been white because the Church teaches that our loved ones are in heaven with the risen Lord.” This is not the first time I have heard this priest use “I have been a priest for 34 years” to establish credibility and then follow it up with a blatantly heterdox statement. It’s truly sad when you know a priest is lying, as even a modernist knows what the traditional teaching of the Church is, even if he rejects it. Sometimes I can’t blame the average poorly formed Catholic for not knowing better because they should be able to trust what their priest says.

    I said my rosary for the repose of my uncle’s soul, and did my best not to see who was receiving communion to keep my cool. But during the whole ordeal I couldn’t help but think that if I’m lucky enough to go to Purgatory when I die, I’ll be there forever because no one will know to pray for me.

  71. Chironomo says:

    As a parish Music Director and organist at a busy and elderly parish… it is often 2-5 funerals a week here. I have played funerals with nearly every priest in our Diocese, and so the liturgical habits vary widely. They shouldn’t, but they do… some general observations that I think could describe the situation in an unfortunate number of parishes in the US. A composite of experiences from the 5 parishes where I have served.

    1. The priest defers to the family in most matters concerning preparing the liturgy. This includes often allowing things to happen during the Mass that shouldn’t happen… having “personal” effects arranged on a table in front of the altar…eulogies that often delve into some rather tawdry and questionable episodes in the deceased persons life… the playing of CD’s of the deceased persons “favorite song”…etc, etc,…

    2. In the name of “pastoral sensitivity” there is no effort made to discern whether many of the guests present are even Catholic, let alone disposed to receive communion. Methods of recieving communion include the “one handed grab”, bowing and then sticking your tongue out, and even taking the host back to the pew giggling, and eventually eating it.

    3. The music selections, made by the family and enforced by the Priest can include a wide variety of innappropriate selections. At the BEST, Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, Here I Am Lord et al…at the worst (I am not kidding here)Turn-Turn-Turn, What a Wonderful World, Georgia and/or Sweet Georgia Brown, The Notre Dame Fight Song, Whiter Shade of Pale, Wind Beneath My Wings, The Prayer (Andre Boccelli) and last but not least “My Way”.

    Is this “typical” around the country? I hope not but am rather afraid that it is. There is no effort by the Bishop in this Diocese, nor in the other Diocese where I worked, to set any kind of standards or guidelines for funeral and memorial Masses. I have read of some Bishops who have issued such guidelines, but they are much like documents from the USCCB, full of lots of “suggestions” but pretty much allowing things to continue as is most convenient.

    I hope this doesn’t sound too cynical, but there is so much need for improvement in this area of liturgy, and seemingly nobody interested in undertaking the hard work. I think much of it has to do with dealing with the families of the deceased and an unwillingness to say “you can’t” to them….

  72. Mary Conces says:

    My husband and I attended indulted TLMs for many years, travelling quite a ways to do so. For the last several years, we have made an 80-mile round trip on Sundays and have been glad to do so. For the last 3 years, our Mass has been incorporated into the schedule of a NO parish. When he died last March, I wanted very badly to have a Requiem Mass in the Traditional Form because I knew that was what he wanted–as do I. We both of us abhorred eulogies, soppy hymns, instant canonizations, etc. Thanks to a great deal of thoughtfulness on the part of many people (not me), the funeral was perfect. It was said at a nearby church where the priest is learning the EF, by our young pastor, who is also learning the EF. It was the second Requiem Mass he’d ever done. He has to hold the Ecclesia Dei book, and his Latin (which he has had to learn on his own) is not polished, but he did a good, straightforward job. The sermon was on the Gospel, with one from-the-heart personal comment because he and my husband were friends and comrades in what I call the “religious wars”. Two young men did the music (a friend and his organist friend). Many of our friends from “our” Mass, which is done in the “dialogue” style, were there, so the Mass was quiet, reverent, but nevertheless full of fervent response. All sorts of people were there–Protestants, Catholics of various “stripes”, and I think that everyone had a chance to see genuine Catholicism alive and well, and felt blessed by it. Even Father’s vestments (handmade for him) came in for favorable comment.
    It was “barebones”–the phrase “noble simplicity” comes to mind. I was following the Mass in my Missal (sharing it with two of my daughters) and was struck anew by the splendor of Catholic truth it expresses. The only flaw was that missals were not available for those who might have found them useful. But the overall impression (totally new to many) was there to see. And Father has recently purchased some booklets for future congregations.
    Sorry to ramble on; I only wish I could convey it all more clearly. The tears I shed coming out of church were actually tears of joy!

