FUNERAL GUIDELINES AT
SAN ANTONIO CHURCH
The "Order of
Christian Funerals" is the church document which
outlines the funeral rites of the church as well as
their meaning and purpose. The following quotes are from
the Introductory Norms for Catholic Funerals.
CELEBRATION OF A CATHOLIC'S FUNERAL
"At the death of a
Christian, whose life was begun in the waters of baptism
and strengthened at the Eucharistic table, the Church
intercedes on behalf of the deceased because of its
confident belief that death does not end nor does it
break the bonds forged in life...Christians celebrate
funeral rites to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving
to God for the gift of life which has now been returned
to God...The Church commends the dead to God's merciful
love and pleads for the forgiveness of their sins...the
celebration brings hope and consolation. "
PLANNING THE RITES
"In planning and
carrying out the funeral rites, the pastor and all other
ministers should keep in mind the life of the deceased
and the circumstances of death...the spiritual and
psychological needs of the family...Christians respect
and honor the bodies of the dead and the places where
"In every celebration
for the dead, the Church attaches great importance to
the reading of the Word of God...they may not be
replaced by non-biblical readings..." Similarly readings
should only be chosen from those approved by the Church
for use at funerals.
"A brief homily based
on the readings should be given...but there must never
be a eulogy...attentive to the grief of those present,
the homilist should dwell on God's compassionate
"The music at
funerals should support, console, and uplift the
participants...the texts chosen should express the
paschal mystery of the lord's suffering, death, and
triumph over death and should be related to the readings
from scripture...an organist, cantor, even a choir,
should support the assembly's full participation in the
symbols may rest on or be 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..."
Under the specific
rubrics of the "Final Commendation" within the funeral
liturgy, one brief reference is made to the possibility
of family members speaking at the funeral Mass: "A
member or a friend of the family may speak in
remembrance of the deceased before the final
THE CELEBRATION OF
FUNERALS AT SAN ANTONIO CHURCH
The staff and members
of San Antonio pray for you at this, your time of loss.
It is our hope that by being with you at this time and
assisting you in putting together the Funeral Liturgy
for your loved one that we will help ease some of your
There are three types
of Mass that are held at San Antonio that are associated
with the Mass of Christian Burial. The first is the Mass
of Christian Burial with the body present. This is the
preferred practice among Catholics. The second is the
Mass of Christian Burial with cremains present. While
having the body present and cremation afterwards is the
preferred practice for those who will be cremated
because it is thought to be more helpful in the grieving
process, if the cremains are present they are treated
with the same dignity and care the body. The third is a
Memorial Mass which is held when there is neither the
body nor cremains present. This Mass is usually
celebrated when someone dies elsewhere and the funeral
has taken place there. The Memorial Mass is held here
so that friends and community may come together to
celebrate that person’s life. It is usually held within
30 days of the death.
If a funeral home is
involved normally they will call us and give us the
family member to contact. We call the family and set up
a time convenient for the family to meet either in the
office or their home. At this time we take the vital
information about the deceased. We then assist the
family in choosing the readings for the Mass. On other
occasions, for example when the body has already been
cremated, the family will contact us directly to make
A Parish Minister
will meet with the family to prepare the funeral Mass.
The minister will explain the meaning and significance
of a Catholic Funeral Mass from church teaching. A copy
of these guidelines will be reviewed in detail and given
to the family. The minister will help the family to
choose texts for the liturgy from those approved by the
Church. Other texts may not be used. The family will be
invited to choose readings, provide readers and also
gift bearers at the Offertory. If they do not wish to be
involved the priest celebrating the funeral or the
minister who met with the family will choose the
Outside Eastertime one Old
Testament, Responsorial Psalm(usually sung), and a New
Testament reading may be chosen. During Eastertime the
Old Testament reading is replaced by certain New
Testament ones. If family members or friends do not
wish to do the readings, parish readers will be
provided. Families are asked to choose the Prayers Of
The Faithful. They will also be asked if they would like
a cantor and/or an organist. Four songs are chosen for
the Mass and a fifth song may be sung as a prelude.
