• My question to all of you...what are your feelings on a eulogy during the Mass? Personally, this is something that should be reserved for the funeral home...not something that breaks up the flow of the liturgy and detracts from the Eucharist.

    The BIG reason why I started this discussion...this morning at a Funeral Mass there was a eulogy and it was quite brief...well so I thought. A brother and sister got up. The sister read the brother's eulogy. However, when she was done, he decided to then ad lib a eulogy full of many stories of the deceased. After he spoke for about 15 minutes he then had someone blast a song over a speaker they set up in the church. I was horrified at what was going on. The song lasted about 5-6 minutes, then everyone stood and clapped, and then he asked everyone to be seated again, then continued to talk some more. This was very disrespectful to the liturgy, and he interrupted the movement of the presider who was going to start the final commendation after everyone was finished clapping.

    Thoughts?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,757
    Pray for the dead and for those who survive the deceased.

    And remain open to noticing something that God wants you to notice during what you'd rather were not happening.

    The second point is turns out to be one of the most useful spiritual widgets there is.
    Thanked by 2Olivier PaxMelodious
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,757
    I once attended a funeral of someone who was immolated alive in an awful car crash. He was young and talented, just out of college. His family had immigrated from a Caribbean nation. The large church was packed with mourners. And they *mourned*. The parish's priests were all in attendance, if memory serves. The principal celebrant tended to his pastoral and liturgical responsibilities with care. He gave a fine homily; he knew the family and the deceased.

    After communion came remembrances. The first, from a younger sister of the deceased. The deceased had pushed her out of the car before it went ablaze, saving her life. She was deeply injured in body and spirit in the accident. She hobbled with the assistance of others up to give her remembrance. It was primal. Initially, I wondered if this opportunity would be a grace to her and everyone else. My doubts were overcome. It was painful to be present to, but necessary. There was another remembrance, by a cousin. Less primal, more usual. But then, just as the principal celebrant was about to resume the rest of the liturgy, up walked an aunt in white mourning, walking with great purpose. Celebrant sat down. Aunt began to preach in beautiful French with a passion and purpose rarely seen in Catholic pulpits in these parts (I don't speak French, but I was able to grasp some of what was being said, but I have to say it was her manner and effect that was mesmerizing; it was not an evangelical preacher style, but something magisterial). She spoke something that appeared necessary to all. One could feel the room absorbed in it. It could not have had the same effect in a funeral home or hall; this space had nearly 1000 people in it, and the spaciousness and moment was of a piece with the address.

    While it does not appear the OP's situation was this, my experience that day always reminds me: there is much wisdom in our rules, but they are not the only wisdom.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,006
    Our pastor allows family members to speak after communion is finished and before dismissal.
  • Jani
    Posts: 386
    This is a difficult situation. Non-Catholics who are not versed in Catholic funerals, especially family and close friends, want to incorporate their own particular rituals or ideas into the Catholic liturgy. My best experience has been a sharing time after the rosary is said on the evening before the funeral mass, or morning of , then mass can be left intact.
    Thanked by 2hilluminar eft94530
  • Local funeral directors, who value the Catholic business, can easily be trained to have the eulogies during the visitation/calling hours...they will welcome the responsibility as it increases the respect the priest has for them and what they do. This is their job. Let them do it. It's that easy. A eulogy does not belong in the liturgy, nor before or after it in a church.

    The visitation/calling hours are for the family. The sharing of stories and remembrances are part of that. This has been covered many times on this list.
  • Eulogies, no matter how well intended, are out of place at Mass. I don't say this because I can cite some rule, but because of an essential point which is lost nowadays, but at which Noel has hinted.

    The purpose of the Requiem is to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased. Therefore, a most appropriate "talk" would list all the reasons one needed to pray for him, but it should take place before the Mass, not during. The purpose of other events is to remember individualistically the deceased, to keep that memory alive in our hearts.

    Giving a long list of personal remembrances at Mass, usually extolling some great virtue of the deceased, or trying to be funny, has the effect of lessening our awareness of the need to pray for the deceased instead of to the deceased; additionally, while humor is clearly a proper part of a Catholic's life, humor at Mass can have the effect of lessening the gravity of the situation.

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,006
    A eulogy does not belong in the liturgy, nor before or after it in a church.


    Eulogies, no matter how well intended, are out of place at Mass.


    I don't disagree, but since neither of you are in charge, good luck with that.

    The purpose of the Requiem is to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased.