  73. Art says:

    I attended many funerals during my primary school years. While I do not remember much of the details as they were for people I didn’t know, it had always been a reverential N.O. ‘Panis Angelicus’ by Caesar Franck (including ‘Tetrina deitas’ as a second verse) and ‘In paradisum’ was always a favourite. Judging from other’s comments, I guess I should count myself as fortunate.

  74. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Because of my work with and around fellow church musicians, I participate in and hear about NO Funeral Masses with questionable music choices – and some Masses have been wonderfully reverent too. It seems that no one wants to grieve the family any more by denying certain music requests. I realize how sensitive a situation this is as a shocked family must plan a funeral. Inevitably these are people with no understanding of appropriate music choices and hard-hearted rhetoric forcing a standard of music can have a chilling effect on those family members already wavering in their faith. So, repeatedly, there are music choices that range from questionable to irreverent.
    If folks already understood the proper place and purpose of Liturgical music, and expectations were already set, this wouldn\’t have to be such a battleground.
    Also, I get the impression that most priests really don\’t know what is appropriate specifically and are very uncomfortable setting a standard when they don\’t think there are rules to quote.
    Reading these many posts makes me wonder if we all don\’t horribly overestimate the training in the seminaries today.

    I do hope there are more and more examples of the EF Requiem Masses. What a difference! The Liturgy is set, no arguments and above all, it is so efficacious for deceased!

    Regarding a custom: my husband comes from southern Virginia and wondered why our neighbor\’s front door didn\’t have a \”funeral wreath\” when her husband died. Apparently this was a common custom maybe 50 years ago but has disappeared around these Northern Virginia parts.

  75. trespinos says:

    When my mother passed away in 2002, it fell to me to make the funeral arrangements. Since she had moved to a series of retirement homes ten years earlier, the current staff priest assistant had no personal knowledge of her, but gleaned a few tidbits of information from our planning meeting and did a very creditable job of adding the human touch to his homily. He is an African priest and, perhaps as is customary in his homeland, he prefaced every single reference to mother’s name with the words “our mother” in his booming voice warmed by a lilting accent. It was memorable.

    For personal and painful family reasons, I had specified to him the day before that neither I nor any other family member would make use of the Post-Communion eulogy time. I thought he had understood that, right up until the moment came and, looking in my direction, he announced that we all would now listen to a family remembrance of “our mother Anne”. Imagine the panic I felt at that point. Not knowing the high sign that I could make at that point to get him to back up, I sheepily went forward and ad-libbed for about forty-five seconds and then returned to my seat. My impression was that, although surprised by my brevity, he was also delighted not to have to endure the usual twenty-minutes of stuff.

