Archived comments from the post: "The hermeneutics of fittingness: traditional Requiem Mass vs. new 'Mass of Resurrection'" (Musings, May 25, 2006):
I don't have too good of an intellectual understanding of the "traditional Requiem Mass" or the "Mass of Resurrection". I've only been to one Catholic funeral. It was the funeral of one of my cousins, who was a fairly sucessful and powerful drug-dealer in my area. As he was walking into his house with two trash bags of marijuana, some young African Americans walked up to him and shot him to death and took the drugs. My cousin was reaching for his gun but just didn't have the opportunity to defend himself. The reason why I say all this is because at the Mass, as well as the burial, the unmistakeable message was that Patrick was in a better place.
Even though this has been the only Catholic funeral I've attended, I know of others that have given the same message. This is clearly wrong. Although the priest cannot condemn the deceased to Hell, he can still preach repentance, holiness, the Judgment Seat of Christ the King, love and peace versus hate and violence, etc., etc.
St Pio | 05.25.06 - 12:31 pm | #
Let's ignore the preaching part, because that's not easily controlled.
In general terms, the Old Rite funeral Mass was quite, ah, dark, whereas the Novus is almost the opposite.
I'd like some balance between those poles; maybe by forcing the "I Am the Resurrection" Gospel reading while re-instituting the Dies Irae as the required sequence.
Dad29 | Homepage | 05.25.06 - 1:51 pm | #
I have stated in my will that if God gives me a death befitting a Catholic funeral, the Dies Irae is to be included, preferably chanted in Latin if possible, but at the very, very least read aloud in English translation.
Jordan Potter | 05.25.06 - 2:04 pm | #
For our local Requiem for His Holiness John Paul II, we did chant the Dies Irae in English translation.
I have no real objections to the Mass of Christian Burial, although I have a preference for the aesthetics associated with the Requiem Mass.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm given to understand that the Requiem is still available as an option, although it is in the same banal translation that the rest of the current Mass is (ICEL '75, I think, a very bad year).
Flambeaux | Homepage | 05.25.06 - 3:31 pm | #
The difference is what Philippe Aries chronicled in his classic study of Western attitudes towards death. The modern era is terrified to its core of death in all its forms and has been relentless in its pursuit of domesticating and denying death, namely by sentimentalizing or medicalizing it. So while the old Mass reflected Catholicism's reverence and humility before the mystery of death, the new one cuts out all mystery and replaces it with a schmaltzy Hollywood ending. It implicitly throws out Purgatory and Hell. There's no longer any room for Christian hope, because it's a done deal -- the departed are in a "better place" by default. What's there to hope for?
L.T. | 05.25.06 - 4:36 pm | #
Our blog (http://cantatedeo.blogspot.com) has a few posts on the Dies iræ sequence.
A few things:
1) Adoremus is mistaken; there is no grounds for sequences not given (as sequences) in the liturgical books. Or, in other words, nothing *proscribes* this sequence, but nothing allows it, either. Rome has the power to suppress any part of the liturgy, and that is exactly what their omission of this sequence in the Lectionary accomplished. I agree that Dies iræ should be sung, as a sequence, at funerals, but not while doing so is not in the books even as an option.
2) Vatican II itself said the funeral rite should be altered to reflect a more paschal character. My own pastor confuses this one, too: the resurrection we celebrate is *JESUS’*, not the deceased’s.
3) Artistic excellence is undervalued in the modern Church, at least by comparison to the early XXc. (I mean, look at the sequence translations in the U.S. Lectionary - they screw up the syllabification just to remove archaic language.) Pointing out that the sequence is the most revered Latin poem out there is like telling a Baptist they don’t know what they’re missing.
4) It should be observed that the main character of Dies iræ is supplication, a prayer for deliverance. Yes, it has some dramatic imagery - no different, though, from the Bible passages that portray the very reality that the Church teaches.
