"Into your hands, Father of mercies, we commend our loved ones, in the sure and certain hope that, together with all who have died in Christ, they will rise with him on the last day.”
Dear Friends in Christ,
The St. Brendan community extends its prayers and condolences on the loss of your loved one. The death of a family member can leave us feeling at a loss or empty. Grief can place a great burden on us, making the necessary arrangements seem even greater. Some of these arrangements include the planning of the funeral Mass. As your loved one is entitle by his or her baptism to a Mass of Christian Burial, the perfect prayer of our Church, we thank you for offering this mass for them.
As Christians, we celebrate the Christian funeral to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the gift of life which has now returned to God. The celebration of the funeral rites is a way to remind us of God’s mercy and to bring hope and consolation in a time of crisis.
In the hope of lightening the task of planning a funeral liturgy, this planning guide has been put together to coincide with the parish planning sheet and the resources of the parish. Obviously the family is invited meet with a parish priest to assist with plans for the funeral Mass. We hope these materials will enable you to plan a liturgy which actively involves those gathered in prayer and grief to give praise to God.
We realize that family members of the deceased are more or less comfortable with the planning and participation of liturgies, especially during such a difficult time. Please feel free to do as much or as little according to your personal comfort level. If you do not wish to participate in the selection of music or family members offering the readings at mass, please let us know. We will gladly have others assist from the parish with these roles.
On behalf of the pastoral staff and parishioners of St. Brendan Parish, may the peace and consolation of Christ be yours. Again, please contact one of your parish priest for assistance an an appointment to help with your planning.
*Please note that documents for planning a funeral mass can be found on the right of this page under "Documents."
The Order of Christian Funerals
Traditionally, full Catholic funeral rites are celebrated in three stages--the vigil service, as part of the visitation; the Funeral Mass; and the committal service at the graveside or mausoleum. Each section is an important part of the funeral liturgy of the Catholic Church.
1. The Vigil Service
The Vigil most often takes places at a funeral home and normally consists of a Scripture Service comprised of readings, reflections, and prayers. The vigil service is the appropriate time to share stories and eulogies about the deceased. It may be possible to incorporate favorite music, whether sacred or secular. Discuss these options with our chosen Funeral Director
2. The Funeral Mass
After completing the "Funeral Mass Planning & Hymn Selection" sheet, please email the completed information to the church (StBrendan@cox.net) or ask your funeral director to fax it to us. At the very least, please give it to Father when he attends during the vigil visiting hours.
You will find suggested readings under documents on the right side of this page, or follow the links below. If you have other sacred scripture passages from the New American Bible you wish to offer, discuss them with Father. In most cases, other scripture readings than those suggested herein may be used. No secular readings (Poems, short stories, etc.) are permitted at funeral liturgies.
Readers you choose should come prepared and should bring a copy of their readings with them to the funeral mass. They will sit with their families and will be invited forward by the priest when they are to proclaim the readings. You may choose one, two or three readers to proclaim the readings and the prayers at mass. - one person for the Old Testament reading, one for the New Testament reading and third for the prayer of the faithful. Or optionally, the same person may proclaim multiple readings. It is strongly suggested that the readers be Catholic.
The psalm response is usually sung and chosen by the organist and the Gospel chosen by the priest. If have suggestions in these areas please feel free to make them.
The St. Brendan's Parish Funeral Mass Planning and Hymn Selection Sheet has a list with the most popular song selections. Others liturgical songs may also be appropriate. If you have other suggestions please let us know. Secular or popular culture msic is never appropriate at the Funeral Liturgy (see below).
Use of Pre-Recorded Music:
The playing of pre-recorded music (CD’s, tapes, DVD’s etc.) may take place during the visitation, at the Vigil, or at the Committal Service. Pre-recorded music is not permitted during Mass.
Use of Secular or Popular/Secular Music:
Secular or popular music can sometimes be meaningful, and may be included at the Vigil or during the Committal Service. It may not be included at the Funeral Mass which should completely Christ-centered and prayerful in nature. Read more under links on the right of the page.
3. The Committal Service
Most often, the committal service takes place immediately after the Mass. (This may not be true when burial is to take place in another city, or if the body is to be cremated after the Mass.)
If there will be military honors taking place at the cemetery, your funeral director will assist with necessary arrangements.
If the casket comes to the church draped in a flag, the flag is removed before the liturgy begins and then put back on the coffin after the pall has been removed at the end of the liturgy.
Other points to consider:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 1688) as well as the Catholic Rite of Christian Funerals cautions against personal eulogies at a funeral Mass. The rite reads, “A brief homily based on the readings is always given after the gospel reading at the funeral liturgy and may also be given after the readings at the vigil service; but there is never to be a eulogy.”
Referencing the liturgical guidlines: Order of Christian Funerals, # 141: According to the most recent instructions for the celebration of mass and the Funeral Rites of the Church, the appropriate place and time for eulogies is the Vigil service, which is normally held at the funeral home, the evening prior to the Funeral. They may also be given at the cemetery or perhaps following at the post-funeral gathering.
Please feel free to send some words of remembrance to the priest who will be celebrating the funeral mass. (StBrendan@cox.net) It is appropriate that he incorporate some personal information about the deceased in his homily at the mass.
The custom of the eulogy comes in part from Protestant funeral services that may not have the rich ritual and prayers that is teh Catholic Mass. Nevertheless, for pastoral and personal reasons, some Catholic pastors have caused confusion by allowing eulogies to become customary in some places, inviting eulogies by family or friends to be said at a Catholic liturgy with varying liturgucal or theological content.
Thank you for your understanding that the primary focus of a funeral liturgy, like all Masses, is about Jesus Christ, the Resurrection, the Eucharist and God's Loving Mercy on all of us, sinners - the promise for those who have died in his Grace.
Offering the Bread and Wine at Mass
Two, or as many as four, family members may be asked to offer the bread and wine at mass, which will become the Eucharist the body and blood of our Lord. These participants should be Catholic as this presentation is a rich symbol of the gifts of the people being offered for the sacrament of the Church.
We know that on short notice or other reasons some family members and friends who wish to join you for the funeral are unable to do so. As a special service we have added a streaming web-cam in the church for just such occasions. Please let family and friends know that they may be able to join the liturgy via the internet. They may access the camera from our parish home web-page.