DPPL 252b: Funeral Mass

STA altar at night smallA funeral Mass remains a top priority. Our Catholic instincts on this point are well-supported by the funeral rites themselves:

• the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, which is highly desirable when possible. In the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the Christian community listens to “the word of God which proclaims the paschal mystery, assures us of the hope of meeting again in the Kingdom of God, enlivens our devotion to the dead and exhorts us to witness through a truly Christian life”(OCF Praenotanda 11). The celebrant comments on the word of God in his homily, “avoiding any form of funerary eulogy” (OCF Praenotanda 41). In the Holy Eucharist, “the Church expresses her efficacious communion with the departed: offering to the Father in the Holy Spirit the sacrifice of the death and Resurrection of Christ; she asks Him to purify His child of (her or) his sins and their consequences, and to admit (her or) him to the Paschal fullness of the table of the kingdom” (Catechism 1689). A profound reading of the requiem Mass allows us to see how the Liturgy has made of the Holy Eucharist, that eschatological banquet, the true Christian refrigerium for the deceased;

As you might expect, firm but sensitive comments on the possibility of eulogizing the dead. Good pastoral ministers know this is a temptation from the pope on out to the person beloved by family and community. We are asked to encounter Christ in the Eucharist in a “profound” way, to look deeply into our hopes for eternal life.

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to DPPL 252b: Funeral Mass

  1. Melody says:

    Had to look up “refrigerium”, having never come across the term before; found that it means “a commemorative meal”. Same root as refrigeration; thankfully a different meaning!
    I have to say that I find the constant emphasis by official Church documents that, “The celebrant comments on the word of God in his homily, ‘avoiding any form of funerary eulogy,”’ a little tiresome and overdone. I have rarely been to a Catholic Mass of Christian Burial at which the deceased was eulogized in the homily. Most priests do a pretty good job of finessing the fine line between making it personal and eulogizing. Ideally they will have known the deceased, and are able to speak of them through personal experience. Even if they didn’t know them that well, they usually talk with family members in planning the funeral and get bit of a feel for the person. The message from the official directives seems to imply, “Get all the sentimental tripe out of your system at the wake service, so we can stick to the really important stuff like Scriptural exegesis at the funeral Mass.” Thankfully most priests, especially those who have been at it awhile, have developed a better pastoral sense than these directives imply, and are conscious that they are ministering to hurting people.

    • Todd says:

      I think you have a good point that needs to be heard, Melody. It is indeed possible to make aspects of the liturgy “personal” without being aloof or eulogistic. It is true that the Prayers of the Faithful given in the rite provide for the “personal,” so a complete exclusion in the homily might be considered coarse or even rude.

      That said, the vigil and wake period is an even better time for personal remembrances, and it happens quite well there, usually.

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