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  #1  
Old Jul 12, '10, 9:29 pm
samaritana samaritana is offline
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Default homily for vigil service

The order of Christian funerals includes a homily (not eulogy) for the vigil service, not just for the funeral mass. I have been trying to find information on how to write a homily for the vigil service, as I am part of a bereavement ministry where lay people often oversee the entire Vigil service. Where can I find resources to help me write a homily for the vigil?
  #2  
Old Jul 12, '10, 9:40 pm
benedictgal benedictgal is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by samaritana View Post
The order of Christian funerals includes a homily (not eulogy) for the vigil service, not just for the funeral mass. I have been trying to find information on how to write a homily for the vigil service, as I am part of a bereavement ministry where lay people often oversee the entire Vigil service. Where can I find resources to help me write a homily for the vigil?
Welcome to the forums. Unfortunately, you are not going to like my response, but, I cannot in good conscience lead you to do something that the Church does not condone unless there are extreme circumstances. Samaritana, contrary to what has probably been explained to you, and contrary to what you might read in succeeding posts, the laity should not be preaching a homily, nor, should they be leading the Vigil for the Deceased.. Now, inasmuch as it's great to be a part of the bereavement ministry, lay people really should not be overseeing the entire Vigil service. This is for the priest and/or deacon to do. Please note what Ecclesia de Mysterio states:

Quote:
Leading the Celebration at Funerals
In the present circumstances of growing dechristianization and of abandonment of religious practice, death and the time of obsequies can be one of the most opportune pastoral moments in which the ordained minister can meet with the non-practicing members of the faithful.

It is thus desirable that Priests and Deacons, even at some sacrifice to themselves, should preside personally at funeral rites in accordance with local custom, so as to pray for the dead and be close to their families, thus availing of an opportunity for appropriate evangelization.

The non-ordained faithful may lead the ecclesiastical obsequies provided that there is a true absence of sacred ministers and that they adhere to the prescribed liturgical norms. (111) Those so deputed should be well prepared both doctrinally and liturgically.
Unless you live in a remote area where there is that "true absence of sacred ministers", the priest and/or deacon should be doing this.

I was very upset when the funeral home did not secure a priest nor deacon for my grandmother's vigil. What I wound up having to do was to lead the rosary and that was it. I am neither a priest nor deacon. It would have been grossly ilicit for me to have "preached". Sadly, I have witnessed too many laity botch things up down here. What is sad, is that they are engaged in this particular "ministry" when there are a plethora of priests and deacons down here who are supposed to be doing the vigil.

Since a homily will be preached at the funeral Mass, there is no need for the laity to do anything other than pray. Again, the vigil falls to the priest and/or deacon to do.

