“In Christ the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned,
that those saddened by the certainty of dying
might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come.
Indeed, for your faithful, Lord,
life is changed not ended,
and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust,
an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven.”
(from the Roman Missal prayers for a funeral)
Saying goodbye to a loved one is not easy, but the church’s funeral rituals
help us to honor the life of the one we loved and affirm our faith in the
gift of eternal life given to us by Jesus Christ. The parish shares in your
grief since we are all members of the family of God. We want to walk with
you through this time of darkness into the light and hope offered by Jesus.
The Funeral Mass
For the funeral mass, three readings are proclaimed:
Additionally, some scripture readings are proclaimed at
the wake service. These would usually consist of either an Old or New
Testament reading and a Gospel. The gospel readings will be proclaimed by
the priest or deacon, but the other readings should be proclaimed by a
family member or friend of the family. If none are available, the parish
will provide a reader. Each reading may be proclaimed by a different person,
or all may be read by one person.
Gifts of bread and wine (large paten of hosts and flagon of wine) are
brought forward at the Offertory of the funeral mass. At least two people
are needed, but more could accompany them in the procession.
PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL (PETITIONS)
The petitions are presented at mass following the homily.
Typical petitions for the funeral mass
are available. They can be tailored to include the names of family
members who have died, as well as other special intentions. Normally, the
petitions are read by a family member or friend.
Music is integral to the mass. A list of some of the more common hymns/songs
appropriate for the funeral mass is available. In addition to processional,
offertory, communion, and recessional songs, we normally sing the
responsorial psalm (Psalm 23), gospel acclamation (alleluia), Eucharistic
Prayer acclamations (Holy, Memorial Acclamation, Amen, Lamb of God), and a
Song of Final Commendation.
The funeral pall is draped over the casket in the entryway before the
funeral mass begins. The large white pall is a reminder of the dignity of
baptism, where the white garment was worn. We encourage the family to draw
the pall open over the casket. In the case of cremation before the funeral
liturgy, a pall is not placed over the cremated remains.
PRIEST, DEACON, SERVERS, MUSIC MINISTERS
One of our parish priests normally presides at the funeral mass. One of our
deacons normally presides at the Vigil (Wake). Ministers of Music from the
parish are provided, as well as servers for the mass.
TRIBUTES AND EULOGIES
The most appropriate time for tributes and eulogies is at the Vigil
(Wake) service. A time is provided in that service for family members and
loved ones to share brief stories. The reception (lunch) following the
funeral mass provides a good opportunity for informal sharing. A display of
pictures (including computer/electronically produced) could be displayed.
The homily at the funeral mass is the priest’s time to speak of God’s Word
and of practicing it in our lives.
Flowers used at the funeral home for the Vigil service may be brought to the
church. They are most appropriate in the main entryway along with the guest
book and, possibly, some photos. The environment of the sanctuary is set for
the liturgical season. The altar, ambo, priest’s chair, and the congregation
are the primary symbols of the liturgy.
For the funeral, the casket with the draped pall is placed
before the Easter Candle at the head of the center aisle. The symbols of
liturgy speak loudly and boldly when additional items do not detract. The
space should be simple and dignified rather than crowded, cluttered, or
“busy.” Flowers and photos in the entryway may also be taken to the Social
Level during the lunch.
The parish hosts a lunch for the family and guests in the Social Level
either immediately following the funeral mass (if the burial is to take
place later or the body will be cremated and interred at a later time) or
following the burial.
PRINTED ORDER OF SERVICE
The parish provides a printed Order of Service to guide the
assembly with music and prayers, to provide brief descriptions of the
special liturgical rites and symbols, and to list citations of readings. It
is less a piece of memorabilia to list names or a vehicle to thank people
for attending than a practical tool for the liturgy. The funeral home
usually provides a book listing ministers, those involved in various tasks,
and the friends who attended the services.
VIGIL (WAKE) SERVICE
Years ago an official Catholic Vigil service did not exist. Family
and friends would gather and pray the rosary together. Now, the church has
an official service, which includes prayers, scripture readings, and homily.
The service then provides some flexibility in content. Family and friends
may share some stories, letters, tributes, songs, poems, and other memories
of their loved one. If praying the rosary was an important part of the
deceased’s life or of the family, a decade of the rosary would be
appropriate at this time. One of the parish deacons normally presides at the
Vigil. They are most willing to discuss options with the family and arrange
a plan for the Vigil service.
We also invite you to stay in contact with the parish
following the funeral. The parish has a number of ministries to help you
through the process of grief. Please contact one of the priests or deacons
to get more information about these ministries.
St. Columbkille Catholic Church Parish Office at