I think funerals are the big battleground for the faith - after all, this is what we teach the faith for. The goal of the Church is to facilitate the salvation of souls (that’s my own idea, but I can’t see it not making sense). When we start behaving at funerals as if we know, or even that it’s safe to presume, what’s happened, we undermine the reason for praciticing faith anyway.
The historical Church, I think, was much more scrupulous about allowing for what seems preposterous, like that even someone everyone knew as boundlessly kind-hearted and loving would be condemned to hell.
Cantor | Homepage | 05.25.06 - 5:18 pm | #
Fr. Jonathan Robinson addresses the points you bring up in his book, _The Mass and Modernity_. You are quite right.
Unfortunately, it seems as though the Dies Irae has been excised from the Modern Rite, although I have been conversations with experts in which some doubt was expressed. To the best that I have been able to determine, and it gives me no pleasure to say this, if it were still permitted as the Sequence, it would appear in the Missal in that position, which it does not. You could, however, use it at Communion, or the Offertory, since the present rubrics permit "another suitable song."
Ekkehard VI | 05.25.06 - 5:20 pm | #
I think the Old Rite funeral liturgy allows people to actually mourn and to pray for the dead. Too often, the common new rite setup, with white vestments (an unmitigated liturgical abuse), watered down prayers, and songs that are supposed to make us feel good rather than pray for the dead (Amazing Grace and On Eagles' Wings rather than Requiem aeternam and In paradisum) can be very nearly emotionally abusive with it's "don't you dare be sad" message.
The Novus Ordo funeral, can, however, be celebrated with black vestments (purple being the other permissible option), the proper Gregorian chants which express a wide array of appropriate emotion and piety for such an occasion, and the emphasis can indeed be on praying for the dead rather than canonizing the dead.
Nevertheless, there are troublesome phrases in the N.O. funeral. For instance, at the commendation it discusses a "sure and certain hope" of redemption. What is a sure and certain hope? Seems oxymoronic to me. Also, at the commendation, there is something about "until we all meet in Christ" and live happily ever after in heaven forever, etc. (I paraphrase, of course.) Seems rather presumptuous, if you ask me.
Ekkehard VI | 05.25.06 - 5:33 pm | #
I remember a funeral I played in December for a man who died rather unexpectedly. His very shaken up widow, after the viewing in the back of the church (another pet peeve of mine), walked to her pew in the front of the church, and KNELT DOWN to pray.
I was stunned, and deeply touched.
I've been to scores of funerals, and this is the FIRST TIME I remember witnessing this kind of activity. Most funerals now resemble parties.
Ekkehard VI | 05.25.06 - 5:43 pm | #
In the modern Church everybody goes to heaven when we die for God is love what other judgement could a God of love make so why even have a Mass for the dead.
Michael Brennan | 05.25.06 - 6:23 pm | #
Jordan, better make sure that your wishes are known ahead of time, as wills are often read after the funeral.
I've heard that priests are usually required to draw up their funeral service when they're ordained, so that there won't be any tug of war between "But Danny Boy was my brother's favorite song" and "At this parish we usually sing I Am the Bread of Life at Communion."
Kathy | Homepage | 05.25.06 - 8:10 pm | #
There is no such thing in the Novus Ordo liturgy as the "Mass of Resurection" as regards to funerals omly Easter Sunday.It is Mass of the Faithful Departed.
Rev. Franklyn Mcafee | | 05.25.06 - 10:40 pm | #
Funny you should pick the Requiem Aeternam (my ten-year-old knows this surpassingly beautiful chant and he leads us in singing it for the Faithful Departed as part of our nightly prayers!) and the In Paradisum (so lovely--a lullaby for the Dead!) to contrast with "songs that are supposed to make us feel good."
Those two gorgeous hymns make me feel VERY good and they contrast rather strongly with the darkness of the Dies Irae and the Libera me, Domine.
I think they have the note of Hope which follows from the Resurrection itself and the the boundless Mercy of God.
The accent on Hope, the "forgotten sister" among the theological virtues, and on a restrained and chaste Joy in God's Salvation of sinful man is deeply consoling. And THAT's what's needed at funerals. The living need to reflect on the fearfulness and finality of death, but the Church is not cruel and doesn't scorn also to console the grieving with the Truth. The Truth DOES console, because it is a Hopeful Truth.