Ecclesia de Mysterio, the precursor to Redemptionis Sacramentum, is an authoritative document of the Church and it is binding.
  #3  
Old Jul 12, '10, 9:43 pm
MarkThompson MarkThompson is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by samaritana View Post
The order of Christian funerals includes a homily (not eulogy) for the vigil service, not just for the funeral mass. I have been trying to find information on how to write a homily for the vigil service, as I am part of a bereavement ministry where lay people often oversee the entire Vigil service. Where can I find resources to help me write a homily for the vigil?
Are you with a parish? Talk to your priest -- especially an older priest; when they've done hundreds upon hundreds of funerals, they'll probably have some things to share with you.
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Old Jul 12, '10, 9:53 pm
benedictgal benedictgal is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Are you with a parish? Talk to your priest -- especially an older priest; when they've done hundreds upon hundreds of funerals, they'll probably have some things to share with you.
Mark, with all due respect, the OP should not be doing this. Ecclesia de Mysterio specificlly states that this is for the priest and/or deacon to do, unless there is a true absence of sacred ministers. Ecclesia de Mysterio is a binding document and has not been abrogated.
  #5  
Old Jul 12, '10, 9:56 pm
NewEnglandPriest NewEnglandPriest is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by benedictgal View Post
contrary to what you might read in succeeding posts, the laity should not be preaching a homily
You are correct that its not technically called a homily. However, the Order of Christian Funerals #27 does state, "Laypersons who preside at the funeral rites give an instruction on the readings."
  #6  
Old Jul 12, '10, 10:01 pm
MarkThompson MarkThompson is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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You are correct that its not technically called a homily. However, the Order of Christian Funerals #27 does state, "Laypersons who preside at the funeral rites give an instruction on the readings."
Thanks, that's what I thought but I didn't have the reference.
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Old Jul 12, '10, 10:03 pm
benedictgal benedictgal is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by NewEnglandPries View Post
You are correct that its not technically called a homily. However, the Order of Christian Funerals #27 does state, "Laypersons who preside at the funeral rites give an instruction on the readings."
However, Ecclesia de Mysterio notes that laity even doing this only applies when there is a true absence of sacred ministers.
  #8  
Old Jul 13, '10, 6:33 am
NewEnglandPriest NewEnglandPriest is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by benedictgal View Post
However, Ecclesia de Mysterio notes that laity even doing this only applies when there is a true absence of sacred ministers.
Well, if the priest or deacon isn't going to the wake then there's an absence of sacred ministers. Now one could certainly argue that the priest or deacon is in dereliction of duty but that's not the fault of the layperson who is simply trying to help out...
  #9  
Old Jul 13, '10, 7:45 am
benedictgal benedictgal is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by NewEnglandPries View Post
Well, if the priest or deacon isn't going to the wake then there's an absence of sacred ministers. Now one could certainly argue that the priest or deacon is in dereliction of duty but that's not the fault of the layperson who is simply trying to help out...
Not necessarily, Father. Down here, the funerals have taken it upon themselves to find clergy. In fact, one funeral home is co-owned by a deacon, who has actually done the services. Furthermore, the parishes will find substitute clergy for both the vigil and the funeral. So, unless the OP lives in a truly remote area, one can certainly find clergy.

The fact that clergy, whether deacons or priests, should be there is important. As Ecclesia de Mysterio notes:

Quote:
In the present circumstances of growing dechristianization and of abandonment of religious practice, death and the time of obsequies can be one of the most opportune pastoral moments in which the ordained minister can meet with the non-practicing members of the faithful.

It is thus desirable that Priests and Deacons, even at some sacrifice to themselves, should preside personally at funeral rites in accordance with local custom, so as to pray for the dead and be close to their families, thus availing of an opportunity for appropriate evangelization.
That is why, of all the sections in that document, it seems that the Church is most adamant about the funeral rites. Furthermore, the document notes "rites" in the plural, so as to encompass everything, from vigil to burial.
  #10  
Old Jul 13, '10, 8:55 am
SuscipeMeDomine SuscipeMeDomine is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by benedictgal View Post
Not necessarily, Father. Down here, the funerals have taken it upon themselves to find clergy. In fact, one funeral home is co-owned by a deacon, who has actually done the services. Furthermore, the parishes will find substitute clergy for both the vigil and the funeral. So, unless the OP lives in a truly remote area, one can certainly find clergy.
Must be nice "down there." But your experience is not universal. When my mother died, the clergy of her parish refused to do anything for the Vigil. Despite being staffed by two priests and two deacons, the best they had to offer was an EMHC to lead a rosary. Thanks but no thanks. I arranged the Vigil myself and it was led by a friend of mine.

It's so sad that at a time when a person really needed support from the Church it was completely lacking. I was blessed in having both my pastor and my spiritual director available during that difficult time. For the person who is a more marginal Catholic, there would have been no help at all at a time when it was greatly needed. It makes me grateful for my own parish where -- in addition to the priest -- there is a bereavement ministry to help the families.

Blessings to the OP for taking on this work of mercy.
  #11  
Old Jul 13, '10, 9:06 am
benedictgal benedictgal is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by SuscipeMeDomine View Post
Must be nice "down there." But your experience is not universal. When my mother died, the clergy of her parish refused to do anything for the Vigil. Despite being staffed by two priests and two deacons, the best they had to offer was an EMHC to lead a rosary. Thanks but no thanks. I arranged the Vigil myself and it was led by a friend of mine.

