Soft Protestant Sophistry
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Regarding "Catholic Funeral Etiquette"|
I am writing to you in response to your articles dealing with Catholic Funeral Etiquette [here, here and here]. I am a follower of Jesus Christ - by that I mean that I make no claim to any denomination or church. I, like Luther, ascribe to the "sola scriptura" idea and believe that the Holy Spirit will provide me with insight and understanding if I truly seek it. I am obliged, however, to attend the funeral of a friend's mother, who was a practicing Catholic. This will, of course, include the Mass of Christian Burial. Having little experience with the Catholic rites, I began to look for information as to proper etiquette and conduct in such a case, and I came across your article.
I will confess, openly, I was disappointed in what I found. For a person who is purporting etiquette and civility, there seemed to be a great amount of incivility where non-Catholics were concerned. If I may, allow me to quote from the page itself:
"This sterile and sanitized attitude toward death seems very superficial to me. The cosmetic presentation of the dead disguises the reality of death. It reflects the Protestant spirit, which does not want to be reminded of the sternness and seriousness of death and each one’s mortality. The grim, somber face of death is disguised or completely effaced; only smiles, compliments and glowing eulogies are permitted at the “services.” Gone are the serious rejoinders to contemplate death daily, to be prepared for it, and to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased with the hope he merited eternal happiness."
Not only is that a glaring blanket-statement, but it's also quite untrue from my own experiences. I have been to the funerals of both believers AND unbelievers and in no case was it a case of "Gone are the serious rejoinders to contemplate death daily, to be prepared for it, and to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased with the hope he merited eternal happiness."
Every funeral I have attended included reminders that the person who died now is in eternity, as we all will be someday, and that it is necessary for us to use the time we have to look to the salvation of our souls and make sure we are at peace with God. I believe what you see as an avoidance of the "realities" of death - i.e. The grim, somber face of death is disguised or completely effaced; only smiles, compliments and glowing eulogies are permitted at the “services" - is instead an example of something that seems to be lacking from your page - compassion.
Tell me, how much of a picture of a loving Father will it paint to stand by the casket of a person who, as far as any of us know (since none of us know, certainly, what happens the moment after death, or what lengths God will go to, in His grace, to save someone) died apart from God and remind the parents of that fact? "Well, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I'm so sorry for your loss - I'm sorrier that your son died apart from God and was a drunken bum, and is in hell now." Lie to them? Certainly not. Assure them that he IS in Heaven even though everything you know points to the fact that he probably is not? Absolutely not. Remind them of those "grim realities" and, in doing so, push them further away from God by kicking them in their hour of grief? May God, literally, forbid.
I remember vividly standing at the casket of a girl who had taken her own life - at the time, the church I belonged to taught that suicide was a sin, and you were condemned for it - and being asked if she was in Heaven. I happened to be one of the only professing Christians there. All I could say honestly was, "I don't know." Sure, I could have told them the church's rules and probably found Scripture to back it up - but would that have been the compassionate, loving thing to do? I cannot picture Jesus doing that any more than I could picture Him nodding and saying "Yes, she is" when He knew full well chances are good she wasn't.
And by the way, they ARE services. They aren't "services," as though said with a nudge and wink because they aren't, really. They may not be in your opinion - but that's why it's your opinion.
It's not my wish to begin a lengthy argument with you on the subject of Catholicism vs. Protestantism. I have no interest in doing so, especially since from the overall tone of your article you do, indeed, appear to have a problem with Protestantism. It is possible you are writing from a different cultural perspective, and I acknowledge that. However, I did want to write to you to let you know how what you had posted may very well come across to other people - and may serve to only reinforce the lie that Satan tells them that the Church is just here to condemn you and that you're not "good enough" for them or for God.
For the death of an unbeliever, the service is used to remind all of us that death comes for us at some point and we need to be ready to meet God. For the death of the believer, it's a celebration and a time of joy to know they are in Heaven.
When we all get to Heaven, only one group will be there - those who believed in Christ and professed Him as Savior and Lord. It won't be Catholics here, Methodists here, and others here. We'll be one body, praising God for eternity because of what Christ did - not because of our own merits or how faithfully we followed any tradition established by man - no matter what church that tradition was formed in.
That's good enough for me.
Sincerely, yours in Christ,
Posted October 20, 2011
Related Topics of Interest
Catholic Funeral Etiquette - Part I
Catholic Funeral Etiquette - Part II
Catholic Funeral Etiquette - Part III
Heretical Loathing, Progressivist Exasperation
Pagan, Progressivist & Protestant Hate
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