Carolyn Lewis


In light of twenty-first century secularization, and with the liturgical revisions following the Second Vatican Council, some lament that the true eschatological doctrines of the Catholic faith are no longer evident in the Funeral Mass. This would then miscarry the axiom Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, exposing significant shortcomings within these liturgical revisions. This paper analyses the propers of the Funeral Mass, in order to assess which eschatological teachings are evident in those prayers. Examined first are the Christocentric salvific teachings, considering the hopeful Paschal focus of the Funeral Mass. Representations of the nature of the afterlife are then analysed, highlighting the hopeful language directed towards the belief in Heaven, and the inclusion of the doctrine of Hell, which is encompassed in the focus on judgement. Finally, petitions reflecting the need and hope for God’s mercy are demonstrated to be evident in these prayers, which in turn reflect that the primary purpose of the Funeral – to pray for the dead – is still reflected in the Propers of the Mass. Therefore, if the reality of the Christian eschatological message is still being lost in Funeral Masses, there is a strong pastoral responsibility for the clergy to ensure that these prayers for the repose of the souls of the deceased do not become secondary considerations, by providing both emotional support and theological guidance to the mourners.