Why can’t Catholics have eulogies at funerals?

The death of a loved one is it difficult and emotional time for family and friends. Because emotions can easily overrun sound judgment at such a time, it is important to wrap your head around the meaning of a funeral beforehand so that you don’t get disappointed by any misunderstandings. It’s really not that complicated.

First of all, there is nothing inherently wrong when a family and friends recall the good qualities of a deceased person whom they loved. They should cling to those positive memories and let go of the negatives.

But there is a time and a place for everything. The funeral is neither the time nor the place for a eulogy. The funeral plays a unique and irreplaceable role of intercession for the soul of the deceased.

Can you think of any sacrament (or any other moment in the Christian life, for that matter) in which we stand before God and brag about how great we are? No. In every sacrament, the emphasis is on God’s greatness, our weakness, and our rejoicing in God’s mercy to fill the gap between us.

A funeral is no different. In fact, a funeral is the moment par excellence to turn to God’s mercy because time has run out on the deceased. In a sense, the funeral is more about God than about our loved one. All the prayers and actions in a funeral centre on imploring God’s forgiveness on that person, emphasizing our hope in the mercy obtained for us through the Death and Resurrection of Christ.

There’s an old song by the Newsboys called “Real good thing.” Although it’s not about a funeral, the refrain is very relevant in understanding a funeral.

When we don’t get what we deserve, that’s a real good thing, a real good thing

When we get what we don’t deserve, that’s a real good thing, a real good thing

The first line refers to eternal damnation while the second line refers to eternal salvation. Indeed, in Christ, we can aspire to avoid what we really deserve by our sins, and hope to obtain the eternal bliss that we could never deserve on our own. The Newsboys were cleverly using paradoxical language that would seem absurd and even unjust to a secularist but which expresses the profound mysteries of the Faith.

Because we rely on God’s mercy and not our merits, there is no need at the funeral to expand on the deceased’s virtues. It’s not a job interview as if we had to convince God or ourselves of the deceased’s worthiness for salvation.

Nor is it a time for the family and friends to use the virtues of the deceased as a means to blow off some steam. It’s not about you. It’s about your deceased loved one.  You’ll do him  much more good at the funeral by praying for the repose of his soul while praising God’s generosity. Save your praise of the deceased for an appropriate moment later.

So next time you’re at a funeral, focus on eternal things: pleading with God, in a hope-filled manner, to grant eternal life on your loved one. Continue praying for your loved one’s soul until the day you die. Only the hope of him resting in God’s arms will bring you lasting solace.

3 thoughts on “Why can’t Catholics have eulogies at funerals?

  1. There was a Catholic professor named Tom who went home to JESUS and his wife Molly in 2010. We sang giving thanks to Christ for him. The song we sang giving our Lord thanks was “How Great Thou Art”. Friends came from all over the globe. The Knights threw a banquet inviting everyone to dine, and give eulogies if they wished. I did not give one even though lots of eyes were on me ,because I could not as I listened to wonderful stories. Tom was one of my best friends and mentor. I was with him several days of ever week, and knew first hand of his accomplishments ,therefore if I gave a eulogy I would have broken into pieces, or given a very long lecture. I listened and remembered Tom, Molly and other friends who had passed on recently.

    In a way Tom was like Joan Of Arc. This was a person who after prayer, was given a mission to unite Canadian citizens politically to reverse degenerative Parliamentary ,and Supreme Court of Canada Law of 2005 which made Canada a legal destination for sex trafficking predators , and pedophiles ,by right. Many agnostic university students from across Canada also joined us in this venture going door to door informing the apathetic, and indifferent Canadian voting public as to what their elected MP’s, The Canadian Supreme Court, and Popular Media Moguls had helped to make Canadian Law. Asking Canadian voters politely to get out of their mental fog and look for themselves at how their MP’s voted on this issue at the Government Of Canada website http://www.parl.gc.ca

    The Politically United Canadian Citizens put enough pressure on MP’s that they passed a Bill into Canadian Law, thus raising the age of sex consent in 2008. This is what a vigilant voting public can accomplish. What hinders you now? Don’t blame JESUS for the messes you create.

  2. I better not see a politician on tv getting eulogies then because if I see that happen, then I will demand it for my family members when they die.

    • I sympathize with your frustration, Sean, but let’s not follow-up other people’s mistakes with sins of our own.

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