Catholic Funeral Mass

 

The Catholic Funeral Mass is the supreme liturgical act relative to the defunct: to commend the dead to God’s merciful love, to plead for the forgiveness of their sins, and to offer consolation and support for the mourners. Catholics may also derive secondary purposes, such as Grace for the souls in Purgatory, since any mass has infinite value. The mass may also operate spiritual transformations in members of the congregation: they renew a perspective of life, move closer to God and increase their spirituality.  Increasing secularization is challenging the Church’s funeral rites. Devout Catholics should inform their families, even stipulating it in their wills, the right of a Catholic Funeral Mass.

The celebrant blesses the covered casket with incense at the entrance of the church, to remind the congregation that their prayers are directed to Heaven, so that the deceased’s soul may also ascend to God. Then, the casket is brought to the front of the sanctuary and positioned in front of the paschal candle, which represents the light of Christ dispelling the darkness of death and promising eternal life.

Songs have already begun, even before the coffin is brought into the church. They correspond to the liturgy’s focus on the Eucharist and eternal life, and provide consolation to the mourners. Parishes allow the family of the defunct to select sacred music and biblical readings.

The Catholic Funeral Mass does not have an eulogy because the mourners gather to praise God Himself, not the defunct, to pray for the deceased to reach eternal repose, and to join the Redeemer in the offering of Himself to our Heavenly Father. The Catholic Church claims that the wake is the appropriate forum for reminiscing and sharing on the person’s life, because an eulogy is not liturgical. Deacons frequently ministers the Church’s liturgical service at wakes.

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6 Responses to Catholic Funeral Mass

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  2. Deacon Jim Casa says:

    I find this interesting:
    “The Catholic Funeral Mass does not have a eulogy because the mourners gather to praise God Himself, not the defunct,…”

    Yet, at just about every Funeral Mass for a bishop or priest, the homily that is delivered is about 90% eulogy that speak of the cleric’s days at seminary and such. This is unfortunate because it appears that there is a set of standards used for lay people and another used for clergy.

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  4. Deacon John Okragleski says:

    This message needs to be spread to all the Church. You are so right in saying most Catholics have gone to the funeral director for how to handle the funeral, they do not include a wake or funeral mass, to cut costs. In the mean time the family and friends never have the blessings and benefits of a proper “Catholic Burial and send off.” I had the benefit of minister to my family at the wake and funeral when my father passed away, what a time of great joy and blessing for all of us. Catholics need to turn first to there parish before someone dies, and get the arraignment’s handled by the Priest and ministry that handles funerals, so when death comes, the family and friends can benefit from the blessings given at this most difficult time, don’t wait until death comes. The eternal destination of the soul of the departed is at stake at this time.

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