Ministry to the Bereaved
Part 4 Liturgical Issues

Chapter f41 Funeral Liturgies

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

History of the Ritual

Rites Before Death

Rites at the Time of Death

Rites Immediately after Death

Planning the Funeral Rites
 Old Testament Readings
 New Testament Readings
 Gospel Readings

The Showing
 
Reception of the Body into the Church

Eucharist

Final Commendation

Procession to Grave Site

Burial

Pastoral Care after the Burial


To Think About

Preliminary Questions

[From an article in the Newark Star-Ledger, by David Gibson, staff reporter]:  With the bodies of so many victims of the World Trade Center attacks lost without a trace, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark is taking the extraordinary step of allowing families to inter an urn or casket containing only mementos of the missing person. After the normal memorial Mass, the receptacle could then be buried in a Catholic cemetery, just like a coffin with a body.  "People don't have a body, but they want closure, so we've decided to allow this," archdiocesan spokesman James Goodness said. So far it appears that the Newark Archdiocese, which covers Essex, Union, Bergen and Hudson counties, is the only one in the region granting the unusual dispensation...  http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/page1/ledger/1496fd3.html

 Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Bibliography

"Please Don't Say These Six Things at My Funeral"   http://birdchadlouis.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/please-dont-say-these-six-things-at-my-funeral/

"The Tragic Death Of The Funeral"  [i.e. being replaced by a "Celebration of Life"]   http://thefederalist.com/2013/12/06/funeral-funeral-celebration-life-one-last-hurrah/

The Definitive Guide to Choosing a Headstone  http://headstoneguide.co.uk/

 Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

History of the Ritual

1969 August 15   Ordo exsequiarum  (The official text of the revised Roman rite for funerals, i.e. the editio typica.  Mandatory [when celebrated in Latin] on 1970 June 1.

1970 Rite of Funerals (first ICEL translation of the Ordo exsequiarum into English)

1989 Order of Christian Funerals (second ICEL translation and adaptation of the Ordo exsequiarum with adaptations for the English speaking countries and USCCB prayers for the USA).

1985  Approved by the USCCB on Nov 14,1985
1987  Confirmed by the Apostolic See on April 29, 1987
1989  Published after 1989 October 1;
1989  Mandatory on 1989 November 2, All Souls day. 

2.  Liturgical Issues:  The official Latin text of the Rite of Funerals was composed for a "world-wide" multitude of cultural variations.  ICEL adapted and selected the rites for the English-speaking Churches, and the USCCB through its Committee for Divine Worship adapted and selected the rites for our culture and customs.  The ritual has various stages:

1.  Prayers for the Dying (including Viaticum)
2.  Prayers at the time of Death
3.  Washing and preparation of the body for burial (in the USA this is usually done at the Funeral Home)
4.  [Rites in the presence of the body]  Viewing of the body / Wake / Prayers for the Dead / Liturgy of the Hours / Eulogies and Remembrance
5.  [Preparation of the Funeral Eucharist]
6.  Transfer of the body to the Church
7.  Reception of the body into the Church
8.  Viewing of the body / Wake / Prayers for the Dead / Liturgy of the Hours / Eulogies and Remembrance
9.  The Funeral Eucharist
10. Sending the body to the place of burial
11. Procession to the place of burial
12. (Blessing of the grave and) Prayers for committal to the grave
13.  Meal
14.  Anniversaries  3, 6, 9, 30, year, etc...

There is much variation in the importance of each of the above elements:  in the USA the minister will be concerned especially with the rites for #4, 7, 9, 10, and 12.  It is important to note the different functions which each of these rituals serve.  There is an "emotional" progression / resolution in the rites themselves.

Rites Before Death

1.  Prayers for the Dying (including Viaticum)

Rites at the Time of Death

1.  The Apostolic Pardon   "At the Conclusion of the sacrament of penance or the penitential rite, the priest may give the Apostolic Pardon for the dying, using one of the following:

A. Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May He open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy. R. Amen.

B. By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. R. Amen."

 Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Rites Immediately after Death

1.  Washing and preparation of the body for burial (in the USA this is usually done at the Funeral Home)
2.  [Rites in the presence of the body]  Viewing of the body / Wake / Prayers for the Dead / Liturgy of the Hours / Eulogies and Remembrance
3.  [Preparation of the Funeral Eucharist]

 Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Planning the Funeral Rites

1.  The proper place for the funeral rites   Canon 1177 states that funeral rites are permitted in the parish church or some other church. The legal definition of "church" must be kept in mind (canon 1214).  A chapel in a funeral parlor is not a church. For funeral rites to be licitly celebrated in a funeral parlor or other location (whether Mass is celebrated or not) a dispensation of the diocesan bishop (or his delegate) is needed.  Dispensations are given for particular cases. A general dispensation cannot be given because a bishop cannot validly enact a general diocesan policy contrary to higher law (Canon 135, 2). The bishop could, however, validly delegate his power for this dispensation to the vicar general or even to pastors in general, presuming he would have reason to do so. (This paragraph is adapted from private comment by a canonist who is expert in liturgical law.)

