The other day I was reading somewhere how eulogies and sometimes homilies at funerals speak of the deceased as being in a better place, praising the deceased for his works, his success and accomplishments, while extolling his fun-loving spirit, and so on. Funerals have become a celebration of life, a minor canonization - because most people now believe everyone goes straight to a better place, heaven.
Some people complain about that notion. For Catholics, that isn't good of course. We need prayers after we are dead - so don't forget us - please.
On the other hand - the point of the post I was reading was that just being nice isn't the same as being holy - or good. Bad people can be nice - that is true. I'm not criticizing the post here, nor the fundamental idea of it, but I couldn't help be reminded of what I have noticed in the obituaries of late. Indeed people are praised to the heavens, and they now plan and schedule really fun wakes - or celebrations of the deceased person's life. Yet very few obits mention religious funerals or memorial services - just internment at a cemetery - and not always that. Is it a loss of faith? I don't think so - at least not always.
One priest once suggested that it was because baby boomers aren't religious, so they do not see to it that their parents have a traditional funeral - or, the deceased may have failed to provide for one. Others attribute the lack of a religious funeral to a 'who needs it' attitude by people who think everyone goes straight to a better place. Some see it as a great expense and a waste of money. Some seem to have no need for the Church or a priest... yet they believe in God.
What to do? Rather than worry about people confusing nice with goodness, or kindness with love - maybe priests should try to round up the faithful before they die, so they can prepare them for eternity, to plan and have a real funeral when they die, and arrange for prayers to be said for the repose of their soul. Maybe if they welcome the 'ignorant' before death, even the ones who can't make the 'stole-fee' or measure up to the standards of perfection, maybe these folks would then feel more 'presentable', or at least 'eligible' for a Catholic funeral?
Unless of course, someone comes forward to protest and demand so and so not be given a Catholic funeral because he's a filthy sinner.
I wonder if that could be a reason why some Catholics don't have funerals anymore? (Aside from the expense.) Perhaps they are afraid they are not holy enough? That they'll be rejected?
If that is the case, it's no wonder some priests can't figure out what Pope Francis meant when he said:
“Ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people,” he stressed, stating that it is because of this that many are distanced from the Church.
“It is a serious illness, this Christian ideology. It is an illness, but it is not new,” he said, recalling how the Apostle John alludes to this mentality in his first letter.
Pope Francis then emphasized that the attitude of those who lose their faith in preference of personal ideologies is “rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness.” - Pope Francis
Be kind to one another.
People seem to respond to that.