The worst music for a Catholic funeral I've heard
  • TCJ
    Posts: 975
    Not bothering the family with the decision of having to choose music which they are not prepared to do anyway is actually very conscientious of their feelings. At our parish, we've found that people, in general, are pleased not to have yet another thing to do in the wake of the death of a family member and most are quite happy with the resulting music.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    The problem with GOML is that we don’t own the property to make such a call. It’s God’s lawn, God’s trees, God’s shrubs and God’s gardens. We are the caretakers and are responsible to carry out the particular commands of our master according to HIS specified designs. Moreover, we need to eliminate the weeds.
    Thanked by 2Diapason84 tomjaw
  • There's no such thing as a weed: it's just a derisory name for a plant you don't like.

    Of all the places to have an argument about what is appropriate music for church - funerals are last in line. Some families don't care, and are very happy for someone else to just look after it all. Others care very much, and if they don't hear Eagles Wings (or whatever it is in their culture) will feel like it wasn't a proper funeral.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 1,033
    In the state of uncultivated nature there are no weeds.

    The judgment about what is an unwelcome weed enters when you try to cultivate flora into an artistic garden. If you don't care about the appearance of a garden or a lawn, then you will conclude that there are no weeds.

    Weedkillers exist for a good reason: because many people -- civilized and virtuous people, at least -- desire to cultivate artistic gardens and lawns. Being neighborly requires removing unsightly weeds from your property.

    It's analogous with the liturgy, and it's many degrees more important and vital to remove liturgical weeds. Unfortunately, too many parishes are more like liturgical shantytowns than well-cultivated neighborhoods. Good parish liturgy builds up the universal Church. Bad parish liturgy hurts the universal Church. Liturgy is public, not a private affair. No, the situation is not generally well-cultivated at the present time, and funerals are mostly treated as "private family celebrations of life for hire." This has arisen because bad practices at parish Sunday liturgies have spilled over into bad funeral liturgies: people's expectations for music at funeral Masses has been influenced by their experience of music at parish Sunday Masses and at other funeral Masses they have attended in the past.

    Weeds spread almost uncontrollably if not kept in check by a gardener, much like bad liturgical music. We are supposed to be liturgical gardeners, as Adam and Eve were supposed to cultivate the Garden of Eden as God's liturgical representatives on earth.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 502
    In the state of uncultivated nature there are no weeds.
    The judgment about what is an unwelcome weed enters when you try to cultivate flora into an artistic garden. If you don't care about the appearance of a garden or a lawn, then you will conclude that there are no weeds.
    Weedkillers exist for a good reason: because many people -- civilized and virtuous people, at least -- desire to cultivate artistic gardens and lawns. Being neighborly requires removing unsightly weeds from your property.
    I'd go one step back, away from 'artistic gardens' an 'unsightly' weeds in a lawn, ad say (as a town child):
    Go to the countryside and ask a farmer whether weeds do exist.

    While 'cultivated' lawns & 'artistic' gardens are arguably a question of (culturally shaped, but still) personal aestetics, eliminating weeds in a farmer's field is about achieving a good harvest. That's (as I understand it) the context in which Jesus tells us to be careful not to damage the crop by eliminating weeds too early and too fast, rather wait until harvest time. But the weeds are to be thrown into the fire nevertheless.

    Same for the liturgy: It is meant to nourish our faith, and that is the standard against which the quality of music in public worship should be judged.
    And while new styles of worship music may be good crops of a new kind, chances are that although they esthetically appeal to many (like nice small yellow or pink flowers in their lawn) they are in the end just: weeds.
    When for example some '80s or '90s 'youth' church music doesn't inspire the present generation in their faith, that will and should be the painful conclusion...
    Thanked by 2MarkB tomjaw
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    will feel like
    Unfortunately, this has become the modus operandi that trumps all.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Elmar
    Posts: 502
    On the other hand, good liturgy should also 'feel' like good liturgy... same for the music.
    If it doesn't, don't blame "them" too quickly.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    Of all the places to have an argument about what is appropriate music for church - funerals are last in line.
    I respectfully disagree. Strongly.

    I will certainly grant that it is taxing (emotionally) on a grieving family—for sure. That said, it is hardly doing them (and more importantly, the deceased) any favors to do music that is less-than-edifying. Your funeral is the most important mass that will ever be said for you. Bar none, not even close. The stakes are high.

    This is where having clear guidelines is very helpful, because it creates certain mooring points and minimizes friction.

    But more to the point: at least in my experience, the vast majority of family members left planning a funeral are non-catholics (at best) and not-all-together-infrequently, formal apostates who choosedly abandoned the faith. Let's call spades, spades.

    It is liturgical suicide to allow people who do not believe what we believe to call the shots of our liturgies. I sincerely hope I do not need to belabor this point... at least not on this forum.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 975
    What Serviam said -- a thousand times. Well put.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    Serviam is right. I have played for many funerals where an elderly family member passes on and the kids have no idea as to what is happening in the mass. They clearly left the church some time ago and are clueless as to what is happening. I still always managed to slip in a few good pieces of music even if I couldn't keep all the trash out.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    N.O. 'requiems' (most of the time) are turned into 'a celebration of life' or a memorial service where people laud the accomplishments, memorable things, etc. of what the person has done. This is vanity. The purpose of a Requiem is to beg mercy for their soul. A Requiem Mass offered for the deceased may actually deter them from an eternity spent elsewhere or less time in purgatory.
  • If you genuinely believe in a merciful God, then the idea that God will only be merciful if other people beg is a contradiction in terms.
  • Pax, with respect, your statement seems to imply (at least in my reading) that prayers for the dead are unnecessary, as God will be merciful regardless? I hope I'm incorrect in my understanding of what you're saying, as prayers for the dead are firmly (and rightly) entrenched in Catholic practice and belief.
    Thanked by 3MarkB LauraKaz tomjaw
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    Our prayers have eternal consequences. What you bind and loose…

    If you genuinely believe in a merciful God, then the idea that God will only be merciful if other people beg is a contradiction in terms.
    no one said “only”, and the sin of presumption is a very dangerous proposition.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”[i] Our Lady of Fatima


    If we are convinced that prayer is absolutely essential for our salvation, Saint Alphonsus – a true servant of the Holy Virgin Mary – shows how important prayer is for sinners by mentioning a mystical vision of Saint Maria Magdalena de Pazzi in which the Savior himself revealed the invaluable value of prayer:

    “It is quite certain that the prayers of others are of great use to sinners, and are very pleasing to God; and God complains of His servants who do not recommend sinners to Him, as he once complained to St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, to whom He said one day: ‘See, my daughter, how the Christians are in the devil’s hands; if my elect did not deliver them by their prayers they would be devoured’.”


    Article here:
    https://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/7012-it-s-a-wonderful-life-and-the-most-important-lesson-from-fatima
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Prayers for the dead are firmly entrenched in Catholic practice and belief because living people need to pray. God has no need of our prayers, and is well capable of being merciful without our input.

    What you are saying is that if a person is unfortunately enough not to have "enough" people praying for them, then God will not be merciful because of that. For example an older person with living relatives and most of their friends already dead too. It's preposterous to suggest that they will not reach in heaven because of that.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.

    How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!

    God


    We need all the help we can get, and if both Jesus and Mary have exhorted us to pray for sinners, we probably better do it despite what we may believe.

  • What you are saying is that if a person is unfortunately enough not to have "enough" people praying for them, then God will not be merciful because of that. For example an older person with living relatives and most of their friends already dead too. It's preposterous to suggest that they will not reach in heaven because of that


    This is the orthodox Catholic position, yes. This is why requiems are so important, and why we constantly in our liturgies pray for the dead. This is why All Souls Day exists, with its THREE Masses. Because the souls in purgatory NEED those prayers. Frankly I'm surprised that such a standard, well-established Catholic doctrine is being called into question on this forum. The number one purpose of a funeral Mass is to offer badly needed prayers for the deceased. To say that those prayers are at most deceptively therapeutic and at worst entirely unnecessary undermines the entire existence of a requiem Mass. It also undermines orthodox Catholic thought. Of course God is omnipotent, nobody is questioning that. But your position undermines the value of, essentially, any prayer of supplication, since God either will or won't assist regardless of what we do.
  • Someone who has died without friends or relatives to pray for them is certainly in a sorry state, but the Church, in her great wisdom, has provided for them as well. That is what all souls day is for. It is all souls day, we pray for all the souls. It is good for us to pray, but our need of praying is secondary to the need of the souls of the deceased.

    God is omnipotent, and can do whatever he likes, but he has chosen to do it this way, and has revealed it to us and told us that this is what he has chosen. God has chosen certain means by which men are to work out their salvation. He didn't have to make each of the Sacraments work exactly the way he did, but in his infinite wisdom, he did, which means it must be the most perfect way, even if we don't understand it. God has chosen that men are saved through the Church, and has revealed it to us. God has chosen that men enter the Church through baptism, and has revealed it to us. God has chosen to make the prayers of the faithful on earth, and the blessed in heaven, extremely efficacious for the deceased, and one of the chief means by which satisfaction is able to be made after their death. And he has revealed it to us.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 1,033
    I think the recent turn of this thread shows the importance of celebrating Catholic funerals properly and well. Lex orandi, lex credendi.


    People attending a Catholic funeral overwhelmingly assume that the deceased is in heaven. Sometimes that's explicitly asserted by the priest or someone giving an illicit eulogy.

    These days, people don't gather at a funeral to pray for the dead. They gather to celebrate the deceased's life. A funeral Mass just happens to be the ritual form that such a celebration of life takes for cultural or lapsed Catholics.

    Does anything about funerals at most parishes disabuse those in attendance about their assumptions about life, death, judgment, heaven and hell?

    I recently completed reading very interesting sociological research about the religious beliefs and practices of emerging adults. Young adults in America overwhelmingly consider religion to be a matter of personal lifestyle preference, thoroughly optional like an extra-curricular activity or a hobby. Religion is not a metaphyical matter of ultimate truth in their opinions.


  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    If you genuinely believe in a merciful God, then the idea that God will only be merciful if other people beg is a contradiction in terms.

    No, it's just that God has constructed the economy of salvation in such a way that prayer really matters.
  • Someone who has died without friends or relatives to pray for them is certainly in a sorry state


    indeed yes. Not just the elderly; we should especially consider the multitudes of consecrated souls, who for love of God left all to follow Christ and embrace a vocation.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    Sometimes I pray for the most forgotten soul in purgatory, or the loneliest soul enduring their final tribulation. Someone is THE most forgotten soul (in a worldly sense). What a terrible thing, worth the utmost of pity.
  • Serviam
    "What? You too? I thought I was the only one." (CSLewis)

    Back to original post. If very personal likes (e.g., family soloists) are not encouraged at weddings but gently steered toward the reception, maybe for funerals the not-optimal-for-liturgy could be steered toward the after-funeral celebration of life.
  • we should especially consider the multitudes of consecrated souls, who for love of God left all to follow Christ and embrace a vocation

    Fortunately, religious orders take care (or at least the good ones do) to pray for their deceased members, as do many groups of priests (I know the FSSP is very good about praying for their deceased priests). Not to say we shouldn't also pray for them, but when people leave the world to follow Christ, they are usually adopted into a new family. If I was choosing a state of life based only off of how many prayers I thought I would get after death, I would probably head straight down to the Benedictines at Clearcreek.

    Sorry for the aside.
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  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,726
    The following is possibly the most important thread on this forum, https://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/16459/in-memoriam-list-for-all-souls-liturgical-musicians/p3
    Praying for the dead is a particularly good use of our time, the Requiem chants are beautiful beyond measure and as musicians we should sing them as often as possible as we unlikely to sing them when we hopefully join the angelic choirs.