Planning A Funeral
PLANNING FOR A CATHOLIC FUNERAL
For thousands of year, funerals have been a means of expressing our beliefs, thoughts and feelings about the death of someone we love.
The Funeral Ceremony…
Helps us acknowledge that someone we love has died.
Helps us remember the person who died and encourages us to share those memories with others.
Offers a time and place for us to talk about the life and death of the person who died.
Provides a social support system for us and other friends and family members.
Allows us to search for the meaning of life and death in the context of our faith.
Offers continuity and hope for the living.
One of the most important gifts of planning a meaningful funeral is that it helps family and friends to focus their thoughts and feelings on something positive. The funeral encourages them to think about the person who has died and to explore the meaning of that person’s life and the ways in which he/she touched the lives of others. It is also a time and place for them to reaffirm their faith in new life after death.
The remembering, deciding and reflecting that takes place in the planning of the service are often an important part of the process of grief and mourning. And ultimately, this process of contemplation and discovery creates a memorable and moving funeral experience for all who attend.
The Funeral Mass
At the Funeral Mass we offer worship, praise and thanksgiving to God for the gift of a life which has been returned to God. We are strengthened by our belief in the resurrection and find strength and consolation through our faith in God. During the Mass we are united in a living memorial of the suffering and death of Jesus in the Resurrection
The Reception of the Deceased at the entrance to the church is a reminder that the deceased's Christian life began in Baptism and the sprinkling of holy water at this time reminds us of the person's Baptism and initiation into the community of faith.
The Placing of the Pall on the casket serves to remind us of the baptismal garment of the deceased. It is a sign of the Christian dignity of the person and also signifies that all are equal in the eyes of the Lord. It is a large white cloth that has symbols of the light of Christ and Baptism stitched on it.
Family members have the choice of placing the pall on the casket themselves,thus taking part in the liturgy for the deceased, or allowing the funeral director or pallbearers to place it. If the family chooses to do this the funeral director will assist.
The Paschal Candle reminds us of Christ's undying presence among us, of His victory over sin and death and of our share in that victory by virtue of our baptism. The Paschal candle reminds us of the Easter Vigil, the night when we await the Lord's Resurrection and when new light for the living and the dead is kindled.
Incense is used during the final commendation at the Funeral Mass as a sign of honor to the body of the deceased, which through baptism became the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is also a sign of our prayers for the deceased rising to our Lord and as a symbol of farewell.
The Cross that is usually placed in or on the casket is a reminder that we, as Christians, were marked with the cross in baptism and through Jesus' suffering on the cross, we are brought to his Resurrection.
White Vestments, the color used through the Easter season of the Church are worn by the presiding priest as an expression of Christian joy.
The Readings, Prayers and Psalms proclaim to us the promise of eternal life, convey the hope of being gathered together again in God's kingdom and support the witness of Christian life. Family members also have the choice of choosing the readings and the psalm appropriate for their loved one. During the Funeral Mass a total of three readings are recommended. Family or friends of the deceased are welcome to proclaim the first two readings while the priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel.
The first reading is drawn from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. Here is a list of selected Old Testament Readings. After the first reading, the cantor leads the congregation in singing the Responsorial Psalm. The Responsorial Psalms are listed in the list of list of song selections.
After the Responsorial Psalm, the second reading is drawn from the New Testament. Here is a list of selected New Testament Readings.
Just before the Gospel, the congregation stands and sings the Alleluia. The priest or deacon then reads the selected Gospel reading.
The Homily at a Catholic Mass is meant to link the scripture passages which have been proclaimed to our reason for gathering - commending our loved one to the Risen Lord. Some presiders of the Mass will ordinarily personalize the homily, keeping in mind the personal reflections you have shared with us. Prior to meeting with a member of the Ministry of Consolation, you will be asked to reflect on two questions: 1) What would you most want others to know about the deceased, and, 2) What was the deceased’s relationship to his or her faith. The answers to these questions will be most helpful in personalizing the homily.
The Universal Prayers are a series of prayers which are said at the conclusion of the Liturgy of the Word. These prayers are the way in which the faithful respond to the Word of God and offer prayers for the salvation of all. The prayers are introduced by the celebrating priest, then a deacon, a family member, or friend of the deceased reads the prayers and the people respond with “Lord, hear our prayer.” Click here for a list of selected Universal Prayers.
The Presentation of the Gifts is the ritual in which bread, wine and water are brought to the altar. Family members or friends of the deceased are invited to serve as gift bearers and in so doing serve as a reminder to all present of our commitment to become what we will soon share – the Body and Blood of Christ.
The Final Commendation at the end of Mass expresses our farewell and shows honor to one of its members, a temple of the Holy Spirit, before the body is buried. At this time the celebrant incenses the deceased, as together we entrust our loved one to our Lord and profess that we will share the resurrection with our loved one on the last day.
The Rite of Committal is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member. It marks the physical separation of the deceased from the mourners. It may be celebrated at the grave, at a cemetery chapel, or a crematorium. Through this simple rite the Church assists us as we complete our care of the deceased and lay the body to rest. This rite also expresses our continued link as the Community of Saints.
A Eulogy is not suggested to be part of the funeral liturgy. If the family desires a eulogy, it is fitting to be shared at the wake, the cemetery, or the luncheon that usually follows. If the family chooses to have a eulogy, it has to be brief and it takes place at the beginning of the liturgy. The Consolation Minister will explain the procedures.
Music is essential to the funeral rites. It allows the community to express convictions and feelings that words alone may not convey. Music has the power to console and uplift the mourners and strengthen the unit of the assembly in faith and love.
In the funeral liturgy there are four opportunities for hymns: The Gathering Song, the Song at the Presentation of the Gifts, the Song at Communion and the Recessional Song at the end of the Mass.
The music chosen for the funeral liturgy should be chosen with great care. It should support, console and uplift the mourners and help create in them the spirit of peace of the risen Lord.
A soloist/pianist is prepared to do the music for the funeral liturgy. If the family has their own musician whom they would like to have participate in the liturgy we would welcome their participation. Please let us know ahead of time.
With this in mind we present to the bereaved family a list of Song Selections that are appropriate to a funeral Mass. The texts of these songs offer consolation to the mourners and express the Paschal mystery of the Lord's suffering, death and triumph over death, and relate to the readings from Scripture. Special requests for a song that is not on the list will be considered providing that it is an appropriate Christian song for a funeral Mass and that we have the music for it. Please note that the words to the Songs may or may not be found in our Missal.