Funeral Eucharist Abuses


#1

I was recently asked to be one of the altar boys at a funeral for someone at my parish who I did not know personally, but who was a very dear friend to my deceased grandmother. The widower really wanted us to serve, and serving is so easy so I decided to go and do it.

My brother and I were the two servers, and mass largely progressed as usual, except with some extra incense, prayers, and a few omissions and additions. The pastor gave a good homily (he’s a very good young priest) and then we had communion. To my great annoyance, I observed several of the deceased woman’s family members going up to receive communion and apparently they had no idea what they were supposed to do with the communion wafers. They looked confusedly around until they finally figured out they were supposed to eat it.

I confess myself very flustered and saddened by these events. It shows the decay of family/church tradition over generations, from a devout set of grandparents, to some lapse children, and finally a third generation of almost completely ignorant children. However, this whole issue of the desecration of the eucharist could easily have been avoided if my pastor had simply said something before communion or mass, or had left some slips of paper in the pews reminded the congregation of the rules of communion (namely that you shouldn’t take it if you just think it’s a snack to get you through the seventh inning).

I talked to my aunt after mass and she admitted that it was unorthodox but said it was fairly standard practice. I disagreed but didn’t argue with her.

What are the thoughts of the forum patrons? Should the priest have said something? Has anyone else seen something like this occur?

Also, following mass, the widower gave me a thank you note with some money, and one of the relatives also gave me some money, referring to it as a “tip”. Have any other altar servers experienced something like that? I thought it was odd and didn’t really feel like I deserve it.


#2

As far as the tip, this is fairly common practice for weddings, funerals and the like.


#3

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:2, topic:292783"]
As far as the tip, this is fairly common practice for weddings, funerals and the like.

[/quote]

**YES it may be a common practice - that does not make it good or even more so - moral.

UNLESS the priest is willing to speak about the reception of Holy Communion guidelines found in every music issue in the pews...every hardcover missal in the racks - before the Mass begins this practice will continue to be common.

As hard as this is .... it is on the soul of the priest if he does not openly verbalize the guidelines ahead of time. Esp if he knows his audience.**


#4

[quote="jmjconder, post:3, topic:292783"]
YES it may be a common practice - that does not make it good or even more so - moral./quote]
Wait, are you mixing two things together?

There is nothing wrong with giving an altar server a stipend for serving at a wedding or funeral. Often when my brother was a server it was the priest who did that but there's nothing wrong with the family who requested that altar server to express its thanks that way.

As for Communion, only once in my 58 years have I heard a priest give the 'only Catholics in a state of grace may receive Communion' and that was 2 years ago at Christmas when a visiting priest was serving our parish while our pastor was away to minister to the parish were he was Administrator. He did it sensitively too, saying "By receiving Communion we are saying that we are in full unity and believe all that the Church teaches. I'm sure there are people of other faiths present who would not wish to do that."

[/quote]


#5

[quote="Phemie, post:4, topic:292783"]


#6

[quote="jmjconder, post:5, topic:292783"]


#7

Our priests always give the Catholics only speech at weddings and funerals, but that doesn't seem to stop people.

We have had to resort to communion monitors who "assist" if there is any confusion.


#8

Our priests always say something like this, "We invite those in communion with the Church to receive the Eucharist. Other may come up for a blessing. You may of course just wish to remain in your seats."

I'm not starting the blessing debate, but it does avoid the reception of the Eucharist by those who shouldn't.


#9

When I was a young buy and served at the altar at my home parish, I would regularly receive a few dollars for serving at a funeral or wedding. I remember at the time thinking of it as an incentive, a bonus to give up an hour or so on a Saturday morning to serve Mass. That is not to say I was morbidly happy that people died (and thus needed funerals), or excited for the strangers getting married -- I just was glad to make a couple extra bucks.

In retrospect, that was the wrong attitude towards the money. (And there were a few times I wouldn't get "paid".)

I wouldn't call it a "tip" or a "fee". It was a gift from the family who were grateful for my service; no more, no less.


#10

[quote="PrincepsAuguste, post:1, topic:292783"]
Also, following mass, the widower gave me a thank you note with some money, and one of the relatives also gave me some money, referring to it as a "tip". Have any other altar servers experienced something like that? I thought it was odd and didn't really feel like I deserve it.