  76. Suzie says:

    The last Catholic funeral I went to was attended by a huge number of people because the deceased was much loved and respected in the community. The funeral Mass was awful. The opening hymn was On Eagle’s Wings. There were many concelebrants, and an Episcopal priest read the Epistle. During the offertory, there were many women preparing the altar. Communion was the worst I had ever seen. The parish had a bereavement ministry who also served as EM’s. It seemed everyone received Holy Communion (except me). I saw a woman whom I personally know to be nominally Jewish (because she is my sister-in-law’s mother-in-law) receive communion. When they started to run out of hosts because of the large number of people receiving, the Eucharistic Ministers went to the tabernacle and started breaking up hosts into little pieces. Clear glass bowls were used for communion and the empties left on the altar in the Blessed Sacrament chapel like so many dirty dishes. During the whole of the Communion rite, the tabernacle door with the reserved Blessed Sacrament was left open. No one genuflected when passing the open door. During the Consecration, no one in the Blessed Sacrament chapel, which was used for overflow seating and where I was seated, kneeled. I think I was the only one who did kneel and felt very uncomfortable doing so because I didn’t want to look overly pious. At the time of the blessing of the body before leaving the church, Father explained that the purpose of incense was to show respect for the dead (?) I was very embarassed and scandalized by the whole thing. Now I know why I try to attend only the EF.

  77. rcesq says:

    The funeral Mass, like a wedding Mass, seems to be a hybrid. It is, first of all, a service for the respose of the soul of the deceased. Therefore, it should be celebrated with all the solemnity that belongs to such a rite. I’ve been to all sorts, from the utterly cringe-inducing to the awesome, featuring gobs of Latin, multiple concelebrants, clouds of incense, Knights and Dames of Malta and the Order of the Holy Sepulchre fully robed, with the pall of the Order on the coffin. Because often many non-Catholics attend, the celebrant should take the opportunity to explain what Catholics believe about life after death. For instance, the pastor at my mother’s funeral — which was attended by Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, Jews, Protestants and Evangelicals, Orthodox Christians of all kinds, as well as a wide range of Catholics — did an excellent job of explaining what her faith meant to her and how our particular belief in Christ’s salvation gives us strength, fills us with joy despite our sufferings, and leads to the hope that we shall be reunited in the end. He also explained what we understand by communion and why those who are not in a state of grace should not receive. Many of our non-Catholic friends remarked afterwards how much they appreciated the pastor’s informative homily.

    But a funeral is also an occasion to thank the Lord for the gift of the life of the deceased (difficult though that may be to appreciate if the dead person was a pill). So it shouldn’t be inappropriate to include a proper eulogy or two by members of the family or close friends. It does not seem very ‘pastoral’ to ignore the fact that a funeral has this social/cultural aspect to it and to say that eulogies should be relegated to the Rosary or wake is a bit unrealistic. Most people don’t go to the Rosary. So, yes, strictly speaking the photo displays may be out of place at a Mass, but they’re fine for the cultural celebration. Even including some religious-themed music that was a particular favorite shouldn’t necessarily be taboo. I’ve been to funerals where a CD of Elvis singing “How Great Thou Art” and “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” were actually quite moving and “Danny Boy” sung at funerals for the Irish inevitably makes everyone cry. Crying is OK — even Jesus cried when his friend Lazarus was dead.

    Like everything else, it comes down to a matter of common sense and good taste.

  78. roydosan says:

    I arranged my grandfathers NO requiem Mass last year. The priest was quite happy to accomodate whatever we wanted but was fairly surprised at being requested for black vestments and gregorian chant. Unfortunately he didn’t actually have any black vestments so we settled on purple instead. The music was from the chant mass for the dead – introit, kyrie, tract, graduale, offertorium, sanctus, agnus dei, communio and in paradisum. The dies irae was omitted and we sang one hymn – eternal father, strong to save (my grandfather was a navy man). Although the chant made the requiem very dignified there was a problem in that for large parts of the Mass the priest had to wait for the chant to stop before he could do anything – that’s definitely one are the EF should influence the NO – allow the priest to get on with the Mass not wait for the music to stop so that the congregation hear every prayer.

  79. Sue Sims says:

    Our priest said he was going to talk about the Four Last Things two Sundays back, which sounded promising (he’s pretty liberal as a rule). However, he spent the first three minutes telling us all how ghastly Requiems were in the ‘bad old days’ (he really did use that phrase); how depressing they were, with all that black, and talking about Hell, etc, etc; then he went on to the lovely uplifting funeral Mass these days.



