September 5, 2009

Entering the Fray

As folks have no doubt appreciated, I have kept quiet on the burning Catholic issue of Senator Kennedy's funeral last weekend. However, I was asked in another capacity to produce a short opinion on the matter, so I thought I would reproduce it here:

The real problem is that we as a Catholic culture have lost the sense that a funeral Mass is a prayer and sacrifice offered for the continuing journey and salvation of a sinner like the rest of us. As long as a funeral is executed as if it were a beatification, or 'celebration of life' as regular folks like to say, then those who object to beatifying the life in question will be offended, and sometimes rightly so. The funeral liturgy--Vigil, Mass, Committal--is meant to be prayers offered for the deceased as he continues his journey through purification on the way to the beatific vision. It thus is meant to have at least something of a penitential character. Let us not forget that priests were traditionally buried in the penitential color of violet! (Roman Ritual, De Exsequiis, 13.) Had Senator Kennedy's funeral Mass been offered in something closer to this spirit, instead of as a civil canonization, I'm sure many fewer good and faithful Catholics would have been offended.

But don't mind me, I turned it off after they failed to sing the Alleluia.


Rachel Gray said...

Good thoughts and I'm interested to know that priests used to be buried in violet!

But as for the alleluia-- I heard someone else complain about that too-- are you *supposed* to sing it at a funeral? I would have guessed that it was omitted like in Lent, because it's a joyful thing and this is a funeral.

Oh. Wait. Do you mean they *spoke* the Alleluia? Oh, that is bad.

Qualis Rex said...

Father Charles, thanks for your comment here. I fall squarely on the side of the bishops who have stated that public officials and lawmakers who legislate to kill the unborn should be denied holy communion, since they are guilty of a public and grave sin. However, as we all know, the Boston church is corrupt to the core (Cardinal Law anyone?) and I have no doubt that Kennedy received communion up to the very end from any number of priestly sychophants. Had any of them, INCLUDING his bishop, the moral fiber and fortitude to say, "Ted, we are so grateful for your stance on social issues and helping the poor. But you KNOW you are in grave error on abortion. Your persistant support for it has not only brought scandal to the church but has put your immortal soul in jeopardy. As your priest/bishop, I am instructing you that for the good of your soul, the church, and the millions of unborn killed each year, you MUST publicly recant before you die. If not, I cannot promise you a proper Catholic funeral. You must do this."

100 years ago, this would have been such a non-issue.

Matt said...

I only heard the butchering of the Ave Maria from the table at the St. Clare's refectory.

To be fair, I wasn't his biggest fan in life either.

Jeanne said...

I turned it off. For about a million reasons, including the ones cited by you and various commentators. Why the church publicly glorified such an adamant pro-abortion politician was beyond me. Oh wait. Money and power anyone?

And you wonder why the laity is skeptical and confused?

Anonymous said...

Father Charles, you then missed the Intercessions, which were essentially talking points of the Democratic National Committee and completely ignored the formula that the Church prescribes: prayers for the church, for the faithful, for the Holy father, for civil authorities, etc.)

But I have another question: is it appropriate for a Catholic to request that a priest wear violet vestments at a mass of Christian Burial? Can a priest honor such a request? Does he have to ask permission or is it still contemplated by the ritual? Would it matter were the vestments violet but the pall white? Thanks Father.

Brother Charles said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for the thoughtful comment. I did hear of the intercessions, with horror.

The current funeral rite allows the use of either black, white, or violet vestments and pall. The final choice is up to the celebrating priest, but I would think requests would often be honored. I know that I would always do so if someone had made an expressed preference.

In the Extraordinary Form black is prescribed.

I think that to have pall and vestments match is the ordinary goal. However, your average parish (excluding those who practice the EF regularly) are likely to have violet vestments, but not a violet pall. And they are unlikely to have black in either. So I don't think it would be too much of an abuse to have violet vestments--if desired--and a white funeral pall.