Funeral Information : Guidelines for Eulogies
Catholics believe that at death “Life is changed, not ended.” Death is a passage to a new and fuller life, and ultimately to resurrection and eternal union with God. The Church emphasizes life in the funeral liturgy. The resurrection is the theme and the readings, hymns, and prayers reflect the overall tone of expectant joy. During the Catholic funeral we gather to pray for the repose of the soul of the one who has died, and to ask that God will strengthen and console family and friends. The priest and deacon are the principal presiders of this sacred action between God and humanity, as we pray for the beloved departed and for ourselves. The Funeral Mass is offered in intercession for the deceased person because we believe that God hears our prayers for the forgiveness of the sins of our deceased loved ones. We know that we are not alone, but are supported by God’s grace, by the community here on earth and by the communion of saints. At the funeral, we derive strength from our Christian faith, which provides the true consolation we find in the resurrection of Jesus, our source of hope in times of sorrow. Our attention is centered on Jesus, who speaks to us through the Scriptures, and who comes to us in the Holy Eucharist in our time of grief.
For some non-Catholic believers, the funeral can primarily be a time for remembrance and celebration of a person’s life. For Catholics, however, the intercession for the dead and the transition to eternal union with God are the central focus of the funeral liturgy. Nonetheless, sometimes people desire to have a eulogy, and local custom might call for one. A eulogy is a short tribute to the life of the deceased loved one, offered by a family member or close personal friend, who knows the deceased well. In cases where the family would like to have a eulogy, a member of the family should contact the priest or deacon to discuss this idea and begin the planning process with him. Here are few guidelines to follow:
- The best place for a eulogy is not in the church, but at the Prayer Service (Vigil or Wake Service) on the day or evening before the funeral.
- If a eulogy is to be given at the funeral it must follow Holy Communion.
- In either case, the family should indicate to the priest or deacon at the time of the funeral planning if they would like someone to deliver a eulogy.
- If a eulogy is to be given, it must be brief and must be submitted in writing to the priest or deacon at least 24 hours in advance of its deliverance. The priest or deacon is the guardian of the sacred liturgy, and needs to care for the integrity of the service and the reputation of the deceased. He has the right to edit or reject a suggested eulogy.
- A eulogy should be no more than one typed page. It should concentrate upon the life of the loved one, highlighting his or her virtues and qualities. Good taste and good humor are appropriate.
- Unlike the homily, which is delivered by an ordained priest or deacon at the funeral and pertains particularly to matters of faith and our common hope in the resurrection, the eulogy is not a time to quote scripture, to preach, instruct others in Christian living, or even to offer prayers. The eulogy is not an opportunity for a friend or family member to preach about their particular faith and beliefs, call others to conversion, or evangelize.
Please review the information available and contact us at the Parish Office at 740-363-4641 so we can answer your questions and assist you in identifying your preferences, thus assuring that the funeral ceremony captures our faith and hope in the resurrection as well as reflects your life or the life of a loved one as a disciple of Christ.