DEATH IN THE CHRISTIAN CONTEXT
1.Catholic belief in death as the entrance into eternity, hope in the resurrection, recognition of the value of prayer for the deceased, reverence for the body which remains and the sense of mystery and sacredness which surround the end of earthly life are all reflected in the Church’s care for the deceased and the family and community that survives them. Private and liturgical prayer, meditation, reflection and the liturgical rites connected with the funeral and committal unite us to the Lord’s paschal mystery and our hope of eternal union with almighty God.
2.The events which surround death call for a community response. Although the immediate family bears a heavy burden of sorrow, relatives, friends and parishioners provide prayerful support.
3.“The funeral of any deceased member of the faithful should normally be celebrated in the church of that person’s proper parish.” (Canon 1177, § 1)
4.“However, any member of the faithful, or those in charge of the deceased person’s funeral, may choose another church; this requires the consent of whoever is in charge of that church and a notification to the proper parish priest of the deceased.” (Canon 1177, § 2)
5.“When death has occurred outside the person’s proper parish, and the body is not returned there, and another church has not been chosen, the funeral rites are to be celebrated in the church of the parish where the death occurred, unless another church has been designated by particular law” (canon 1177, § 3)
THE MOST COMMON ELEMENTS OF A ROMAN CATHOLIC FUNERAL
6. A Vigil service with either the body or cremated remains present. If the body is present, the casket may be either open or closed.
7. A Funeral Mass or service with either the body or cremated remains present. If the body is not present, then the service is referred to as a Memorial Mass.
8. A Graveside service with burial of the body or cremated remains or the placing of the remains in a columbarium or mausoleum.
9. Only Christian symbols be used during the funeral liturgy. Non-religious symbols (national flags, flags or insignia of organizations or associations) and memorial personal items (sports attire or gear, hobby items, etc.) have no place in the funeral liturgy and “are to be removed from the casket at the entrance of the church.” (Order of Cristian Funerals, No. 132 – see also OCF, No. 38).
10. Such non-religious items may be displayed at the funeral home or at the dinner or gathering that often follows the funeral.
11. Liturgical signs and symbols affirming Christian belief and hope in the Paschal Mystery are abundant in the celebration of the funeral rites, but their undue multiplication or repetition should be avoided. Care must be taken that the choice and use of signs and symbols are in accord with the culture of the people. (OCF, No. 21)
SYMBOLS USED IN EVERY FUNERAL LITURGY WHEN THE BODY IS PRESENT
1. EASTER CANDLE
The Easter Candle reminds the faithful of Christ’s undying presence among them, of His victory over sin and death, and of their share in that victory by virtue of our initiation. It recalls the Easter Vigil, the night when the Church awaits the Lord’s resurrection and when the new light for the living and the dead is kindled. During the funeral liturgy and also during the vigil, when celebrated in the church, the Easter Candle is placed beforehand near the position the body will occupy at the conclusion of the procession. (OCF, No. 35)
2. HOLY WATER
Blessed or holy water reminds the assembly of the saving waters of Baptism. In the rite of reception of the body at the church, its use calls to mind the deceased’s baptism and initiation into the community of faith. (OCF, No. 36)
A pall…placed over the body when it is received at the church [is a] reminder of the baptismal garment of the deceased…a sign of the Christian dignity of the person. The use of the pall also signifies that all are equal in the eyes of God (see James 2:1-9). (OCF, No. 38). The pall should at least cover the whole coffin provided by the church.
OTHER CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS USED IN THE FUNERAL LITURGY
Incense is used during the funeral rites as a sign of honor to the body of the deceased, which through Baptism became the temple of the Holy Spirit. Incense is also used as a sign of the community’s prayers for the deceased rising to the throne of God and as a sign of farewell. (OCF, No. 37)
The use of incense is highly encouraged because of its significance as just noted. If incense is used, the ritual indicates that the casket should be incensed only once during the funeral liturgy. It is recommended that the incensation take place at the song of farewell rather than at the preparation of gifts because the focus of its use is more at the body than at the gifts.
