Milquetoast Sermons: Lost Opportunities


This is a bit of a rant post, or at least one written in disappointment.
I attended the funeral of a prominent local Catholic person this week. It was concelebrated by a number of high-up priests in the diocese, and the church was packed. Due to the deceased’s circles of influence, I’d say about a quarter to a third–perhaps more–of the people there were not Catholic. Many, I’m sure, had never attended a Catholic Mass before.
The readings, chosen by the family, were innocuous, as was the typical contemporary music (“Eagle’s Wings,” “I Will Raise You Up,” etc.)
The presiding priest’s sermon was one joke after another, commenting on the deceased’s fun loving nature. NEVER ONCE did the priest refer to the afterlife, belief in the Resurrection, or the need for prayer for the deceased. I came away so sad about a lost opportunity to catechize, even if in a simple manner. Not one word about Catholic beliefs!! I honestly don’t know where the minds and hearts of such priests are today.


It could have been the family’s wishes.


Perhaps his heart and mind was on the pastoral care of the family during this difficult time?


Are you close to the decedent? Maybe the reading were chosen by the priest, funeral director or the parish staff?

In any event, a funeral is pretty stressful to start with, the priest is a professional and knows what works the smoothest.


The readings, as I mentioned, were chosen by the family.


Plan your own funeral now, and make sure that you tell your family that you want the priest to be “fire & brimstone”.

Other than that, this was not your funeral, or even your family- no rant is necessary.


Very sad indeed. Pray for those clergy who celebrated that funeral Mass.


Sounds like someone needs to go down to the parish and volunteer to start changing things.
Jump in there!


You are right to be disappointed OP, as far as the homily is concerned. The homily at a funeral mass should not be a eulogy, but rather a reflection on the Church’s teaching on death, the afterlife, prayers for the repose of his/her soul, etc.


Actually, a rigid reading of the guidelines is to preach on the readings.
But really, what priest does not tailor his homily to the grieving?


Yep posted this already here but sharing in this post as well:


There’s nothing wrong with tailoring the homily to the grieving, in fact it should be as they’re the ones largely attending the mass, after all. The Church’s teachings regarding death, redemption, etc. can be used to uplift the grieving and give them hope for eternal life for the deceased. It doesn’t mean the homily should be a rundown of the deceased’s life story, accomplishments, or whatever. My mother died earlier this year, and the priest didn’t mention her, or anything specifically about her even once during his homily. He spoke on Jesus and how his death gave us all the chance for eternal life. It was beautiful and also relevant as it gave each of us something to think about concerning our own salvation.


I don’t think I get to go down there and "shake things up’ as someone suggested. I’m talking about the priest’s homily, and I’m not in a position to tell a priest what to say. I am rather lamenting the fact that this was a moment when a few words about Catholic beliefs in life after death and the hope of the resurrection would have gone a LONG way as a teaching moment. No one is talking about fire and brimstone.
“My people perish for lack of a vision.” This lack is palpable these days.


You are very right.


I must say, I agree with this. The idea that a funeral is a celebration of the deceased’s life is a presumptuous and rebarbative development, part of the self-aggrandising legacy of Modernism. The focus at a funeral, as at any Mass, should be squarely and firmly on Christ. The deceased person, as indeed all of creation, is only important in so far as he reflects Christ’s glory and love. If the family wanted a eulogy that apotheosised the deceased, they should have arranged for a Protestant service.


The nerve of those mourning people, and for the priest serving his flock, who offended your sensativities.


You mean the Catholic funeral rite wasn’t followed?

Or do you think no one listens to the actual prayers…you know, the lion’s share of what is said at a Catholic funeral? Do those “not count” for some reason, but only the homily?

It starts out like this…
Grant us, with all who have died in the hope of resurrection,
to have our consummation and bliss in thy eternal and everlasting glory,
and with the blessed Virgin Mary and all thy saints,
to receive the crown of life which thou dost promise to all
who share in the victory of thy Son Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.

(Sprinkling the coffin with holy water and then the celebrant says:)

With this water we call to mind [Name]’s baptism.
As Christ went through the deep waters of death for us,
so may he bring [Name] to the fullness of resurrection and life
with all the redeemed. Amen.

It just keeps going on and on and on like that…


Did you know this person personally, or did you just know of him / her?


I didn’t say anything about the prayers not “counting.” Why are you reading that into my post?


I knew him quite well. Why?

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