CELEBRATING THE FUNERAL RITES OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
The following information is offered to assist you in planning the funeral of your loved one. Please be assured that the one who has died and you and your family and friends are in the hearts and prayers of our parish community as you move through this difficult time of loss and grief. May the risen Lord, who is our resurrection and life, fill you with hope as you entrust your loved one to the love and tender mercies of God. We pray that the celebration of the Funeral Rites will be a consolation to you, a source of peace and a deep expression of our faith in the promise of resurrection.
Fr. Jack Buckalew and the Parish Staff
WHAT TO DO WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES
Our Pastor and parish staff wish to provide comfort, support and assistance to all in our parish who experience the death of a loved one. When a death occurs we ask that you call the parish office before going to the funeral home to make arrangements. Confirmation of the date and time for the Funeral Liturgy must be made with the parish before any public notice of a funeral. This will insure the availability of a clergy person or lay minister and the parish facilities to celebrate the Funeral Rites.
One of the services provided for families who have experienced the death of a loved one is a Friendship Gathering hosted by the Ladies of the Holy Trinity Guild, if desired. This gathering may take place immediately after the Funeral Liturgy or after the mourners have returned from the Rite of Committal at the cemetery. Arrangements for the Friendship Gathering can be made with the Funeral Coordinator.
THE FUNERAL RITES OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
The Funeral Rites of the Catholic Church were revised in 1969, and again in 1989. This means that some Catholics and non-Catholic family members planning the funeral of a loved one may not be familiar with how funerals are now celebrated in the Catholic Church. In keeping with the revised rites, we prepare for and celebrate the death of our loved ones with the possibility of three rites for a deceased Christian:
- THE VIGIL FOR THE DECEASED
- THE FUNERAL LITURGY
- THE RITE OF COMMITTAL
THE VIGIL FOR THE DECEASED
The Vigil for the Deceased is a service celebrated by the community in the time following a death and before the funeral liturgy, and is normally celebrated the evening before the funeral mass, either at the funeral home or at the church. A priest, deacon or qualified layperson leads the Vigil Service, depending on availability. When it takes place at church, the body or cremated remains of the deceased is welcomed and the baptismal gift of God’s life is recalled.
Due to individual circumstances, it may be decided that the Vigil Service is not appropriate or workable. In this case the funeral rites may begin instead with the Funeral Mass or Funeral Service outside of mass.
The recitation of the Rosary at the time of a funeral is an old Catholic custom, but this prayer is not a part of the funeral rites of the Catholic Church and so should not replace the Vigil Service or be combined with it.
The Vigil Service has been carefully designed by the Church to be inclusive of all who came to participate in it – Catholics, Protestants and even those who are not Christian. The Rosary, although a beautiful prayer form, is foreign to those who are not Catholic and sometimes is even unfamiliar to some Catholics as well. If they desire, the family may lead the recitation of the Rosary at some other time, perhaps following the Vigil Service, at the family home or at a time before the Funeral Mass is celebrated.
VIEWING OF THE BODY
If a period of viewing is desired prior to a Funeral Liturgy celebrated at church, either because a Vigil for the Deceased did not take place or there are family members and friends for whom a time of viewing would be a benefit, this need can be accommodated before the Funeral Liturgy. Normally the viewing would take place an hour before the liturgy begins.
THE FUNERAL LITURGY
The Funeral Liturgy, the central celebration of the community for the deceased, may take the form of a Funeral Mass or a Funeral Service outside of mass. The Funeral Coordinator can assist your family in making the decision as to which kind of service is most appropriate in your particular circumstances. Only a priest may celebrate a Funeral Mass in the parish church. Mass may not be celebrated at a funeral home or other location. A priest, deacon or qualified layperson may celebrate a Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass in the parish church or at the funeral home.
In the Funeral Liturgy, the family and friends of the deceased gather in Easter hope to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over sin and death in and through the mystery of his dying and rising, and to commend the loved one to God’s tender mercy and compassion.
In a Funeral Liturgy celebrated at the church, normally, the body or cremated remains are greeted at the entrance of the church. Floral sprays or flags that are covering the coffin are removed before the Funeral Liturgy begins and the coffin or urn holding the cremated remains is sprinkled with holy water, recalling the sacrament of baptism. Family members and friends may serve as pall bearers. Family members are also encouraged to join in the procession into the church.
The funeral pall, a large white cloth that is a reminder of the white garment given at baptism and signifying life in Christ, is then placed on the coffin by family members or friends. Funeral home staff may also assist with the spreading of the pall if their service is required. All present are encouraged to participate as fully as possible in all aspects of the liturgy, to include the music, prayers and congregation responses.
RECEPTION OF HOLY COMMUNION AT MASS
All baptized Catholics active in the practice of their faith are encouraged to receive Holy Communion at the Funeral Mass. Catholics who are not able to receive Holy Communion and those who are from other Christian denominations or faith backgrounds may join in this time of uniting their minds and hearts with God and the community gathered in prayer by coming forward to receive a blessing, if they so desire. Instructions will be given prior to Holy Communion.
THE RITE OF COMMITTAL
The Rite of Committal usually takes place at the cemetery and is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body or the cremated remains of the deceased loved one. In committing the body or cremated remains to its final resting place, the community of faith expresses the hope that with all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, our deceased loved one enters into the gift of eternal life and awaits the glory of the resurrection when our Lord returns at the end of time.
The Rite of Committal is an expression of the unity and communion that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven: the deceased passes over the waters of death with the farewell prayers of the community of believers, into the company of the angels and saints in light who see God face to face.
We encourage that the internment or entombment of the body or cremated remains of our loved one, whether below or above ground, take place at the graveside or at the mausoleum site whenever this is possible. An important part of the Rite of Committal is the blessing of the final resting place.
MINISTERS OF THE FUNERAL LITURGY
What is important about the funeral rites of the Church is their flexibility. They are meant to be adapted to each family’s particular needs and situation. They are also intended to be celebrated when as many members of the community as possible can be present, to allow for family involvement in the planning of the rites as appropriate and in keeping with the liturgical guidelines of the Church, and to include the participation of a full complement of lay ministers in the celebration of the rites - - greeters, ushers, pall bearers, Offertory gift bearers, readers, musicians and special ministers of the Eucharist to assist in the distribution of Holy Communion. Family members and friends may serve in some of these roles. In addition, a family member or friend may speak in remembrance of the deceased for a brief period (no more than three to four minutes), after Holy Communion. This is not intended to be an extended sharing or an open eulogy time. If more than one person wishes to speak, the total time allotted for sharing is still four minutes. Others who wish to share memories may do so at the friendship gathering after the Funeral Liturgy.
MUSIC FOR THE FUNERAL LITURGY
Music and songs selected for the funeral must be appropriate for the occasion, intended for Christian worship, and a true expression of traditional Catholic belief about the death of a Christian. Secular or popular songs are not permitted at a Funeral Liturgy and are more appropriate to a video tribute played at the time of the viewing of the body at the funeral home or during the Friendship Gathering after the funeral liturgy. The Funeral Coordinator can assist you with suitable music selections.
Flowers at funerals are a beautiful sign of respect and caring for the deceased loved one, a sign of love and support for the family and friends as they grieve, and a sign of hope as we are comforted by the beauty of God’s creation and never ending gift of life to us. Sometimes, there may be such an abundance of flowers that all of them cannot be placed near the altar, casket or urn. If this is the case, the flowers may be positioned in different places throughout the sanctuary area so that they may be enjoyed by all present and still allow for the space and movement that will be required by the funeral rites. This is especially true during the special seasons of the Church year like the Advent/Christmas and Easter Seasons. Flowers and decorations already present in the church may not be moved or removed. The Funeral Coordinator can offer more specific information about parish guidelines for flowers.
If there are more flowers for the Funeral Liturgy than those needed at the cemetery or that family and friends are able to take home, you may leave them in the church as a much appreciated gift and reminder to the community to continue to pray for your loved one.
STIPENDS FOR SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE PARISH
MUSIC STIPENDS: Music is an essential part of our Catholic liturgy and an important way of giving expression to our feelings of grief, loss and Christian hope for eternal life. The parish makes available to you the services of instrumentalists and vocalists to lead the congregation in song during the Funeral Liturgy. The stipends for their services are as follows:
PARISH STIPEND: It is customary to offer a stipend to the parish for the services of our clergy and other ministers who assist in the Funeral Liturgy and for the use of the parish facilities. A stipend of $150-$200 would be an appropriate offering to the parish. If paying by check, please make checks payable to Holy Trinity Parish.
LADIES GUILD: Although the Guild does not ask for remuneration for their services, any stipend given is used to defray the costs of other friendship gatherings and to support their charitable work in the parish and the wider community.
Stipends for the Clergy, Musicians or Ladies Guild should be given to the Funeral Coordinator. If it would be more helpful to you to write one check for all services, simply make the check payable to Holy Trinity Parish, indicating how the check is to be split and what amount is to be given to each minister serving at the Funeral Liturgy. The Funeral Coordinator will insure the distribution of all stipends.