Thursday, February 20, 2014

SAINT JOSEPH CHURCH PASTOR ISSUES NEW POLICY FOR EULOGIES DURING THE CHURCH'S FUNERAL LITURGIES





Please note: It is now parish policy approved by the pastor and exclusively for funerals at St. Joseph Church, that family members or friends of the deceased may no longer offer a reflection or eulogy during any part of the Funeral Rites of the Church.

However, family or friends may offer these reflections at the “Vigil of the Deceased” 
 (Wake/Visitation) following the Prayer Service after the priest or deacon has offered the final blessing and departed. The Catholic Funeral Rites entrust our beloved faithful departed into the arms of God’s mercy and we pray for the repose of the soul of the faithful departed. We pray for the consolation of those who remain. Therefore the Catholic funeral rites are in no way to be described as a “celebration of life” but rather as prayer to entrust the faithful departed to God and to celebrate what brings about forgiveness, redemption and salvation: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Any words remembering the deceased must not give scandal by pointing out the deceased person’s sin or glorifying these sins in any way.

Oddly enough, after I made this new policy because of situations that have arisen over the past 33 years since I have been celebrating Funeral Masses, I saw at The Deacon's Bench Blog the following story! I must be clairvoyant:
Ottawa Catholics are no longer able to give eulogies for lost loved ones during funeral masses, after the Archbishop for the region issued a decree ending the practice this month.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast issued the decree, effective as of Feb. 2, because he said eulogies take away from what the funeral mass should be about — praying for the deceased and their family, not praising them.
Archbishop Terrance Prendergast said priests in Ottawa have long allowed eulogies, but said the custom has gotten out of hand. (my comment: you better believe it, ridiculously out of hand where the sins of the faithful departed are aired in the open and glorified!)
The decree states that eulogies or words of remembrance are not an official part of the Catholic funeral rites, and rightfully belong at a wake service or at a grave site.
“Technically the books that guide us don’t allow them, but they had crept in,” Prendergast told Hallie Cotnam on Ottawa Morning. Eulogies are “words of praise without reference to God” said Prendergast, while a mass “is an act of faith.”
Prendergast said the church was facing increasing pressure from families to have more eulogies and even multiple eulogies within the same service and said the mass itself was getting lost.
.

31 comments:

rcg said...

Yeah!

Gabby said...

Unlike in the US, where the Order of Christian Funerals has the 'speaking in remembrance of the deceased' during the Funeral Mass, between Communion and the Final Commendation IIRC, the Canadian Rite has had it during the Funeral Vigil for at least 2 decades. Sadly, in an attempt to be 'pastoral' some pastors took a laisser-faire attitude.

In our parish it became ludicrous. Tents pitched in the sanctuary, power point presentation after the homily, the deceased's favorite song at the offertory, etc., etc. Haven't been to a funeral since our new pastor was installed so I don't know where things stand now.

What really doesn't help is the number of mixed marriages in our parish. Not that I have anything against mixed-marriages, I'm in one, but poorly catechized Catholics see things done at other churches and think that's the way it should be done 'at home'. Try telling them that the Funeral Mass is about praising and thanking God and not about celebrating the life of the deceased and see how far you get.

Anonymous said...

You show 'em who's boss, pastor. You might also remind the family of the deceased that he or she is not likely in heaven with God, but is in fact burning in the fires of purgatory.

Anonymous said...

or at the graveside?

Henry said...

"Try telling them that the Funeral Mass is about praising and thanking God"

Is it really? Or is it about praying for the repose of the soul of the deceased?

Anonymous said...

Policy of the Diocese of Savannah:

18. Who may participate in the Funeral Liturgy?

d. A bishop, priest or deacon gives the homily. A family member or friend may share one brief eulogy not more than five minutes after the Communion Rite. When a bishop is presiding at a Funeral Mass but is not the celebrant, he will lead the faithful in the Rite of Committal.

Approved and implemented by Bishop J. Kevin Boland, April 5, 2010.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The operative word here is "may" it is not a right. A pastor may forbid it if he so desires, just as a pastor may decide that there isn't going to be Holy Communion under both kinds although it may be allowed. I hope this helps.

Henry said...

One of the reasons for the predicament of the Church today is the reliance of pastors (at all levels) on lamentably minimalist rules and regulations that permit almost anything the pastor does not have the moral backbone to make a forthright decision on.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Please note also the difference in a family member "MAY offer a eulogy" and when a bishop is present, but not the celebrant, he WILL offer the Final Commendation. Quite different, no? I can't forbid the bishop who will do this, but I may forbid the layperson from a eulogy.

Anonymous said...

The policy of the diocese, approved and implemented by the Diocesan Bishop, MAY be annulled by a pastor?

One can imagine the ramifications...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Pastors have canonical authority over the "mays" not the "wills," surely you know this? Pastors can approved policies for the parish and school that sometime overrides the "mays" of diocesan suggestions and allowances. There are many such cases, associated with the liturgy and pastoral councils and the like.

Anonymous said...

The Diocese is making...setting forth the rule, and the diocesan rule is that "a family member or friend may share one brief eulogy". The Bishop is saying that they may do it. Nothing is said about "with approval of the pastor" or that the pastor may overrule the policy.

Henry said...

"The policy of the diocese, approved and implemented by the Diocesan Bishop, MAY be annulled by a pastor?"

Where is it written that a pastor may annul diocesan policies?

But that's not what's involved here. As quoted, the diocesan policy says that a relative may give an eulogy. Like, for instance, when this is approved by the pastor, who--whether he approves or disapproves--is obeying diocesan policy to the letter.

Really, I wonder what about the word "may" is too hard for Anonymous to understand. No rocket science here.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Parishioners who desire the EF mass are prevented by all kinds of pastors and denied such. In this regard there is much more than a "May" involved and a direct papal mandate, so does a pastor have the right to exclude the precepts of SP entirely in his parish or not?

