Catholic funeral rites are such that they enable the Christian Community to mourn with the bereaved and at the same time give a sense of hope that with death life has not ended, but changed. The services focus on the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Death is just a door to a newer and better life with the Lord. The prayers commend the dead to God's mercy and plead for forgiveness for their sins and at the same time give hope, comfort and consolation to the living.
The funeral service is a continuous rite and is done in three stages:
In the home of the deceased
In the church for the celebration of Mass followed by the Rite of Final Commendation and Farewell. This rite is celebrated only if the body is present.
At the Grave or tomb followed by the internment.
Upon the death of a loved one only one member from the family should meet the priest on duty before fixing the date and time of the funeral. Do not ask the undertaker to do this work.
The family member should contact the parish office with the photocopy copy of the medical death certificate and collect the grave order.
As burial immediately follows the Rite of Final Commendation and Farewell in the church time should not be wasted in paying last respects/ tributes to the deceased at the grave. This could be done in the house.
The funeral service is conducted only by the priest / deacon whose instructions have to be followed. It should be simple and prayerful. A eulogy is not a part of the funeral service. If it is to be given, inform the priest before the funeral service. It is usually given after the Communion Prayer and by a member of the family giving a brief tribute and expressing thanks to the community for their support.
If the family would like to invite a priest or a deacon from another parish to preside at any of the funeral rites they are most welcome to do so. However, they should inform the parish priest about the same. Guest priests should strictly follow the guidelines formulated by the parish.
In 1963 The Church permitted cremation, provided it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body. The Church prefers to have the body present for the funeral rites and have the cremation afterwards.
On the days when funeral masses are not permitted, funeral rites on those days use a Liturgy of the Word as per the Order of Christian Funerals. The liturgy should be discussed and prepared with the help of the priest.
Funeral Masses are not celebrated on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
It is also to be noted that floral decorations for the altar, in the case of funeral masses, is not required or should be kept to the very minimum.
There should be only one tribute to the deceased by a family member or close relative / friend. It should be very brief and focused on the deceased person.