It's true that some of those who seem transparently good may be damned. It's equally true that we will almost certainly meet with some shocks when we see who's gotten past St. Peter--those eleventh hour or even last split second laborers in the vineyard who have received the same dratted wages as St. Perseverence and Companions.
Jeff | 05.26.06 - 1:11 pm | #
Cantor, you are not correct that the Dies Irae cannot be sung during the NO funeral Mass.
It is quite clear in the GIRM that "...or any other suitable text..." may be used in a few different places.
The D.I. was NOT proscribed, and it IS 'appropriate.'
Dad29 | Homepage | 05.26.06 - 2:31 pm | #
"To the best that I have been able to determine, and it gives me no pleasure to say this, if it were still permitted as the Sequence, it would appear in the Missal in that position, which it does not. You could, however, use it at Communion, or the Offertory, since the present rubrics permit 'another suitable song.'"
That's the loop hole that I intend to be used, assuming I can't just have the entire traditional Requiem Mass instead of the mistranslated and truncated Novus Ordo.
"Jordan, better make sure that your wishes are known ahead of time, as wills are often read after the funeral."
I have done that, and will continue to do that.
Jordan Potter | 05.26.06 - 2:47 pm | #
The Church exists for the world. The Gospel of salvation must not become uniquely focused on life after death, for when that happens people become oblivious to the concern for justice that is equally important. The christian churches today are ridden with anxiety because they have forsworn the quest for justice -- in a world where 24000 die of malnutrition every day and where twice as much is spent on an absurd militaristic debacle in Iraq as would suffice to feed and educate the entire planet. Read Mt 25.
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 05.26.06 - 10:57 pm | #
Nero fiddling out of tune.
This is what Americans should be worrying about: http://video.google.com/ videopla...990522549547050
Dies irae, indeed...
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 05.27.06 - 12:09 am | #
Oh, I see Jessie Macbeth or Jesse McBeth is under heavy fire: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jes.../ Jessie_Macbeth
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 05.27.06 - 3:58 am | #
"Spirit," I'm proud of you. Glad to see you had the decency to take back your pontification about "Jessie Macbeth" (or "Jesse McBeth," or WHOEVER this guy in the video might have been) representing "what Americans should be worrying about" once you saw that it was possibly all a hoax. We all need to watch our sources on the Internet.
Pertinacious Papist | Homepage | 05.27.06 - 9:21 am | #
The Church exists for the world. The Gospel of salvation must not become uniquely focused on life after death ...
I beg to differ with you here, though, "Spirit." While there's a sense in which the Church exists for the world, we can't lose sight of the fact that it was sent by Christ to call out a people for Himself (whoever hears His voice). Ekklesia = Gk. "called out." Thus I would supplement your point by the ancillary point that a true concern for justice and everything else worthwhile in this life and this world comes into proper focus only when we have in view our proper end, which is the Church's proper end, in eternity with Christ (and I don't really think you'd agree). I call Mother Teresa to witness.
Pertinacious Papist | Homepage | 05.27.06 - 9:26 am | #
On the other hand, it might be a good idea for the Church to focus on life after death at a Requiem/funeral Mass, don't you think?
Sue Sims | 05.27.06 - 5:42 pm | #
This is precisely the point: since we don't know for certain the destiny of any soul unless the Church proclaims her in heaven, at the Requiem Mass we should PRAY FOR THE DECEASED, being constantly mindful of the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 05.28.06 - 4:20 pm | #
"a true concern for justice and everything else worthwhile in this life and this world comes into proper focus only when we have in view our proper end, which is the Church's proper end, in eternity with Christ (and I don't really think you'd agree)."
I do agree.
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 05.28.06 - 11:18 pm | #
(and I don't really think you'd agree)."
"Spirit," I'm glad (and hardly surprised) you do agree. That parenthetical remark erroneously neglected to read: "and I don't really think you'd disagree." Sorry.
