The policy in our diocese does not allow a eulogy to be given during a funeral Mass. If the family wishes to speak about their loved one it is suggested that this be done during visitation at the funeral home or during the reception following the Funeral Mass. Many people, already upset by the loss of a loved one are further disturbed by what they consider an unreasonable policy.
There are various practical reasons why eulogies are not desirable during Mass. Once you give someone a platform to speak, it is impossible to control what they are going to say and how long they will take to say it. Sometimes individuals will say things that are embarrassing, inappropriate, or contrary to our faith. Speaking at a funeral is a far more emotional ordeal than many people realize. Their voice often quivers and it is difficult to understand what they are saying. Sometimes they lose composure and are unable to complete their tribute. This is awkward for all involved.
These reasons – while enough to make a priest nervous – are not the most important. A eulogy is about remembering a life that is now past. A funeral is not about the past, it is about the present. As Christians we know that in death, “life is changed, not ended.” Our loved ones continue to live. They will now face judgment and will likely need purification. Since we love them, we want to help them. The greatest help we can give them is to pray for them and to offer Mass for them. This is the primary purpose of a funeral Mass – to offer the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to God our Father for our loved one, asking God forgive their sins and prepare them for eternal life.
Sharing stories about our loved ones is a healthy part of grieving their loss – but at the funeral Mass we are reminded that the story is not over yet! At the funeral Mass we not only assist our loved one in the present, we look with hope towards the future. As we listen to the Holy Scriptures, we realize that each person’s story is part of a bigger story – the story of God’s family. We hear again the promises God makes to his children. We pray in hope that these promises will be fulfilled, first for our loved one, but also for ourselves.