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    Saturday, February 24, 2007


    As an organist I used to like funerals. They were authentic liturgy and the people were focused.

    Then the eulogies got large and folksy out of compasion for those grieving. And yes, they ruined it.

    I am surprised to hear the Australian Cardinal mention that eulogies are banned in the U.S.. Someone must have forgotten to tell our Priests. They still go on, perhaps half of the time.

    It is hard for the family to understand this but the place for eulogies is at the wake, not the Mass. This is getting tougher because many are skipping the wake the evening before the Mass, and instead doing a mini-wake a few hours before Mass in the back of the church.


    Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, has imposed strict deadlines on eulogies delivered at Catholic funerals.

    In a move to protect the sacred character of the liturgy, the cardinal has ruled that any speaker at a funeral must confine himself to at most a 5-minute talk. Only one talk is allowed, and the tone of the eulogy should be in keeping with the spirit of prayer for the deceased, avoiding jokes about his weaknesses, the guidelines add.

    Cardinal Pell explained that the guidelines were necessary to prevent abuses in the funeral liturgy. In some cases, he said, a series of eulogists spoke at length, resulting in overly long services; in other cases a highly emotional speaker added to the grief of the families. In most extreme cases, laughing references to the drinking or sexual conduct of the deceased profaned the ceremony.

    The cardinal noted that in some countries-- including the US-- Catholic funeral guidelines do not allow for any eulogy (as distinct from the priest’s homily at the funeral Mass). In the Sydney archdiocese, he said, the new rules “uphold the principle that the funeral Mass is an act of worship and prayer that should not admit elements foreign to its intrinsic nature."


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