Catholic funeral services follow some relatively formal guidelines. However, times are changing and today some priests will design a special service which incorporates the traditions of the Catholic church with modern funeral readings, songs, or sermons.
A rosary or prayer service is held prior to the funeral and sometimes a wake (with an open casket, if desired) is held at the funeral home on the evening before the funeral service. Often, the bereaved family will request donations to a certain charity is made.
Many also choose to make a donation to the church in memory of the deceased. Friends and family of the deceased also request that a mass be said for the repose of the soul. The body is taken from the funeral home and taken to the church where the funeral Mass is held with closed casket.
After the Mass, the attendees proceed to the grave site for an additional ceremony and prayers are performed. Catholics are now able to choose cremation as an alternative to burial, which was once forbidden by the church law.
Catholic funeral readings can consist of biblical selections from the Liturgy of the Word Old and New Testament. The bereaved family members may request particular verses if desired to the priest for inclusion at the service.
The Catholic church usually has a Bereavement Ministry to help assist you in the planning of the Funeral Mass and help suggest ways for family and friends to be personally involved.
A sample of the Catholic funeral Mass includes opening rites for the receipt of body at the door, blessing with holy water, procession to alter with an opening song, penitential rite and opening prayer.
The Liturgy of the Word includes the first Catholic funeral readings from the Old Testament, a responsorial psalm or song, a second reading from the New Testament, Alleluia song, a reading by the priest from one of the Gospels, a homily given by the priest, prayer, a lighting of a candle for remembrance and a closing song. The readings are taken from specific sections from the Liturgy of the Word so it provides readings from both biblical books.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist consists of an optional presentation of the gifts, Eucharistic prayer, the Lord’s prayer/sign of peace, communion and a song, and a personal reflection by a selected speaker.
The Mass concludes with a song of farewell and a recessional song. There are usually a set of preselected funeral readings which are given in the Funeral Mass but if you have specific readings you would like read or if the deceased had favorite verses, inform the priest or the Bereavement Minister and let them know of any special scriptures you would like included.
The funeral readings offer a help and encouraging word to the attendees and those in mourning. It provides comfort from a religious perspective.