Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Today's funeral announcements in our local newspapers are certainly very positive, but sometimes in a way that poses a problem for those with a Catholic perspective.

Phrases such as "now rejoicing in heaven," applied to the deceased, if taken literally and not as a hopeful plea, take away the need for any prayers for the dead. If the deceased is certainly in heaven, all the official church prayers in the funeral liturgy are meaningless. Those prayers ask for mercy for the deceased; they ask that God give the deceased a share in eternal life. No need for that if we know for sure the deceased is in heaven.

I think, in many cases, families making funeral arrangements just follow a trend that was started sometime ago without realizing the theological implications.

Despite rampant secularization, Spain has a hard time shedding old, Catholic customs. And it shows in many of their funeral announcements which are thoroughly Catholic in their wording.

Take for example, Soledad's announcement above. The underlined phrase means, "Having received the holy sacraments." These sacraments would have been the Anointing of the Sick, and possibly also confession and Holy Communion had she been conscious and able to confess and receive communion.

In Ignacio's announcement, the family "requests a prayer for his soul" from the readers. (See underlined sentence.)

And Wenceslao's announcement (see underlined) says, "He died in a Christian way in Madrid."

This means that he died with the sacraments.

When my mother passed, I included the phrase that she died, "having received the consolation of the sacraments."

What a great example it would be if more of us followed this Catholic custom, still practiced by many Spaniards, to emphasize the value of the sacraments and to ask others to pray for the soul of the deceased.

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. 
(2 Maccabees 12:46)

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