At the time of the death of one of its members, the Church proclaims with confidence that God has created each person for eternal life, and that Jesus Christ by his death and resurrection has overcome sin and death forever. The Church prays for the deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end, and that there is still a bond of community with the living. The Church ministers to the sorrowing and gives consolation to them by means of the Funeral Rites.
The Parts of the Funeral Liturgy
There are three distinct parts of the funeral for a Catholic. They are the Vigil Service, the Funeral Liturgy, and the Rite of Committal.
1. The Vigil Service
The Vigil is marked by a sense of “being with” and “watching over” the body or the cremated remains of the deceased. This service offers the opportunity for family and friends to express their sorrow and find strength and consolation through the proclamation of Sacred Scripture and prayer. The Vigil Service also serves as a time to remember the gift of life given to the deceased and his or her impact on our own lives. The Vigil Service is usually celebrated at the funeral home, although it can also be celebrated in the church.
2. The Funeral Liturgy
The Funeral Liturgy is the main service of worship of the community for the deceased. There are two forms: the Funeral Mass and the Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass.
The Funeral Mass
The Funeral Mass is the occasion where the grieving faith community is consoled by the proclamation of Sacred Scripture and then nourished by the Eucharist. The Funeral Mass is always celebrated in the church. This liturgy consists of:
- the Reception of the Body or of the Cremated Remains;
- the Liturgy of the Word;
- the Liturgy of the Eucharist; and,
- the Final Commendation and Farewell.
The Funeral Liturgy Outside of Mass
There are times when the celebration of the Eucharist may not be appropriate. Should this be the case, the Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass is celebrated either in the church or at the funeral home. This liturgy follows the same outline as the Funeral Mass except with the Liturgy of the Eucharist being omitted.
3. The Rite of Committal
The community shows its care for the remains of the deceased by the Rite of Committal. These prayers are offered for the deceased as the body or cremated remains are committed to its final place of rest.
Planning the Funeral Liturgies
Meeting with the Parish Priest
The parish priest will assist the family with the liturgical preparations. Most often these preparations involve having the family visit the Parish Office. During this meeting, you will receive a folder of materials to assist you in making the liturgical arrangements. Family members are encouraged not to make any arrangements regarding music or readings prior to this meeting.
Words of Remembrance (Eulogies)
In the Catholic Church, words of remembrance are normally given during the Vigil Service and/ or at the Funeral Liturgy if it takes place in the funeral home. When the Funeral Mass is celebrated, one brief tribute may be given before the Mass begins, either by a family member or a friend of the deceased.
Our Music Ministry provides music for a Funeral in our Parishes. A music minister will assist you in your choice of music. Musicians from outside of the Parish are permitted to assist at the Funeral Liturgy with the permission of the Music Ministry. Family members are encouraged not to make any arrangements for music prior to speaking with the parish priest.
Flowers, Decorations & Memorabilia
Flowers are welcome in the church. Memorabilia and photo displays can be accommodated in the narthex of the church and/ or at the reception.
At times, families wish to have a video presentation. In both of our Parishes, such presentations can be accommodated during the reception in the Parish Hall. Out of respect for the sacred nature of the worship space, video presentations are not permitted in the church proper itself.
When the Funeral is celebrated in the church, the family has the option of holding the reception in the Parish Hall. Our Funeral Reception Team will serve the luncheon following the interment, or if there is no immediate interment, following the Funeral Liturgy. The parish secretary will assist you in making the arrangements for the reception.
Cremation is decided upon by the deceased as part of his/ her final arrangements, or by the family at the time of death. The Catholic Church continues to encourage the tradition of the burial of a body; however, it does not object to cremation. Cremated remains are always to be treated with dignity. For this reason, cremated remains are to be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or niche provided for this purpose. Cremated remains should never be scattered or kept in the possession of family members.
A Prayer for the Deceased
Almighty God, it is our certain faith that your Son, who died on the cross, was raised from the dead. Grant that through this mystery, your servant (Name), who has gone to his/ her rest in Christ, may share in the joy of his resurrection. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer for the Grieving
Lord God, you are attentive to the voice of our pleading. Let us find in your Son, comfort in our sadness, certainty in our doubt, and courage to love through this hour. Make our faith strong through Christ our Lord. Amen.