  80. Sparki says:

    I was not yet Catholic at my Catholic grandmother’s funeral ten years ago (parents raised us atheist), but now that I am, I look back on a couple things that now make me wonder.

    My elder sister and I were invited to do the readings. My brother was invited to give a eulogy. The priest gave a homily, but all I remember is he told stories about the letters he had received from my grandmother complaining about this or that, so he knew she was paying attention. I have no recollection of the spiritual aspects of it.

    There was a full Mass, and nobody said anything to us about not being able to receive the Eucharist unless we were Catholics in a state of grace. I imagine that’s a dicey issue when a priest is dealing with the bereaved. My parents and elder sister received, but the rest of us didn’t want to, for whatever reason.

    If there was a Rosary the night before, nobody said anything to us about it.

  81. Sparki says:

    I attended a NO funeral Mass for the daughter of a co-worker. She had been born with severe birth defects and only lived about nine weeks. Really tough loss. Priest was marvelous and addressed the senselessness of it all head-on, concluding with the assurance that the little girl was in heaven, praying for her family, and what a great gift that was.

    I’m not good with remember the names of hymns, but I remember one was basically the beatitudes and the processional ran to the theme of “Christ is our hope.”

  82. Mary Regina says:

    Two of my sons and I just attended the Catholic funeral of my 77 year old uncle in a very small town in Michigan. I was pleased that my 11 year old and 17 year old were able to participate in a traditional Rosary led by the K of C at the funeral home, and that the funeral mass was very traditional, although NO. The homily mentioned my uncle’s great faith and stressed praying for the souls of the deceased. The pastor was very courteous but firm in his instructions before Communion.

  83. SARK says:

    Does anynody know why white vestments are used in the modern funeral mass – is this in the rubrics in the modern mass or is it the Priest’s choice? If in the rubrics when was the change introduced?

    Given its symbolism in westerm culture how can the use of white be squared with the Church’s teaching on the four last things and purgatory? Surely the sin of presumption manifest in dress and ritual.

    Is the current practice in the funeral mass not one of the very best examples of how the modern church hierarchy, while not teaching heresy ofically, encourage the belief in heretical notions among the faithful through actions and symbols that are sanctioned by Bishops and even the Vatican. The same could be said about the symbolism of the modern mass and belief in the Real Presence and the Sacrifice.

    In a recent survey carried out by a colleague most older Catholic respondents (over 70 years and I assume properly formed before VII) said they could no longer believe in purgatory because they could not square it with a loving God. They believed that most decent people went straight to heaven.

    The moral to this is that one should never underestimate the power of symbolism. It’s a short step from white vestments and eulogies to heresy.

    An interesting paradox – Perhaps the use of white vestements etc. desgined to celebrate the passage of the dead straight to heaven may actually reduce the chances of heaven for those left behind.


  84. Dennis says:

    I’m not sure why white vestments were introduced but I beleive the priest can also use purple or black vestments but you be hard pressed to see purple and black forget about that

  85. Jane says:

    At some of the funerals that I attended, there were instant canonizations; however at one funerals that I attended the very opposite occurred.

    During my dad’s requiem Mass, the priest (his cousin) made an embarrassing slip of the tongue. Instead of saying: Let us stand for the final commendation, he said, Let us stand for the final condemnation!

    My poor dad!

    Then there was the boomerang which was ceremoniously put on the top of my great uncle’s coffin, during the requiem Mass. I won’t bother to explain the reason for this!
    As you might be able to guess this took place in Australia.

    (I don’t like instant canonizations done at funerals. Please pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory)

  86. RBrown says:

    I’m not sure why white vestments were introduced but I beleive the priest can also use purple or black vestments but you be hard pressed to see purple and black forget about that
    Comment by Dennis

    The Novus Ordo funeral mass isn’t really a Requiem Mass. It’s a mass of the Resurrection–thus the White Vestments.

