Bereavement and Funerals
Planning a Catholic Funeral
Experiencing the death of a loved one is never easy, regardless of the circumstances. As you begin the process of grieving the loss of a loved one, please be assured that the priests and the people of Saint Bartholomew Parish hold you in our hearts and in our prayers at this time. All of the details that you must tend to at this time can be an added stress. The intention of the booklet below is to familiarize you with certain aspects of the Catholic funeral rites in order to make it easier for you to plan the funeral. Additionally, this booklet will point out the parts where you may make the Funeral Mass more personal by choosing readings and songs, and choosing family or friends to participate. Included below is a sheet on which you can record your selections. This can be returned to the funeral director.
Prior to the Funeral Liturgy:
About Christian Funerals and Burials
While the death of a loved one stirs up many thoughts, feelings and memories of the deceased, it is important to remember that a Catholic funeral is not a typical “memorial service” that we might often see portrayed on television or in the movies. The rites surrounding the Catholic funeral serve many purposes. We are mindful that we do not leave this world in a state of perfection and are in need of prayers for the cleansing of our sins. In the funeral prayers we pray for the deceased and we commend them to the loving and compassionate Father, entrusting them to his mercy.
Foremost among the things we remember in the Funeral Liturgy is the central aspect of our faith: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In making Jesus the central focus of our “memorial”, we who are left behind find comfort and consolation in the promise made by Jesus that our bodies would be raised up like his on the Last Day. We are encouraged in our time of grief by the prospect of one day seeing our loved one again and enjoying eternal life with him / her in God’s presence.
A Word on Cremation
Cremation, provided it is not done for reasons to deny our faith in the resurrection of the body, is permitted by the Catholic Church. It is preferred, however, that the body of the deceased be brought into the church for the Funeral Mass prior to cremation. If necessary, however, it is permitted to bring the cremated remains into the church for the Funeral Mass.
The Church maintains that, after the Funeral Mass, the cremated remains must be buried. Keeping the ashes at home, the sprinkling of ashes, putting them in jewelry or any other use of them is not permitted. When we bury the body, or the ashes, of a loved one in a cemetery we give witness to our faith that, on the Day of Resurrection, Jesus will raise up our bodies and give to them new and everlasting life.
Today many families will ask that, instead of flowers, gifts in memory of the deceased be given to a particular cause. We ask that you might consider Saint Bartholomew Parish as possible recipients of memorial gifts by inviting people to make a donation to the parish in your loved one’s name.
Planning a Catholic Funeral: A Guide to Help you Plan the Funeral Mass Booklet