As members of the body of Christ, when one suffers, we all suffer. Therefore, we are called on as a community to care for the dying, to console those who mourn, and to participate in the funeral rites. The celebration of a Christian funeral brings hope and consolation to the living. Prayerful preparation and planning of the funeral rites will help you and your loved ones deal successfully and gracefully with the ultimate rite of passage through death to eternal life.
About the rites
When possible and desired, family and friends should actively participate in planning the funeral rites. Our parish is blessed to have the services of a bereavement minister, who will assist the family in choosing the Scripture readings and the intercessory prayers, with the life of the deceased in mind, to encourage and console those who mourn.
A parish representative will also help you with your planning of the music for a Christian funeral.
If a family would like to invite a priest or deacon from another parish to preside at any of the funeral rites, they are most welcome. You may also invite a friend or family member to do the readings in the Funeral Mass.
Words of Remembrance
In the funeral rites of the Catholic Church, we do not speak of "delivering a eulogy" but of offering "Words of Remembrance." The funeral liturgy focuses on the life, saving death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. During the funeral liturgy, we pray for our deceased and commit them to God's mercy. Of course, we remember the life of our loved ones during the funeral liturgy, but we do so specifically in the context of Faith—marking the end of the deceased's journey, which began at the sacrament of Baptism.
It is this context of faith that should govern all that is shared in the "Words of Remembrance." This goes beyond the fact that the deceased may have regularly assisted at Mass. The remembrance should also relate how the deceased lived his or her faith as a loving daughter or son, wife or husband, mother or father, or friend.
Only one person may deliver a remembrance. All remembrances offered in church must be submitted in advance and in writing for the approval of the Pastor. They must be no more than 2 typewritten pages double-spaced. They will be delivered 5 minutes prior to the beginning of the Mass.
Appropriate venues for extensive and/or varied types of reflections include the wake service, the graveside service, and the luncheon afterwards. This could actually provide a very special blessing for the bereaved family, as they could share stories, both humorous and deeply touching, in a setting conducive to broader participation. We understand the pain of those who have recently suffered a loss, and the need to reminisce about the loved one. We believe that by accepting the Church's guidance on distinctive nature and form of its worship, we are serving everyone's best interests. Maintaining the spriritual and liturgical integrity of the Mass is a most loving thing to do for all. If you chose to offer the Words of Remembrance in church, we trust that you will honor and abide by these guidelines.
The Church strongly prefers that cremation take place after the full funeral liturgy with the body. The presence of the body most clearly brings to mind the life and death of the person, and better expresses the values that the Church affirms in its rites.However, when this is not possible, all the usual ritess with are celebrated with the body present may also be celebrated in the presence of the cremains (cremated remains). During the rites, the cremains are treated with the same dignity and respect as the body. The cremains are to be sealed in a worthy vessel, and may be carried in procession and/or place on a table near the altar.
It is a Catholic practice that the cremains are buried in their entirety. If the burial is to take place at sea, please check with your mortuary regarding civil regulations.