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The Funeral Liturgy: Within or Outside Mass?

In the Catholic Church, the funeral liturgy takes one of two main forms:

  • Funeral Mass
  • Funeral Liturgy outside Mass

In the former, the funeral liturgy is incorporated into the celebration of a Mass (the typical worship service Catholics celebrate on Sundays). In the latter, the funeral is incorporated into a Liturgy of the Word. Readings from scripture are proclaimed, and the elements of the funeral liturgy are the same, but the eucharist (including the reception of Holy Communion) is not celebrated.

When choosing between a Funeral Mass and a Funeral Liturgy outside Mass, consideration should be given to the people who will attend, and participate in the funeral. If many of them are not Catholic, or do not come to Mass regularly, then a Mass (with communion) may make them feel excluded at a time when they are mourning and grieving. If there will be a large number of people in attendance who are able to to receive communion (and wish to do so), then a Funeral Mass would be advisable.

You may also be aware of the personal preferences and religious practices of the deceased, and these will also help you determine whether to have a Funeral Mass or Funeral Liturgy outside Mass. If they were committed to going to Church, and were involved in the life of their parish, then again, a Mass would probably be advisable.

In Wentworthville, some families of people who are well-known to other parishioners choose to celebrate their loved one’s funeral at the usual Morning Mass. This allows friends from within the deceased’s faith community to participate and pray with other family and friends.

Arrangements regarding which form of the funeral liturgy is to be used, and when it is to be scheduled, should be made as soon as possible with the parish office. Consultation with funeral directors will also be necessary, and they will typically assist with preparations, liaising with the parish and the family of the deceased.