Planning the Funeral of a Loved OneThe death of a loved one can be one of life's most difficult moments. The depth of our grief is determined by the closeness of our relationship to the person who died and to the circumstances surrounding the death.
Grieving is a process that takes time. We do not get over a loved one's death; rather, we integrate his/her memory into our lives and become reconciled to life without that person.
Our trust in God teaches and informs us that life is not taken away, it is changed.
As Catholic Christians we have a set of rituals to help orient us and get us through the initial days of loss. We can better manage our loss by placing it into the context of religious faith; this is a reverential way to complete the journey of the deceased.
A Christian Funeral
The funeral is often the first public experience of our loss; for some it is the beginning of the mourning process. The Catholic community has an order or path for walking the difficult days after a loved one’s death: the Vigil (wake), the Funeral Mass and Rite of Committal. Each prayerful stop on this path marks a significant moment of grieving, support, and hope.
Someone from the Ministry of Consolation group contacts the family of the deceased to assist with the planning of the funeral service.
The Vigil, formerly called the wake, is the principal rite celebrated by the Christian community following the death of a loved one before the funeral Mass. Most often in our area, the Vigil takes place in the funeral home. It is a time for friends, neighbors and members of the parish to show concern for the family of the deceased by gathering for prayer.
Pictures of the deceased loved one can be displayed, favorite songs can be played, and family and friends can offer words of remembrance. A priest, deacon, or lay person may lead these prayers.
The Funeral Mass
At the funeral Mass, family and friends of the deceased gather to give thanks, to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy, and to console one another. The family is encouraged to participate in the funeral liturgy in a number of ways. This participation invites all to express their sorrow in these religious rituals and to continue the mourning process. To assist you with planning the Mass, Holy Name Parish has provided a Planning Sheet.
The Funeral Mass begins when the priest greets the family and others who have accompanied the coffin at the door of the church. The priest sprinkles the coffin with holy water in remembrance of the deceased person's initiation and first acceptance into the community of faith.
The Funeral Pall
The coffin is completely covered with a white funeral pall. This white cloth reminds us that the deceased was given the promise of eternal life at baptism. Now at death, he/she prepares to enter into eternal life. Family or friends may place the pall on the casket.
If a sacred symbol (crucifix or bible) is to be placed on the coffin, it is carried in the procession and is placed of the coffin by a family member, friend, or the priest.
The Liturgy of the Word
The Word of God brings hope and consolation. There are two or three readings from the Bible at the Funeral Mass. The first reading is from the Old Testament and the second is from the New Testament. The Family is encouraged to choose the first two readings and the Psalm. Family or friends, if they are composed and able, are invited to do these readings.
The cantor sings the Psalm between these two readings. The priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel, the third reading, taken from the New Testament and preaches a homily based on the Scripture readings.
Family members are invited to carry up the gifts of bread and wine. Some families invite children and grandchildren to participate in the offertory procession.
At the conclusion of the Mass, before leaving the church, a farewell prayer is said. It is permissible at this time for one family member or friend to say a few words in remembrance of the deceased loved one. the funeral.
We offer several suggestions for the speaker:
* Prepare and write out remarks in advance
* Keep remarks to about 3 minutes
* Represent the entire family in the remarks (pronouns such as we and us are
better than I, me, etc.)
* Include references to faith, God, prayer, etc. in the life of the deceased loved one
Music is an integral part of worship during funeral liturgies and can be most helpful in grieving. Secular music is not appropriate for the Funeral Mass, but may be suitable for the Vigil Service, Committal or Reception following the Funeral.
If you would like help in planning and assembling a funeral program, please contact Carmen Giombetti or call contact the Parish Center
The Rite of Committal
The funeral rites conclude with the Rite of Committal, which is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member. The Rite of Committal is an expression of the connection that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who already see God face to face. Generally, the Rite of Committal takes place at the grave.
Donations in Memory of
Often family or friends wish to remember the person who has died by making a memorial contribution to St. Michael Parish. Please speak to a parish staff person and let the funeral director know if you would like to have this information included in the newspaper announcement. All donors will receive acknowledgments.