Christian Burial Rites -  Funeral Liturgy (Mass)



The Funeral Liturgy (Mass) is our great "Thank You" to God who created us, died for us, and who is calling each of us back to Himself. In this step the focus shifts slightly from emphasis on the deceased to God’s saving works though Jesus Christ. The Mass, particularly at the time of death, is truly a special moment, a holy moment, a God-moment.

Celebrating the funeral liturgy at Mass in the parish church is the normal way in which most Catholics experience the Order of Christian Funerals. The Eucharist looks forward to our participation in the heavenly banquet, where we are united with Jesus, the saints, and all those who share eternal life. Jesus said, "whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall live forever." (John 6:54) The Eucharist is truly the central point in a Catholic funeral. Its effectiveness is greatly enhanced when the family participates in appropriate ways: clothing the casket with the pall, selecting the Scripture readings, serving as lectors or extraordinary ministers, singing the responses and the hymns and, most especially, receiving Holy Communion.

The funeral homily is of utmost importance in the funeral liturgy. A homily may only be delivered by a priest or a deacon, as liturgical homilies are part of the sacramental rite of the Eucharist. The homily speaks of the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection and gives the deeper meaning that is found in the experience of death and dying. The homily occurs within the context of a funeral Mass that is offered for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of the soul of the faithful departed.

Eulogies are best given at an appropriate time during the Vigil Service (Wake). While there is a natural desire to say good things about a person who has died, we must always remember that in the context of prayer, it is the working of God’s grace in the life of the deceased for which we want to give thanks and praise. Eulogies in the context of prayer must be more than mere tributes to the goodness of the deceased. There must be a reference to what God has done for the deceased person and for us through him/her
.