Anonymous said...

Not only is it the policy of the Diocese of Savannah to allow a brief eulogy to be given, it is also the policy of the Church in the United States:

170 in the Order of Christian Funerals: "Following the Prayer after communion, the priest goes to a place near the coffin. The assisting ministers carry the censer and holy water, if these are to be used. A member or a friend of the family may speak in remembrance of the deceased before the final commendation begins."

In the case of the rubrics of the Order of Christian Funerals and in the case of the Savannah Diocesan policy, the "may" does not refer to the choice of the pastor, but to the choice of the family.

It might be a pastor's choice to review/approve written comments, but it is not the pastor's prerogative to ignore the rubrics of the Ritual and the policy of the diocese.

A diocesan policy is not merely a "suggestion" or an "allowance." It is a policy, not a suggestion, to allow a family member or friend to "speak in remembrance" of the deceased.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The pastor is the one who makes allowances for the MAY both in the diocesan and liturgical books use ofMAY. If the laity are the decision makers in this regard, which they are not, good policy would state I a very clear nuanced way:

A family member MAY offer a eulogy and the priest WILL accommodate this request.

Of course no such wording exists. However with the EF Mass when a stable group requests it the pastor WILL provide it or the bishop WILL provide a priest.

John Nolan said...

Archbishop Prendergast bears a striking resemblance to Mikhail Gorbachev.

Henry said...

"A member or a friend of the family may speak in remembrance of the deceased before the final commendation begins."

Anonymous, this does not say that he can, only that he may. Do you really not know the difference between "may" and "can"?

I wonder whether this kind of intellectual mediocrity could be behind much of the rampart disregard for both morality and common sense in the Church in recent decades?

Anonymous said...

Henry - "Can" is not in the discussion. Bringing it up is a diversion.

The Church, not the pastor, says that a family member or friend MAY offer a remembrance.

Neither the Ritual nor the Diocesan policies say that the pastor "may" disregard the rubrics or the policy. Nor is this implied. "May" refers to the choice of the family member or friend, not the pastor.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My bishop and the Canadian bishop rightly disagree:

Ottawa Catholics are no longer able to give eulogies for lost loved ones during funeral masses, after the Archbishop for the region issued a decree ending the practice this month.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast issued the decree, effective as of Feb. 2, because he said eulogies take away from what the funeral mass should be about — praying for the deceased and their family, not praising them.
Archbishop Terrance Prendergast said priests in Ottawa have long allowed eulogies, but said the custom has gotten out of hand.
The decree states that eulogies or words of remembrance are not an official part of the Catholic funeral rites, and rightfully belong at a wake service or at a grave site.
“Technically the books that guide us don’t allow them, but they had crept in,” Prendergast told Hallie Cotnam on Ottawa Morning. Eulogies are “words of praise without reference to God” said Prendergast, while a mass “is an act of faith.”

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

And Atlanta's policy:

[The] policy in Atlanta for those pastors who wish to include this practice in their own parish permits a 2 minute, pre-written and approved, reflection or words of gratitude at the conclusion of the funeral Mass.

Now, who is it that allows this????

Gabby said...

Henry, Mass is always about thanking and praising God. A Funeral Mass is also about praying for the soul of the deceased.

Anonymous said...

Fr.McDonald, in which diocese do you serve?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The Diocese which my bishop of Savannah wrote me about the quote I have above about Atlanta. He confirms my decision but acknowledges pastors have a right to permit what a lay person may request in terms of a reflection, lasting two minutes and written out and submitted prior to speaking it after the Funeral Mass or at the graveside. IT IS THE PASTOR'S DECISION! ANYONE FAMILIAR WITH CANON LAW AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PASTORS ESPECIALLY REGARDING THE LITURGY SHOULD KNOW THIS.
Now, please answer for me, Is it a Pastor who may allow the EF for a stable group of parishioners who may request it or a pastor will allow the EF for a stable group that requests it--PI seems to ignore this one!

Gene said...

Thank God! The business of family comments at funerals is bad theology, bad pastoral care, and bad liturgy.

Anonymous said...

So, Good Father, will you or won't you allow family/friends to offer a reflection/eulogy during some part of the Funeral Rites of the Church as per Atlanta?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You must need to see you eye doctor or read things completely.
Family or friends may offer remembrances and eulogies at the Funeral Home during Visitation following the final blessing of the Vigil for the Deceased. I recommend to them not to reveal the deceased sins and certainly not to glorify these sins. These remembrances can go on all night and early into the morning and up until the funeral directors lead them to the church for the funeral mass and burial.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Oh and by the way it has not escaped me that your obsession with my authority over liturgies in my parish has led you to ignore the question I pose to you about "may" and "will"

A stable group of parishioner may petition their pastor for the celebration of the EF Mass and the pastor will honor their request or ask the bishop to provide a priest to the parish who can.

What is your response? I am waiting with great anticipation!

Pater Ignotus' Mom said...

That question has been answered repeatedly by my son. Why have you ignored his numerous responses?

John Nolan said...

"Order of Christian Funerals?" Over my dead body! The order for my funeral (Placebo, Dirige and Requiem) is in the Liber Usualis, p.1763 et seq.

No eulogy, and on my tombstone a skull and bones in relief and the inscription:

QVOD ES ERAM
QVOD SUM ERIS

Gabby said...

John Nolan said... "Order of Christian Funerals?" Over my dead body! The order for my funeral (Placebo, Dirige and Requiem) is in the Liber Usualis, p.1763 et seq.

Lucky you. Couldn't find anyone anywhere near here who'd be interested in using or possibly even know what to do with the Liber Usualis