2. FRESH FLOWERS
Fresh flowers, used in moderation, can enhance the setting of the funeral rites. (OCF, No. 38)
There is a long-standing tradition in the Church that flowers are not generally used at funeral liturgies. However, if flowers are used, care should be taken to not place so many displays that they become a distraction from the liturgy. Seasonably appropriate floral displays may be used provided they do not conflict with the message of life, death, and resurrection.
A cross [crucifix] may be placed on the body [casket] as a reminder that the Christian is marked by the cross in baptism and through Jesus’ suffering on the cross is brought to the victory of His resurrection. (OCF, No. 38)
4. THE BOOK OF THE GOSPELS OR A BIBLE
The Book of the Gospels or a Bible may be placed on the body as a sign that Christians live by the word of God and that fidelity to that word leads to eternal life. (OCF, No. 38)
If a crucifix, the Book of the Gospels, or a Bible is used, it is normally placed on the pall, approximately over the heart of the deceased. The object may be placed on the casket by members or friends of the family, or by the principle celebrant or attending deacon. It is removed immediately prior to leaving the church.
THE VIGIL SERVICE / ‘RESPONSO’
1. On the day of the funeral the minister (priest or deacon) will no longer fetch the body of the deceased from the morgue or funeral homes to the church where the service will take place.
2. It is recommended for the minister to use the rite of “Vigil for The Deceased with Reception at The Church” (Order of Christian Funeral, p. 36-45). It is defined pattern which is common to the universal Church while still providing some variation.
I. INTRODUCTORY RITES
The minister, with assisting ministers, goes to the door of the church and greets those present. (Order of Christian Funerals, No. 82).
2. SPRINKLING OF HOLY WATER
a. The minister then sprinkles the coffin with holy water, and say the formula provided. (OCF, No. 83)
b. The family and others who have accompanied the body are greeted at the entrance of the church. The body is then sprinkled with holy water and, if it is the custom, the pall is placed on the coffin by the family members, friends, or the minister. (OCF, No. 58) – the using of incense is not mentioned here.
c. Placing of Pall – Since this is the custom of the local community, the pall is then placed on the coffin by family members, friends, or the minister. (OCF, No. 84)
3. ENTRANCE PROCESSION
a. During the entrance procession, the family members may carry symbols of Christian life, such as: Book of the Gospel, Bible, Memorial Cross & Rosary.
b. Other symbols will not be carried anymore during the procession, such as: flowers, other candles, pictures, and the like.
4. PLACING OF CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS
a. Only Christian symbols may rest on or placed near the coffin during the funeral liturgy. Any other symbols, for example, national flags, or flags or insignia of associations, have no place in the funeral liturgy. (OCF, No. 38, 132)
5. INVITATION TO PRAYER
II. LITURGY OF THE WORD
2. Responsorial Psalm (During this time the first reading and the responsorial psalm may be omitted and the minister may proceed to the Gospel reading.)
4. HOMILY (Optional)
III. PRAYER OF INTERCESSION
2. THE LORD’S PRAYER – Incensation & Sprinkling of Holy Water is omitted (confer Page 5 on Incense).
3. CONCLUDING PRAYER
IV. CONCLUDING RITE
1.The vigil concludes with a blessing, which will be followed by liturgical songs or moments of silent prayer or both. (OCF, No. 56)
V. OTHER ACTIVITIES AFTER CONCLUDING RITE
1.At the vigil, the Christian community keeps watch with the family in prayer to the God of mercy and finds strength in Christ’s presence. (OCF, No. 56)
2. During this time the family, relatives and friends can pray the Rosary, eulogies, remembrance & acknowledgement.
3. The Vigil/Responso should commence five minutes before the scheduled time of the Mass.
THE FUNERAL MASS
1.The readings and prayers, psalms and songs should be proclaimed or sung with understanding, conviction, and reverence. (Order of Christian Funerals (OCF), No. 21)
2. Music for the assembly should be truly expressive of the texts and at the same time simple and easily sung. The ritual gestures, processions, and postures should express and foster an attitude of reverence and reﬂectiveness in those taking part in the funeral rites. (OCF, No. 21)
3. The funeral rites should be celebrated in an atmosphere of simple beauty, in a setting that encourages participation. (OCF, No. 21)
4. Care must be taken that the choice and use of signs and symbols are in accord with the culture of the people. (OCF, No. 21)
