The Christian funeral liturgy tells us that life is changed, not ended. Funerals are acts of faith. Jesus, who walks with us through all our other events in life, is present at our funerals, the liturgy of the passage from death to eternal life. Arrangements for a funeral should include a Mass and burial in a Catholic cemetery whenever possible.
It is preferable that the body be buried in a cemetery or columbarium (repository for cremated remains) consecrated for this purpose. We bury the body or the cremated remains of a person once washed with baptismal water, anointed with the oils of Confirmation and the Sacrament of the Sick, and nourished by the Eucharist.
In recent years, the Catholic Church has lifted the prohibition against the practice of cremation and has revised the rites for services with cremated remains. While the church favors cremation after the funeral liturgy, it realizes that financial constraints or other circumstances may result in the desire for cremation before the funeral service. The cremated remains can be brought into the church for the Funeral Mass. Typically, the priest or deacon will accompany the cremated remains to the cemetery for committal after the funeral. It is possible to have a picture of the deceased placed in the entrance of the church or near the cremains.
Whenever a Catholic is cremated, the remains are to be treated as if they were a body; not mixed or scattered. The cremated remains should be interred in a burial grave, columbarium, or mausoleum.
Times for Funeral Masses:
Funeral Masses are normally held Monday through Friday at 11am. Saturday Funerals are permitted keeping in mind Confession (3pm) and Mass times (4pm and 7pm). Sundays funerals can be considered under certain conditions. Funerals cannot be held on Holy Days of Obligation, on Holy Thursday and the Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and on the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and the Sundays from Easter to Pentecost.
A basic outline of a Catholic Funeral Liturgy:
Sprinkling with Holy Water & placing of Pall (cloth) on Casket
Responsorial Psalm read or sung as a Hymn/Music
Prayer of the Faithful/Petitions/Intercessions
Four added parts if the Funeral Liturgy is with Mass:
Presentation of Gifts (omitted during the Covid-19 Crisis)
Incensing the casket/urn with Prayers/Song of Farewell
Final Commendation (farewell)
The Funeral liturgy has the following sequence:
The priest greets those gathered and sprinkles the casket with holy water as a reminder of our Baptism. The casket is then covered with the white funeral pall, a symbol of the new life in the resurrection which we received at the time of our Baptism. If the family wishes, members may unfold the pall and place it over the casket. (If cremation has taken place before the funeral, the placing of the pall is omitted.) This is followed by the opening prayer.
Liturgy of the Word
During this part of the Mass, the first reading is chosen from the Old Testament (during Easter Time New Testament).
Between the first and second readings a Responsorial Psalm is sung or recited.
The second reading is chosen from New Testament is read.
The Gospel is usually selected by the priest (unless the deceased or family has one specifically chosen), and is proclaimed by the deacon or priest.
The family is also welcomed to assist with the General Intercessions, otherwise the Deacon will say them. (The intercessions can be found on page 30)
If you would like, you may have family members or friends proclaim the first and second readings. Keep in mind that if you choose someone to proclaim the scriptures, they should be familiar and comfortable with proclaiming God’s Word in church. It is also important to remember the emotional nature of the funeral may make it difficult for some to do this. Please know that the priest and trained parish staff are ready to help you with this task.
Some families ask about the possibility of using a reading from sources other than the Scriptures. These are best used outside of the liturgy, perhaps at the funeral home or the cemetery.
Liturgy of the Eucharist During the preparation rite, family members may present the gifts of bread and wine to be consecrated during the Mass. The gifts are located on a small table located behind the last pew of the church.
If you chose to receive Communion, please come down the center aisle and return to your seat by the side aisle. Those who do not receive Communion are invited to remain in their seats and spend time in prayerful communion with us or to come forward and ask for a blessing from a priest. This is indicated by crossing their hands to their chest as they walk toward the priest.
Words of Remembrance:
Sometimes a family member may wish to speak in remembrance of the deceased. This is done after Communion and before the final commendation. A person or persons may speak for three to five minutes. This would be an opportunity to speak of the deceased person’s own faith and how it inspired others by example. This is not a full eulogy, but a brief reflection proportionate to the other parts of the funeral rites.
In gesture and song we commend your loved one into the mercy of God. Incense is used as a sign and symbol of the sacredness of the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit during life and as a sign of our prayers and the spirit of the deceased rising up to heaven. Procession to the Place of Committal At the conclusion of the Liturgy, we sing a hymn and form a procession as we bring your loved one to the hearse.