Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King
Thou art the King of Glory, O Lord Jesus Christ; when Thou didst take upon Thee to deliver man, Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's Womb

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reminder (rant) About Catholic Requiem (funeral) Masses

Read this article about a successor of the Holy Apostles, His Excellency Jaime Soto, Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, who reiterated the proper guidelines for Masses for the deceased.

Requiem Mass (Extraordinary Form)
I am in agreement with everything His Excellency said concerning the proper guidelines when offering a Requiem Mass in the Ordinary Form for the departed souls of our Christian brethren.

Points I would like to make in addition to this article:

1.  When funerals or weddings take place within the context of Holy Mass, the rites are secondary to the Holy Sacrifice.
2.  It is inappropriate to commemorate or celebrate the lives of the deceased in the context of Holy Mass as this can and should be reserved for another time that day or otherwise (like a reception or dinner after burial for example).
3.  No one has the authority to declare that a deceased loved one is without-a-doubt already in Heaven (otherwise, why even offer Mass in the first place for the repose of their souls...) and no affirmations should be made to suggest that they are, whether at the funeral or any time after, unless the Church infallibly declares one to be a member of the Church Triumphant by canonizing him or her.  This is a privilege reserved to the Apostolic See alone.

When we offer Holy Mass, we are worshiping God first and foremost, and all attention should be directed towards Him.  At Requiem Masses, we offer the Sacrifice to God for the salvation of the souls of the departed, begging the mercy of Christ when said person appears before His dreaded Judgment Seat to account for the good and evil said person has done throughout his or her life, and that if they have sins to atone for, that they pass swiftly through the fires and pains of Purgatory so that they may enjoy the Beatific Vision and the company of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints.

Because it is still Holy Mass, the Consecration of the Gifts takes place and the bread and wine which are offered are miraculously transformed by the Holy Ghost into the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The Pascal Mystery is re-presented as Christ immolates Himself again (but in an unbloody manner) on our behalf for our sins and offenses, and presents Himself (and us) anew to the Father through the power of the Holy Ghost and we, the faithful, receive the fruits of the Salvation which has come to us.  This is a very solemn thing each and every time it happens (be it on Sunday, on a weekday, a high solemnity or a feast day of a Saint, for a marriage or a funeral), and nothing ever super cedes this Mystery of the Faith, and it is a direct sin against the First Commandment to ignore this fact.

Therefore, anything that shouldn't happen in any other Mass shouldn't be permitted in these "special" Masses. Secular music has no place in Catholic worship, ever.  We should be modest in dress (big reminder for women at weddings who expose the shoulders and the like, regardless of how formal the attire) although this most likely isn't an issue at a Requiem.  We should still say our prayers before and after Mass and any other acts of devotion we do at any Sunday Mass.

Also, if you are a Catholic who only goes to Mass for weddings, funerals, the Solemnity of the Nativity, or the Solemnity of the Resurrection, then do not even think about approaching to receive our Lord in Holy Communion without Sacramental Absolution from Confession as the rules and guidelines for the reception of Holy Communion still apply to you as well.  Sadly, you probably don't know about these guidelines, however the priest should mention them either audibly in the sermon or in the program.

Which brings me to the sermon.  The sermon is an opportunity for the priest or deacon to instruct the faithful by showing the spiritual and doctrinal significance of the Readings or Holy Gospel or another pertinent matter of faith.  It is not a time for him to eulogize the departed, or in the case of a wedding, to joke about how how the wife is going to have to deal with the groom's obsession with COD and Dungeons & Dragons.  Sermons in these instances should speak of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony as a divine ordinance and the sanctity of the married state, or about death being the wages of sin and how effective and pleasing (and necessary) prayers for the departed are.  Also, no one besides the priest or deacon is permitted (ever) to deliver the predication (sermon).

Yes, we should speak well of the deceased and especially of our friends and family members or those close to us, but there is ample time for that and with technology and social media, you can do that on Facebook and through cards and gifts and what not if you are unable to be present at any social reception after the funeral and burial.  That stuff has no place in worship of God and is insulting to Him and to the Church and not at all of any benefit to the departed; they could be suffering in Purgatory (or worse) while you're all smiling and chit-chatting about how great they are.  Talking about how he was the most caring person you've ever met is not going to appease the divine Justice nor help him atone for his sins...

Our attitude towards Holy Mass should be consistent through and through and the reverence and veneration due it does not depend on special occasions (or high feast days for that matter either) or the Form (we shouldn't be more reverent at an EF Mass versus an OF) or the Rite (as long as it's in Communion with Rome, the Sacraments and their Graces may be received (usual circumstances apply))...also, we should be ESPECIALLY reverent when the surrounding is irreverent (God deserves someone's honor and adoration), and we need to stop secularizing everything.

End rant.

NOTE:  This is usually not a problem in the Extraordinary Form as there is hardly any room for personalization or innovation.

But while I'm at it:  Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis:  Requiescant in pace.  Amen+++ (Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon them:  May they rest in peace.  Amen+++)

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