    That pretty much gets lost somewhere. It doesn't get mentioned much, if at all.


  • While you may have given up, there are those who continue to strive to be influential on this forum, but more importantly, out in real life. Your pastor, whom I have worked for, would be open to consider this and would quite possibly welcome this, as he is a holy man with good intentions.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,006
    The pastor has made his decisions on this, and does as he will. I suspect he thought the end of mass would be the least objectionable place. If that is his reasoning, I am fine with it. Most of the funerals I have dealt with had no eulogies, but there will always be the exception. Influence is relative and often in the eye of the beholder. Some are legends in their own minds.
    Thanked by 1JL
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Let's not even talk preferences, let's talk rubrics:

    GIRM 382: "At the Funeral Mass there should, as a rule, be a short homily, but never a eulogy of any kind."


    Problem solved. No eulogy "of any kind." Pretty clear to me.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Most times the problem is likely not "preferences," but of hierarchy; to parody-"Whatever Father wants, Father gets."
    Politically, if you're a music provider under such encumbrance, lobby "Father" heavily to alot such an embolism directly after the procession, and before the "In Nomine." No family member will then have control over content and time.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,006
    Problem solved. No eulogy "of any kind." Pretty clear to me.


    I agree, but I don't run the show.
    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,545
    I played a funeral last weekend where the eulogy was placed clearly outside of the liturgy. Mass was concluded with the blessing and dismissal, the clergy processed out to the final song and never returned to the sanctuary.

    In planning for the funeral, our clergy made it clear to the family: We'll allow you to use our microphone and feel your feelings, but it is not part of Holy Mass.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,419
    I don't know what kind of Funeral Directors you've dealt with. But in my experience they tend to try to force the priest and parish staff to do whatever the family wants, whether it is allowed or not -- this is especially problematic when parishes have been closed or merged and they come back with "Well, Father X. let us do it at my Father's funeral at St. Whatsit's".

    My now-retired pastor actually received an disgusting piece of hate mail because of not allowing eulogies, even though "Fr. X. let [us] do it at my Father's funeral at St. Y's."

    Good luck.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,757
    "We'll allow you to . . . feel your feelings,"

    Mighty considerate of them.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    In other Discussions the Church is unfeeling for asking family members to choose readings and music. In this discussion the Church is unfeeling for preventing family members from eulogising. Yet in both cases the Church has the authority to moderate the liturgy, and one might ask why She did what She did for these two points, and further, why must we always try to perturb the liturgy?

    People can feel their feelings, but why the compunction to force them on others in an aimless lecture style with mechanical assistance? Too bad this Wake activity got pushed into the Vigil and the Mass. The old way meant the event had food to distract and drink to deaden the awkward experience.
  • mahrt
    Posts: 508
    While the GIRM does not allow a eulogy at the time of the homily, some parishes have specific provision for a remembrance at the end of the Mass; in one case, one speaker is allowed to speak for two minutes and what is said must be written ahead of time. This would deal with most of the abuses that have been mentioned.
    Thanked by 1Spriggo
  • Dr. Mahrt,

    Do you know the basis on which "some parishes have specific provision"? Is it something each parish takes upon itself because it wants to find a way around the blanket ban on eulogies during Mass? Or, is it written into the GIRM somehow? Or....I don't know.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,757
    OCF #170 provides:

    " 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."
  • JahazaJahaza
    Posts: 464
    Let's not even talk preferences, let's talk rubrics:

    But better than rubrics, let's talk the tradition of the Church.

    Eulogies were and still are allowed under the old rite with the permission of the ordinary. They took place after the Mass and before the absolution.

    The new rite forbids eulogies, presumably on the reasoning that it is better considered in the abstract, for the priest to preach the Gospel to his hearers than to eulogize the dead. As part of SC integration of preaching into the Mass itself, it also places this homily during the Requiem liturgy itself. I find this to be good in theory.

    But in reality, we get a half-eulogy/half-homily that tends to eulogize/canonize the dead person within the Mass. And the homily/eulogy combination tends to lend itself to the praise of the dead in a somewhat unfortunate way (making them, e.g. the sermon illustration of various virtues). Better to have the eulogy, but make it stand outside the Mass, I think then to not have the eulogy, but in reality have it and within the Mass at that.