Pertinacious Papist | Homepage | 05.29.06 - 8:48 am | #
Perhaps you could ask Father O'Leary what "our proper end" is, for as surely as I sit here, you and he disagree with each other on this most fundamental point.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 05.29.06 - 10:10 am | #
To defend the post of my partner-in-crime (Cantor), I would just like to clarify and say that he did *not* say that the Dies Irae could not be done at a funeral mass; he would just say that it can not be done as a sequence.
PrayingTwice | Homepage | 05.29.06 - 10:34 am | #
Chris, please, you are dragging down this forum with your satire -- just make your point.
The proper end of humanity is to love and glorify its Creator and to be raised to full communion with the Creator by the mediation of the Eternal Word which enlightens the mind of every human being who has ever lived that which has entered most fully into human history in the life, death and ongoing life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 05.30.06 - 3:01 am | #
that which SHD BE and which
Or put it another way: the proper end of humanity is to love -- by creating conditions of justice, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation in their societies; by constructing warm communities where each is accepted and loved and encouraged to love; by opening themselves to the love of God poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit; by being transformed and divinized by this love, becoming the Body of Christ.
What is most opposed to the proper end of humanity is to crush love, by unjust wars, fomentation of hatred, disrespect for human rights, suppression of free speech, failure to recognize the individual gifts of love in others (as in the refusal to admit that homosexual love, like heterosexual love, is a creative force), and extinguishing the Holy Spirit.
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 05.30.06 - 3:06 am | #
. . . and by refusing to admit that homosexual love is a disorder that leads men to affect "creativity" in ephemeral gestures, duplicitous sensitivities, and bizarre permutations of sexual activity, chiefly involving the rectum, rather than achieving it through procreation within the loving bonds of matrimony.
ralph roister-doister | 05.30.06 - 1:17 pm | #
From this: "The proper end of humanity is to love and glorify its Creator" ...
To this: "The proper end of humanity is to love ... by constructing warm communities (hot tubs?) where each is accepted and loved and encouraged to love." ...
To this: "The proper end of humanity is [the recognition of] homosexual love [as] a creative force ...
Monday's "Spirit" is fair of face,
Tuesday's "Spirit" is full of grace,
Wednesday's "Spirit" is full of woe,
Thursday's "Spirit" has far to go,
Friday's "Spirit" is loving and giving,
Saturday's "Spirit" is works hard for a living,
But the "Spirit" born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.
Pertinacious Papist | Homepage | 05.30.06 - 3:02 pm | #
What satire, Father?
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 05.30.06 - 5:07 pm | #
pb, what happened to Da Rulz #1
Morality is not obsession with the rectum and its uses. It must take the whole person and his or her affective endowments into account. Gay people have constructed a humane and ethical discourse far superior to anything the Sodom'n'Gomorrah brigade seem able to come up with, which is the very reason why recognition of gay civil unions is forging ahead in legislatures everywhere and why even the churches are increasingly moving toward blessing such unions.
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 05.30.06 - 11:55 pm | #
Alakazaam! Not a rectum, but a "humane and ethical discourse".
ralph roister-doister | 05.31.06 - 9:08 am | #
Not sodomy, dunderheads, but "tak[ing] the whole person and his or her affective endowments into account"
ralph roister-doister | 05.31.06 - 9:11 am | #
And for my next feat of prestidigitation, I will turn the act of anal sex into an episode of "Mr Rogers' Neighborhood"!
ralph roister-doister | 05.31.06 - 9:12 am | #
"pb, what happened to Da Rulz #1"
So now, observing the observable (ie, that homosexual sex manifests itself primarily through rectal ingress) is "rude".
Meanwhile, Fr Joe, you should be allowed to prattle on about young men of style and verve, the wonder that is nonprocreative sex, and your horrid victimization on this blog, which you rudely dominate like the bull goose of the barnyard whenever the mood strikes you.
You Irish priests! What characters!
ralph roister-doister | 05.31.06 - 11:47 am | #