A Traditional Catholic funeral when there is no uncompromising priest available

Catholic Candle note: Recently, Catholic Candle published an article examining the special permission that the Church traditionally gives to a Catholic who is dying, which allows him to confess to a priest to whom he could not otherwise confess because that priest is an apostate, a sedevacantist, a compromiser, or had some other serious problem.  That article is here: http://www.catholiccandle.org/2020/03/26/using-a-compromised-priest-when-dying/

 

The article below is based on the authors’ experience of assisting at three Traditional Catholic funerals and burials without a priest, because we knew of (and know of) no uncompromising priest to help us.  It seems that funerals and burials without a priest might now become the usual method.  Truly, we seem to be in the time prophesied by Our Lady of La Salette when she predicted in 1846 that “the Church will be in eclipse.”[1]

 

However, it would be an error and overreaction to the evils of our present time, to rashly suppose that we have no pope and hierarchy (as bad as that pope and hierarchy are).  Catholics are not in a time without shepherds.  We are in a time of exceedingly bad shepherds.

 

Sedevacantism is wrong and is (material or formal) schism.  Catholic Candle is not sedevacantist.  On the contrary, we published a series of articles showing that sedevacantism is false (and also showing that former Pope Benedict is not still the pope).  Read the articles here: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/against-sedevacantism.html 

 

 

A Traditional Catholic funeral and burial when there is no uncompromising priest available

 

At our death, we would want a Traditional Requiem Mass, including the hymns of the requiem Mass.  This is good and reasonable.

 

 

We must avoid a compromise wake, funeral, and burial.

 

But God lovingly placed us in this time of Great Apostasy, for His greater glory and for our good.[2]  He does not want us to have a Requiem Mass for our funeral when no uncompromising priest is available.  Such a compromise funeral (viz., with a compromise priest) is a sin.  It would anger God if we were to use a compromising priest – through our rationalizing that “he is the best we can find” and that “we need our funeral Mass”.  Such compromises are sins for us and do not help our dearly departed.

 

If our loved ones told us while alive that they want a funeral which is, in reality, a compromise, we should not agree.  Further, after their death, we should not cooperate with their compromising plan.  This is like our obligation not to consent to their wish for cremation nor to cooperate in carrying out that wish.[3] 

 

Before our loved one died, he might not have understood why we must stand firm and refuse his wish for a compromise funeral and burial.  But after his death he will see we are correct and he will understand then.  Seeing more clearly after death, he would not want us to follow the sinful wishes he expressed while alive. 

 

Our relatives and friends might become upset because we remain firm in the Faith out of love for God.  If our relatives get angry, this might be a Providential opportunity for discussions through which they might learn the truth.  In any event, their negative reaction would be a Cross that our Dear Lord lovingly sends us for our good and for His greater glory.

 

 

The Natural Law[4] shows us the importance of conducting respectful, loving funerals for our dearly departed.

 

Our love for our dearly-departed and the Natural Law require us to respectfully, prayerfully bury them.  St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, describes the natural piety all men should have, which demands respect for the dead even on the natural level:

 

[I]f the dress of a father, or his ring, or anything he wore, be precious to his children, in proportion to the love they bore him, with how much more reason ought we to care for the bodies of those we love, which they wore far more closely and intimately than any clothing!  For the body is not an extraneous ornament or aid, but a part of man’s very nature.  And therefore, to the righteous of ancient times the last offices were piously rendered, and sepulchers provided for them, and obsequies celebrated; and they themselves, while yet alive, gave commandment to their sons about the burial.[5]

 

All civilized peoples honor their dead and treat the bodies of the dead respectfully.  Not only those persons who live the true Catholic Faith, but even the more civilized pagan peoples wish to keep alive the memory of their dearly departed, even though those same pagans flounder in great error, in other ways.

 

 

Our holy Faith elevates to a supernatural level our obsequies which are prompted by our love for our departed relatives and friends.

 

But our Holy Mother the Church does so much more than foster these natural attentions!  She is a true mother of Her children and She lovingly cares not only for their deceased bodies and their memories but more importantly, for their immortal souls.  Our Faith teaches us that at the moment of our death we are judged and our eternal destiny is fixed.  Although most people go to hell,[6] among those who save their souls most of them must endure the great sufferings of Purgatory. 

 

Holy Mother Church knows their great need and lovingly channels our grief into helping them in their plight.  The Church has us devote ourselves to praying for them.  This is a very consoling aspect of our holy Catholic Faith.

