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Funeral Guidelines

Christian Funerals- Some Guidelines:

From the Compendium Catechism of the Catholic Church

No 354: What does the Church teach on funerals?

The Christian who dies in Christ reaches at the end of his/her earthly existence the fulfilment of that new life which was begun in Baptism, strengthened in Confirmation, and nourished in the Eucharist, the foretaste of the heavenly banquet. The meaning of the death of a Christian becomes clear in the light of the death and Resurrection of Christ our only hope. The Christian who dies in Christ Jesus goes “away from the body to be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

No 355: What do funeral rites express?

Although celebrated in different rites in keeping with the situations and traditions of the various regions, funeral rites express the paschal character of Christian death in hope of the Resurrection. They also manifest the meaning of communion with the departed particularly through prayer for the purification of their souls.

No 356: What are the main moments in funerals?

Usually, funeral rites consist of four principal parts: (1) welcoming the body of the deceased by the community with words of comfort and hope; (2) the Liturgy of the Word; (3) the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and (4) the farewell in which the soul of the departed is entrusted to God, the Source of eternal life, while the body is buried in the hope of the Resurrection.

 

Some Diocesan & Parish Guidelines for Families

  • The priests of this Christian community, in common with priests everywhere, are available to listen to and work with families of the deceased at the time of a funeral in order to help the funeral liturgy to be meaningful, to give reassurance of God’s loving presence and to give thanks to God for the life of the deceased.
  • Please ensure that the Funderal Director makes contact with one of the priests of the parish before funeral arrangments are finalised.
  • Everyone is asked to remember that a funeral is a sacred occasion.
  • The Funeral Liturgy is celebrated as one prayer – consisting of the Mass, which is the memorial of Christ’s death and Resurrection, and the Prayers of Christian Burial at the grave. The prayers at the graveside are not a separate “event”.
  • In accordance with local tradition, those attending funerals offer sympathy to the families following the prayers at the grave. Only in very exceptional situations (e.g. extremely bad weather) will sympathizing with the family take place in the church after the Mass and before the Burial Rites.
  • Practices such as personal poems about the deceased, the singing of secular songs etc are not permitted as these do not reflect the sacredness of the occasion.
  • Families who wish to make personal contributions or tributes are welcome to do so after the final blessing at the graveside or in the home before final removal or indeed at the venue for refreshments afterwards, which is also a gathering in fellowship of the community.
  • If items or symbols associated with the deceased are to be brought to the sanctuary, this should happen before the actual beginning of the Funeral Mass. The use of inappropriate symbols is not permitted. Families are asked to liaise with the priest on this matter.
  • At a funeral we all give witness to Christian hope in the Resurrection. The funeral liturgy points us to God, the source of life and the fountain of mercy. At a funeral we bring hope and consolation to those bereaved.
  • All of this is offered as catechesis on the meaning of Christian death and to prepare families for a Funeral Mass and Liturgy that has meaning for them and which fits into the overall liturgical life of the Church.

To you O Lord, I lift up my soul! (Ps. 25:1)