Ask a Franciscan

Celebrate or Mourn a Person’s Life?

Q: I recently saw a death notice that read, “A Funeral Mass celebrating Ray’s life will begin….” That sounds to me like a non-Catholic notice. Aren’t we supposed to mourn when a family member, friend or acquaintance dies?

A: The Catholic Church refers to the “Mass of Christian Burial.” The emphasis here is on the link between the Sacraments of Baptism/Confirmation/Eucharist and this person’s death. The 1989 Order of Christian Funerals specifies that homilists are not to give a eulogy but rather should “dwell on God’s compassionate love and on the paschal mystery of the Lord as proclaimed in the Scripture readings.”

Family members may offer brief remarks after Holy Communion and before the Final Commendation. We grieve for the deceased, but we often see in their earthly lives a foretaste of the eternal life they now experience.

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