5. The casket is prepositioned by the Paschal Candle before Mass begins. The pall is already in place.
6. Since the body was received during the Vigil/Responso, the Mass begins in the usual way. (see OCF, No. 158)
I. INTRODUCTORY RITES
3. Penitential Rite
II. LITURGY OF THE WORD
a. After the introductory rites, the liturgy of the word is celebrated. Depending upon pastoral circumstances, either one or two readings may be read before the gospel reading.
b. It is the policy of the diocese, in compliance with the ritual book, that only biblical readings are to be used at the funeral liturgy.
c. In every celebration for the dead, the Church attaches great importance to the reading of the word of God. In the celebration of the liturgy of the word at the funeral liturgy, the biblical readings may not be replaced by non-biblical readings. But during prayer services with the family non-biblical readings may be used in addition to readings from Scripture. (OCF, No. 23)
d. Liturgical tradition assigns the proclamation of the readings in the celebration of the liturgy of the word to readers and the deacon. The presiding minister proclaims the readings only when there are no assisting ministers present. Those designated to proclaim the word of God should prepare themselves to exercise this ministry. (OCF, No. 24)
e. It is discouraged to have the family of the deceased do the readings unless he/she is a lector of a particular parish. If the family wish to do so, it is advised, however, that such persons be properly trained in the proclamation of the Word, or at least have public speaking experience. As observed they have the tendency to breakdown emotionally while reading. Thus interrupting the solemnity of the celebration. (see OCF, No. 66)
f. Priests and other ministers are, therefore, to make an earnest effort through an effective catechesis to lead their communities to a clearer and deeper grasp of at least some of the psalms provided for the funeral rites. (OCF, No. 25)
g. The psalms are designated for use in many places in the funeral rites (for example, as responses to the readings, for the processions, for use at the vigil for the deceased). Since the psalms are songs, whenever possible, they should be sung. (OCF, No. 26)
h. The responsorial psalm is sung scripture with no other accompanying liturgical action. All sing the psalm response at the beginning and after each verse; the cantor of the psalm sings the intervening verses. The texts are prescribed, with options to use the given psalm of the day or one of the common seasonal psalms or antiphons in the lectionary, or a chant from the Graduale Romanum or the Graduale Simplex (GIRM 61).
i. When not sung, the responsorial psalm after the reading should be recited in a manner conducive to meditation on the Word of God. (OCF, No. 139)
(see Appendix for Prescribed Readings)
4. UNIVERSAL PRAYER – The Worship Commission will provide samples of Universal Prayer. The Order of Christian funeral provides a sample of General Intercessions in pages 356 to 364.
II. LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
1.Presentation of the Gifts – The bread and wine are brought to the altar by the family. Other gifts are to be put in a suitable place but away from the Eucharistic table. (GIRM, No. 73, pg. 39)
2. Then the mass is celebrated in the usual manner.
Following the prayer after communion, the presider goes to a place near the coffin. The assisting minister carry the censer and holy water, if these are to be used. (OCF, No. 170)
1.INVITATION TO PRAYER
3. SIGNS OF FAREWELL – Here the coffin may now be sprinkled with holy water and incensed, or this may take place during or after the song of farewell. (OCF, No. 173). The minister is advised to go and bow in front of the Paschal Candle during the incensation.
4. SONG OF FAREWELL
5. PRAYER OF COMMENDATION
6. PROCESSION TO THE PLACE OF COMMITTAL
RITE OF COMMITTAL
2. SCRIPTURE VERSE
3. PRAYER OVER THE PLACE OF COMMITTAL
6. THE LORD’S PRAYER
7. CONCLUDING PRAYER
8. PRAYER OVER THE PEOPLE
N.B.: The rubrics for the Rite of Committal does not mention about the using of holy water and incense. But as for suggestion the sprinkling of holy water may be done during the prayer over the place of committal.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
MUSIC IN THE FUNERAL MASS
1.It is the pastoral responsibility of parishes to provide liturgical music at all Funeral Masses. The same liturgical norms applied to music at any Mass apply to the Funeral Mass.