 

 

But what good can we do for our departed loved ones, without obtaining a Requiem Mass for them?

 

When we refuse to accept a Requiem Mass from a compromise priest or group, out of love for God, He will bless our loved one through other means instead.  For example, God has given incredible power to the Holy Rosary in our times since we do not have the Mass and sacraments.[7]

 

God is not abandoning us or our loved ones.  He is merely changing His means of sanctifying us and them, to fit the circumstances into which He lovingly put us. 

 

Out of love for God and the true Faith, Catholics must courageously stand against liberalism and compromise.  But God is never outdone in generosity and in His rewards!

 

Nor is it the first time in history, that faithful Catholics had to bury their dead without a priest and Requiem Mass.  Sometimes, physical persecution caused the absence of a good priest and Requiem Mass.  For example, God called Japanese Catholics to this condition for almost 300 years (1587-1873).[8]  At other times, the sheer expanse of great wilderness meant that faithful Catholics died and were buried without the assistance of a priest.[9]

 

 

How do we conduct a wake, funeral and burial of our loved one, without a priest?

 

Not all wakes, funerals and burials present the same extent of opportunities for our Catholic acts of piety.  Below, we briefly recount our recommendations, some of which are based on what we have done in past wakes, funerals and burials without a priest.  We add some additional recommendations that we will use in the future, according to circumstances.

 

After our loved one’s death, we plan the schedule and invite/announce the schedule in a manner similar to the customary way for any funeral and burial.  Everyone is welcome!  Praying together is an occasion to benefit from our Lord’s promise: “where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them”.[10] 

 

We recommend that you combine the wake/visitation and the funeral at the funeral home.  We have found funeral homes to be very accommodating.  Schedule the wake/visitation to occur first, leaving the appropriate number of hours based on the number of people you expect.  Schedule the funeral prayers at the end of that visitation.  Right after those funeral prayers, accompany the body in a funeral procession to the cemetery.

 

 

Funeral prayers

 

We have used the funeral home’s director to announce the beginning of the funeral prayers, similar to the customary way that funeral home directors have often announced that the recitation of the Rosary was about to begin at a wake.  Again, we have found funeral homes to be very accommodating. 

 

Recite the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.  Reason and Catholic Tradition show that the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are the fitting set of mysteries for a funeral, whereas the liberals and conciliar Catholics often use the Glorious Mysteries at a wake or the graveside (if they pray the rosary at all) to suggest that the deceased is already in glory and that everyone goes to heaven. 

 

The Sorrowful Mysteries fit with the other signs of sorrow the Church has customarily used on a funeral day, e.g., black is the liturgical color of the day, with ornaments removed from the altar or shrouded in penitential wrappings, purple is the color of the tabernacle veil, symbolizing penance.  Requiem Masses omit the Gloria and other signs of rejoicing.  Clearly, a wake or graveside is not the time for the Glorious Mysteries and for rejoicing.

 

In addition to the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, say such other prayers as are fitting, for example:

 

·         The Memorare (“Remember, Oh Most Gracious Virgin Mary…”)

 

·         The Hail Holy Queen

 

·         Oh God, Whose Only begotten Son

 

·         The St. Michael the Archangel prayer

 

·         Psalm 129

 

·         Psalm 50

 

·         Various invocations of St. Joseph, patron of a holy death

 

·         Eternal rest grant unto him (or her), Oh Lord …

 

The prayers listed above are the ones we have used to date (based on the length of the funeral prayers requested by the family of the dearly departed).  But perhaps in future funerals we will read the prayers of the requiem Mass.  This could be done slowly and prayerfully, in Latin – this works out surprisingly well.  Meanwhile, everyone else reads the translated prayers in his own missal.  Many of you might choose that the Mass prayers be read out loud in English, although reading them in the Roman Church’s own language (Latin) is a great idea and allows everyone else to use his own missal’s translation.

 

Another idea we have reserved for a possible future use is to have one of the men read a Traditional Catholic sermon for a funeral Mass or On Death, especially one from a Doctor of the Church.[11]  Such a sermon would be a good reminder and source of instruction for the faithful and would be a work of apostolate, “planting seeds” among non-Catholics and conciliar Catholics who are present.  

 

Don’t open the occasion up to everyone offering his own public prayers.  Do not allow people to ad lib “prayers”, protestant style, such as: “Lord, thank you for giving me those years playing basketball with [name]”.  Keep the prayers Catholic!  Keep them Traditional! 

