Attending a Catholic Funeral

The Church of Christ/Christian Church slogan discussion will continue eventually. Sorry to keep putting you off.

I went to a friend's father's funeral today. I hope, if he reads this, I don't offend. I seem to be Mr. Offensive lately.

It was my first ever encounter with a Catholic service besides a wedding.

I thought it was a beautiful occassion. Very worshipful. Very reverent. A very pleasant good-bye.

Here are some of the things I really liked about the service.

First, it was mainly just a church service with a funeral thrown in. I would love for my funeral to be that way. Let God be glorified for who He is. Anything I have done or will do pales in comparison to His greatness, so let Him be the focus. I hope my life is the same way. I hope people see God through me.

I really enjoyed the songs. I was amazed at how solid the lyrics to the hymns were. They put the depth of the words to the songs I sing in church to shame. All of the hymns except one were Scripture set to music. The other one was a great quote from St. Francis. I wish I had it handy. It was tremendous.

In our efforts to turn our singing time into the most "authentic" worship experience we have the lost the importance of using lyrics to educate. There is nothing significant about our worship through songs to God. It is not superior to us loving the unloved, clothing the naked, visiting prisoners, housing the homeless, or feeding the hungry. It actually might be inferior to real loving actions done to other people. Sometimes the most worshipful things we can do are without the emotional high we expect to come from worshipping God. Our lives need to be a continual act of worship. When we live lives of worship we won't be dependent upon the Sunday mornings to give us that worshipful rush. In that environment it wouldn't seem so wrong to use some of our corporate singing for education rather than direct words to God.

I was also struck by the monotone speech the priest used. I thought he was a terrible speaker. After a while it hit me. Priests are probably trained to use a monotone voice so they do not bring any attention away from the message they are giving. They want the focus to be completely upon God.

Too often I give a sermon or a lesson and I want people to think that it was a great message. I try to be as creative and entertaining as possible. I try to give them something they will remember. That isn't the sense I received from the priest. He was just letting what God said stand out there without trying to draw any attention to himself. I liked that concept.

There was a heavy emphasis on Scripture throughout the whole service. Despite all the rumors, all the Catholic writings I have ever read seem to have a high regard for Scripture. Scripture wasn't just read to springboard onto a topic. Sometimes it was the only thing read. It was left there by itself to speak for itself. I liked that a lot. I think all of our churches could use a lot more Scripture reading and less interpretation of what we read during our services.

Now there were things that seemed strange to me, but I don't want to belittle someone's funeral. It was a beautiful experience. I'm glad I could be part of it. And it would benefit none of us to rip on Catholic teachings because the only Catholic who reads this on occasion is my aunt and possibly two friends. My aunt is a great woman who I feel is focused on doing the will of God. And my friends are two of the more loving people I know.

Maybe someday I will talk about why I am not Catholic, but this is not the occasion.

Watch out for the potholes.