2. An instrumentalist, a cantor, and even a choir where possible should assist the full participation of the assembly in the songs, responses, and acclamations of the funeral Rites (OCF #33).
3. Certain musical texts are primary and should be sung at the Funeral Mass: the responsorial psalm, the gospel acclamation, the three acclamations of the Eucharistic Prayer, the “Lamb of God” litany, and the “Song of Farewell.” These should not be done by cantor, choir, or soloist alone. Rather, they belong to the assembly.
4. In the Order of Christian Funerals, as in all the reformed liturgical books, the cantor/leader of song has an important task. The task of the cantor is to animate and direct the singing of the assembly. With the exception of the responsorial psalm, which is done from the ambo, the cantor ordinarily leads the assembly from a lectern. The Office for Worship is charged with providing regular opportunities for cantor development and enrichment.
5. The selection of music for the funeral liturgy is often a sensitive issue for bereaved families, parish musicians, and pastoral staff. The choice of music for Christian funerals must be in accord with all the recommendations governing music in liturgy, especially those found in The Order of Christian Funerals, Liturgical Music Today, and Music in Catholic Worship.
6. The responsorial form of psalm singing, in which the psalmist or choir sings the verses and the assembly responds with a brief antiphon, is well suited to the funeral liturgy. The practice of substituting metrical hymns based on psalm texts for the responsorial psalm is not encouraged since this form affects and alters the ritual pattern of responsorial singing (Liturgical Music Today, #40).
7. The request for “favorite songs” of the deceased often result in inappropriate performances of music incapable of bearing the weight liturgy demands. Popular songs, sentimental ethnic music, or songs from Broadway hits are never to substitute for the music of the funeral liturgy. There are three standards of judgment proposed in Music in Catholic Worship. The liturgical judgment: is the music’s text, form, placement and style congruent with the nature of the liturgy? (MCW 30-38) The musical judgment: is the music technically, aesthetically and expressively good irrespective of musical idiom or style? (MCW 26-29) The pastoral judgment: will it help this assembly to pray? (MCW 39-41) Such a process may not be as easy to apply as an absolute list of permitted or prohibited music but is more effective pastorally.
8. The worship aid must be reviewed and approved by the pastor or presider before it goes into printing.
1.Respect for the human body is envisioned in the funeral rites of the Church.
2. “The body of the deceased Catholic Christian is also the body once washed in Baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the Bread of Life. Thus, the Church’s reverence of the sacredness of the human body grows out of a reverence and concern both natural and supernatural for the human person. The body of the deceased brings forcefully to mind the Church’s conviction that the human body is in Christ a temple of the Holy Spirit and is destined for future glory at the resurrection of the dead.” (OCF, 412)
3. “Although cremation is now permitted by the Church, it does not enjoy the same value as burial of the body. The Church clearly prefers and urges that the body of the deceased be present for funeral rites, since the presence of the human body better expresses the values which the Church affirms in those rites.” (OCF, 413)
4. “When extraordinary circumstances make the cremation of the body the only feasible choice, pastoral sensitivity must be exercised by priests, deacons, and others who minister to the family of the deceased.” (OCF, 415)
5. “The cremated remains of a body must be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they come. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the cremated remains, the manner in which they are carried, the care and attention to appropriate placement and transport, and the final disposition. The cremated remains should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium. The practices of dividing, commingling and scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased is not permitted. Whenever possible, appropriate means for recording with dignity the memory of the deceased should be adopted, such as a plaque or stone which records the name of the deceased.” (OCF, 417)
THE FOLLOWING NORMS ARE TO BE OBSERVED:
6. When the choice has been made to cremate a body, it is strongly recommended that the cremation take place after the Funeral Liturgy followed by the proper disposition of the remains according to the norms of the Church, that is, burial in a grave, or (entombment in a mausoleum or columbarium). The Rite of Committal is conducted at the time of burial or entombment.
