Thursday, November 16, 2006

Beatitudes at a funeral - yes or no?

The facts of the case are these:

1) The pre-V2 and post-V2 Missal both have the Beatitudes as the Gospel reading for All Saints.

2) The post-V2 Missal includes the Beatitudes as an option for funerals and All Souls - which, of course, was not the case prior to V2. (Another such reading is the one from Wisdom, “The souls of the just are in the hand of God” - the offertory for All Saints.)

So, my question is, for those of you reading - does using material from All Saints in funerals (and All Souls) blur the distinction between the celebration of the saints and the prayers for the souls of the (other) deceased? This being the case, is it a faux pas to read/sing the Beatitudes (or the Wisdom passage) at a funeral, since those have a traditional (and current) association with All Souls?

You can probably guess (esp. if you read my post on All Souls) that I am opposed to any mixing of the texts for these two feasts. There is just way too much subtle suggestion that we ought to presume that anyone with a grieving family is, of course, in heaven, since we dare not offend the bereaved. My contention is that we do them a disservice by suggesting it’s ok to judge the deceased (even if the judgement be positive).


At Friday, November 17, 2006 9:59:00 AM, Blogger Puff the Magic Dragon said...

I don`t see the singing of the beatititudes as judging the dead. It reminds us of the criteria for judgement of souls as stated by our Lord,Jesus Christ when he was personally present on earth.

As most souls go to purgatory, and as such there is always the hope of the soul ultmiately being granted entrance into heaven, every funeral mass is a mass for a soul, not ÀLL SOULS but a soul.

At Friday, November 17, 2006 3:27:00 PM, Blogger Gavin said...

To be blunt, there's no use praying a person in Hell out of purgatory, is there? Singing about getting to heaven, even for someone in purgatory, seems rational to me, because that's where they'll end up if that's where they are. Besides, the promises of Christ are just as valid for anyone in attendance as they are for the deceased. My boss astounded me at my first funeral last week when he gave an evangelical (meaning reaching out to the unchurched, not pop-protestant) sermon about trusting Christ's promises and the call that Christ gives to follow Him. Admittedly, we don't turn funerals into altar calls, but you may as well mention that SOME PEOPLE get to heaven. I prefer to use Easter hymns at funerals myself.

At Saturday, November 18, 2006 1:51:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...


I don’t know that I think singing the Beatitudes per se judges the dead; what I do think is that, if people are involved in the liturgy and recognize that the Beatitudes is used at All Saints, there would seem to be a blurring of the distinctions between the two occasions if we use the same text at All Souls. And unlike, say, Christmas and Epiphany, there is no call to tie All Saints and All Souls together; rather, ISTM the call is to delineate these two.

At Saturday, November 18, 2006 9:44:00 AM, Blogger Puff the Magic Dragon said...

If the Lectionary permits the beatitudes to be used at all three, then who are you to judge otherwise.

It is forbidden in Canon law for a person to declare illicit any thing that the church declares licit.

Further All Souls Day commemorates all those who have died and are in purgatory awaiting entrance into heaven, by which they become saints whether canonised or not. The church has already connected the two feasts and funerals with them. If the Church has already connected them,who are we to say they shouldn`t be connected.

The catechism is quite clear.

At Saturday, November 18, 2006 8:56:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...


I can criticize the Lectionary; otherwise, how would there ever be reform?

Certainly it is *licit* to have the Beatitudes at all three; that doesn’t mean, though, that it’s a good idea.

The Church does make mistakes, and it takes criticism to bring those to light and effect prudent change. And the specifics of the liturgy are not necessarily actions of the Church; in this case, we are talking about the Ordo Lectionum Missæ, which is specific to the Roman Rite.

Another example: many, myself included, would criticize the decision to remove Dies iræ from the Mass as a sequence. It’s in the LotH, but I see no reason it couldn’t have been kept as an option for funerals and All Souls.

Maybe I’ve just been to too many funerals where the priest and/or family members get up and basically proclaim that the deceased either are or will be in heaven. As I understand things, we don’t know that they aren’t in hell, so we have no place presuming one way or the other.

Even the *Catechism* is not an infallible statement of doctrine; it, too, is open for revision and change.....which arrive by means of critique.

At Friday, November 24, 2006 5:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The spirit of reform behind V2 was generally optimistic. This was illustrated in the ICEL translation of 'pro multis' as 'for all.' This thankfully has been shown to be overly optimistic to the point of denying human free will in choosing salvation. But the same is true in the use of white vestments at funerals and the choice of the beatitudes, a reading associated with the Feast of All Saints. The presumption is that the dead person is already received into the company of the saints because essentially every practicing Catholic is saved. Otherwise, why are we having a requiem for him or her instead of a service at the graveside. This of course is hopelessly sentimental and has nothing to do with truth which is as St. Paul tells us atI Cor. 13:6 the object of love's joy.


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