When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” (John 11:20-27).
The reality of death brings us into stark contact with our eternal destiny. When a loved one dies, we experience many different and mixed emotions: sadness, grief, anger, fear, doubt - just to name a few. The Church understands these feelings, and Her rituals serve as a reminder of how our faith can address the reality of our lives. In the Funeral Rites, Jesus, through His Church, walks with the families of the deceased and offers His consoling presence.
Our Parish communities are honored to be with you through these difficult times, and it is our joy to share with you the saving truth of the Resurrection. When you are ready to celebrate the Funeral Rites, there are several options that you have, but these are the general steps that you and your family will probably take:
1. Contact your funeral home/director. The funeral homes are happy to take the burden of preparations off your hands and orchestrate the arrangements that need to be made. When you meet with a funeral director, indicate that you would like to celebrate Funeral Rites with one of our Parishes. They will contact the Parish and arrange to have a priest or deacon for your Mass or service.
2. Depending on family circumstances, you may want to schedule either a Mass at the church or service at the funeral home. Mass requires a priest; a service of the Word can be lead by a priest, deacon, or even a designated lay person (sometimes a seminarian might lead one). When you've made this decision, let the parish know.
Sometimes, a family may want the priest or deacon to choose, or in some selected3. The Readings for Mass or the Service of the Word can be cases the deceased has already made these decisions for the family. If you want a sample of the readings available, please click here. There should be a First Reading (usually from the Old Testament), a Second Reading (from the New Testament), and a Gospel.
4. At a Mass, there are various ways in which family and friends can participate. We would need someone to read each or both of the readings; often, family members may assist in placing the (the white cloth that drapes over the casket); and others may help by bringing forward the gifts of bread and wine for the Offertory.
5. A brief eulogy may be offered by a family member or friend. We permit one person to give the eulogy, and it usually will take place immediately prior to Mass. Eulogies should be uplifting and personal remembrances of the deceased, and they should lend to the hopeful and faithfulness of the celebration.
6. After Mass or the Service at the funeral home, the gathered community will process (usually by car) to the cemetery. The celebrant or deacon will accompany the family to celebrate the prayers at the graveside. Sometimes, if there is a need or desire of someone else to present some thoughts or words, this could be done briefly at the graveside as well.
Know that in these difficult times, our thoughts, condolences, and prayers are with you and your family. Our faith teaches us that death is not an ending and that we will see one another again when the love of Christ gathers us all home to the Father.