It's so sad that at a time when a person really needed support from the Church it was completely lacking. I was blessed in having both my pastor and my spiritual director available during that difficult time. For the person who is a more marginal Catholic, there would have been no help at all at a time when it was greatly needed. It makes me grateful for my own parish where -- in addition to the priest -- there is a bereavement ministry to help the families.

Blessings to the OP for taking on this work of mercy.
But, your situation is precisely why the Church specifically states that priests and deacons should make themselves available, even at some sacrifice to themselves, in this particular instance. I cannot believe that in your area, with a plethora of clergy, none could be found to do this. Hopefully, with the new Archbishop, things will change.
  #12  
Old Jul 13, '10, 9:07 am
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twopekinguys twopekinguys is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

Benedictgal,

I have to agree with Susicpe, your experience is not universal. Different things happen in different areas.

Also, your own quote doesn't really say all that you want it to. (bolding mine)

"It is thus desirable that Priests and Deacons, even at some sacrifice to themselves, should preside personally at funeral rites in accordance with local custom, so as to pray for the dead and be close to their families, thus availing of an opportunity for appropriate evangelization."

Desirable does not mean mandatory, and then there is also the part "in accordance with local custom". Funeral customs can vary from state to state, country to country, etc.
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Old Jul 13, '10, 9:25 am
benedictgal benedictgal is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by twopekinguys View Post
Benedictgal,

I have to agree with Susicpe, your experience is not universal. Different things happen in different areas.

Also, your own quote doesn't really say all that you want it to. (bolding mine)

"It is thus desirable that Priests and Deacons, even at some sacrifice to themselves, should preside personally at funeral rites in accordance with local custom, so as to pray for the dead and be close to their families, thus availing of an opportunity for appropriate evangelization."

Desirable does not mean mandatory, and then there is also the part "in accordance with local custom". Funeral customs can vary from state to state, country to country, etc.
But, in an area such as where Susicpe is, there should be no problem in finding clergy. Now, if he were in some remote part of the world where clergy are hard to come by, I could understand that. However, the clergy, whether priests or deacons, should be available. What is so hard to understand about that? This is a key component of their ministry. The faithful should be the last resort if there is a true absence of sacred ministers.
  #14  
Old Jul 13, '10, 9:36 am
SuscipeMeDomine SuscipeMeDomine is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by benedictgal View Post
But, your situation is precisely why the Church specifically states that priests and deacons should make themselves available, even at some sacrifice to themselves, in this particular instance. I cannot believe that in your area, with a plethora of clergy, none could be found to do this. Hopefully, with the new Archbishop, things will change.
What a document says should happen may be very nice, but it doesn't mean that it does happen in practice.

Had my mother died in my area there would have been no problem. I know that my pastor would have been there. But she was buried from her parish and it was her clergy who were unavailable.

Yes, there may be a plethora of clergy, but what is it you expect people to do? Go from parish to parish hoping to find someone someplace who would go into another parish to lead a Vigil? That's not going to happen.

And frankly, I doubt most people would even question things. If the parish tells you that they will send someone to lead a rosary, then I think most people would say "oh...I guess that's what you do before the funeral" and leave it at that. It's troublemakers like me (and you ) who say "wait a minute...I want it done right." And then you do the best you can.
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Old Jul 13, '10, 9:41 am
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twopekinguys twopekinguys is offline
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Default Re: homily for vigil service

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Originally Posted by benedictgal View Post
But, in an area such as where Susicpe is, there should be no problem in finding clergy. Now, if he were in some remote part of the world where clergy are hard to come by, I could understand that. However, the clergy, whether priests or deacons, should be available. What is so hard to understand about that? This is a key component of their ministry. The faithful should be the last resort if there is a true absence of sacred ministers.
You have said it yourself, "should" be available. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

I notice that Susicpe is in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. That doesn't mean they are in the middle of LA. They could be a hundred miles away, and not have alot of clergy around.

I am in the Archdiocese of Chicago, but I am over 200 miles away. We don't have the clergy available that someone in Chicago would have.

In my parish for example, we have 3 priests, and 5 deacons, and they are spread so thin, it is unbelievable. So, yes, there will be times clergy is not available.

Also, let's not forget the portion of your quote regarding local customs. Everything isn't done the same way everywhere.
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