The death of someone close to us is of course a time of great grief. But for a Christian that grief is tempered by our hope in the life of Easter.
For a Christian death is but part of the pilgrimage of life which leads to eternal life with God. Our parish stands ready to help its members to prepare a fitting funeral liturgy which will be both a tribute to the person who has died and a joyful celebration of our Easter faith and hope. In the section below you will find an explanation of the various parts of the funeral liturgy of the Church as well as texts to be used in the funeral liturgy to assist you if you choose to prepare a booklet. You can simply cut and paste from the texts to help put together a booklet which will be an appropriate celebration of faith. However please do not begin this process until you have first met with the celebrant so that he can give you good guidelines on what needs to be done in preparing the liturgy and the booklet.
You may find the following link useful. It is a basic outline of a booklet indicating where the various parts outlined in the section below would go. This may be helpful if you are planning to prepare a booklet for the celebration. Please ensure that you get the celebrant to check the draft of the booklet before it goes to the printers.
The Order of Service for the funeral liturgy follows. The parts indicated in italics are required in the Funeral Mass only. If you are preparing a liturgy which will not include Mass then you do not need to use the sections indicated in italics.
The liturgy customarily begins with a hymn. We will be happy to help you make this choice if you need assistance.
Regarding musicians and singers: if you need someone to provide the music and/or lead the singing please speak to the celebrant who may have some contact numbers you can try. Musicians would make their own charges for their services.
Placing of the Symbols of Faith
At the beginning of the liturgy we place three symbols which express our Easter faith in the resurrection and are a sign of our hope in eternal life for the person who has died. These symbols are deeply connected to baptism and are a sign of our hope that the life in God which began at the time of baptism is now complete and full in eternal life for the person who has died. These symbols are:
- the lighting of the Easter Candle as a sign of hope which sheds its light over the celebration;
- the placing of the large white pall over the coffin (often done by members of the family) as a sign of the white garment of baptism returning to clothe us at the time of our death;
- the sprinkling with holy water, a reminder of the waters of baptism.
If you are preparing a booklet we would ask that you include the text in the link below so that the congregation may join in the responses as each symbol is placed.
Download: Placing of the Symbols of Faith
After the placing of the symbols of faith some families choose to also place some personal symbols which speak of the person who has died and of their life. If you choose to do this please bear in mind that there should be not too many symbols, but rather just a few which speak powerfully of the qualities of the person who has died. It is also important to remember that the symbols chosen should be appropriate for the liturgical context in which the celebration is occurring.
Collect (Opening Prayer)
The celebrant then prays the Opening Prayer. The various choices for this prayer can be found by clicking on the link below:
Download: Opening Prayers (Collects)
Liturgy of the Word
We then sit for our readings from Scripture. There may be three readings: the First Reading from the Old Testament (but from the New Testament during the Season of Easter); then the Responsorial Psalm; then the Second Reading, chosen from the New Testament: and finally the Gospel (which is preceded by the short Gospel Acclamation). If you prefer you may have only two readings as follows: a First Reading chosen from either the Old or New Testament (though once again it must be from the New Testament during the Season of Easter), followed by the Responsorial Psalm, Gospel Acclamation and then the Gospel.
The various choices for the Scripture readings may be found by clicking on the link below:
Download: Readings for the Funeral Liturgy
The celebrant then gives the homily.
Prayers of the Faithful
After the homily we have the Prayers of the Faithful, prayers of intercession for our needs at this time. You might like to select one or more people to read these prayers. Two different selections of possible prayers for inclusion in this part of the liturgy can be found by clicking on the links below. You would also be welcome to compose some of your own prayers but it would be essential that you check these with the celebrant to confirm that they are in the appropriate format for this part of the liturgy.
Download: Prayers of the Faithful No.1
Download: Prayers of the Faithful No.2
If the liturgy that your planning does not involve the celebration of Mass then you would now move to the section on the ‘Eulogy’ below. If you are planning a Requiem Mass then you need also to consider the material in italics below.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Prayer over the Gifts
If you are organising a Funeral Mass there are several Prayers over the Gifts from which to choose and you can see the options by clicking on the link below. At this point of the Mass there would also be a procession in which the bread and wine are brought forward to the altar. You might like to choose members of the family or friends to take on this role.
Download: Prayers over the Gifts
The Eucharistic Prayer then follows. At the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer we begin the Communion Rite. You may wish to choose some music or a hymn during the time of distribution of Holy Communion.
Prayer After Communion
After everyone has received Holy Communion the celebrant prays the Prayer After Communion. You can choose from the various options by clicking on the link below.
Download: Prayers After Communion
You may wish to have a friend or member of the family give a short eulogy in tribute to the person who has died. We are very happy for this to be included at this part of the Mass. If the liturgy does not include Mass this would come immediately after the Prayers of the Faithful.
Normally there would be one eulogy but a maximum of two is possible. We would ask that the total length of time devoted to the eulogy(ies) would be no more than ten minutes. This is a most important consideration. While it is important that there is an appropriate tribute to the person who has died it should be borne in mind that those at this funeral liturgy have gathered at a time of grief and an overly long period devoted to the eulogy can have a negative contribution to the liturgy whereby it can become somewhat overwhelming and burdensome to those who have gathered in grief. Please ensure that those who are going to give the eulogy have been given clear guidelines on the appropriate length of time.
Final Commendation and Farewell
The liturgy in the church concludes with the Final Commendation and Farewell. If you wish to include this in your booklet the text of this part of the liturgy can be found by clicking on the link below.
Download: Commendation and Farewell.
As the procession leaves the church it is customary to have either a hymn or music.