2.  Liturgy planning   The family of the deceased

 

   Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Old Testament Readings

Job 19:1, 23-27

I know that my Redeemer lives.

Wisdom 3:1-9 or 3:1-6,9

He accepted them as a holocaust.

Wisdom 4:7-15

A blameless life is a ripe of old age.

Isaiah 25:6a, 7-9

The Lord God will destroy death for ever.

Lamentations 3:17-26

It is good to wait in silence for the Lord God to save.

Daniel 12:1-3

Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake.

2 Maccabees 12:43-46

It is good and holy to think of the dead rising again.

 

   Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

New Testament Readings

Acts 10:34-43 or 10:34-36, 42-43

God has appointed Jesus to judge everyone, alive and dead.

Romans 5:5-11

Having been justified by his blood, we will be saved from God's anger through him.

Romans 5:17-21

Where sin increased, there grave abounded all the more.

Romans 6:3-9 or 6:3-4, 8-9

Let us walk in newness of life.

Romans 8:14-23

We groan while we wait for the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:31b-35, 37-39

Who can ever come between us and the love of Christ?

Romans 14:7-9, 10b-12

Whether alive or dead, we belong to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 24b-28 or 15:20-23

All people will be brought to life in Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:51-57

Death is swallowed up in victory.

2 Corinthians 4:14 -- 5:1

What is seen is transitory; what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 5:1, 6-10

We have an everlasting home in heaven.

Philippians 3:20-21

Jesus will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours to be like his glorious body.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

We shall stay with the Lord for ever.

2 Timothy 2:8-13

If we have died with him, we shall live with him.

1 John 3:1-2

We shall see God as he really is.

1 John 3:14-16

We have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers and sisters.

Revelation 14:13

Happy are those who die in the Lord.

Revelation 20:11 -- 21:1

The dead have been judged according to their works.

Revelation 21:1-5a, 6b-7

There will be no more death.

 

   Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Gospel Readings

Matthew 5:1-12a

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

Matthew 11:25-30

Come to me .. and I will give you rest.

Matthew 25:1-13

Look, the bridegroom comes.  Go out to meet him.

Matthew 25:31-46

Come, you whom my Father has blessed.

Mark 15:33-39; 16:1-6 or 15:33-39

Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

Luke 7:11-17

Young man, I say to you, arise.

Luke 12:35-40

Be prepared.

Luke 23:33, 39-43

Today you will be with me in paradise.

Luke 23:44-46, 50, 52-53, 24:1-6a or 23:44-46, 50, 52-53

Father, I put my life in your hands.

Luke 24:13-35 or 24:13-16, 28-35

Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory!

John 5:24-29

Whoever hears my word and believes has passed from death to life.

John 6:37-40

All who believe in the Son will have eternal life and I will raise them to life again on the last day.

John 6:51-58

All who eat this bread will live for ever; and I will raise them up on the last day.

John 11:17-27 or 11:21-27

I am the resurrection and the life.

John 11:32-45

Lazarus, come out.

John 12:23-28 or 12:23-26

If a grain of wheat falls ont he ground and dies, it yields a rich harvest.

John 14:1-6

There are many rooms in my Father's house.

John 17:24-26

Father, I want those you have given to me to be with me where I am.

John 9:17-18, 25-30

Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

The Showing

 

 

Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Reception of the Body into the Church

 

 

  Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Eucharist

(From the Introduction to the Ordo Exsequiarum, 1969, #18)    "In preparing and planning a funeral, priests are to keep in mind with delicate sensitivity not only the identity of the deceased and the circumstances of of the death, but also the grief of the bereaved and their needs for a Christian life. Priests are to be particularly mindful of those who attend the liturgical celebration or hear the Gospel because of the funeral, but are either non-Catholics or Catholics who never or seldom take part in the eucharist of have apparently lost the faith. Priests are, after all, the servants of Christ's Gospel on behalf of all."

   Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Final Commendation

 

 

   Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Procession to Grave Site

 

 

   Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Burial 

 

 

   Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Pastoral Care after the Burial

 

 

 

   Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

To Think About

Why do we pray for the dead?  What good does it do?  Is it for us or for them or for God?

Click here to return to the previous Chapter of the Ritual        Click here to view Chapter 8 of the Ritual

Return to:   Top of This Page  --- Anointing Index --- Funeral Index --- Fr. Tom's Home Page

Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/19/15.  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org