  87. RBrown says:

    When Georges Pompidou, the Pres of France, died, he requested a Latin mass with Greg Chant. Monks from Solesmes were bussed in for the funeral.

  88. Susan Peterson says:

    On the subject of canonizing all the deceased, one of the “worship sites” in my territorial parish, adds the names of all the people in the parish who have died in the past year to the Litany of the Saints on All Saint’s day. The priest met my protests with “that’s the choir’s business, what they want to sing.” When I suggested that most of these people were probably in purgatory and that some might be damned, he was really shocked; it was as if I had said something in extremely bad taste.
    Susan Peterson

  89. RBrown says:

    On the subject of canonizing all the deceased, one of the “worship sites” in my territorial parish, adds the names of all the people in the parish who have died in the past year to the Litany of the Saints on All Saint’s day. The priest met my protests with “that’s the choir’s business, what they want to sing.” When I suggested that most of these people were probably in purgatory and that some might be damned, he was really shocked; it was as if I had said something in extremely bad taste.
    Susan Peterson

    In the US we have leading economic indicators.

    IMHO, belief in Purgatory is the indicator of the state of the Church. This is because so many particular doctrines converge there, e.g., Trinitarian love, man’s supernatural end (not reachable by human effort), the Eucharist and Spiritual Growth, and the distinction between mortal and venial sin.

    The errors are woven together: Lack of belief in Purgatory, Funeral Mass of the Resurrection (rather than a Requiem Mass), the Eucharist as a Meal and Get Together, and Confession available 15-30 minutes a week.

  90. RBrown says:

    On the subject of canonizing all the deceased, one of the “worship sites” in my territorial parish, adds the names of all the people in the parish who have died in the past year to the Litany of the Saints on All Saint’s day. The priest met my protests with “that’s the choir’s business, what they want to sing.” When I suggested that most of these people were probably in purgatory and that some might be damned, he was really shocked; it was as if I had said something in extremely bad taste.
    Susan Peterson

    In the US we have leading economic indicators.

    IMHO, belief in Purgatory is the indicator of the state of the Church. This is because so many particular doctrines converge there, e.g., Trinitarian love, man\’s supernatural end (not reachable by human effort), the Eucharist and Spiritual Growth, and the distinction between mortal and venial sin.

    The errors are woven of the same cloth: Lack of belief in Purgatory, Funeral Mass of the Resurrection (rather than a Requiem Mass), the Eucharist as a Meal and Get Together, and Confession available 15-30 minutes a week.

  91. totustuusmaria says:

    I wish I had seen this earlier. I have a really good one. At one of my relatives funeral, the priest gave the homily on how the person who had died is now a Saint. He lead the congregation in praying for him, then included him in the Canon of the Mass. Wow.

  92. Scott says:

    Ive been to heaps of NO funerals as I was an altar server before I started going to the traditional rite. I have noticed that the Rosary said the night before is often half done with lots of beautiful prayers missing and I have a final request and warning. IF THEY PLAY “HOW GREAT THOU ART” OR GIVE ME A EULOGY I WILL JUMP OUT OF MY COFFIN AND HIT THE PRIEST WITH THE LID OF IT.

  93. Bernadette says:

    I volunteer for the funeral choir so I have seen it all, secular music, five eulogies. Usually the music consists of “Eagles Wings” and “Joyful, Joyful.” Recently a new associate priest mentioned the word “purgatory” at a funeral and the people there were absolutely furious over his audacity!He obviously didn’t get the memo forbidding priests to talk about purgatory at a funeral.
    I have instructed my daughters to please try to arrange a Requiem Mass for me. It would be great if the priest would wear the black vestments with the skull and crossbones I saw on another Catholic website. ;)

  94. Boots says:

    The only Catholic funeral I think I’ve ever been to was this past Christmas in Rome. It was in Italian, and my understanding of Italian is poor at best. I thought it was reverent and nice, though I cant say I felt particularly moved, then again it was a funeral for the doorkeeper for my apartment building and I hardly knew her.

