The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Psalm 22
At a time of grief, the parish always seeks to reach out with tenderness, with care, wit love and with support. There are so many decisions to be made when it comes to a funeral and much that can be done to ensure that the funeral you are arranging is prayerful, respectful and personal.
Funerals are essentially a prayer and they are a real witness to faith. If you want a Catholic funeral then the priest at St John’s can help you with those preparations. This is a real opportunity to come together and start the conversation around the arrangements you would like. The priest will guide you around what is appropriate in Church (if you are looking for a Catholic funeral) and what might be more appropriate at the cemetery or crematorium, or even at the reception afterwards.
You might be looking for a Requiem Mass or for a Funeral Liturgy followed by burial or cremation. There is a given Rite for these things and within that Rite there are certain things that can be chosen and arranged by family. We gather at a funeral to listen to the Word of God, the Scriptures. There is a wide choice of readings coming from the Gospels, the Old and the New Testament, as well as the Psalms. The Word of God is an essential part of the Funeral Liturgy. God speaks his word to us – a word of hope, a word of promise, a word of comfort and peace. From this choice of readings you might like to begin by choosing a Gospel reading for the priest to read. You can then choose one reading (from either Old or New Testaments) or two other readings (one from the Old and one from the New). You might like to consider who will read these on the day. The Psalm in between the readings is our response to what we have heard. This link is a good start to thinking about which readings you might like to consider.
Hymns might be something you also want to include. These can be a way that those who gather with you participate in the prayer of the Funeral Mass or Liturgy. Choose hymns you know and you think people will sing. It is always good that people with you can join in. You may want to include three or four hymns at the Funeral.
You might come with a piece or two of secular music that were particular favourites of the person who has died. If they are not pieces that might be appropriate for Church, then they may be more suited at the cemetery or the crematorium. The priest will help you place these pieces of music if necessary.
Someone may like to speak at the beginning of the Mass in some sort of Tribute to the person who has died. It is important that you speak with the priest who is celebrating the Funeral about this. Remember, not everything that can be said needs to be said at the Funeral. The Tribute is just some small way of capturing the character of the person who has brought us together. It is not the same as writing an obituary for the newspaper. The Tribute draws out the essence of the person – the sort of person they were and the sort of things they brought to life. As a guide, four to five minutes is allowed for Tributes.