The Catholic funeral Mass, also known as a Requiem Mass, is a sacred and important ritual. It’s important to the person who has died, as well as to friends, family members, and loved ones. What you may not think about if someone you love has died is this: the Funeral Mass is also an opportunity to reach unchurched people. For some people, events like funerals are the only time they have reason to set foot inside a church.
A Catholic funeral is different from a Protestant or secular funeral. For one thing, there are no eulogies at a Catholic funeral. Instead, the priest delivers a message, as part of the Funeral Mass. The gospel should be part of this message, especially if the priest is cognizant of the opportunity to reach the unchurched.
As Christians, we’re called to share the gospel no matter where we are, in order to bring Christ to the world. Priests bear even more of this responsibility, because of their vocation. When delivering the Funeral Mass, there are some pertinent points that should be included, and can easily be worked into the message.
- Everyone Death is an inevitability and nowhere does our mortality seem closer than at a funeral. The scripture says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). As we reflect upon this, it should lead us to pray for those who have died, and embrace the gospel of grace.
- Too many people don’t take their spirituality seriously. This is reflected in the trend of funerals that are solely focused on the person who has died and that person’s family. At a Catholic funeral Mass, this is inappropriate. The liturgy is designed not to bring honor to the deceased, but to God.
- People need to be ready to meet God. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Cor 5:10) Knowing that we will all be judged on our merits can be terrifying, but that’s why the gospel message of hope and redemption is so important.
- Repent of your sins, ask for God’s help, He will help. This is the central message of the Christian faith: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23-26) and “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ( 1 John 1:9). With this hope at the center of our faith, how can we be remiss in sharing it?
Of course, the liturgy is just part of the service. A funeral Mass also includes celebration of faith, worship, and thanksgiving. There are sacred songs and readings, and the faithful partake of Holy Communion. At the end of the service, special prayers accompany the exit of the person who has died, as the priest sprinkles the coffin with holy water. After the funeral service, mourners often accompany their loved one to the graveside for the Rite of Committal, in which the priest reads scripture and says special prayers. Those gathered may then recite the Lord’s Prayer, or sing a song.
Planning a funeral can be complicated, especially when a Catholic funeral or cemetery are involved. The Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of San Jose is committed to providing a sacred place for burial, where you and your family can remember loved ones in a peaceful and hope-filled setting. If you have questions, we’re happy to answer them. Call us at (844) 200-21 70 for more information.