Although death brings a deep sense of sadness and loss, faith can provide solace and strength. This time offers an opportunity to encounter God in a new way and to deepen our belief in God’s love for us and for our loved one. When we, as Christians, encounter death we are drawn to prayer, praying for those who have died and those who loved them. The prayer that supports Catholic Christians at the time of a death is called the funeral rites. Through the funeral rites we offer worship, praise and thanksgiving to God for the gift of a life which has now been returned to God.
Order of the Funeral Mass
The following will review how the Funeral Mass unfolds and help as you make choices for the Mass.
The celebrant meets the family/funeral procession at the doors of the church with a greeting.
As the funeral procession walks down the aisle led by the celebrant the Entrance Song begins.
Invitation to Prayer
After everyone is seated the celebrant asks those present to pray: “My brothers and sisters, we believe”, or similar words.
Collect (Opening Prayer)
The celebrant prays one of several choices of prayers.
LITURGY OF THE WORD
Family members or friends are encouraged to participate in the Liturgy of the Word by assuming readings that are chosen.
First Reading (Old Testament; from the New Testament during Easter season)
A member of the family or another person reads one of the selected Old Testament readings from the Order of Christian Funerals. See Masses for the Dead - Readings from the Old Testament
Responsorial Psalm (Song of Praise)
When musicians are present, the General Instruction to the Roman Missal (GIRM) requires that the responsorial psalm is sung. See Masses for the Dead - Responsorial Psalms
Second Reading (New Testament)
A member of the family or another person reads one of the selected New Testament readings from the Order of Christian Funerals. See Masses for the Dead - Readings from the New Testament
The priest celebrant or deacon reads the Gospel from the selections in the Order of Christian Funerals. The Gospel is usually chosen by the family. See Masses for the Dead - Gospel Acclamations
The celebrant often refers to the thoughts that have been provided by family or others that show how the loved one lived out the Christian way and values.
The Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful)
Having been nourished by the divine word, the people pour out their petitions by means of the Universal Prayer for the needs of the whole Church and for the salvation of the whole world. The celebrant himself begins it with a brief introduction, by which he calls upon the faithful to pray. A member of the family then reads each invocation from the ambo to which the assembly responds "Lord, hear our prayer." More than one person may read them. The celebrant concludes with an oration ending with the assembly being seated.
LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
Presentation of the Gifts
The family is encouraged to choose family or friends to bring up the gifts. The gifts normally carried up are: bowl of hosts, water and wine.
If the family has Eucharistic Ministers it is good to mention that to us.
Song of Farewell (Incensing)
The Song of Farewell is usually sung during the incensing.
Prayer of Commendation
The priest commends the deceased into the hands of Our Lord. He then prays “In peace let us take our brother/sister to his/her place of rest,” or something similar when the funeral procession will be proceeding to the place of burial.
Procession to the Place of Committal (Closing Song)
The priest leads the procession out of the church at which time the hymn that the family has chosen is sung. The family follows behind the deceased.