Permission denied to attend funeral


I have been visiting and next week will be entering as an aspirant in the secular order of discalced carmelites next week. The day I would be welcomed is the day of a family funeral. How does one explain not attending the funeral to the family who is a different faith?

Backround she was 93 and my husbands mother in law by his first (deceased) wife. The only family that will be there is her son, and 3 of her grandchildren. I have not maintained close contact with them after the death of my husband however I did visit/call the woman who passed. The family all excused themselves from attending my husbands funeral (yes I was alone at the funeral except for some church members I had just met). There was not animosity they just had other things to do. I do not harbor ill will but it could be perceived this way especially if they do not understand the vocation I am entering. Yes I would very much like to go but the person directing my formation does not feel it’s in my best interest to attend. Carmel comes first and everything else needs to fit around it. I expect these types of situations will be easier as I draw closer to Him.


Are you preparing for the vow of poverty?


I don’t think you need to explain to the family if they all skipped your husband’s funeral and you were not a close friend of theirs. Send a nice sympathy card and explain that due to a previous long-standing commitment you regret that you are unable to attend.


I’m sorry, but that right there . . . But since you seem to be wanting to take a higher road than they did, is there a visitation the evening before that you could go to?


I’m just starting this journey. I enter into the the first step, discernment, on Saturday. Several years from now if the community accepts me I would make the promises of chastity, obedience, poverty, and the Beatitudes according to the constitutions.

Two of the grandchildren are my husbands children. The deceased son was my husbands brother in law. I’ll have to call them today and am struggling to find the right words. She was a good woman and a comfort to me when I lost my husband. It will be difficult for me to not attend.


Burying the dead is one of the corporal works of mercy. It’s a way we bring Christ into the world in a practical way.

A funeral is a one-time event. I would always regret missing my opportunity to attend this woman’s funeral. I think the person advising you is leading you astray.


As stated below, to bury the dead is one of the works of mercy. The Scripture you speak of does not mean to just ignore funerals (not at all what the OP is doing, she has a prior commitment which cannot be re-scheduled).


I highly doubt the bereaved will be particularly upset if they don’t see the second wife of the deceased’s daughter’s widow, but I imagine it is hard in general to not be able to pay your respects when you want to. I found out my uncle passed away unexpectedly when I was en route to school in another city. There was literally no way for me to get back for his funeral and I felt horrible because I loved him and my aunt and cousins very much and wanted so much to be there to support them. If it’s possible to attend the wake, then by all means do that. Then send your condolences in the form of a bouquet, a donation, or even a Mass said for the deceased. I suspect such a token will be appreciated just as much as your actual attendance.


That’s an idea. It will be a committal service at a national cemetery. There will not be a wake but I’ll ask if they would like to get together the evening before.

Yes they were not there for me but they are still my husbands children and I pray for them. I did have a fondness for their grandmother. I never shared how hurtful it was to not have their support that day or during his illness. They were not raised in the Catholic faith. I choose to meet them where they are at and ask the Holy Spirit to open their hearts.


Sounds reasonable.

Bear’s suggestion to send a card and perhaps some flowers is also a good response.


Trust your formator. This is a test of your willingness to enter into obedience. Sending a card, flowers, maybe a condolence call - all these are appropriate.


Ah, but you can offer fervent prayer for the repose of her soul - prayer that might not otherwise be offered. You have made a life-changing decision, out of the conviction of your conscience, to serve God. That takes you out of circulation for the sake of eternal benefit.

If you were in the Peace Corps in Africa or Asia, would they expect you to attend?

Pursuing your vocation - your answer to God’s call - is more important, and I only hope that they understand.


You’re entering a secular, as in third Order, situation, and they told you that you can’t attend a family funeral? I’m admittedly flabbergasted to hear such a thing. I’d double check with the Provincial about that. When I had our group in Knoxville, I never put such a burden on the membership.

The Holy Ghost works on attraction. Which bit of advice pulls more?

Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican



This is the guidance from the formation leader. She shared that while going to a funeral or other religious activities/devotions are not bad Carmel must come first. She said I could I could pray for her soul and pay my respects in other ways but the first Saturday is reserved. She did add that had I been farther on my journey and not just starting it would be different. For now I must focus on learning the spirituality & the commitments. It is also an important time for myself and the community to get to know one another to see if a bond will form and discern the call. There are not as many ways to show obedience in a third order so as a previous poster mentioned it may be a test. I am in the process of stepping away from another obligation in my church and I will have to skip attendance where my presence was requested by my Deacon and already missed one from my Pastor for this vocation. It’s not easy but I didn’t expect it to be. I will follow the guidance of the order as I did pray for God to bring people into my life that would lead me closer to him. This is where He brought me. My husbands children will not be there for me (no animosity they just are busy & have different priorities) but I would not want to cause them offence. As they did not attend their Fathers funeral my not attending their grandmothers funeral could be perceived poorly. It’s not a question of attending or not but how to share this decision in the most compassionate and respectful way.


Why not explain you need to post phone your aspirancy to attend a funeral of someone who meant something to you. Burying the dead is an act of mercy.


I am too. I am an Aspirant, never would my community demand this of anyone.


while I agree with the formator that Carmel is important as a member of a third order you are not entering a monastery or a convent. In this case I think that this person is out of line telling you that you should not go to the funeral of a family member. I realize that attendance at meetings in very important for the Third Order Carmelite vocation and these meetings should be prioritized. However a death in the family or a sick child or something similar should call for an exception to the rule.


St Albert of Jerusalem himself said “Charity has no law”. I’m wanting to say that he said that in the Carmelite rule itself.

I would try to see it from the family’s point of view. You’re missing something because of a religious rule they don’t know anything about, so it will come across as elitist. I think it would be a greater scandal not to attend the funeral.

And if that puts your relationship with the fraternity in jeapordy, so be it. As I said previously, their attitude doesn’t sound good to begin with.

Another thought is that they are giving you an “out” just in case you didn’t want to attend.


I have a SIL that is a third order Carmelite, and they would never ask her to miss a funeral. It is a secular group, which means that you still have secular obligations and duties for your state in life – obligations and duties that God wishes you to fulfill.


Could you call in sick?

OK. Are you becoming nun? If I am correct if you are going into a third order, it is not the same as being a nun. I joined the Secular Franciscans a long time ago, and they did not expect me to obey their dictates. I was at the time married with a small child.

I heard the Carmelites are very strict, even to where you need permission to get married (secular order).

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