 

In our times of great apostasy, the moral support and consolations from these prayers, which the bereaved family and friends experience, is similar to what customarily occurs at a Catholic funeral and burial.

 

 

Requiem hymns

 

Besides these traditional prayers, sing Traditional Catholic requiem hymns.  As St. Augustine assures us: “He who sings, prays twice.”[12]

 

Our Faith is wonderfully rich in traditional Catholic hymns, especially Gregorian Chant.  Challenge yourself!  Be generous and sing all of the verses.  Our Lord is never out-done in generosity!

 

If possible, put together a schola to sing some of the traditional funeral hymns, e.g., the Dies Irae and the Libera me from the Requiem Mass.  If you don’t know these hymns, then learn them now so you are ready!  They are beautiful and will prepare you to assist in this schola for future funerals “in the catacombs”. 

For the glory of God, if you are learning the requiem hymns, you can use the sheet music here: https://www.scribd.com/document/452943209/Requiem-Mass-Sheet-Music

You can practice these hymns by singing along with these recordings (linked below):

 

 

Gradual from the Requiem Mass

 

·         Audio recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZS23Z94NLM

 

·         Scrolling sheet music and recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zpHs8bf4k4

 

Tract from the Requiem Mass:

 

·         Scrolling sheet music and recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np_slIOn5Jk

 

·         Audio recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTJH-vbTY8Y

 

 

Dies Irae, the sequence of the Requiem Mass:

·         Audio recording: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Dies.irae.ogg

·         Alternate sheet music and recording: http://gregorian-chant-hymns.com/hymns-2/dies-ire.html

 

 

Libera me:

 

·         Audio recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2_pnxN-tes

 

·         Audio recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sI0gZkYFGk

 

 

In Paradisum:

 

·         Audio recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gu7mM_zqapA

 

·         Audio recording and scrolling sheet music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7F-N-Yd8dE

 

These are the Requiem hymns we have used in funerals to date. 

 

The above Catholic prayers and hymns give fitting and traditional channels for our grief.  No one knows how to grieve and to pay his last respects better than a Traditional Catholic.  The Church shows us how to do this – with these prayers and hymns.

 

 

No Eulogy

 

Do not give a eulogy!  Our goal at this funeral is primarily to do good to the deceased.  This means praying for the deceased, not praising him so that people suppose that the deceased does not need prayers, e.g., “He (or she) never said an unkind word in his life.” 

 

Likewise, we should never say the deceased is in heaven: “He is looking down from a better place, smiling upon us”.  That is un-Catholic! It sends the wrong message in three ways:

 

Ø  It falsifies the truth.  Despite our love for the deceased (and, perhaps, our personal admiration for him), we don’t know he is in heaven, so we should not suggest that we know he is there.

 

Ø  It tells people they should not pray for the deceased and he does not need prayers, since he is already in heaven.  For the same reason it is bad for us to say “let us pray for him in case he is not in heaven already.”  This suggests that praying for him is not very important because it is unlikely that he needs the prayers anyway. Some so-called “conservative” conciliar groups, such as the indult groups (including the N-SSPX[13]) incoherently say both that the person is in heaven and also that we should pray for him.[14]  This is not only inconsistent but is also contrary to what the deceased person now would want.  The deceased person does not now care that people think he was wonderful.  He wants and needs prayers for his repose!  Don’t work against what he needs by eulogizing him!

 

Ø  We are not exceptionally holy, nor are our deceased loved ones.  If we suggest by our eulogy that ordinary Catholics (like us and them) go straight to heaven (bypassing Purgatory) so that we know they are in heaven at the time of the funeral, it misleads people into falsely believing that it is easy to go straight to heaven.  Although all of us should explicitly have as our goal to be straight-to-heaven saints, this is difficult to accomplish (although a very worthy goal).  The great saints achieved this goal.  But we mislead people and falsify the difficulty of being straight-to-heaven saints when we suggest ordinary Catholics achieve this goal.

 

 

Burial at the cemetery

 

When the funeral procession arrives at the cemetery, recite the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary again, together, and lower the casket into the grave during the Rosary.  Remember, the Rosary is especially powerful in our times when uncompromising priests are unavailable to us.

 

Continue the Rosary while witnessing the dirt being placed in the hole.  Witnessing the burial itself serves to add further closure to the event and our grief. 

