Sunday 11 January 2015

Bishops Egan’s Reminder About Funerals

Well done by Bishop Egan! So many priests need something like this reminder, because so many have fallen prey to the ‘Princess Diana’ type of funeral where anything goes, including pop songs. This idea that ‘anything goes’ because the family are grieving has to stop.

Funerals are a very sensitive time, and we have to handle all requests concerning the service itself as considerately as we can. My basic principle is to say yes to everything that is not actually forbidden by liturgical norms. I had a Funeral Director book a date and time with me then cancel it next day because no CD’s are allowed to be played in Church. The family went to a neighbouring parish where the priest accommodates such things. (The request made to me was for Eva Cassidy’s version of “Fields of Gold”). While gentle and meditative in mood, this song includes some very sensual, impure lyrics:

               So she took her love for to gaze awhile upon the fields of barley
              In his arms she fell as her hair came down among the fields of gold
            Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth, among the fields of gold.

Another Funeral was taken completely out of my hands: the family concerned brought in a priest from outside to preside at the Funeral; contacted the local Council themselves to arrange the grave; informed the Funeral Director not to pay me a fee as they would see me privately; brought in their own musicians, contacted our parish flower ladies privately and even indicated where the flower pedestals were to be placed on the sanctuary. (They even decided how many candles would be used on the altar at their last family funeral). All this despite the fact that we have a booklet in our parish hall (which people must pass through to come into Church); a copy of which was given to the family. I post a copy of our booklet here for your perusal. It arose because it became easier when visiting the bereaved to prepare them for arranging the liturgy if they were aware of all this beforehand. 

I should note that when people still request CD’s I gently say “Just as you don’t have hymns in the Club after the funeral, so we don’t have songs in the Church during the funeral’. Only rarely (once, as related above) has the logic of this not been seen and agreed to.


  1. I just want a Traditional Requiem , the Dies Irae, Black Vestments and the Traditional Candles and no saying what a nice guy I was...... the Priest who refuses to follow my instructions will be haunted by my good self until he does it properly !!!

    1. Thank you for the comment.
      I agree -I don't want to be canonised by some well-meaning cleric either. (My family and friends know me better than that so he would just look foolish anyway!)
      God Bless

  2. Enough is enough12 January 2015 at 11:11

    A few years ago my wife and I popped into a church for a visit and a Requiem Mass was taking place so, out of respect, we stayed. It was an old lady who had three sons. After the Communion the priest invited the three sons to come forward and say a few words about their mother - the older son first. The 'few words' went on for more than 10 minutes and then he said that his mother had been very traditional. I was thinking about Latin and the old hymns. "My mother was very traditional," he said, "she used to make really lovely corned beef pies." At this point I could take no more and left; not only because I had heard more than enough from the older son but also because the other two were waiting in the wings for their turn.

    1. Thank you.
      The whole of the problem hangs around the desire to' celebrate the life of......' -actually a denial of the reality that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,
      White vestments do not help -they do not symbolise hope (the excuse for using them) because on every occasion on which they are used they are worn to celebrate either of the Lord, His Holy Mother or the Saints. Those who ask for or insist on using white vestments are demonstrating the sins of presumption and/or pride.
      God Bless

  3. Since it is something I have always considered important, I will ask, that the priest ensures only Catholics, in a proper state, (mixed family), receive Holy Communion, if there are any that is.

    As for the Mass, definitely prefer the Catholic (traditional ) Mass but a New Mass is fine.

    1. Thank you Jacobi, .
      sorry about the delayed posting but the funeral has been exceptionally busy this week.
      I heard of a funeral where everyone (but everyone) was invited to Communion to show solidarity in their grief. Well...
      God Bless.

  4. Fr Dickson you're an absolute Godsend.

    Another thing they don't mention at modern funerals - praying for the soul of the departed; we're all going to heaven so why bother?

    After my mother's funeral (traditional, Latin) I was very surprised and touched when some of my non-Catholic friends told me that they had never been to such a funeral and that they were very impressed by its solemnity and respect.


  5. I attended a funeral recently in Hexham and Newcastle diocese and was dismayed at what took place. For a start there were no candles around the coffin: there were two small candles on the altar and that was it. The 'Mass' was introduced as a celebration of the life of the deceased. The eulogy was delivered immediately after the sermon. During the sermon the priest said quite emphatically that we do not know if there is a heaven; we hope there is but we do not know because no one comes back to tell us. The emphasis was on the word 'know' and that all we had was hope. I was astounded. At the sign of peace the priest left the sanctuary in order to shake hands with everyone in the font row, and those in the rows behind were given a cheery wave. Then we arrived at the Communion. Those who did not wish to receive holy Communion were told that they could come forward for a blessing. This blessing could be given by the priest or the 'Special' ministers because the blessing comes from God and not the individual. If this is the case then all we need to do is to turn to our neighbours in the pew and bless each other.
    But worse was to come: we were told that because people were in mourning then anyone who wished could come forward to receive. It seems to me that the sacred liturgy in this diocese is no longer seen as sacred and 'anything goes' seems to be the rule. It really is about time that our priests were given specific instructions on how to celebrate the liturgy and the limitations on their creativity. I can excuse the younger priests to a great extent because it is quite obvious that they have been badly formed and they know no better, but there is no excuse for older priests who should know better.
    The great tragedy was that so many people, cradle Catholics, thought that it was wonderful.

    1. Dear Shocked,
      I'm sure Father won't mind if i reply to this since I am preparing a post on my own experience of funerals. I will be using your comment to introduce it.
      Thank you.


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