WEFOUNDa catholic funeral homily beatitudes


Question: Recently, I attended the funeral of someone who had committed suicide. The fact of the suicide was never mentioned during the homily or other parts of the Mass. Was this approach appropriate? It seemed like no one was facing reality. 

Answer: Facing reality does not tend to come easily to everyone — even including homilists at funerals. In my experience, it is pastorally appropriate to mention in the homily the fact that the deceased person committed suicide. Otherwise, there is, as you say, a sense of unreality about the funeral. 

A funeral homily is not the time to go into the fact that suicide is not morally acceptable. But it is a time to make clear that suicide does not automatically exclude the deceased person from God’s saving grace. 

Question: Recently, I attended the funeral of someone who had committed suicide. The fact of the suicide was never mentioned during the homily or other parts of the Mass. Was this approach appropriate? It seemed like no one was facing reality. 

Answer: Facing reality does not tend to come easily to everyone — even including homilists at funerals. In my experience, it is pastorally appropriate to mention in the homily the fact that the deceased person committed suicide. Otherwise, there is, as you say, a sense of unreality about the funeral. 

A funeral homily is not the time to go into the fact that suicide is not morally acceptable. But it is a time to make clear that suicide does not automatically exclude the deceased person from God’s saving grace. 

The news that Flo had passed away came to me through a phone call.  Once that brief but significant conversation was over, a couple odd thoughts passed through my mind.

One of them was that Flo had died in her prime.  Usually we imagine somebody’s prime as a period much earlier than their late eighties, but perhaps this is just prejudice.  Whatever it was like for Flo earlier in her life, I would say that her final years were part of her prime.  After all, she was happy, she was relatively healthy, and she was enjoying her life.  She exercised a positive influence on the people around her.  That sounds to me like the prime of life.

Another thought that passed through my mind probably mirrored the lyrics of a vintage pop song.  Flo was somebody who lived until she died.  She did not die in spirit and then continue on for decades after that, as some people appear to do.  Instead, she was alive in spirit all the time she was alive in the body.  She lived until she died.  And the claim of Christian faith is that, by God’s gift, she continues to live.


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