Antonin Scalia's letter to a Presbyterian Minister about Funerals and preaching

In my aging years, I have attended so many funerals of prominent people that I consider myself a connoisseur of the genre. When the deceased and his family are nonbelievers, of course, there is not much to be said except praise for the departed who is no more. But even in Christian services conducted for deceased Christians , I am surprised at how often eulogy is the centerpiece of the service, rather than (as it was in your church) the Resurrection of Christ, and the eternal life which follows from that. I am told that, in Roman Catholic canon law, encomiums at funeral Masses are not permitted””though if that is the rule, I have never seen it observed except in the breach. I have always thought there is much to be said for such a prohibition, not only because it spares from embarrassment or dissembling those of us about whom little good can truthfully be said, but also because, even when the deceased was an admirable person””indeed, especially when the deceased was an admirable person””praise for his virtues can cause us to forget that we are praying for, and giving thanks for, God’s inexplicable mercy to a sinner.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

One comment on “Antonin Scalia's letter to a Presbyterian Minister about Funerals and preaching

  1. Already Gone says:

    Thanks for posting this. Justice Scalia’s funeral was a model for how to conduct one. Fr. Scalia’s homily was one of the best I’ve ever heard for a funeral.