The New New Funeral Rite: Let's Eulogize! Let's Emote!

February 2001By Philip Brannigan

The Rev. Philip Brannigan (a pseudonym) has been a parish priest for over 25 years, and has witnessed the exponential disintegration of the rite for funerals during that span.

Our newfound liturgical understanding — so fruitfully exemplified in parishes since the Council — recognizes that the liturgy, rather than being a static ritual, is actually an ongoing workshop carrying within itself its own evolutionary dynamic. Nowhere can this be more clearly witnessed than in the modern Catholic funeral liturgy, which has taken on a life of its own — independent of any of the Church’s stifling rules and traditions. It’s time to codify this dynamic in the case of funerals. Hence this New New Rite for Funerals.

A priest need not officiate at this New New Rite for Funerals, especially if someone from the family is comfortable in that role. If, however, the family is inordinately traditional or religious, a priest may be asked to officiate, but he should take care that he only act as a sort of Master of Ceremonies, co-ordinating all the multi-form expressions of emotion — the true heart of the New New Rite for Funerals. In either case, the priest should see that the doors are open and the candles lit.

There will no longer be any need for the family to consult with either the priest or the parish music minister in the New New Rite for Funerals, for only the (highly popular) songs listed in this outline will be used — at every funeral, with no exceptions. The only possible adjustment to this would be if a relative of the deceased wants to sing or a grandchild desires to play a musical instrument. Here the progressive liturgical principle that “participation trumps both talent and appropriateness” must come into play. It should make no difference what the selection might be, so long as it is cute. Cuteness is the standard by which the success of any liturgy is measured. What follows is the New New Rite for Funerals:

Greeting (the presider uses these or similar words to introduce the funeral, highlighting our growing understanding that funerals are not for the deceased but for the living):

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