It is a testimony to our family and friends that we believe our deceased loved ones are not in the casket. According to scripture we are “present with the Lord.” A Christian funeral should not be focused solely on the body of the person who died. The focus is on what we are proclaiming, that like Lazarus, we have only fallen asleep and we are waiting to be awakened (John 11).
We understand that there can be many questions about Catholic funerals. To assist your planning for a Catholic funeral we have put together some answers to the most frequently asked questions.
A funeral encompasses all of the various elements that surround the way in which we mark the death of a loved one. This includes the time surrounding the moment/process of dying, the time of saying good-bye, burial, and the grieving process that follows the immediate events.
In most cases, children should be encouraged to go to funerals. Attending funerals helps them to understand that death is a natural part of life.
Burial is scheduled according to the requirements of the cemetery chosen by the family. (Fort Snelling National Cemetery is closed on Saturdays.)
Catholic funerals may be celebrated on any day except holy days of obligation, Maundy Thursday, the Easter Triduum (that is Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday), Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter.
If you aren’t sure, formal attire is best. There is no requirement to wear black.
If you receive no instructions, check with the family. They may ask only family to bring flowers and ask others to make a donation to a designated charity.
Cremation is accepted by the Roman Catholic Church. It is preferred that the body of the deceased be present at the funeral liturgy and cremation take place afterward, but it is also acceptable for the cremation to take place first and the cremains to be present at the funeral liturgy.
The Catholic Church allows a relative or friend of the person who has died to say some “Words in Remembrance”. Speakers should speak for no more than four or five minutes and think carefully about the content. Some of the stories may be more suitable for the reception after the funeral.
Priests usually suggest that non-religious music is played at the reception after the funeral.
If you can’t go to the funeral it is a good idea to let the family know in a letter or a card. You may like to have a Mass said for the repose of the soul of the deceased person. You can buy a Mass card at most church bookshops. It is usual to ask a priest to sign the card in return for a donation. You can then send the card to the dead person’s family.
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