    The church was Santa Dorothea in Trastevere, a beautiful little gem in Trastevere of a church. The mass wasn’t particularly long or anything more than a standard mass, from what I recall.

  95. Father Totton says:

    I usually use Black vestments (if family specifically requests white, I honor the request), say the black, do the red, refrain from offering a eulogy, but exhort those gathered to pray for the deceased. The music does border on the modern and may tend toward the banal (again, often largely owing to requests of the deceased and of family) but extreme excesses are refused (“My Way” and “Stairway” are right out!)

    The mourners, both in the family and among friends, generally comment upon the beauty of the rites (they speak for themselves) and I have yet to hear a negative comment about anything traditionally Catholic (black for mourning, mention of purgatory, etc.)

    I hope some of my brother priests find this an encouraging note.

  96. Mairead says:

    Priest wears white vestments though I noticed the altar server ( a young boy) wore a purple cincture, eulogy and very short sermon, no solo singing at Communion time which used to be nice and the inevitable The Lord’s my Shepherd instead of a psalm.Need I say more?

  97. Dennis says:

    I attended 3 funerals within a month and I am totally convinced that the funeral from the 1962 missal needs to be restored to the universal church as the norm. The first was the funeral for Fr. Kevin Fitzpatrick in the extraordinary form it was most moving indeed ( it was the first funeral mass I attended in which I was deeply moved). The second was in ny, concelebrated by 3 priest, only the celebrant vested -the other 2 priest only in alb and stole. the music was ok -priest chanted the preface in latin ,santus and angus dei sung in latin. I found the attitude to be casual ,after communion priest made invite for who wanted to come up to give a few words. The celebrant then passed the mic. to the other priest to say a few words. The third took place today in Brooklyn for a cousin , it was bad, very casual – there were 2 altar girls -most of mass from opening till offertory was done from outside the sanctuary , the priest stood at the altar rail said stand for the gospel and did not give the gospel but ad libed a gospel story in his words -did not say “a reading from the holy gospel according to —” gave a sort of eulogie of my cousin after communion priest came outside of the sanctuary again for another sort of eulogie then made some small talk with members of the family
    then ended by saying “you can all go home now”. Music was “He will rise again”, “ave Maria” and “Amazing Grace” also a pew was reserved for the parish breravement group. ( the body was not present but the ashes were)

  98. RBrown says:

    But a funeral is also an occasion to thank the Lord for the gift of the life of the deceased (difficult though that may be to appreciate if the dead person was a pill). So it shouldn’t be inappropriate to include a proper eulogy or two by members of the family or close friends. It does not seem very ‘pastoral’ to ignore the fact that a funeral has this social/cultural aspect to it and to say that eulogies should be relegated to the Rosary or wake is a bit unrealistic. Most people don’t go to the Rosary. So, yes, strictly speaking the photo displays may be out of place at a Mass, but they’re fine for the cultural celebration. Even including some religious-themed music that was a particular favorite shouldn’t necessarily be taboo.

    Your comments indicate that you have little comprehension of the purpose of the funeral mass. It is NOT to make those present feel good.

    See above, my comments on Purgatory.

    I’ve been to funerals where a CD of Elvis singing “How Great Thou Art” and “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” were actually quite moving and “Danny Boy” sung at funerals for the Irish inevitably makes everyone cry. Crying is OK —even Jesus cried when his friend Lazarus was dead.
    Like everything else, it comes down to a matter of common sense and good taste.
    Comment by rcesq

    I would say that anyone choosing those songs has neither common sense nor good taste.

