Two days....two funerals


Yesterday, in a local Episcopal Church I attended the funeral of a lady who had passed away in her 80s after a short battle with cancer. She was a lovely lady, full of life and fun, she left instructions about her funeral and the hymns she wanted so the service was exactly how she wanted it.

Today I was singing at the funeral mass of a priest who has been resident in our parish for the last 20 years. He came to us as a retired priest to assist in the parish and until his health started to fail he was very active in the parish. He was a very well respected priest, over the years he held many positions including teaching at seminary and when Bl John Paul II visited Glasgow and said Mass in Bellahouston Park he was appointed as the MC. The funeral Mass was celebrated by Arch Bishop Tartaglia and amongst the 40+ priests concelebrating the brother of the priest was there. It was a beautiful funeral, very well attended and a fitting tribute to a wonderful man.

May they both rest in peace.

It occurred to me today that, although a fitting tribute and a lovely service, I felt there was something missing from yesterday's funeral. And not just that it wasn't Mass, there was something I couldn't quite put my finger on that made it feel....incomplete I suppose. Today after the funeral I didn't have the same feelings at all, and infact was discussing with others how lovely a funeral it had been and it really hit me the difference I felt between the two.

Just my general musings I suppose, but has anyone felt the same when attending a funeral at a church of another denomination?


Definitely, and the last funeral I attended was also at an Episcopalian church! It was like a Mass, but not like a Mass, and I found it confusing and unsatisfying.

The Protestant funerals I have attended have been memorial services, no casket present. They are just empty to me, although they seem helpful to the families.

I much prefer our rituals and sacraments.


My condolences on the passing of your friends.

I suspect your feelings of dissatisfaction are simply due to the fact that the non-Catholic services are not what you are accustomed to. When a Catholic thinks “funeral,” we think of a funeral mass. It works the other way too. A Methodist friend of mine from work who recently attended a Catholic funeral mass expressed the same feelings. She felt that “something was missing.” It wasn’t her idea of what a funeral is.


This is an email I received after a funeral at my parish:

“I walked away today with another experience within St. Teresa’s that left me thinking again (note: this is my thoughts as a Baptist) that Baptist faith is a lesser disciplined religion?!? Lazy religion is there such a thing? Beautiful service!”


As someone who also sings for funerals often, I think it does depend. There have been a couple Catholic funerals I cantored for which “felt” incomplete, as you put it. I believe part of it was probably with the people I had to deal with and less about the actual funeral mass.

Otherwise, almost every Catholic funeral I have cantored have felt complete, beautiful and moving. That said, this is the “feeling”, “emotional” side of human nature and I am admittedly more on the “feely”, “emotional” and “sensitive” side. (I’m an artist-musician. I can’t help it. lol!). Sometimes you can’t always depend on your feelings, though, and I have to careful with that. I suspect because I am a cradle Catholic and believe everything that the Church teaches, of course, it would feel more complete and real. I will say that the funerals of other denominations don’t leave me feeling incomplete, either. I respect their faiths and love/fervor for their faith. Some of these people at certain funerals have such a love of God I have not seen in Catholics. Of course, they don’t have the sacraments, so it might be incomplete in that regard, but I know that some Protestants who have attended Catholic funerals have thought the same way about Catholic funerals… felt lacking and incomplete, very rote. It’s what they are used to and how they worship the Lord.

I will say that I have become uneasy and sad when I’m working for a funeral and find out mid-way through it that the deceased was actually a Catholic who didn’t want a Catholic funeral and went non-denominational or with another denomination. It’s rare and most people don’t talk about it. But every once in a while you hear it mentioned in eulogies. The other funerals or services where it doesn’t really feel complete is when it is a secular funeral. They always just seem to be a hodge-podge of stuff and it usually isn’t that meaningful. But they are always very appreciative and moved whenever I sing for those. It’s like they are searching for something spiritual in the music (usually a sacred/religious song ironically.)


I do agree that I also prefer our rituals and sacraments, but I have done many Catholic memorial masses where there was no casket or urn present for whatever reason. So, for me, I think it is less about the deceased physical remains being there and more about the actual sacrament happening and the comfort these memorial masses give to those who are grieving.


What strikes me most about the way we relate to death is that there is a lot of hope. We pray for the soul of the deceased. Protestantism is so cold to me in its approach to death and the way they seem to forget about the deceased after the funeral.


Most protestant denominations teach that upon death one either goes to heaven or hell. Since there is no belief in purgatory, prayers for the dead are a waste of time. Their fate is already sealed. That said, I suspect that protestants have not forgotten about their deceased loved ones any more than Catholics have.

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