Question of the Week: July 7, 2015


QOW for FI

Our Question of the Week comes from our Facebook page and was asked by contributor Nelly Guajardo:

This week I accompanied my husband to a viewing. I honestly didn’t know what to do there. Most of the services I have attended have been Catholic, with a rosary, prayer, a eulogy. Never have I attended a service without a minister, deacon, pastor or clergy. My question: have you ever attended something similar? What did you do or what should a Catholic do?

Please share your answers and experiences in the comment box below.


About Author

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom of 3 young adults, and a Secular Franciscan. She is managing editor for Today's Catholic Teacher magazine and editor at Barb enjoys writing, cooking, and reading, and is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.


  1. I have several friends of different faith backgrounds, including several Jewish friends. I love attending their traditional celebrations (obviously in addition to–not as a replacement for–Mass). I’ve learned that it’s OK to ask questions about what I might expect and how to participate, but also just to err on the side of being lovingly respectful in their ceremonies (as I’d hope that they would be in ours). Being present for a loved one or friend at a time of loss can be a huge sign of love and will be greatly appreciated. Looking forward to hearing what others say!

  2. You mentioned a viewing, which in some areas are not the same as the funeral service. So hopefully I’m responding correctly. I have been to a few Protestant funerals, but they all had some type of pastor or leader of some type of program. I just had to sit in my seat and I followed along with any songs they sang together and bow my head reverently during prayer. To me, the key is to remember that I am there to show my support and respect and/or affection for the survivor, as well as to pray for the soul of the deceased. They might not have any prayers for the deceased because the assume the person went straight to heaven – and I never contradict that to mention the chance of purgatory ( or worse -eek!), but I try to pray silently for the deceased while I am at the service. There has never been any liturgical action that is contrary to my Catholic faith – like a distribution of “communion.” But if there were, than I would respectfully and hopefully graciously avoid following along with it.

  3. I’ve attended a few viewings with no minister, clergy, etc.. I paid my respects to the family and then stood by the coffin and prayed silently. Then I sat down and either spoke quietly with others, prayed, looked at pictures or video (that’s a common practice in our area, Catholics and non-Catholics alike). Basically I did whatever the folks around me were doing. Often a family member will get up to read something or sing a song or maybe even lead the group in prayer. It can be uncomfortable, because of the unknown factor, but it is beautiful to honor those who have died.

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