The death of a Christian is a time of sadness and grief as well as a time of celebrating our new life in Christ Jesus. At the funerals of its children, the Church confidently celebrates Christ’s paschal mystery – his passion, death and resurrection. We find hope in our participation in this mystery.
The Order of Christian Funerals offers those who grieve opportunities for family and communal prayer. This brochure will serve as an introduction to the Church’s funeral rites and some practical points of planning for a funeral at St. Ann’s.
Further resources for planning funeral rites are available and will be provided by our pastoral team as they assist you during this preparation.
Please be assured of our prayers and support during your time of grief and sorrow.
Order of Christian Funerals
The public prayer of the Church is offered for the deceased and their families at three specific times or “stations.” These include:
The Vigil for the Deceased
The Funeral Liturgy
Rite of Committal (Burial)
Often these are preceded by family prayers at the time of death; in the first gathering of the family in the presence of the body; and in prayer before the procession to the church.
Vigil for the Deceased
The first celebration takes the form of a vigil of Scripture readings and prayers and is observed at the funeral home, usually the day before the funeral liturgy. A member of the family or a friend of the deceased person may offer words of remembrance at the conclusion of the Vigil.
The second station is the funeral liturgy which may or may not take place during the celebration of the Eucharist depending on specific circumstances.
The celebration of the Funeral Mass takes place in the parish Church, Mass may not be celebrated in the Funeral Home. The Christian community gathers and offers praise and thanks to almighty God for the gift of life and the promise of resurrection.
Listening to God’s Word and sharing in Holy Communion, we are strengthened by God’s presence and supported by the worshiping community to face the pain of loss.
In some cases, the family of the deceased may judge that the Funeral Liturgy Outside Mass is a more suitable form of celebration. This funeral liturgy consists of prayer, Scripture and the final commendation. It may take place in the funeral home or the parish Church. The Vigil for the Deceased may or may not be celebrated when this Funeral Liturgy is held at the funeral home.
Rite of Committal
The final celebration takes place at the grave of the deceased person. Here, the Church offers its blessing over the place of burial and offers prayers for the deceased.
This is becoming more common in our society. The Church still recommends that, where cremation is chosen, it take place following the funeral liturgy. In this case, the Vigil for the Deceased and Funeral Liturgy are celebrated as described above. Where cremation takes place before the Funeral Liturgy, it is permitted to have Mass with the ashes present. The ashes of the deceased should be reverently buried or entombed at a cemetery.
Catholics are sometimes surprised to learn, as they prepare for a funeral liturgy, that a eulogy is not permitted and that there is no provision for a eulogy in the celebration of the Funeral Mass. Since 2004, we have had a policy in the Diocese of Hamilton which disallows eulogies at any funeral held in Church.
The Order of Christian Funerals states that the homily after the Gospel is never to be a eulogy: rather, the homilist is called to weave the person’s life into the mystery of the faith and the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Mere “high praise” of the individual, however, has little reference to the Christian life and is often exaggerated and out of place in church.
Words of remembrance by friends or family members are most suitable at the end of the Vigil Service in the funeral home or at a reception following the funeral liturgy.
Our parish pastoral team is ready to assist you in the planning of these rites and to offer you prayerful support and consolation in the faith.