The Christ the King community extends its prayers and condolences on the loss of your loved one. The death of a family member can leave us feeling at a loss or empty. Grief can place a great burden on us, making the necessary arrangements seem even greater. Some of these arrangements include the planning of the funeral Mass.
As Christians, we celebrate the Christian funeral to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the gift of life which has now returned to God. The celebration of the funeral rites is a way to remind us of God’s mercy and to bring hope and consolation in a time of crisis.
In the hope of lightening this burden, this planning guide has been put together to coincide with the parish planning sheet and the resources of the parish. Ideally the family will meet with a parish staff member to plan the funeral Mass. We hope these materials will enable you to plan a liturgy which actively involves those gathered in prayer and grief to give praise to God.
On behalf of the pastoral staff and parishioners of Christ the King, may the peace and consolation of Christ be yours.
The Order of Christian Funerals
Traditionally, full Catholic funeral rites are celebrated in three stages--the vigil service, as part of the visitation; the Funeral Mass; and the committal service at the graveside or mausoleum. Each section is an important part of the funeral liturgy of the Catholic Church.
The Vigil Service
The Vigil most often takes places at a funeral home and normally consists of a Scripture Service comprised of readings, reflections, and prayers. The vigil service is the appropriate time to share stories and eulogies about the deceased. It may be possible to incorporate favorite music, whether sacred or secular.
On occasion at Christ the King, we are able to host the visitation in the church narthex, and the vigil service might be included.
The Funeral Mass
Most of this planning guide is aimed at helping you with the Funeral Mass celebrated in the church.
The Committal Service
Most often, the committal service takes place immediately after the Mass. (This may not be true when burial is to take place in another city, or if the body is to be cremated after the Mass.)
Other points to consider
Eulogies: According to the funeral rites of the Church, the appropriate place and time for eulogies is the Vigil service, which is normally held at the funeral home, the evening prior to the Funeral. They may also be given at the cemetery or during the funeral luncheon. Eulogies are not appropriate during the Funeral Mass.
In cases where it is not possible to have the eulogy at the vigil service, it may take place in the narthex before the Funeral Mass begins, with the following guidelines:
• Only one person may speak.
• The length of the eulogy may not exceed five minutes.
• The eulogy is to be typed out.
• It must be submitted to the liturgist or pastor the evening prior to the Funeral Mass.
Use of Pre-Recorded Music: The playing of pre-recorded music (CD’s, tapes, DVD’s etc.) may take place during the visitation, at the Vigil, or at the Committal Service. Pre-recorded music is not permitted during Mass.
Use of Secular or Popular Music: Secular or popular music can sometimes be meaningful, and may be included at the Vigil or during the Committal Service. It may not be included at the Funeral Mass.
Military Honors: If there will be military honors taking place outside the church or cemetery, it is important to alert the presider and person planning the liturgy so that necessary arrangements can be made.
If the casket comes to the church draped in a flag, the flag is removed before the liturgy begins and then put back on the coffin after the pall has been removed at the end of the liturgy.
Funeral Luncheons: Martha’s Meals provides funeral luncheons on-site for a limited number of people, and can arrange for larger groups off-campus. Please contact Terry McKown at the parish office for more information.
See: An Outline of the Funeral Mass