Leading Souls Astray at a Funeral Mass
By Father Kevin M. Cusick
“You need to smile more.”
It’s a sure sign a fellow Catholic has lost immunity to error afforded by firm assent to truth when he says this after you’ve together just witnessed a chapel full of souls misled by heresy.
I recently attended a funeral in a neighboring diocese. My decision to remain seated in the pews was rewarded: I didn’t have to struggle to keep a poker face in the sanctuary while innocent souls were lied to and their salvation was put in serious jeopardy by a heretic in a chasuble.
Many stand-up comedians lost out on their true calling when they were ordained priests in the 70’s. Some of them will even stoop to joking about a deceased person wandering off before the funeral because they successfully escaped from their unit in the nursing home a number of times while alive. But that’s not the worst of it. The desire to keep things light and avoid the issue of sadness in death extends to actually deceiving souls starving for truth about the possibility of eternal damnation.
How many already benighted by error are told every week in the US that they are assured of salvation by an official representative of the Catholic Church? That is the logical conclusion when everyone who dies is proclaimed to be in heaven. Last I checked some people are still attempting to use their God-given logic.
Why does an otherwise rational grown man get up in front of a group of people and tell them he knows the deceased is in heaven? Then he proceeds to offer Mass for the deceased and the living present as if such is any longer needed if he speaks the truth. In the fallout from such error the whole concept of a crucified God, His image hanging in carved wood on the wall behind the altar, becomes a countersign.
Prayer itself becomes useless when there is no longer anything that we could possibly do that would prevent us from going anywhere other than heaven when we die. That could be the reason why so many people talk in church and so few pray. This could be a significant contribution to the collapsing numbers of practicing Catholics.
The “presider”, an ordained priest, invited family and guests seated in the chapel in anticipation of the Mass to “wander around and chat” while waiting for the musician to arrive.
The chapel itself was dedicated to universal salvation, many of the kneelers ripped out, except in the side aisles for those few who might still be “tempted” to pray.
The signature symbol of Vatican II abuses and the denial of God was also enshrined: Our Lord Himself, sacramentally present in the Blessed Sacrament was relegated to the corner pocket.
The few Catholics still possessing some vestigial awareness of the sacred knelt after the praying of the Sanctus despite the priest’s invitation to be seated. It’s a brutal irony when the prayer and posture of the few still cleaving to the signs of universal Catholic worship are reduced to a kind of protest.
The deceased was a good Catholic woman, but like many Catholics of her time she went to Mass every day except Sunday. For many years Catholics were led to believe that Saturday evening Mass was the same as Sunday. They weren’t properly informed that if you can go on Sunday you’re supposed to go on Sunday.
The priest in summary gave us the line of the day: “That’s the great thing about being Catholic: you can take Sundays off”. Just what the non-practicing family members needed to hear: affirmation of the fact that they’re already taking Sundays off because they never attend obligatory worship on the Lord’s Day to begin with.
The deceased practiced her faith as best she could in the circumstances afforded her. I have few worries for her soul and fervently pray she rest in peace. Many lay people today patiently and quietly suffer the predations visited upon the sacred liturgy by unfaithful priests. It is a relief for priests blessed to share the holy aspects of the life of the deceased. These are helps toward the hope of salvation. But the homily is not to take the form of a hagiographical canonization as the Catechism makes clear:
“The liturgy of the Word during funerals demands very careful preparation because the assembly present for the funeral may include some faithful who rarely attend the liturgy, and friends of the deceased who are not Christians. The homily in particular must "avoid the literary genre of funeral eulogy"189 and illumine the mystery of Christian death in the light of the risen Christ.” (CCC 1688)
Weddings and funerals are the occasions in which the vast majority of mankind intersects with the Catholic Church. It is for this reason that many perhaps mistakenly believe that there are only three songs in the entire Catholic repertoire: “Be Not Afraid”, “On Eagle’s Wings” and “Amazing Grace”. It is true that more people tend to sing when they have the words memorized.
One question occurs: why are we still cautioning people to “Be Not Afraid” while we are telling them in funeral homilies that everyone goes to heaven?
The role of the priest is to do what the Church does, commending all souls to the mercy of God:
“The Eucharistic Sacrifice. When the celebration takes place in church the Eucharist is the heart of the Paschal reality of Christian death.190 In the Eucharist, the Church expresses her efficacious communion with the departed: offering to the Father in the Holy Spirit the sacrifice of the death and resurrection of Christ, she asks to purify his child of his sins and their consequences, and to admit him to the Paschal fullness of the table of the Kingdom.191 It is by the Eucharist thus celebrated that the community of the faithful, especially the family of the deceased, learn to live in communion with the one who "has fallen asleep in the Lord," by communicating in the Body of Christ of which he is a living member and, then, by praying for him and with him.” (CCC 1689)
Note that priest on behalf of the deceased and the people asks God “to admit” the deceased into heaven.
I received good news in conversation following the liturgy. An acquaintance asked me for prayer, informing me that a young man was taking a high school equivalency test that day for mathematics as he had dropped out of a Catholic school. He was seeking admission to the seminary for a traditional order of priests. This after a priest on the staff had behaved inappropriately with him in the confessional, precipitating his departure from the school. This is just one of many miracles keeping the faith and sacramental grace alive in our time.
As many age out, the biological solution will bring some improvement to the quality of the life of prayer for our people. Many young candidates today are seeking ordination despite great scandal and many reasons for discouragement. Pray for them.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.
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