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"Death is a private affair. A funeral is a public occasion. Grief is borne only by the immediate family and close friends, that little band of bereaved clustered round the remains. The funeral provides the liturgy where, for a brief interval, grief can be contained while the final separation takes place. It employs a language, chiselled out over centuries, to comfort the grief-stricken where ordinary words fail. Ritual, mcrcifully, accommodates private grief and public sympathy.

The funeral homily attempts to bridge that awesome gap, to make the private public and the public private, to give the bereaved the community's hope in the resurrection and to confront the community with the ultimate reality of individual death. It can be a time of great grace for all.

It is always a difficult time for the priest and minister. He or she runs the risk of intruding insensitively upon a family's grief or of meandering meaninglessly through cliched formalities.

Funerals, like death, are always unexpected. Priests and ministers often have no longer than the night before to prepare a homily. This collection should prove a useful resource for them, permitting them to draw upon a wide pastoral experience.

These are not ready-made homilies but reflective pieces by theologians, liturgists, scripture scholars, historians, journalists, broadcasters and authors. In the end each presider must give their own homily: each has their own rich ore to mine. These may help them to discover it.

"The funeral homily is one of the most difficult and challenging tasks that a preacher encounters. Very often preachers have little time to prepare a homily and may find themselves at 'a loss for words.' What does one say at this public occasion?

"Funeral Homilies is a collection of reflections written by theologians, liturgists, scripture scholars, historians, journalists and broadcasters. It is designed to assist the preacher in preparing a funeral homily. Each reflection is based on the lectionary readings and themes. Seven different occasions are considered:

"Ready-made homilies are not provided. However, this book offers reflections and themes to assist the preacher in designing a funeral homily. Funeral Homilies will prove to be a valuable preaching resource." - Liam Swords

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