Preparing a Funeral Mass
"I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
WHOEVER BELIEVES IN ME WILL LIVE FOREVER"
Order of Christian Funerals:
1. Every Catholic, unless specifically excluded by the norms of the law, is entitled to the Church's ministry at the time of death: that is, the vigil for the deceased, the Funeral Mass and the Rite of Committal. The Funeral Mass is normaly celebrated in the Church of the Parish to which the deceased belonged.
2. Non-Catholics, if they so desire and under certain curcumstances, may be given ecclesiatical burial.
3. The Funeral Mass is the central element of Catholic Funerals. When survivors hesitate to request a Mass, they should consult the Priest for an explanation that the Funeral Mass is a prayer for God's mercy for the deceased and a solace for the living.
There are five parts to the liturgy at the Church:
1. INTRIDUCTORY RITE:
This is where the Priest greets the casket at the entrance of the church and performs the sprinkiling of Holy Water. Then the Pall is placed over the casket in preparation for Funeral Mass. Procession ensues up the main isle with the family and friends following the casket.
2. LITURGY OF THE WORD:
The Church offers us the opportunity to hear three readings from Sacred Scripture. One reading is customarily from the Hebrew Scriptures (the old Testament), one reading from the New Testament (the Epistles) and a Gospel selection.
It is appropriate to have members of the family or friends read from Sacred Scripture. It is preferable to have a different reader for each of the first two readings. The priest will select all appropriate readings and proclaim the Gospel.
The homily follows the readings and is given by the priest or deacon. If you have any particular suggestions to offer in this regard, please share them with the office.
The homily,while it is personalized for the deceased, a family member or friend may offer some brief remarks of a more personal nature toward the end of the Funeral Mass.
After the homily, we have the General Intercessions or Prayer of the Faithful. You may also have a family member or friend offer the prayers if you so choose.
3. LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
Two family members are invited to bring the gifts of bread and wine to the priest
The usual order of Mass is followed. After the Eucharistic Prayer, we recite the Lord’s Prayer, we exchange a sign of peace and are offered Communion. Any Catholic in good standing with the Church is invited to receive Communion by coming up the center aisle.
Sometimes a family member may wish to say a few words about the deceased before the Final Commendation. By no means is this required. A dignified, brief memorial no more than 5 minutes to the deceased can be offered, the speaker must submit a copy of the text to the priest beforehand. The person giving the eulogy must be a member of the Catholic Church. It is not appropriate for former or non-Catholics to exercise this role.
4. FINAL COMMENDATION:
After a brief invitation to prayer there is a period of silence, the body is incensed and a prayer of commendation is offered. The priest and assisting ministers precede the casket; the family and friends follow. The pall and any Christian symbol are removed by the Funeral Director at the door.
5. PROCESSION TO PLACE OF COMMITTAL:
The Church encourages the burial of Catholics in Catholic cemeteries (Canon 1180.1). Burial in the consecrated ground of a Catholic Cemetery is a sign of baptismal commitment and gives witness, even death, to faith in Christ's Resurrection
Out of great reverence for the body, the Church urges that it be present in church for the Funeral Mass. Therefore, it is recommended that cremation follow the funeral. If, however, cremation precedes the Mass, it is permitted that the cremated remains of the deceased be present in church during the Funeral Mass.
Cremated remains should be buried or entombed in accord with the tradition of burying the dead. The practice of scattering cremated remains or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased are not reverent disposition the Church requires.