Pastor's Corner

A Letter from our Pastor

10-23-2022Pastor's CornerVery Rev. Robert J. Deehan, VF

Occasionally, we get inquiries about what is appropriate for a funeral in the Catholic Church. As many Catholics want to have something religious for their loved one, but are not aware of what is prescribed, I offer some guidance that I hope will be helpful. Please share this information freely as needed.

Doing this is especially important for those who want what the Church offers for their funeral but their survivors are not connected well enough to the Church to know what is appropriate.

The Funeral Mass is the norm for Catholics as one segment of a three-part ritual of the Order of Christian Funerals, the official book of funeral rites of the Catholic Church. The first part is the Vigil for the Deceased prayer service, which is ordinarily done at the wake just before the visiting hours begin. A wake, although not required, is an enormous support to the surviving family members in their time of grief and is highly recommended. The second part is the Funeral Mass, which every Catholic is due, and is ordinarily done the day after the wake. The Funeral Mass is the central liturgy of a Catholic funeral. The third/final part is the Rite of Committal, done at the graveside. Cremated remains can be present at a Funeral Mass and they should be buried or entombed intact (i.e. not divided up or scattered). This is to honor our belief in the resurrection of the body to a glorified state at the final judgment, which calls for handling the departed person’s remains with a corresponding reverence. Also, on a practical level, having a grave or niche marked with the person’s name provides the family members and friends of the deceased an opportunity to have a special place to go to pay their respects.

Family members are encouraged to take into consideration the purposes of the Catholic funeral: to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased, to celebrate our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and our hope in the resurrection of the dead, and to provide the grieving family members and friends – prayers, comfort and support from the community gathered. The sharing of remembrances of the deceased are encouraged at the time of the wake, and this occasion could be organized and done in conjunction with the Vigil prayer service. It could also be done at the graveside or at a collation after the funeral. Church guidelines stipulate that one speaker chosen by the family may offer a short remembrance of the deceased (no longer than five minutes) at the Funeral Mass. Music for a Funeral Mass should support the prayer and faith celebrated in the liturgy, and therefore be of a religious nature. If you have any questions about the Catholic funeral ritual, please contact our parish office and we’ll be happy to discuss them with you.

God bless you!

Fr. Bob