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. A Christian death is but part of the pilgrimage of life which leads to eternal life with God.
The parish stands ready to help its members 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. Below you will find an overview 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 copy 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 priest so that he can give you guidelines on what needs to be done in preparing the liturgy and the booklet.
The Order of Service for the funeral liturgy follows. If you are preparing a liturgy which will not include Mass then you do not need to use the Funeral Mass sections (please consult the Parish office).
The following is a basic outline of a booklet indicating the order of the various parts outlined in the section below.
Musicians and Choir
If you would like to have music, please check with the Parish office to see if our Choir and Musicians are available.
The liturgy customarily begins with a hymn.
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 ask that you include the text in the link below so that the congregation may join in the responses as each symbol is placed.
After the placing of the symbols of faith, some families choose to also place 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 not be too many symbols, but a small selection 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: The celebrant then prays the collect (chosen by the Celebrant).
Liturgy of the Word
We then sit for 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: 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 at the link below:
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 at the links below.
If the liturgy you are 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 below.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Hymn for the Dedication of the Gifts
It is customary, though by no means required, to have a hymn at this point in the Mass as the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward to the altar.
Prayer over the Offerings (chosen by the Celebrant).
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.
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.
Communion and Thanksgiving Hymns
You may choose to have a hymn during the distribution of Holy Communion and also at the time of Thanksgiving after Communion. Once again it is certainly not required that there be a hymn at either of these points but it is quite customary to have a hymn at least at one of these points in the Mass. Otherwise, quiet music might be appropriate.
Prayer After Communion
After everyone has received Holy Communion the celebrant prays the Prayer 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. 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 at the link below.
As the procession leaves the church it is customary to have either a hymn or music.
For further information, please contact the Parish office.