Motherwell: Bishop Joseph Toal Seeks to Restore Some Order to Funerals…

Motherwell, Scotland, Apr 3, 2019 / 05:43 pm (CNA).- The funeral Mass is an important moment of prayer and faith after the death of a loved one – but it is not the appropriate time for eulogies, which are better suited for the funeral reception, said Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell, Scotland.
“The funeral liturgy in the Catholic Church brings great consolation and hope to those who have lost a loved one because we proclaim the Resurrection of the Lord and our hope of eternal life,” Toal said in a letter to priests and deacons.

“Its strength is in the faith of the Church and the words of the liturgy that express that faith. We need to accept therefore that it is what the Church offers us that counts most of all, rather than our own words.”

His April 3 letter on the celebration of funeral liturgies aimed to help clergy and lay faithful in arranging funerals.

“Since the liturgy has its own structure and rhythm, especially the Requiem Mass, it should not be interrupted to add in our extras,” he said. The homily during the funeral Mass is “not a time therefore for anyone else to be getting up to talk about the deceased, whoever they may be.”

The bishop suggested “a few words of tribute could be offered” before a funeral Mass or service begins. “These words though should be written down and shown to the celebrant beforehand and should not be prolonged,” he added.

“Often what families want to hear and share can be offered in a more appropriate and less formal manner at the reception afterwards,” Toal continued. “Those closest to the deceased gather for this part of the funeral and it may well be better to share there their happy memories about the deceased in this setting.”

The Motherwell diocese has 66 parishes in Lanarkshire and parts of Glasgow. As of 2015, it served an estimated 162,000 Catholics, the diocese website reports.

“The important point though is the full celebration of the Catholic funeral rites and our intercession that the deceased’s sins may be forgiven and that they will be worthy to share in eternal life with God,” he said. The homily is just one part of the Mass or funeral service, and its role is “reflecting on the Word of God which has been proclaimed and leading into the celebration of the mysteries in which we place our faith.”

The bishop said that Church instruction for funerals clearly state that the priest or deacon who celebrates the funeral should “preach a homily as on other occasions on the Word of God, emphasizing at a funeral the hope of resurrection in Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“The instruction specifically says the homily should not be a eulogy,” he added. “It is a homily therefore spoken by the priest or deacon.”
It is also not appropriate to add a final tribute to the deceased before or during the close of the funeral Mass, known as the Final Commendation.

Bishop Toal said it is fitting for the preacher to integrate some details about the deceased person’s life into the homily “so that it is personal and recognizes the family’s wish to recall their loved one in a sensitive way.” This requires some skill and “an effort to find out something about the deceased from their family.”

“Clearly the homilist is not there to give a blow-by-blow account of the deceased’s life but rather to use some of what he knows in a fitting manner through the course of the homily,” he said, adding “whatever is said about the deceased should be accurate and prepared.”

The bishop said the faithful should keep in mind that not all celebrants have the same ability to integrate the personal and the spiritual. He also offered guidance for family participation in the funeral liturgy.

While families sometimes want to do particular tasks during funerals, “it may be better to leave liturgical tasks to those who do them normally in the parish,” Toal said.

Discussing in particular lectors and those who say the prayers of the faithful, the bishop noted, “It is an ordeal for people to come forward to read if they are not used to doing so, or perhaps are not even regular attenders in church.”

He encouraged family members of the deceased person to look to the priest or deacon for guidance, given their responsibility to decide on these roles.  Source – Catholic News Agency

Bishop Joseph Toal

Comment: 

The Bishops of Ireland tried this a few years back and I was reliably informed then that it failed. Miserably.  The bad habits had become too deeply ingrained to the extent that things, such as poems, secular music and eulogies, which had at first appeared as a “good idea” or “a nice touch”, were now regarded as a right.

Is this the fate which awaits Bishop Toal’s instruction?  And why are ALL the Bishops not clamping down on these liturgical abuses at funerals? Are they using Motherwell as a testing ground, so to speak, and will only act to correct the circuses that pass for funerals these days if the Bishop of Motherwell is obeyed?  

Scotland Preparing For Lay-Led Funerals

tombstoneripGalloway prepares for funerals without priests.

Galloway Diocese is training up laity to carry out funeral services without a priest.

Last week the first lay Catholics attended funeral training at St Brides in West Kilbride in Ayrshire.

The scheme is similar to one adopted by Liverpool Archdiocese in 2012.

The family of the deceased would still be offered a requiem Mass (right) with a priest but a ‘funeral service,’ which could be carried out by a lay person and would not involve the sacrament of Communion, would also be an option.

In a recent parish bulletin, St Bride’s parish priest Fr Joe Boland said: “All over the world, lay men and women have been conducting funerals for years. Obviously they cannot say Mass, but not every funeral involves Mass, and in that case there is nothing a priest can do that a lay person cannot do.

“This will sound strange to many of you, but as the number of parishes covered by one priest grows, it will become more and more necessary,” he went on. “This is not the case here in West Kilbride at the moment, but the current situation will not last forever. There will inevitably be resistance to the idea of lay people exercising this ministry, but that is to be expected. It will work itself out”

Maureen Knight, who is responsible for pastoral care at Liverpool Archdiocese, told the SCO a similar scheme there had been a great success.

“We’ve had 120 people go through the training programme,” she said. ”The negativity around it has been minimal.

“We find that there are people coming to funerals that have very little connection with the church so this is an easier way,” she said. “Rather than the requiem Mass we would want, this is another option.”

She also said the change had helped ‘care of the bereaved become the responsibility of the whole community.’

“The lay funeral minister, they can be with the family beforehand, talk about things they might be afraid to talk to a priest about,” she said. “And they can visit them afterwards, look after them a bit more.”

A 1997 Vatican document on the laity fulfilling priestly duties says ‘the non-ordained faithful may lead the ecclesiastical obsequies provided that there is a true absence of sacred ministers and that they adhere to the prescribed liturgical norms.’

It also states that ‘in the present circumstances of growing de-christianization and of abandonment of religious practice, death and the time of obsequies can be one of the most opportune pastoral moments in which the ordained minister can meet with the non-practising members of the faithful,’ so ‘it is thus desirable that priests and deacons, even at some sacrifice to themselves, should preside personally at funeral rites in accordance with local custom, so as to pray for the dead and be close to their families, thus availing of an opportunity for appropriate evangelization.’

At present there are no plans for similar programmes in the other seven Scottish dioceses  Source – Scottish Catholic Observer

Comment:  

It’s that “at present” that is the worry. How long before all the usual parish busy-bodies are organising funerals across Scotland? Conducting YOUR funeral?  I say “your funeral” because none of them will ever organise mine. Be assured. Over my dead body, as they say, so to speak.  You’ll get my drift. Does this resignation to the lack of vocations suggest to you, as it does to me, a total loss of divine and Catholic Faith?  

Is the Church finished? Without priests, remember, there IS no Church, so why is the hierarchy concentrating on creating a lay-led Church instead of concentrating on restoring the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Faith and Liturgy? If they did that, the vocations would come – no doubt about it. So, what’s going on? Who, on this earth, really wants a lay person conducting his/her funeral?      cartoonimagefunerals