Arranging a funeral is a task we all hope never to have to cope with. Unfortunately there are times when we have no choice and we hope that by presenting these Liturgical guidelines from the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat, it may make the procedure easier for you.
Funerals can be celebrated in a number of places – the Church, Funeral Parlour, Graveside, Crematorium. In each case, there should be appropriate use of Christian symbols and Scripture for the funeral service and committal of the body and/or ashes. Those preparing for funerals should ensure that the necessary preparations are made and communicate with the Funeral Director regarding all liturgical celebrations.
- Length of Liturgy
The length of the funeral celebration should take into consideration the tension for the bereaved, the constraints of those attending, the requirements regarding the use of the church or place of celebration and cemetery. In the normal course of events, funeral masses should aim to be no longer than one hour.
Placement of the Eulogy is at the beginning of Mass or Service, after the Greeting. Length of the Eulogy is to be no more than 7 minutes. It is recommended that only one person gives the Eulogy and that the text of the Eulogy is written out.
Symbols are of two kinds: Life symbols and Sacred/Christian symbols.Life symbols: Provision should be made for life symbols (photos, fishing rods, knitting….) to be placed in an appropriate and dignified place at the front of the Church prior to the Funeral liturgy separate from the Christian symbols. The life symbols could be alluded to during the Eulogy.Sacred/Christian symbols: The symbols of paschal candle, pall, water, incense, devotional articles should be used according to the ritual. The pall can appropriately remain on the coffin until reaching the graveside. Only Christian symbols should be placed on the coffin. Flowers for the coffin should be moderate in size.
Readings for the Liturgy of the Word are to be from Sacred Scripture and an authorised translation used. Other readings may be included during the Eulogy or after Communion at a Funeral Mass.
- Presentation of the Gifts
Only the bread and wine should be presented at this time in a Funeral Mass.
Music during the Funeral Mass should be sacred music and liturgically appropriate for the ritual being celebrated. Requested music may be incorporated in a reflective manner and the music as the coffin leaves the church could be negotiable. Consideration regarding use of personal choice music may also be part of the gathering after the Funeral.THE RITE OF COMMITTAL: The Rite of Committal may take place at the Graveside or at the Crematorium. If there is to be no service at the graveside or Crematorium, it is appropriate to have a simple ritual of farewell as the hearse leaves the Church. It is also appropriate to have a simple prayer service for the Committal of Ashes.AFTER THE FUNERAL: Following the immediate time of the funeral, continuing pastoral support should be offered to the bereaved, e.g. regular visits, a card or some kind of remembrance on the first anniversary of death. Occasions of liturgical celebration for those who have died should feature in the life of the parish – e.g. the inclusion of prayers for those who have died in the General Intercessions, an annual memorial Mass or service, prayers during November, Mass in the cemetery.