Sunday, September 6, 2009

Father Rutler on Eulogies in the Liturgy

Before my brother and I concelebrated Mass with Father Rutler this morning in New York he said that our mutual friend Father Kiely had put a post up about an article of his entitled Speaking Well of the Dead which had been first published in November 1997 but which is now featured at the blog.

It could have been written with the recent funeral of Senator Edward Kennedy in mind. Here is how it begins:

On July 29, 1997, a representative philosophe of our abortion culture, retired Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, was lavishly eulogized in St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where the Requiem Mass for President Kennedy had been sung in 1963. Richard Cardinal Cushing was relatively constrained back then, because liturgical depredations had not yet switched into high gear. It was not thus when President Clinton, who vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortions, was permitted to announce to all corners of the cathedral for consumption in all corners of the world: "Brennan's America is America at its best." That is, internecine America is at its best with 39 million fewer children than would have been born were it not for Brennan's eisegesis of the Constitution. Attorney General Janet Reno later said in a speech to the American Bar Association that the honors paid to Brennan in St. Matthew's Cathedral inspired her to go on.

Father Rutler preached at some length - the people expect this - about St Gregory the Great, the Apostle of the English, kindly referring to us as Angels joining him on the sanctuary with reference to St Gregory's comment that the fair haired slaves he had seen in the Roman market place were not Angles but Angels (non angli sed angeli). Father Rutler has in his church a fine copy of Holbein's portrait of St Thomas More, the original of which is a few blocks up the road at the Frick Collection.

He is the patron saint of all those in public office. His intercession is very much needed.


  1. "Before my bother and I concelebrated "

    Once a kid brother... :-D

    I liked Fr. Rutler's quoted Shakespeare line about "fawning spaniel." Which is exactly how the media in this country act in regards to proabortion "catholics."

    I was dissapointed the Cardinal went to TK's funeral. He should have stayed away.

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  3. I think the point of Fr Rutler's essay is precisely the folly of making human judgements which all to frequently occur in eulogies and homilies at funerals. It is far safer to say we must pray for God's mercy upon the deceased than to say he is in heaven (and consequently in no need of our prayers.) As for the facts of Ted Kennedy's life, these are a matter of public record. To state them is not to judge but to acknowledge.

  4. To RC Social Democrat - A priest should always receive the title "Father" - so is is Father Rutler. This is to show respect to the priesthood which Our Lord Himself founded. In this the Year of the Priest, let us not forget to always show respect when addressing our priests.


  5. Father Rutler is an awesome preacher! I had the joy of hearing him a few years ago when he gave a parish mission in Menlo Park, California. He is a man of God that you just don't forget once you have met him. One thing I took away from his sermons: "We should always greet one another's guardian angels when we meet each other."
    This article he wrote is such a wonderful read and full of common sense.


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