 

At one burial, we placed flowers on the casket before it was lowered into the ground (and before the start of the Rosary).  At another burial, we dropped flowers onto the casket as soon as it was lowered into the ground.  These are pleasing human gestures, symbolizing that our hearts are buried with our loved one’s body.  We used flowers we brought from the funeral.  You could use these gestures if you wish.

 

At two burials, we instructed the cemetery (ahead of time) to provide a pile of dirt and a shovel.  Then one of the men starts by placing a few shovels-full of dirt into the hole, then offering the shovel to other men (especially the close friends and relatives) to follow his example and place shovels of dirt into the hole.  This is literal participation in the Corporal Work of Mercy, To Bury the Dead

 

In our experience, the cemeteries have been very accommodating to these requests.  It is not necessary to continue this burial ceremony longer than you deem best.  The cemetery workers will complete the task. 

 

With the burial concluded, we find our souls consoled.  We have the satisfaction of having truly grieved in the way the Catholic Church wants us to grieve and knows we need to.

 

After leaving the cemetery, you can have a post-burial luncheon, as is customary in many places.

 

 

Additional reflections

 

Keep things organized.  Arrange ahead of time for one of the men to lead the prayers, with everyone else answering.  We have found that some conciliar Catholics join in answering too, praying with us, and even some protestants do also.  Although Catholics must never participate in non-Catholic prayer assemblies, the funeral we are describing is a Catholic funeral and the Church does not bar non-Catholics from joining in these Catholic prayers recited by Catholics at a Catholic event.[15]  This is no different than anytime in the history of the Church when a non-Catholic attended a Catholic wake or Catholic funeral or burial and joined in the public (Catholic) prayers recited there.

 

We find that this funeral and burial open up conversations afterwards, with non-Catholics and conciliar Catholics and provide opportunities to inform them about the Catholic Faith.  However, whether non-Catholics and conciliar Catholics react negatively or positively, this funeral and burial are a great opportunity to stand for Christ the King and live our Faith openly and fearlessly.

 

Of course, our attire for the funeral and burial should be our best funeral clothes (church clothes).   This is important.  It reminds us that what we are doing is important and is dedicated to God.  Our fallen human nature inclines to sloth and responds to this idea by saying “we know we’re speaking to God even without dressing up.”  True, but the proper clothes show the proper respect for the dead and, besides that, we need the help of this reminder.  This is just like it is important (and is the Catholic way) for a priest to dress like a priest even among persons who don’t need to be informed by what he wears, that he is a priest.

 

Proper attire also helps us give a good example to others, who often come to funerals in casual, torn and slovenly clothes.

 

Sprinkle holy water on the grave and the casket.

 

Select funeral cards and prayers which pertain to seeking mercy for the deceased.  Pick pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, of the Crucifixion, of the Agony in the Garden, etc.

 

Avoid all suggestion on the funeral card (in the picture and the text) that the deceased is known to be in heaven.  For example, do not select a resurrection picture for the funeral card.  Do not select a conciliar prayer for the back of the card.  Have the funeral card state when the person died, not when he “entered into eternal life” because “entering into eternal life” means he went to heaven.[16]

 

 

Conclusion

 

The best thing we can do for our deceased loved one, is to give him an uncompromising Traditional Catholic funeral and burial.  We must uphold the Faith and not succumb to the sentimentality or human respect of using a compromise priest or group because our dearly departed “needs his Requiem Mass”. 

 

The above article provides ideas how to conduct an uncompromising funeral and burial.  Many of these ideas have been successfully used in three funerals and burials.



[1]           This is a portion of the message of Our Lady of La Salette on September 19, 1846.  Of course, the Church will continue until the end of the world because She is indefectible.

[2]           “All things work together unto the good for those who love God.”  Romans, 8:28.

 

[4]           The Natural Law is what we know we must do by the light of the natural reason God gave us.  One example of the Natural Law is that we must never tell a lie.  We naturally know this because we know that the purpose of speech is to convey the truth and so we naturally know that telling a lie is abusing the purpose of speech. 