    I think there's a recognition of a human need in having a eulogy at the funeral rites and that the old rite found a way to balance that human need against other concerns.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Ben Yanke
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,390
    One of our parishoners was quoted by the celebrant at the funeral as expressing the view "No eulogy, I hate having one fellow lying in a box in front of the altar, and another fellow standing in a box beside the altar, lying about him"
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    A eulogy? All the books I have refer to sermons after the Last Gospel (point of debate in 1962, but anyways) and before the absolution.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,757
    When we buried my late mother nearly 2 years ago, the parish "bereavement team" (which included a priest) asked my father and my younger brother about our desires to do readings, prayers and offer remembrances. The funeral would be small, in a large church. The mourners would be outnumbered by parish staff in attendance. We said we simply wished to be ministered to, and to have no liturgical roles. I had to shake down the music ministry to get music that was in their hymnals but not on their preferred lists (like the Gelineau setting of Psalm 23, and Day is Done (which had a certain resonance because of my mother's blindness) and sent them PDFs of two items in public domain (including the chant of In Paradisum) that just needed to be cantored.

    There are people for whom the "opportunity" to provide a remembrance can become an awful burden. I remember a friend whose father died in his late 60s, and the friend's younger sister was so overcome that he not only gave his own remembrance but she had him give hers. I think one underappreciated reason to forbid remembrances is that the expectation of them IN CHURCH, while welcomed by some, is a profound burden that others may feel unable to refuse because it is an option available to them; and that having to do this in such a formal setting amplifies the burden (compared to offering remarks at the wake or post-burial collation).

    That said, as I started way up earlier here, there is much wisdom in our rules, but they are not the only wisdom. We will not be saved by rules (nor by freedom from rules).
    Thanked by 2canadash hilluminar
  • One parish where I sub in allows a eulogy (only one speaker) to be given...prior to the start of Mass..and then after the eulogy there is some silence (typically while the casket is moved from the front (where it has been for the pre-Mass visitation) to the back and then the cantor directs the congregation to turn towards the back where the priest will have the family place the pall over the casket - and the rite begins in the back...followed by the opening hymn...so the eulogy is kept outside the Mass but is still given and I think this a nice compromise (and the parish really encourages the eulogist to write and plan the eulogy and will help draft as well so I've never seen it run long or drift into long storytelling).
  • Eulogies which canonize should be forbidden, regardless of whether they are proposed before, during or immediately after Mass.

    Eulogies which memorialize (i.e., bring to memory) are forbidden at Mass, but could reasonably be permitted elsewhere, I guess.

    Eulogies which scandalize by their scurrilous anecdotes should be saved for places where scurrilous anecdotes will not scandalize.

  • I'm not sure why people keep bringing up "rules." I agree that we will not be saved by them, but in this case, they are beside the point. My diocese has very clear "rules" about eulogies, calling them "Remarks" and saying that they should be done by a single person and "should place emphasis on how God has been seen acting in the life and in the death of the deceased." Not surprisingly they are honored more in the breach than the observance. I have heard respectful eulogies and ones that were wildly out of place; some reflected Catholic doctrine; others did not. On rare occasions I have heard deeply moving and even deeply theological eulogies.

    But again, this is beside the point. A Catholic funeral mass is not a memorial mass. Its purpose is to pray for the dead, not remember the the living (at least in a human way). The net effect is to preempt what is really happening at the liturgy and reinforce the mistaken notion that the liturgy is basically a human activity done for human purposes. (How often have you heard a eulogy open with the words "We have come here to celebrate the life of _____"? Remembering and celebrating this is obviously a good and necessary thing, but is this the reason for the mass?)

    I don't necessarily fault any pastor that allows eulogies (they are not against the rules, as Liam has noted) and do not envy any pastor who has the burden of trying to move things in the right direction. But the funeral mass has taken on so much baggage that I for one see the need to reassert its primary purpose.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    "Happy Trails.....Danny boy.....Bagpipes......Taps in church.....Il Sogno.....Did you ever know that you're my hero.....'Remember how Gramma had the cutest f*rts'.....Over the rainbow...."
    What is this baggage you speak of?
    Would the last person leaving the church please put out the lights?
  • Reval
    Posts: 150
    I know I've posted this before (somewhere). It's appalling, from the BBC, 2014. But they surely can't mean church funerals, could they?
    "Monty Python's Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life has become the most popular tune to play at a UK funeral.
    A study by a chain of funeral directors found the 1979 Life of Brian song had overtaken Frank Sinatra's My Way as the preferred choice of music."
    http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-30143250