7. If cremation takes place before the Funeral Liturgy the following protocols are in order during the Celebration of the Funeral Mass:
a. The introductory rites are held including the blessing of the urn. The celebrant greets the family at the doors of the church or in the gathering area, it is suggested that you provide a table where the urn can be placed during the introductory rites and blessing. The urn is then brought to the front of the church and placed on a table at its customary place in front of the paschal candle.
b. Placing cremated remains within a casket to give the false impression of a full body is strictly prohibited. A pall or any other covering is not placed on the urn.
c. The final commendation is held including the incensing of the urn.
d. The cremated remains are then taken to the cemetery for the committal service.
e. It is strongly urged that the committal of the cremated remains takes place immediately following Mass, as is the custom for the corporal remains of a human body. In rare instances the committal may be delayed because of extenuating circumstances such as the deceased being buried at an out of state cemetery.
f. Before granting permission for the cremated remains to be present for the Mass of Christian Burial, the priest should have assurance from the funeral service provider and the family that the cremated remains will be properly interred or entombed within a reasonable amount of time. If this fact cannot be properly ascertained, it is a legitimate reason to disallow the Funeral Mass with the cremated remains present and require that a Memorial Mass be offered instead.
THE BISHOP IN THE ORDER OF CHRISTIAN FUNERALS
1.It is fitting when a bishop is present at a Funeral Mass that he be the Principal Celebrant.
2. If he is not the Principal Celebrant at a Funeral Mass, in the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa he participates and leads the Rite of Commendation (Ceremonial of Bishops, #175).
CONCELEBRATION AT THE FUNERAL MASS
1.Frequently, the decision is made that a Funeral Mass be concelebrated by several priests. Priests who are invited to concelebrate should be aware of the prescriptions of canon 905: “For a just cause, a priest is permitted to celebrate Mass twice on any given day.” The norms set forth in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal #153-208 are to be followed carefully, as well as the NCCB document “Guidelines for the Concelebration of the Eucharist” (1987).
2. Concelebration is a sign and a strengthening of the fraternal bond of priests and of the whole community, and is “the preeminent manifestation of the Church in the unity of sacrifice and priesthood and in the single giving of thanks around the one altar” (In celebrationae Missae, August 1973, #1).
3. Families planning to invite priests to concelebrate at the funeral liturgy or to fulfill other roles in the course of the funeral rites are encouraged to communicate these plans to the pastor. As a courtesy to liturgical planners, priests who expect to participate in this way should contact the parish or religious community in advance.
4. Concelebrants should be seated together as a group. They should not be intermingled with the assembly, nor should anyone be seated between the concelebrants and the altar. Concelebrants must not be placed in such a way as to form a barrier between the altar and the Faithful, who kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer. Their position should not obscure the fact that only one bishop or presbyter presides over the entire action. Care is to be taken that the concelebrants neither usurp the place nor limit the functions of other liturgical ministers.
5. The chasubles worn by all the concelebrants should be simpler in their decoration than that of the principal celebrant. If sufficient chasubles are not available, it may be preferable for all the concelebrants to vest in albs and stoles of the same liturgical color, without prejudice to the custom of having designated concelebrants.
1.In the past it has been the practice to have the civil activities related to a state funeral held in the Church, prior to the funeral Mass and burial of local dignitaries. Such civil activities have included armed color guards, eulogies, and reading of Legislative resolutions. This has been allowed for many years because there have been few other buildings large enough to hold all the people who usually attend the state funerals. However, in recent years all of the islands have constructed other facilities such as the Round House, social halls, and convention center which are more than adequate for such gatherings. Further, at the Federal, State and Territorial levels it is normally the practice to have state funeral activities at a site other than the Church.
2. As adequate facilities are now available elsewhere in the community to host the solemnities for the secular part of a state funeral, it is the policy of the Diocese that only that aspect of the state funeral which is part of the Christian Rite of Burial (funeral Mass and related prayers) will be allowed in a Catholic Church in the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa as part of state funerals. Further, honor guards with guns or flags are asked to leave their guns and flags at the door of the Church, as well as to remove any hats they may be wearing, as a sign of respect for God, whose place of worship they are entering.