  99. Margie says:

    I have been singing for funerals for about ten years. I think the problem often has to do with too little direction from the church and too much direction from the funeral director. The priests are often reluctant to “lay down the law” when people are grieving. The funeral mass music ends up being a collection of “Uncle Bob’s” favorite songs because the funeral director is more into promoting a “life celebration”. You end up with a steady diet of “Eagles Wings and “Be Not Afraid”. People never hear anything else and they think this is what is supposed to be done for a funeral. Also the number of eulogies have increased exponentially in the last ten years even though they should never be done. I once had the experience of singing for a funeral on a Friday and being approached on Sunday by the wife of the deceased. She complimented me on my singing and then proceeded to say that it was too bad that I couldn’t sing “Panis Angelicus”. She was told by the funeral director that “nobody sings that stuff anymore”. I apologized to her and told her that they were mistaken and I know two different versions. I later told the funeral director that I would sing any appropriate song in Latin that they wanted and that if I didn’t know it I would learn it.

  100. Gloria says:

    This is belated, but I thought it would be instructive. The principal of our Academy lost her husband in a tragic accident a few months ago. She is Catholic. He was not. She wanted our parish to conduct the funeral. It was held at the funeral home. Members of our schola and choir (youngsters who attend the Academy) assisted our FSSP pastor. They sang PS. 44:2, “Requiem aeternam…” from the Gregorian chant Requiem for the entrance. There was a prayer for the dead and the Epistle from 1 Cor. 15:51-57 followed by the Canticum Zachariae, “I am the resurrection and the life…”The Gospel of John 11:21-27 came next and a sermon by Fr. Novokowsky, a beautiful, traditional lesson, consistent with our understanding of the hope for salvation and eternal rest with the exhortation to pray for the soul of the departed. The choir sang Schubert’s Ave Maria and then a responsory. There were final prayers and the recessional “Lux aeterna luceat eis,….”. It was a reverent and very “Catholic style” funeral, attended by a host of protestant relatives who, I am sure, didn’t know what to think of it all. There was a gathering in the Church hall after interment at which family and friends shared memories and a light repast.

  101. Dominic says:

    This is late, but I couldn’t post it any sooner as I saw it only in today’s CathNews (13 August). It’s a report about a 20 year old who died on a holiday in Greece, and the headline (“Heaven ‘an endless party’ for Doujon” refers to the priest’s words at the funeral. Here is much of the report:


    More than 1,000 mourners applauded the life of Doujon Zammit at his funeral in Sydney yesterday as relatives battled to come to grips with the 20 year old’s violent end.
    Murdered Sydney man, Doujon Zammit, who was killed on holiday in the Greek islands, has joined an “endless party” in heaven, funeral celebrant Fr Michael Smith said yesterday.

    Mr Zammit was left brain dead after an attack by a nightclub bouncer on the Greek island of Mykonos last month, leaving his parents Oliver and Rosemary to make the decision to turn off his life support, The Australian reports.

    Leading the service, the Fr Michael Smith told friends and relatives at Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church at Horsley Park, Doujon was heading for the “endless party” in heaven.

    “He loved to party. This is one endless party,” Fr Smith said. “Possibly heaven will never be the same again.”

    Mr Zammit’s cousin, Cameron Tabone, 20, of Blakehurst, whose nose and wrist were broken in the same attack, wept as he paid tribute to his cousin’s infectious love of life and individuality.

    “He aspired to great things and had big dreams,” Mr Tabone said. “He had a love for life that infected everyone who met him.

    I hope that this report does not reflect the tone of the funeral Mass, though I fear it does.

    May Doujon Zammit rest in peace and his family and friends be consoled in their loss.

  102. Willow says:

    Are you still running this blog? I have a question. How come so many Catholics I know claim that their pastor wouldn’t show up for last rights when family members lay dying? This happened to my brother and my father which really makes me even more disgusted with the Catholic church as my father devoutly tithed all his life and raised 8 children – we were poor – we could have used that money
    and then no $*$* priest would show up from his home church. As I talked about this I heard several of the same kinds of complaints from many other “raisedCatholic”people. Crap – if they[the priests] can’t be there for you in the end why bother going to church and tithing etc. After all, isn’t that what they were paid for all those years??? to help people in the last transition of life?

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