 

Here is how St. Thomas explains what the Natural Law is:

 

[L]aw, being a rule and measure, can be in a person in two ways: in one way, as in him that rules and measures; in another way, as in that which is ruled and measured, since a thing is ruled and measured, in so far as it partakes of the rule or measure.  Wherefore, since all things subject to Divine providence are ruled and measured by the eternal law, as was stated above [in Summa, Ia IIae, Q.91, a.1]; it is evident that all things partake somewhat of the eternal law, in so far as, namely, from its being imprinted on them, they derive their respective inclinations to their proper acts and ends.  Now among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident both for itself and for others.  Wherefore it has a share of the Eternal Reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper act and end: and this participation of the eternal law in the rational creature is called the natural law.  Hence the Psalmist after saying (Psalm 4:6): "Offer up the sacrifice of justice," as though someone asked what the works of justice are, adds: "Many say, Who showeth us good things?" in answer to which question he says: "The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us": thus implying that the light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the Divine light. It is therefore evident that the natural law is nothing else than the rational creature’s participation of the eternal law.

 

Summa, Ia IIae, Q.91, a.2, respondeo.

[5]           City of God, St. Augustine, Bk. 1, Ch. 13.

 

[6]           Our Lord tells us that most people go to hell.  For example:

 

Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.  How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!

 

St. Matthew’s Gospel, 7:13 (emphasis added).

 

See also, the sermon of St. Leonard of Port Maurice, On the Small Number of those who are Saved, in which he quotes a long string of Doctors of the Church and other sacred writers who teach that most people damn themselves.


[7]           There is an Increased Power of the Holy Rosary during the present Great Apostasy, when an uncompromising Requiem Mass is unavailable, at least in most places.  Sister Lucy, seer at Fatima, revealed to Fr. Fuentes:

 

God is giving two last remedies to the world: the Holy Rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  …  Prayer and sacrifice are the two means to save the world.  As for the Holy Rosary, Father, in these last times in which we are living, the Blessed Virgin has given a new efficacy to the praying of the Holy Rosary.  This in such a way that there is no problem that cannot be resolved by praying the Rosary, no matter how difficult it is – be it temporal or above all spiritual ….

 

Words of Sister Lucy, seer at Fatima, from her December 26, 1957 interview by Fr. Augustin Fuentes, vice-postulator of the cause of beatification for Francisco and Jacinta.  (Emphasis added.)  This interview can be found at: http://radtradthomist.chojnowski.me/2019/03/is-this-interview-that-caused-her.html


[8]           See, 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, article: Japanese Martyrs

 

[9]           For example, there was an acute priest shortage in the vast expanses of Ecuador in the 1800s.  Read about this here: Latin America, A Sketch of its Glorious Catholic Roots and a Snapshot of its Present, by the Editors of Quanta Cura Press, p.119, © 2016.


[10]         St. Matthew’s Gospel, 18:20.

[11]         St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s Preparation for Death would be an excellent source.

[12]         Although this quotation is very often attributed to St. Augustine, we cannot find where this quote is in his works in this exact form.  However, St. Augustine teaches the substance of this quote in his Commentary on the Psalms, Ps., 73, §1.

 

[13]         The N-SSPX is correctly counted among the indult groups because Pope Francis has given the liberal SSPX two indults: for confessions and marriages.

[14]         Read, e.g., the N-SSPX’s declaration that one of their deceased priests is known to have entered heaven on the day he died: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/priests/sspx-travels-the-conciliar-path-toward-promoting-universal-salvation.html

[15]         From the beginning of the Church, She has forbidden Her children to take part in ecumenical prayer groups with non-Catholics.  Pope Pius XI reflected this consistent prohibition when he declared:

 

So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ.

 

Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, January 6, 1928. ¶10. 

 

For more information regarding the Church’s prohibition on praying in ecumenical or non-Catholic assemblies, read Lumen Gentium Annotated, by Quanta Cura Press, p.141, footnote #147, © 2013, available at:

v  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B49oPuI54eEGbzRhdmQ3X0Z6RFE/view (free) and

v  https://scribd.com/doc/158994906 (free)

 

v  at Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/1492107476?tag=duckduckgo-ffab-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1 (sold at cost).

 

[16]         The phrase “Eternal Life” means heaven. For example, here are Our Lord’s words, when He is describing how at the Final Judgment, at the end of the world, everyone will go to either hell or heaven:

 

And these [viz., the wicked] shall go into eternal punishment: but the just, into

Eternal Life.

 

St. Matthew’s Gospel, 25:46 (emphasis added).

 

Here is another example of Eternal Life meaning heaven – i.e., the Beatific Vision which Our Lord describes here:

 

Now this is Eternal Life:  That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 

 

St. John’s Gospel, 17:3.

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