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Catholic Funerals - The Funeral Mass

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The Funeral Mass

The funeral service is usually celebrated with a Mass of Christian Burial with prayers for the deceased. This is primarily an expression of our belief in the resurrection. As a Christian funeral, we praise God and give to him our dead relative, commending him or her to God's love. When you discuss the funeral Mass with the Priest, you are likely to find that it enables you to express your love for the person in a unique way. You might choose to make a special booklet, although it is not absolutely necessary. The Catholic funeral liturgy is a time to welcome, give thanks and bid farewell.


The following is a summary of the funeral liturgy:

  • Opening Hymn
  • Placing of the Pall and Christian Symbols
  • Rite of Sprinkling
  • Opening Prayer
  • 1st Reading
  • Responsorial Psalm
  • 2nd Reading
  • Alleluia Verse before the Gospel
  • Gospel
  • Homily
  • Prayers of the Faithful
  • Procession of Gifts
  • Eucharistic Prayer
  • Communion Rite
  • Prayer after Communion
  • Words of Remembrance
  • Final Commendation
  • Recessional Hymn

During the introductory rites, the community welcomes the body into the church. It is also be a time of welcome to the community who have gathered and those who have come to pray in support of the family and to honour the dead person. During this time the coffin or casket will be sprinkled with holy water, a pall placed over and symbols placed.

You should think about your choice of readings. Through them you can provide an opportunity for your family and friends to hear God speak. It is usually possible to choose a reading from each of the Old and New testaments and a Gospel reading.  The Prayers of the Faithful (also called the General Intercessions) provide another opportunity to personalise the celebration of the deceased person's life and to enable family members to participate. 

The priest may invite a close family member - one person only - to say some words of welcome and remembrance to the assembled group. This is an opportunity to recall respectfully and lovingly, in a very few minutes, a little of the deceases life. Because this can be an emotional time, it is a very good idea if the words are written. 

At the end of the Mass the Priest will offer final prayers at the coffin granting absolution to the deceased. At this time the coffin is sprinkled with Holy Water and Incensed. 


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