A Funeral Homily: A Proclamation of Christ, not a Eulogy Cover Image

Homilia pogrzebowa: proklamacja Chrystusa, a nie pochwalna mowa żałobna
A Funeral Homily: A Proclamation of Christ, not a Eulogy

Author(s): Henryk Sławiński
Subject(s): Christian Theology and Religion
Published by: Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II - Wydział Teologii
Keywords: Funeral homily; proclamation of Christ; Christological meaning; biblical and liturgical texts; eulogy

Summary/Abstract: The article deals with the distinction between a eulogy and a funeral homily. Both are public speeches given in the existential context of bereavement after the death of an acquaintance, friend or loved one. Both serve an educational purpose in praising values visible in the life of the departed person that may be recommended to others in society. Yet an inherent difference between the two kinds of speeches is the liturgical context. This context is essential for the homily, which is part of the liturgy and draws its content from biblical and liturgical texts as well as in the teaching of the Church – not only from the biography of the departed person. By contrast, biographical references would be sufficient for a eulogy. The aim of the homily is not merely educational, but salvific. It brings consolation, surely, but it also helps the listener to encounter Christ present in the liturgical gathering. Furthermore, the homily is not concerned with praising the departed person, but with praising Christ the Lord. This Christological meaning and content is intrinsic to the homily, for Christ is the one who speaks through the homilist and it is Christ who is the main subject of the homily. The biography of the departed person is mentioned only in as much as it reflects the deeds and teaching of Christ. In pastoral praxis, the preacher should avoid two extremes: speaking about the departed person without connection to the Gospel and giving an explanation of the Gospel that is so universal as to omit any specific mention the deceased person. The homily is a gift to the bereaving community. Flowers of condolence wilt and fade, but the words of a good homily may remain for a long time in the memories of the bereaved.

  • Issue Year: 2011
  • Issue No: 15
  • Page Range: 119-134
  • Page Count: 15
  • Language: Polish