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.

Policy - Music at Funerals - Effective the Feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux 2019 (1 October 2019)

Please note that the introduction of the Order of Christian Funerals devotes four paragraphs to the question of Music in the Funeral liturgy (numbers 30-34).  Number 30 is particularly relevant to this issue.

"Music is integral to the Funeral rites.  it allows the community to express convictions and feelings that word alone may fail to convey.  It has the power to console and uplift the mourners and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love.  the texts of the songs chosen for a particular celebration should express the paschal mystery of the Lord's suffering, death, and triumph over death and should be related to the readings from Scripture."  

Thus, while Funeral music may express "convictions and feelings," its subject must always be the paschal mystery and it must be related to the readings from Scripture.  Rather than adopting popular secular songs which are inappropriate to a liturgical setting, we should seek out good liturgical music on a paschal theme which can "support, console, and uplift participants and help to create in them a spirit of hope in Christ's victory over death and in the Christian's share in that victory." (Order of Christian Funerals, number 31)