Funeral Rites

The church through its funeral rites:

  • Celebrates the life and faith of the deceased.
  • Expresses the church's belief in the Communion of Saints.
  • Recognizes the spiritual bond that exists between the living and the dead.
  • Brings hope and consolation to the bereaved.
  • Reminds the faithful to turn to God in time of need and crisis.
  • Seeks God's mercy and love.
  • Nourishes the faith of the bereaved.
  • Acknowledges that the deceased benefit from our prayers.

Planning for funeral rites:

  • Every member of the faithful should make known to family and friends his or her preferences for Catholic funeral rites.
  • Instructions should be left with a responsible party so that one's wishes will be carried out.
  • When the Eucharist is celebrated in the context of the funeral process proper to the Order of Christian Funerals, it is rightly called a Funeral Mass, whether or not the body or even the cremated remains is present..

At the time of death:

  • Family members of the deceased should contact the parish as well as the funeral director.
  • Pastors should meet with the family of the deceased as soon as possible to console and comfort and offer services of the parish to the bereaved.
  • Family members should be designated to work with the parish priest or with members of the parish bereavement committee in planning Funeral Rites.
  • The parish must ensure that all options concerning the Funeral Rites are explained to the family, as well as all information concerning the church's teaching on cremation.
  • The choir director or organist will assist the family in the selection of appropriate hymns..

Liturgical participation of the family at the Funeral Mass:

  • Since the funeral rites are celebrations of the church, participation of all present through prayer, responses and song is the desired norm.
  • Immediate family members may place the pall on the casket.
  • Family members may place symbols of faith -- crucifix, Bible, etc -- on the pall covered casket.
  • Family members who are lectors in their own parishes or who are able to proclaim Scripture well may proclaim the readings at the Funeral Mass.
  • Family members may bring forward the gifts of bread and wine at the Presentation of the Gifts.
  • Eulogies may be given, but only in accordance with Diocesan Guidelines.

General points for catechesis:

  • The understanding of death as a stage of our life of faith.
  • The purpose of funeral rites in celebrating the faith and life of the deceased.
  • The purpose of funeral rites in affirming our own belief in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
  • The meaning and importance of the Communion of Saints.
  • The importance of praying for the dead with "month's Mind" (30 days after death) or other Memorial Masses.
  • The church's teaching on the resurrection of the body.
  • The church's teaching on the use of cremation.