"I went to a funeral and all I got was this lousy Body and Blood of Christ!"
The archdiocese of Ottawa will make it official next month — no more eulogies at funeral masses. A spokeswoman said the news was true, but no official comments would be made until February. A short explanation of the decision appears in the fall-winter Catholic Ottawa newsletter, written by Father Geoffrey Kerslake. He argued eulogies or words of remembrance are not an official part of Catholic funeral rites.The reaction has been overwhelmingly negative, not to mention emotional.
Brad Lindahl contacted the Sun when he heard of the upcoming announcement. “I went to my grandfather’s funeral and there was no eulogy,” he said. “It was just basically a mass. It upsets me a bit. It’s supposed to be a celebration of life, but it just left me with an empty feeling.”
"It's supposed to be a celebration of life"? Where did that come from? It's a mass where a particular sacrament is given; it's not "supposed to be" anything other than what it is. But this is what nearly 50 years of woozy sentiment has bought the Catholic Church: a rock-hard certainty on the part of Catholics that they go to church for emotional goodies.
What isn't "a celebration of life" in the Catholic Church nowadays? Baptism, communion, wedding, RV-blessing: "Hurrah for us! We're alive!" Pope Jar-Jar has even forbidden us to be sad here in the Church of Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy!!! So I suppose it's no surprise that people are now convinced that a funeral is supposed to be some sort of performance with audience participation.
Oddly enough, people don't insist upon getting up and speaking at weddings or christenings. They know that the reception or dinner is the right place for all those reminiscences and speeches. But funerals have to allow audience participation.
The Citizen had a complete opinion piece on the subject today, and it nicely summed up the "pro-eulogy" argument.
It started off with a hagiography of the writer's late mother, just to shame anyone who might disagree with her position. If a person with these exemplary bona fides wants something, how can a mere archbishop contradict her?
Then, on to the business of the funeral eulogy itself:
My speech was not long. I didn’t cry. It was an incredibly therapeutic experience for me and my siblings, and a rare opportunity to pay real tribute to a woman of great faith who grew up in poverty and overcame it, doing much to make the world a better place.Well, if we wait until a person's funeral to "pay real tribute" to him or her, I guess it will by its nature be "a rare opportunity". But in fact, there's no reason why appreciating a person has to be a rare occasion, and I'm sure it wasn't. I'm sure all this lady's children appreciated her very much and told her so throughout her life. What was rare was the chance to do it publicly in a church, and that's what the writer is determined to hang onto. Because it's "therapeutic". The other stuff that's supposed to be going on at a funeral, the solemn reflections on the person's journey to live with God in eternity, the things that ONLY the Church can provide, don't even appear on the radar.
The final ironic comment comes at the end:
Like many in this city who were baptized and married in the Catholic Church, I stopped attending Mass regularly years ago. I have many wonderful friends who are truly people of God — they’re the main reason I had not entirely ruled out going back to the Church. Now I have.
So although the Church did things "her way" for decades, it wasn't enough to get her to go to mass. Now that they're changing back to the way things used to be, it will have...no effect whatever on her. She's going to keep doing what she's always been doing, only now she feels that she has an excuse.