Have you been to a Catholic funeral? Like every funeral there are the deceased’s friends and loved ones who feel the pain of their loss. There is the final goodbye and some closure that will never be enough. They will be missed and the world feels somehow less with them no longer in it.
All certainly true, but that must NOT be the primary focus of their funeral. Nor is it remotely correct to canonize the person as a saint (“they are in heaven now,” “they are with the Lord,” or the wrong on several levels “they are an angel now”). That is for God to judge. In fact, if we assert that the person is in heaven then we deny any need to do what we actually can and should do: pray for them. Pray that they died in God’s friendship in final perseverance. Pray that they will soon be at true peace with Him.
We do this in the context of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The most sublime prayer we can offer to God, in the presence of His Son on the altar of sacrifice before us. We are joined by all the angels and saints in offering worship and thanksgiving to our most merciful judge.
Fr. Mike Schmitz just posted this piece on The Real Purpose of Funerals:
Here is the outstanding homily (begins around the 2:25 mark) by Fr. Paul Scalia given at his dad’s funeral Mass:
Finally, funeral homilies are also an opportunity to reach people who have fallen away or who are otherwise not fully embracing their faith (or may never have had it). The end of one such homily given by Msgr. Charles Pope is an excellent example: