FUNERAL GUIDELINES FOR MASS of CHRISTIAN BURIAL
The Catholic funeral rites celebrate the mystery of our life, death and resurrection in Christ. Through Baptism we enter into this mystery. We live our lives in the hope of sharing eternal life with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit when we complete our passage through death. For Christians, death in Christ results in life in greater abundance. This new life, like a seed, was planted in us at Baptism, flowered during our lifetime, and at death yields a rich harvest. Faith in this mystery should motivate people arranging the funeral of a loved one. With this in mind we present the funeral guidelines for our parish.
WHO CAN BE BURIED WITH A FUNERAL MASS
The parish is open to celebrating funeral services for current or former parishioners and for their relatives. The pastor will make the determination on other requests having no parish connection.
The Mass of Christian Burial is the primary service, customarily celebrated in the morning, reflecting the theme of resurrection. Procession to the cemetery and burial usually follows the Mass. Funeral arrangements usually begin with a meeting with a funeral director. Next the parish is contacted, where a priest will confirm the time for the funeral Mass. Later the parish will contact the family to discuss the details of the Mass of Christian Burial.
VIGIL OR WAKE SERVICE
A vigil service of prayer and scripture at the wake is optional. A parish staff member may lead the wake/rosary service if available. This service may be held at the funeral home or the church.
VIEWING THE BODY
This practice is highly encouraged and must take place before the funeral. At the time of the Mass of Christian Burial the casket is closed.
If the deceased is to be cremated, it is permissible to celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial with the cremated body present. Church law requires the cremated body to be laid to rest in consecrated ground, either buried or kept in a mausoleum.
Flowers are welcome for the Mass of Christian Burial. Parish staff will direct the placement of flowers at the church. Due to the small area of the sanctuary large floral arrangements and/or numerous arrangements cannot be accommodated.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND MEMORABILIA
Memorial displays are encouraged at the wake and at the funeral home. If some photographs wish to be used in church the display should be kept simple and may not block the view of the altar or the music ministers. Larger displays may be placed near the entrance doors of the church.
CELEBRATING THE MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL MUSIC
Because the Mass is a public act of worship of the church, the parish is ultimately responsible for the music in the liturgy. Hymns should reflect the idea of resurrection and hope. You may have in mind some specific religious music, which would be appropriate during the Mass. The parish Director of Music will contact you to provide guidance in this area. The entrance hymn, communion hymn and recessional hymn are music that the congregation should be encouraged to sing, as well as the usual service music and responses. Solos are more appropriate as a prelude, during the presentation of the gifts, and as a postlude after the recessional. Guest musicians must work through the parish Music Director. If they are not familiar with the Catholic liturgy, then the parish Director of Music must be present (for an additional fee) at the funeral Mass. The same norms apply to music for the vigil/rosary service. Use of recorded music in the liturgy is not permitted.
The parish staff can assist in the selection of scriptural readings. The readings consist of one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and a gospel reading. Non-scriptural readings are discouraged at Mass. A list of suggested readings can be provided by the parish. Family members/friends are allowed to be lectors for the readings. If the family cannot provide lectors, the parish will see that the readings are proclaimed.
During the entrance blessing, the body is received at the door of the church and blessed, and then covered with a white cloth, a pall, as a reminder of the white garment used at Baptism. Family members are invited to assist with the placement of the pall if they so choose. The American flag, a symbol of military service, never covers the casket in church during the Mass.
The order of entrance is as follows: altar servers (if available), presider, casket, pallbearers, followed by the family (if not already seated). The same order is used as we leave the church. Musicians are not part of the procession. HOMILY The homily is the sermon by the priest or deacon after the gospel. It is meant to be a reflection on Christian life, death and resurrection.
PRESENTATION OF GIFTS
We encourage members of the family to bring the gifts forward as a symbolic way of offering their loved one to God. All Catholics are encouraged to receive communion. We also welcome to the funeral celebration those who do not share our faith. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion they may come forward with their arms crossed over the chest to receive a blessing.
The eulogy is not part of the Mass of Christian Burial. However, eulogies are permitted at the beginning of the Mass before the readings.