“Sacred music is an important part of the funeral rites
(cf. Order of Christian Funerals, 30).”
Eulogies are fittingly
done at the Vigil service (Wake) the night prior to the
funeral Mass, or at other family gatherings.
Funeral Masses are
celebrated at either 9:30 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. Tuesday –
Friday and 11.00am Saturday (except holydays)
Floral arrangements are welcome. If desired, a picture
of the deceased with memorial cards may be displayed in
the gathering area.
Recorded music or
non-worship music may not be used within the funeral
Mass. Appropriate recorded music can be used at the
Vigil and at the cemetery.
appropriate to the liturgical season, and the funeral
rite may be chosen. The role of organist, cantor and/or
choir is to assist the congregation in singing the Mass.
Soloists have very
limited possible roles within Catholic worship. Their
role is to assist the congregation in its prayerful
meditation on the mystery of salvation. An appropriate
solo is possible during the presentation of the gifts
and before or after the congregation’s communion hymn.
and prepared liturgical ministers may exercise the role
of cantor, lector, or Eucharistic Minister. Family
members or friends who wish to read at the funeral Mass
will meet with a parish minister before the Mass for a
One family member or
friend may speak briefly before the "Final Commendation"
when invited by the presider. The brief words need to be
prepared and approved beforehand. Spontaneous remarks
and eulogies can be offered at the luncheon afterward.
(see GUIDELINES below)
may not be displayed in church at the funeral Mass.
We do not label or
title our funeral Mass as a "Celebration of the Life
of..." That label is frequently used in our culture for
the funerals of celebrities. But, every catholic funeral
is a celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of
Jesus – Eucharistic celebration. The deceased is
remembered as one who shared in Christ's life through
baptism. We believe that God is faithful to us, and so
we believe that the deceased lives in Christ forever.
WHAT HAPPENS THE DAY
OF THE FUNERAL?
You will be greeted
at the church by one of the individuals involved in the
bereavement ministry, usually the person who assisted
you in the planning.
The family gathers in
the narthex of the church. If it is a funeral with the
body present, the casket is brought in and placed in the
back of the church. If it is a funeral with the cremains
present, they are placed on the cloth covered table in
the church. If requested the cremains may be carried in
procession at the beginning of the Mass in the same way
as the body of the deceased.
The priest and the
altar server process to the place of the casket/cremains
to greet the body/cremains and family. The
body/cremains is blessed with holy water and if the body
is present the pall is placed on the casket. This may
be done by the family or by the funeral home.
The priest and the
altar server begin to process down the aisle towards the
altar, at this time the casket/urn follows, and the
family follows after. You will be seated on the left
side of the aisle in the first few pews.
Remain standing for
the Opening Prayer and then be seated for the first
reading to be proclaimed. This is followed by the
responsorial psalm and the second reading.
If family or friends
are doing the readings, the bereavement minister will
signal them when it is time to read. Normally a folder
with the readings and prayers is provided to avoid
After the Gospel is
proclaimed, the priest will deliver a homily. Then the
intercessions are read and the gifts are brought
forward. The bereavement minister will walk to the gift
table and the gift bearers will join her. She will hand
them the gifts and, they in turn, will present them to
the priest. They will then be seated.
The Liturgy of the
Eucharist follows and then the Communion Rite. Those
present who are not going to receive communion are
invited to come forward with their arms crossed over
their chest for a blessing.
Following the final
prayer and Commendation and Farewell the priest and
altar server process down the aisle, followed by the
casket/urn and the family.
REMEMBRANCE OF THE DECEASED
remembrance of the dead at the funeral Mass is not
allowed at San Antonio. It is recommended that such
reflections take place at the visitation, the committal
or the reception after the funeral.
These should take
place after the funeral mass and before the Committal
but a twenty one gun salute is not allowed at San
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Can we have a
favorite non secular song played?
Music that is
non-liturgical may not be played during the liturgy.
The time for this music is at the wake or other
What are the costs
organist stipend is
cantor stipend is
Church fees include the
attendance of a priest or deacon at the viewing, the
Funeral Mass or service and local burial.