This is a spiritual incongruity in my ministry on which I have been reflecting lately:
On the one hand, it is a commonplace to complain that funerals are not really funerals but 'celebrations of life.' There's some truth to the complaint; through the stations of a funeral liturgy, the 'mourners'--in my experience--often speak and behave as if guaranteed that the deceased is already enjoying the peace and joy of heaven. A disapproving glance sometimes comes when we pray for forgiveness of sins for the deceased, or for merciful judgment. "He's at peace now," and "She's with so-and-so in heaven" are the sort of little pieces of the script that illustrate the spiritual mood. I have never offered a funeral Mass in anything but Easter white; never in penitential violet and much less in the black of mourning!
On the other hand, and seemingly incongruously, there is an unmanageable demand for Masses to be offered for these same dead! The intentions for our regularly scheduled Masses are filled at least six months in advance, and an intention for something besides and individual or group of the dead is so rare that sometimes, when one is about to occur, the one offering will call the day before just to make sure, 'Father doesn't say that I'm dead.'
So, how does it make sense to offer funerals with the apparent assurance that the deceased is already enjoying his place among the saints in the Church Triumphant, but then to anxiously schedule many further Masses as if he were ensconced in purgatory and in need of the Sacrifice to be offered to help him on his continued journey of purification? The saints do not need our Masses; it is they who should be praying for us, not the other way around.
Could it be that we are misguided on both counts? Could it be that, on the one hand, we have forgotten that the journey toward heaven continues after this life, and, on the other, that we are not offering all of these Masses for the dead for their sakes, but for our need to memorialize them on the natural level?