Guide for the Rites of Christian Death
The Rites of the Church
All of the baptized are entitled to the full Rites of Christian Death. Moreover, there are absolutely no conditions that set someone apart from our parish: we will gladly offer the Rites of Christian Death for anyone who has died. You and your family will experience the Rites of Christian Death in three distinct and important parts:
The Vigil (Wake Service)
Typically this Rite takes place during the calling or visiting hours at the funeral home you have chosen (on some occasions, people have chosen to have this service at the church). A member of the Bereavement Team will lead this service of prayer and Scripture. In many instances, someone from the family, or a friend, may wish to remember the deceased by sharing personal memories, as in a eulogy. This is one of the opportune times for such sharing and remembrance.
The Funeral Liturgy
This is the most important element of the celebration of the Rites of Christian Death. Usually, this liturgy is within the context of Mass. The bodily remains are honored by being brought to the Church. We celebrate the life of the deceased in the whole context of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Committal (Burial or Entombment)
A member of the Bereavement Team will accompany the remains of the deceased and the family to the cemetery, where the Rite of Christian Burial will conclude with the prayers of Committal and Final Commendation. Should one wish to speak in memory of the deceased, as in a remembrance, the Rites of the Church allow for such to take place as part of the Prayer of Commendation that will be offered at the cemetery.
The Time and Place of the Funeral Liturgy
A funeral may be celebrated on any day of the week except Sundays and Holy Days. There are also some restrictions concerning funerals during Holy Week. The Pastoral Associate for Parish Life will discuss these restrictions as they apply.
Additionally, the funeral liturgy is ordinarily celebrated in the parish church.
Planning the Funeral Liturgy
The funeral liturgy is one of the most beautiful and meaningful celebrations of the Church. Your family has the option of personalizing the Mass by choosing the Scripture readings and by considering elements of Sacred Music.
Although there may be relatives or friends who are Lectors or Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, we suggest allowing the ministers of our Bereavement Team to carry out these special ministries during the Mass of Christian Death, thus allowing family and friends to simply seek comfort and peace throughout the liturgy.
When choosing Scriptures, regularly there is one reading from the Old Testament, and one reading from the New Testament. Although you can choose from the whole Bible, the texts contained on this website are especially appropriate (see PDF options below).
Click here for the “Funeral Planning/Preparation Worksheet“.
Our parish also designs and provides a beautiful commemorative worship aide/liturgy program (in color) for the use of those who participate in the Funeral Liturgy.
Click here for “Sample Program Funeral Mass of Christian Death“.
Music at the Funeral Liturgy
The Church of St. Mary will provide a parish musician for the funeral liturgy at the Church. Family members are welcome to request specific Sacred Hymns in consultation with the Pastoral Associate for Parish Life and/or Associate for Liturgy & Music.
Please be aware that only Sacred Music may be used at a Funeral Liturgy. As liturgical music magnifies the spoken word, Sacred Music is a beautiful offering within the Mass of Christian Death. Music brings comfort and peace to the loved ones attending the Funeral Mass.
It is not incumbent upon the loved ones of the deceased to choose music for the liturgy. If no particular music is requested, we will choose appropriate music based on the liturgical season and chosen readings. Sometimes a particular hymn, perhaps a favorite of the deceased, will be requested. If you have any preference, please tell us.
Click here for the “Alternatives for Sacred Music for Funerals“.
Bereavement Team of Ministers
In order to assist you in your time of grief and loss, be assured that our parish community is holding you and your deceased loved one in our prayers. The ministry of bereavement is a very special one here at our parish and thus our ministers involved in the Bereavement Team will make every effort to help you through the various stages of prayer, grief and remembrance.
Liturgy Planning Form
Funeral Planning/Preparation Worksheet
Funeral Liturgy Suggested Readings
Old Testament (First) Readings
New Testament (Second) Readings
Catholic Reflections on Cremation
In case you are interested in learning more about the practice of cremation, you may find these simple reflections helpful.