Saturday 10 January 2015

Is God Pastoral?

The Telegraph today carries an article headed "Pop songs banned from Catholic funerals in the Channel Islands."  It states that "Personal eulogies, non-biblical readings and pop songs have been banned from Roman Catholic funerals... in the Diocese of Portsmouth.  Further on it says that "the ruling has been accepted by the Church in Jersey and Guernsey" A local funeral director who is interviewed believes that "people will find it difficult to adapt."

The Channel Islands are part of the Diocese of Portsmouth, where Bishop Philip Egan has the mandate from the Holy Father to protect, teach and promote the Catholic Faith.  The report in the Newspaper is by "a Telegraph Reporter".  No wonder whoever it is was too ashamed to put their name to this drivel passing as news.  You can read Bishop Philip's pastoral Guidelines on the diocesan website. A cursory glance or indeed any passing acquaintance with the norms of the Church will allow you to see that what he suggests is nothing new at all.  Each part is supported with extensive quotes from the Order of funerals, the "new" one has now been in use for 25 years since 1990.

Why is it that the most basic of Church teaching are so often misrepresented in the press?


In this case because in many instances across the country the norms about what is to happen at a Catholic Funeral are regularly ignored.

Because the re-issuing of some of the guidelines comes in this case from a bishop who is perceived to be "traditional" or "orthodox". Very nasty - imagine trying to uphold the teaching of the Church . How old-fashioned and out of date.

Because the liberal press can't be bothered to check out their stories when it comes to getting things right about the Church.

Sadly, many Catholic funerals have become little more than memorial services and celebrations of life, in line with secular thinking.  The actual prayers of the rite speak very much of the forgiveness of sins and the need for God's mercy. These Truths, however, are no longer much in the consciousness of those attending, as they are not Truths that are much expounded in the day to day catechises and preaching of the Church. "Not pastoral", we're often told but surely, these are lost opportunities, as God's Truths are always "pastoral" - in proper sense of the word. 


Fr Dickson said...

You are right to say that what we have these days is the desire to celebrate a person’s life. I wish there were reminders about Funerals in more than one Diocese. The idea that ‘anything goes’ at a funeral because the family are grieving has to stop. I had a Funeral Director book a date and time with me then cancel it next day because no CD’s are allowed to be played in Church. The family went to a Protestant chapel instead. (The request had been for Eva Cassidy’s version of “Fields of Gold”, which, while gentle and meditative in mood, includes some very sensual, impure lyrics:

So she took her love for to gaze awhile upon the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down among the fields of gold
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth, among the fields of gold.)

Another Funeral was taken completely out of my hands within my own parish: the family concerned brought in a priest from outside to preside at the Funeral (and with whom they liaised); contacted the local Council to arrange the grace themselves; informed the Funeral Director not to pay me a fee as they would see me privately; brought in their own musicians, contacted our parish flower ladies privately and indicated where the flower pedestals were to be placed on the sanctuary. They even decided how many candles would be used on the altar at the last family funeral.

Unless the bishops make it clear that the priest has to keep control of the liturgy within the norms, and not the Funeral Directors or the bereaved, situations of all kinds will become more and more common in more and more places. Our Bishops do not help us by being ‘accommodating’ to the point of ignoring norms. A pastoral letter to which we priests could refer reminding people that a funeral is to pray for the dead to be released from their sins and not a celebration of their life would be the least they could do. A mention of no CD’s in Church would also be helpful. But to be honest, we can expect no help from the Bishops who are more afraid of the laity’s judgment than they are of the Lord’s judgement.

Fr Dickson said...

Oops! Of course I meant to say the family contacted the Council to arrange the grave themselves!

Pétrus said...

Father - isn't the permission of the Parish Priest required to celebrate Mass in a church?