Cardinal Blase Cupich is issuing new guidelines for Catholic funerals in the Archdiocese of Chicago, especially when it comes to eulogies or reflections of the person who died.
The idea is to get all churches in the archdiocese on the same page when it comes to funerals. Many parishes have already conducted funerals using the now-codified practices.
Under the guidelines, a pastor may allow one person to give a reflection or eulogy near the end of a funeral Mass.
Reflections should be in writing and no more than three minutes long and they are to be approved by a priest or other pastoral minister beforehand.
More details, from the archdiocesan website:
- Eulogies and Personal Remembrances are more appropriate during the Evening Vigil or at the reception following the funeral. Experience shows that sharing personal remarks at the Funeral Mass can be inopportune for a number of reasons. It can create hard feelings if hurtful things of the past are raised or create discomfort in ill-advised attempts at humor. There are also concerns in view of past experiences that eulogies can overshadow in length and attention the Funeral Mass itself, especially if those offering words turn the Church’s rites into a celebration of life that focuses only on the accomplishments of the deceased’s past, with scant attention to our faith in the resurrection. With that said, in a desire to be pastorally sensitive to the family of the deceased, the following norms have been established after consultation with the Presbyteral Council and the approval of the cardinal.
- The pastor of the parish may allow a reflection by one individual. This is to take place between the Post- Communion prayer and the end of Mass. The personal reflections should be limited to 3 minutes and are to be presented in writing to the pastoral minister assisting the family in advance of the service.
I posted on this issue years ago:
I have to say, though: the best funeral homilies often contain elements of a traditional eulogy, offering personal remembrances, along with thoughts on the Catholic understanding of death.
But those homilies are few and far between.
It’s worth noting, though, that the liturgical guidelines for funerals are both explicit — and ambiguous. “A brief homily based on the readings should always be given at the funeral liturgy, but never any kind of eulogy,” the directives note.
However, near the end of the mass, “The Order of Christian Funerals” notes: “A member or a friend of the family may speak in remembrance of the deceased before the final commendation begins,” which suggests that some comments (if it’s not a eulogy, then what is it?) are permitted — just not in place of a homily.