Eulogies

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Fr Allen Morris
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Parish / Diocese: Westminster

Eulogies

Post by Fr Allen Morris » Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:37 am

A recent discussion in Westminster diocese revealed a sometime practice of having the Eulogy delivered before the beginning of the Funeral Mass or service.
The principal reason offered was that it avoided in appropriate eulogies being given during the Liturgy itself (these eulogies generally having texts which it difficult to see and approve before hand, or going off script).
I wonder whether members of SSG - and forum haunters - have any wisdom to share on the practice.
Fr Allen Morris
Chair of Liturgy Commission, Westminster

Southern Comfort
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Re: Eulogies

Post by Southern Comfort » Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:20 pm

Here's a fairly recent thread on this topic. It also references another thread which I have not so far located.

http://www.ssg.org.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1626

Fr Allen Morris
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Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:19 pm
Parish / Diocese: Westminster

Re: Eulogies

Post by Fr Allen Morris » Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:29 pm

Many thanks! Interesting to hear of people's support for it.
Any other views out there? Anyone NOT think its good practice for some reason?
Allen

HallamPhil
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Parish / Diocese: St Lawrence Diocese of St Petersburg
Location: Tampa, Florida

Re: Eulogies

Post by HallamPhil » Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:24 pm

I'm not sure about this. Are you suggesting that a eulogy be given before the coffin is brought in along with the grieving family?

Fr Allen Morris
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Parish / Diocese: Westminster

Re: Eulogies

Post by Fr Allen Morris » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:36 am

It could be that the coffin would have been receive previously - but I take the point that if not you have the question of would this happen before or after entrance etc
Allen

blackthorn fairy
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Parish / Diocese: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Wellingborough Northamptonshire

Re: Eulogies

Post by blackthorn fairy » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:26 pm

Where I play, eulogies, 'poems' or whatever are read at the end of the ceremony (whether it's a Requiem Mass or simply a funeral liturgy), just before the coffin is wheeled/carried out.

Fr Allen Morris
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Parish / Diocese: Westminster

Re: Eulogies

Post by Fr Allen Morris » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:44 pm

That's been my practice and, at least as far as Eulogies are concerned, is what OCF commends.
The difficulty - and I certainly have experienced this here, despite trying to make sure people are encouraged to moderation, is that if someone gets the wind in their sails, this is the last thing people remember from the church service. The argument I've heard employed, is that you give space early on for what is sort of beyond your control and can then both provide a proper Catholic service afterwards, and also make reference to what has gone before and where necessary appropriately offer Christian commentary to it.
It is an approach that might sound dismissive of the secular / areligious (or maybe acultic) content of some eulogies. However I think that done well it should affirm what can be properly affirmed in a Catholic Christian liturgy, and put into a new context both the 'secular' and the 'religous' aspects of the liturgy that the congregation are experiencing.
Allen

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Gwyn
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Parish / Diocese: Archdiocese of Cardiff
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Re: Eulogies

Post by Gwyn » Sat Oct 19, 2013 9:23 am

Eulogies surely belong at the wake which follows the official proceedings. It seems that funeral rites and wake have sadly become one.

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keitha
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Re: Eulogies

Post by keitha » Sat Oct 19, 2013 9:44 am

Having, over the last 5/6 years, had to attend the funerals of several close relatives and friends (maybe I'm not good to know or be related to!), I have seen a variety of practices. If they are well done, prior to the final prayers and procession is a good place...but, in my experience most are very badly done and become just too emotion-ridden, with the eulogiser struggling to keep going and everyone wishing they were somewhere else. So how about (and I've never seen it done) a very short and farily factual introduction about the life of the deceased before the sign of the cross at the start and before emotions really begin to run high. Anything else should be for the post burial/cremation event.
Keith Ainsworth

alan29
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Re: Eulogies

Post by alan29 » Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:21 am

There is a balance to be struck. Last week I played at a requiem where there was a highly emotional eulogy which had people intently examining their booklets. Yet the previous week I played for another one where the celebrant didn't even greet the mourners and made no reference to the deceased at all apart from in the missal prayers - "our brother." The homily was a lecture on catholic belief to a gathering of mainly unbelievers.
Both were equally inappropriate IMHO.

John Ainslie
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Re: Eulogies

Post by John Ainslie » Sat Oct 19, 2013 9:13 pm

As I wrote in a previous thread, I am all for eulogies at the beginning of a Funeral Mass, after the coffin has been received and the symbols of faith placed on it, and immediately after the priest's greeting and welcome of the relatives and friends of the deceased:

    at an emotional time in what for many of them may be a strange environment and occasion, it assures them that their beloved departed is being valued - even if the priest and/or the local community may have hardly known him/her;
    it gets the backward-looking account of the deceased's life and thanksgiving for it duly attended to as a preparation for the funeral liturgy, which is the celebration of Christian faith now in life 'changed not ended', and the forward-looking hope of eternal life - thus illustrating in chronological order this 'rite of passage';
    it gives the people present information about the deceased which may be news - even a surprise - to many, but which may make it easier to pray for the deceased and his/her family at the Mass that follows;
    it avoids splitting the Communion Rite from the Rite of Commendation, as a eulogy at this point does.

helen rees
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Parish / Diocese: southwark

Re: Eulogies

Post by helen rees » Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:22 pm

I had an intense discussioin with both our priests today who were in disagreement over this issue. My PP is adamant that after some bad experiences he wants to insist that the Eulogy comes at the beginning so that he can redress any "issues" arising from this in the sermon. In a previous parish he heard someone say "I am sure that with your faith you will be in heaven now. If there is a God that is!"


The assistant priest says he wants the Eulogy after his homily in case there is duplication and because families expect it.

I think that in our parish the Eulogy will be at the beginning from now on.

This came about as part of a discussion around the annual service for the blessing of graves. Is this common practice and what is being blessed, the soil, the tombstone, the body? Also is a body itself holy or capable of being holy through blessing and how often should it be blessed and sprinkled with holy water? What do others think? The service does focus on praying the souls of our families and friends but what purpose is served by the blessing of the grave in a consecrated burial ground ?

JW
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Re: Eulogies

Post by JW » Sat Nov 16, 2013 12:12 pm

IMHO I don't think it matters when eulogies take place so long as they don't disrupt the Liturgy of the Word or the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I also think that, if someone is asked to give a eulogy but they don't respect the faith of the deceased, then that is a risk that has to be taken. The church isn't doing pastoral care that well at the moment and it would damage its reputation even more to ban eulogies. We have to be sensitive to the mourning family.

As for all the sprinkling with Holy Water, we talk about blessing the body, but water doesn't penetrate through wood, so the sprinkling is only symbolic - unless the intention is to bless the coffin. Perhaps we should go back to having the coffin open in church!!!!!!

As for blessing graves - is this a throwback to paganism or even Christian exorcism, to ward off evil spirits - though why a graveyard should be more attractive to evil spirits than the houses of the living is a mystery to me! And we don't go around blessing crematoria - perhaps we should?
JW

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