Mass of Christian Burial: Ecclesial crisis on display
My good friend, Fr. Thomas Kocik, sent me a link to the following blog post:
Make no mistake about it: The Church in our day is in the midst of a terrible, and in many ways unprecedented, crisis of faith. This objective reality, however, is largely lost on the overwhelming majority of Catholics, both clerical and otherwise.
Bold are my highlights, Red are my comments.
While some Catholics, with deliberate intent, actively promote the various agendas that underlie the situation, others simply choose to downplay the magnitude of the crisis out of sheer weakness, (Priests and Bishops of the past, sometimes make us look like pansies. Take for example St. Charles Borromeo and St. John Vianney who had no fear of telling it as it is!) as acknowledging the problem suggests a certain responsibility for contributing to the solution.
The majority, however, simply don’t know any better after having been lulled into accepting as “Catholic” the rather comfortable, undemanding, and protestantized spirituality that has been served up in so many parishes over the last several decades. (The new translation of the Roman Missal has helped to correct this. We can only hope the a new translation of the Mass of Christian Burial will do the same.)
It is with this latter group in mind that I would suggest that all one needs to do in order to remove all doubt as to the extent of the current crisis is to attend, with eyes opened wide, just about any Novus Ordo Mass of Christian Burial.
While I have been to many such funeral Masses over the years, I can honestly say that I haven’t experienced even one, single, solitary liturgy of this sort that is truly reflective of Catholic doctrine regarding last things, much less the very purpose of said liturgy. (Sappy homilies, long, drawn out, and outright heretical eulogies [and sometimes homiles] and the prayers themselves are enough to make one sick.)
Part of the problem stems from the fact that so many of our priests, and even bishops, seem incapable of resisting the urge to twist the meaning of the funeral Mass into a “celebration of the life” (Those that don’t buy into it are often castigated as out of touch with Vatican II, or have a lack of compassion for the family of the deceased) of the deceased that effectively serves as a quasi-canonization, particularly in the minds of those most deeply in mourning, who by tragic coincidence also just happen to be the very people upon whom the dearly departed should be able to rely for prayers of intercession going forward.
As widespread as this situation is, I am more concerned with the problems that are inherent in the actual rite itself.
Take, for instance, the text of the “Final Commendation and Farewell,” beginning with the “Invitation to Prayer” of which there are two options (a hallmark of the post-conciliar liturgy, options, options, options… but more on that later): (He his this one out of the park! Options need to be eliminated from the entire Roman Rite. Options leaves the door open to a “Do your own thing” attitude, that we seen in many parishes.)
“Before we go our separate ways, let us take leave of our brother/sister. May our farewell express our affection for him/her; may it ease our sadness and strengthen our hope. One day we shall joyfully greet him/her again when the love of Christ, which conquers all things, destroys even death itself.” (Option 1)
So, can we really be assured that we will one day “joyfully greet” our deceased loved ones once again? Maybe we will, but then again, maybe we won’t. (What assurance do any of us have that anyone is going to heaven! It reminds me of a penance service I once assisted at. The priest told the people no one was in mortal sin, because they had the Holy Spirit. He’s far from being a Padre Pio or John Vianney. Some priests like to play God!)
This is only a part of a great analysis of the Mass of Christian Burial. but, it can also be applied to many other rites in the contemporary Roman Rite. Head on over to Harvesting the Fruit, to read the whole post.
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I am definitely not a fan of the whole “celebration of life” language. For one person at my parish, that was the whole motif around the liturgies. In preaching the homily, I spoke about the true celebration of life found in Jesus Christ, the life found in Baptism and pointed to by the pall and the sprinkling, the life in the Eucharist, and the hope for eternal life in God’s presence. I didn’t tell anyone they were “wrong”, but I entirely recast the celebration of life as centered in Christ.
Great point! That’s usually what I do. Focus on Christ, Baptism and prayer for the deceased.
As a layperson, I agree with your perspective completely. I have been to many funerals where the priest assures the family that the deceased person is surely in heaven. The people in attendance learn from the message that anyone gets to heaven just by being ‘good’ and that there are no consequences. I am very thankful that I have a very orthodox and holy Pastor at our parish.
Thank you Father, for your wonderful blog on “Mass of Christian Burial”. I have an older sister who is a minister for a Hospice organization and she, many times, participates in the burial masses of her clients. She is a very conscience catholic who could benefit from this blog. Therefore, I have passed it along to her for her information. Glad to see your on the mends!
Love and Prayers always…….K
When my husband died a few months ago, his funeral Mass was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. The priest asked for those in attendance to pray for him.
When we die, if we are in the state of grace, we have to make a stop in purgatory to make amends for our past life. It is a cleansing process before we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
It’s similar to a young boy breaking his neighbor’s window. The neighbor forgives the boy (confession) but the boy must make restitution by repairing the window (purgatory).
In order to enter Heaven we must be in a perfect state, which is achieved by our stay in purgatory.
That is why it is so important to pray for the deceased soul to reduce the amount of time they spend in purgatory. Having Masses said for their intention and saying the rosary for them every day is any excellent way to do this.
‘Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen’