St Ann Church
An Overview of the Catholic Funeral
“At the death of a Christian, whose life of faith was begun in the waters of Baptism and strengthened at the Eucharistic table, the Church intercedes on behalf of the deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end, nor does it break the bonds forged in life. The Church also ministers to the sorrowing and consoles them in the funeral rites with the comforting Word of God and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.” – Order of Christian Funerals, #4
The prayers and support of the parishioners of Saint Ann Church accompany our brothers and sisters during a time of sadness and loss when a loved one has died. The loved one’s name will be included in the Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful) at our weekend Masses so that our entire community of faith may hold him/her, and his/her family and friends, in prayer.
At the time of death, it is most helpful for family wishing to schedule and make plans for a funeral liturgy to first contact a Funeral Director before contacting the parish. After meeting with the funeral director, the funeral director’s staff will contact Saint Ann Church to schedule the day and time of the funeral. Once the parish is notified of your family member’s passing, you will receive a call from the Pastor or a parish representative in order to schedule a convenient time for a visit to our parish office to plan the Funeral Liturgy.
The Catholic funeral rite is divided into several stations, or parts, each with its own purpose. For this reason, we recommend following the complete structure and making use of each station.
I Vigil Service (Wake)
“At the vigil, the Christian community keeps watch with the family in prayer to the God of mercy and finds strength in Christ’s presence.” – Order of Christian Funerals, #56
The Vigil Service usually takes place during the period of visitation and viewing at the funeral home. It is a time to remember the life of the deceased and to commend him/her to God. In prayer, we ask God to console us in our grief and give us strength to support one another.
The Vigil Service can take the form of a Liturgy of the Word with readings from Sacred Scripture accompanied by reflection and prayers. It can also take the form of one of the prayers of the Office for the Dead from the Liturgy of Hours. The clergy and your funeral director can assist in planning the service.
It is most appropriate, when family and friends are gathered together for visitation, to offer time for recalling the life of the deceased. For this reason, we encourage eulogies/reflections to be done at the funeral home during visitation or at the Vigil Service.
II Funeral Mass
The funeral liturgy is the central liturgical celebration of the Christian community for the deceased. When one of its members dies, the Church encourages the celebration of the funeral liturgy at a Mass. When a Mass cannot be celebrated, a funeral liturgy outside Mass can be celebrated at the church or in the funeral home.
At the funeral Mass, the Church gathers with the family and friends of the deceased to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over sin and death, to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion, and to seek strength in the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery. The funeral Mass, therefore, is an act of worship, and not merely an expression of grief.
III Rite of Committal (Burial or Internment)
The Rite of Committal, the conclusion of the funeral rite, is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member. It should normally be celebrated at the place of committal, that is, beside the open grave or place of internment. In committing the body to its resting place, the community expresses the hope that, with all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, the deceased awaits the glory of the resurrection. The Rite of Committal is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who need faith no longer, but see God face-to-face. Questions about the format of the committal service can be answered by the celebrant.
Planning the Funeral Liturgy
The process of grieving and mourning may be aided by participating in the preparation and planning of the funeral rites for a loved one. This gesture of care will allow the funeral to be an expression of one’s own grief at a time of loss, as well as one’s faith in Jesus and His cross and resurrection.
The normal structure of the funeral Mass is as follows:
Seating of family members
Gathering Song and Procession
Sign of the Cross and Greeting
Sprinkling of the Body with Holy Water
Placing of the Pall
Placing of Christian Symbols (optional)
LITURGY OF THE WORD
Old Testament Reading
Responsorial Psalm (sung)
New Testament Reading
Gospel Acclamation (sung)
Prayer of the Faithful
LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
Presentation of the Gifts
Eucharistic Prayer (with sung acclamations)
The Lord’s Prayer
The Sign of Peace
Prayer after Communion
Song of Farewell and Incensation of the Body
Prayer of Commendation
Closing Song and Procession to the Place of Committal
Family members are welcomed and encouraged to select texts from Sacred Scripture for the funeral Mass. Normally, four Scripture Readings are chosen: one from the Old Testament, one from the Psalms (sung following the Old Testament Reading), one from the New Testament Letters and one from the Gospels. Suggested Scripture passages are listed in the Funeral planning packet (top of this page). Non-Scripture readings cannot be read in place of these readings but could be used in the worship aides or through some other means.
Click on the following link to review the various Scripture Readings for a Funeral Mass - St Ann Funeral Readings
Music for the Funeral
Music is an important part in the liturgy of the Church, and at funerals it allows the community to express convictions and feelings that words alone may not convey. Music has the power to console and uplift those who mourn and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love. Due to the sacred nature of the liturgy, not all music may be appropriate for use at the funeral Mass and the Pastor or parish representative will provide helpful guidance.
Click on the following link to review in the Suggested Funeral Music selections - St Ann Church Preferred Funeral Music
During the funeral Mass, several roles of ministry may be exercised by family members/friends including:
It is fitting for a lay person to proclaim the First and Second Readings from Scripture and (if there is no Deacon assisting in the liturgy) to announce the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. The Gospel Reading is proclaimed by a Deacon or Priest. The nature of the Word of God requires that such persons be persons of faith and effective public speakers. It is often helpful that readers be people other than immediate family members, due to the emotional nature of the funeral. It is good for Lectors to receive copies of the readings in advance so that they can practice their readings.
Placing of the Funeral Pall
It is our custom to place a pall, a decorated white cloth, on the casket at the beginning of the funeral Mass as a reminder of the garment given at Baptism, thereby signifying new life in Christ. Since the deceased would have been dressed in his/her baptismal garment by his/her parents and godparents, two to four family members may wish to participate in this ritual gesture at the funeral.
Presentation of the Gifts of Bread and Wine
It is appropriate for members of the family to carry the gifts of bread and wine for the Eucharist. This symbolizes the offering of ourselves and the offering of the deceased back to God.
Program (Worship Aid)
A template for a simple program/worship aid for the funeral liturgy can be provided if a family would wish to complete one for preparation by a printer of their choice. The template for a worship aid with a casket St Ann Funeral Mass program with casket or without a casket St Ann Memorial Mass program without casket is on this link.
It is appropriate to bring floral arrangements from the funeral home to the church for placement in the Sanctuary during the funeral Mass. Please discuss what is appropriate and effective with the funeral director.
Since the funeral Mass is primarily the time for offering praise and thanks for God’s gift of new life in the Risen Jesus, remembrances of the life of the deceased most appropriately take place during the time of visitation and the Vigil (Wake) Service at the funeral home, and/or during a social gathering following the funeral. In accordance with Archdiocesan policy, a reflection/eulogy may only be included at the funeral Mass if there is only one speaker, the reflection is no more than three minutes long, and is presented to the celebrant in writing in advance of the funeral Mass.
The Church and Cremation
The Christian faithful are confronted with the mystery of life and death in the presence of the body of one who has died. Moreover, the body which lies in death naturally recalls the personal story of faith, the loving family bonds, the friendships, and the words and acts of the deceased person. The body of a deceased Catholic Christian is also the body once washed in Baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the Bread of Life. Thus, the Church’s reverence for the sacredness of the human body grows out of a reverence and concern both natural and supernatural for the human person.
While cremation is now permitted by the Church, it is our recommendation that cremation, when chosen, take place after the funeral rites, so that our acts of prayer and worship in grief may take place in the presence of the body as one final act of love and respect for the deceased. When it is not possible to delay cremation until after the funeral rites are celebrated, the cremated remains of the deceased may be brought to the Church for the funeral Mass provided there is an appropriate plan for their internment. The cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they came. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the remains and a respectful manner of interment; cremated remains should never be scattered or kept in a private residence.