3. The purpose of the policy prohibiting state funerals is to curb excessive and inappropriate secular displays in a place of worship not to prohibit family and friends from honoring their loved ones. It is within the intent of the policy for a family member or someone selected by the surviving family to make brief remarks in honor of the deceased, if this is requested by the surviving family. Such remarks or gestures should not take place within the Rite of Christian Burial per se. They should occur either before the Rite of Christian Burial begins or at the completion of the ‘responso’ prayers just before the body of the deceased is removed from the Church for transit to the cemetery. The remarks should be brief (five to ten minutes at most), so as not to extend excessively the funeral. The remarks also reflect the sacred character of the setting (Christian funeral) and place (church) in which they are given.
1.By reason of its sacred character as a resting place for those brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us in death and as an institution of the Church, a Catholic cemetery is governed by the universal law of the Church.
2. Canon 1243, of the Code of Canon Law, provides the local bishop with the authority to enact regulations necessary for the management of Church cemeteries within his Diocese in a manner that fosters and protects their sacred character.
3. Acting under the authority of canon 1243, the Bishop of Chalan Kanoa hereby declares that:
a. The Mt. Carmel Cathedral Cemetery at Chalan Kanoa is under the direction of the Cathedral Rector.
b. All other parishes on Saipan may have the Christian burial of their deceased members at the Cathedral cemetery.
c. A soon as the notice of death is served, the one responsible must come to the Cathedral rectory to fill up in the necessary information sheet and have a burial plot assigned.
d. The grave must be at least six (6) feet deep.
e. Neighboring graves must, be respected, especially when dumping weeds or trash.
f. No one is allowed to construct a fence or monument, other than a small head stone, unless such construction is first approved by the Cathedral Rector. Further, no approval shall be given for a fenced in space greater than 4′ x 8′.
g. Concrete crypts or graves must be constructed with a double floor and must be used when a metal casket is used.
h. Flowers may be planted on grave sites for decoration. However, bushes or trees are not allowed.
i. It is the primary responsibility of the family of the deceased to keep the grave site clean and well maintained throughout the year.
j. It is encouraged that grave sites 10 years old or more be recycled within the family to which they have been assigned.
k. A fee (determined by the Diocese) will be charged for the use of a burial plot in the Mt. Carmel Cathedral Cemetery. This is a user’s fee, with ownership of the land remaining with the Church. When a burial site is being recycled within a family, there will be a user’s fee (determined by the Diocese).
THE PRESCRIBED READINGS
FOR FUNERAL LITURGY
(LECTIONARY FOR MASS, VOL. 4.)
1.Reading I – From the Old Testament
(No. 1011, Pg. 1085 – 1089)
2. Reading I – From the New Testament
(No. 1012, Pg. 1090 – 1093)
3. Reading II – from the New Testament
(No. 1014, Pg. 1102 – 1112)
FUNERALS FOR BAPTIZED CHILDREN
1. Reading I – From the Old Testament
(No. 1017, Pg. 1136)
2. Reading I – From the New Testament
(No. 1018, Pg. 1137)
3. Reading II – from the New Testament
(No. 1020, Pg. 1141 – 1142)
FUNERALS FOR CHILDREN WHO DIED BEFORE BAPTISM
4. Reading I – From the Old Testament
(No. 1023, Pg. 1148)
PRESCRIBED RESPONSORIAL PSALMS
FOR FUNERAL LITURGY
(LECTIONARY FOR MASS, VOL. 4, NO. 1013, PG. 1094 – 1101)
- Psalm 23 – The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.
- Psalm 25 – To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
- Psalm 27 – The Lord is my light and my salvation.
- Psalm 42 & 43 – My soul is thirsting for the living God: when shall I see him face to face?
- Psalm 63 – My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
- Psalm 103 – The Lord is kind and merciful.
- Psalm 116 – I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.
- Psalm 122 – I rejoiced when I heard them say: let us go to the house of the Lord.
- Psalm 130 – Out of the depths, I cry to you, Lord.
- Psalm 143 – O Lord, hear my prayer.