[/quote]

Yes, I often get $5.00 and a hug after Requiem Masses. I really only serve Requiem Masses, never weddings and hardly any Baptisms in the EF. If you don't feel like you should have it, just put it in the Poor Box and be done with it. No big deal.


#11

[quote="PrincepsAuguste, post:1, topic:292783"]
What are the thoughts of the forum patrons? Should the priest have said something? Has anyone else seen something like this occur?

[/quote]

You mentioned this was a young priest, so perhaps it is something he will have to consider and remember to anticipate at services where guests or fallen Catholics may be in attendance (weddings and funerals).

It is customary on such occasions for the priest to briefly mention the norms for reception of the Holy Eucharist. It's always a good practice, and a confident priest can do it politely in a manner that would not offend.

BTW - in the Eastern Churches, it is not the norm to have Mass (Divine Liturgy) for a funeral, although the Rite of Christian Burial can indeed be done with the Divine Liturgy. Simply doing the Rite of Christian Burial avoids such issues. Same is true at weddings, though sometimes our priests will offer pre-consecrated Holy Eucharist to the bride and groom only.

More than you wanted to know, perhaps ... ;)

Also, "tipping" the altar servers who go out of their way to serve the Lord and honor the dead is a gesture of gratitude and respect. You earned both! Keep doing what you do, and may God bless you abundantly!


#12

Any time there is likely to be a mix of practicing Catholics, non-practicing Catholics and non-Catholics the Priest or someone should indicate who is able to receive Communion.

It is not uncommon at all for Protestants that have no introduction to the Catholic church to understand that there is any difference about Catholic Communion and the Protestant Communion.

Plus in doing so, it tells those that are not Catholic that there is something different about the Catholic Communion and it receiving a blessing from a Priest may just lead to a conversion.


#13

I believe that the Church in her mission of mercy is much more forgiving of requirements during funeral Masses, and canonically offers Holy Communion to anyone who asks to receive it. It is not a desecration on the part of the Church to do so, nor is it a scandal or an abuse.


#14

[quote="Stylites, post:13, topic:292783"]
I believe that the Church in her mission of mercy is much more forgiving of requirements during funeral Masses, and canonically offers Holy Communion to anyone who asks to receive it. It is not a desecration on the part of the Church to do so, nor is it a scandal or an abuse.

[/quote]

:confused: including non-Catholics? perhaps even unbapitized persons in attendance?


#15

[quote="Stylites, post:13, topic:292783"]
I believe that the Church in her mission of mercy is much more forgiving of requirements during funeral Masses, and canonically offers Holy Communion to anyone who asks to receive it. It is not a desecration on the part of the Church to do so, nor is it a scandal or an abuse.

[/quote]

This is false.


#16

[quote="Stylites, post:13, topic:292783"]
I believe that the Church in her mission of mercy is much more forgiving of requirements during funeral Masses, and canonically offers Holy Communion to anyone who asks to receive it. It is not a desecration on the part of the Church to do so, nor is it a scandal or an abuse.

[/quote]

What??:confused:


#17

[quote="Stylites, post:13, topic:292783"]
I believe that the Church in her mission of mercy is much more forgiving of requirements during funeral Masses, and canonically offers Holy Communion to anyone who asks to receive it. It is not a desecration on the part of the Church to do so, nor is it a scandal or an abuse.

[/quote]

Can you possibly back this information up? I haven't seen this.


#18

[quote="triumphguy, post:8, topic:292783"]
Our priests always say something like this, "We invite those in communion with the Church to receive the Eucharist. Other may come up for a blessing. You may of course just wish to remain in your seats."

I'm not starting the blessing debate, but it does avoid the reception of the Eucharist by those who shouldn't.

[/quote]

I too have heard Priests say something similar, and it does clarify the situation.

DGB


#19

Father Tim would always say something. I hope that Monsignor is in the same ballpark with that. his other things he does during mass frightens me already. :eek:


#20

[quote="Stylites, post:13, topic:292783"]
I believe that the Church in her mission of mercy is much more forgiving of requirements during funeral Masses, and canonically offers Holy Communion to anyone who asks to receive it. It is not a desecration on the part of the Church to do so, nor is it a scandal or an abuse.

[/quote]

This is incorrect and is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. No one is offering it...the comments were made that there is obviously confusion about it. I don't think any priest would be happy to hear that or agree in any way.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.