Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On Funerals and Lloyd Webber, Again

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote this in a book. Sorry, I'd find the title, but it's been floating around news articles sans citation...
 “Death is to be deprived of its character as a place where the metaphysical breaks through. Death is rendered banal so as to quell the unsettling questions that arise from it.”
I would just like to note that the Pie Jesu is a place where the metaphysical breaks through, to use Cardinal Ratzinger's verbage, in Lloyd Webber's Requiem Mass.

But, the rest of the setting is banal. The Broadway stylings of the Requiem are more banal than say, The Phantom of the Opera. I don't love that work; I enjoy listening to pieces of it, though I can safely say that it is tame compared to the Requiem's principle texts.

Anyways, his quotation was selected by His Grace, Michael Smith, the Bishop of Meath in Ireland as support for exercising juridical measures that combat abuses of the funeral Mass in the Ordinary Form.

Eulogies, secular songs, poetry, and non-Scriptural readings are forbidden (not that the latter weren't already, and the former only tolerated!). The family-and I suppose a friend or other person- should speak to the priest, and not a professional funeral planner.

His Grace stated that “[the funeral Mass] is a prayer of petition for the deceased, a prayer commending the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion, a prayer rooted in the hope engendered by the Death and Resurrection of Christ.”

But of course, this is compounded in the Ordinary Form by the composition by copying-and-pasting of liturgical texts. Archbishop Bugnini gave us this insight in his book, The Reform of the Liturgy: 1948–1975 :
They got rid of texts that smacked of a negative spirituality inherited from the Middle Ages. Thus they removed such familiar and even beloved texts as the "Libera me, Domine", the "Dies Irae", and others that overemphasized judgment, fear, and despair. These they replaced with texts urging Christian hope and arguably giving more effective expression to faith in the resurrection.
 Arguably, yes, that's possible. But is it? Absolutely not. Firstly, judgment goes back to Scripture, not just the Middle Ages. And, if the people loved the texts of the Mass which Bugnini disliked, then I argue that they saw Christian hope properly expressed: that God, in His mercy and goodness will give men their reward when Judgment rolls around. Hope is not saying that there is a possibility of Hell or Purgatory, but that it is unlikely for most of us. Rather, it is knowing that we must die in the bosom of Holy Mother the Church. Jesus through Mary will take care of the rest. The exceptions are those that the Church will investigate for sainthood, especially when their witness was so strong. One example today might be Blessed Teresa, or Blessed Pope John Paul II.
For V-J Day...and see, they believed.

There is great comfort knowing that through repentance and the Sacraments we are brought to eternal life, don't get me wrong. I have seen it in my own family with an uncle who fell away from the Church, and died of cancer. My mother prayed the novena to the Infant of Prague for the conversion of her family, and God provided. He died after receiving extreme unction and Viaticum, and being enrolled in the Brown Scapular.

Fr. Z has this to add. Evidently, sermons in the Requiem Mass must take place after the Mass, without vestments. That's if and only if the ordinary has given his permission. He adds, with my emphasis
First, the Church herself presented what she knows we need to hear as we all march equally toward heaven through the doors of death.  In the traditional Requiem, we are equal.
Also, consider the possibilities of putting your foot wrong in a delicate moment or having a sermon turn into a political harangue or emotional outburst.  You can multiply examples of things that can and do go wrong.
It often does go wrong, as he continues. The funeral of Ted Kennedy is a very good example. The cardinal archbishop didn't celebrate Mass, but he was there. Obama gave the eulogy for a pro-abortion Catholic politician. It should have been more private. Or, a famous yet pious person gets a eulogy and long, banal Mass because they are famous.

Also, wear black vestments with the proper maniple, chalice and ciborium veils, and the burse.

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