The funeral Mass is the central liturgical celebration for the deceased.
The Christian community reaffirms in sign and symbol, word and gesture, that through baptism we share in Christ’s death and resurrection, and look forward to the day when we will be raised up and united in the kingdom of light and peace.
The funeral Mass is normally celebrated the evening before, or on the day of the burial or committal. A priest is the presider for a funeral Mass.
The funeral Mass begins at the entrance of the church. The priest and the gathered assembly receive the body of the deceased. The coffin is sprinkled with holy water and the pall is placed upon it by family or friends of the deceased to recall the deceased’s baptism. The body is carried in procession toward the altar and placed near the paschal candle. When the coffin is in place, other Christian symbols, such as the Book of Gospels or cross may be placed on the coffin.
Mass continues as the community celebrates the Liturgy of the Word. The homily is based on the readings and focuses on the paschal mystery and God’s love. The assembly prays for the deceased and the bereaved in the intercessions. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is celebrated as usual. In word and sacrament, we celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection and reaffirm our share in this mystery.
The final commendation immediately follows the prayer after Communion. At this time the deceased is entrusted to God’s tender care. While an extended time of remembrance is most appropriate for the vigil, if desired, one family member or friend may offer a brief prepared eulogy before the final commendation begins. The song of farewell is the climax of the rite of final commendation. This song, sung by the assembly, has a specific function: to affirm the hope and trust in the paschal mystery. The body may be incensed during or following the song of farewell. The prayer of commendation concludes the rite.
The procession is then formed and the body is carried to the place of burial or committal.
Music selections for funerals are made in conjunction with the ministers of music in the parish and follow the directives of the Roman Catholic Church regarding music in the liturgy. Some requested music selections that do not fall within these norms may be appropriate during the period of the wake.