How is the funeral ceremony planned?
Family members can expect to play an active role both in planning and participating in the funeral, with the priest or his representative guiding them through the necessary steps. A “standard” Catholic funeral, as outlined in the Order of Christian Funerals, actually consists of three separate ceremonies: the vigil Service, the Funeral Liturgy, and the Rite of Committal, with the Funeral Liturgy being the main liturgical service.
Decisions typically include:
Choosing a Funeral Mass or Funeral Liturgy
A priest can conduct the funeral liturgy either in the context of a Mass or outside of Mass, depending on family preference and the relationship of the deceased to the Church. If many of the mourners are non-Catholic, the family may choose to have a funeral liturgy without a Mass to help them feel more comfortable with the service, and to avoid any potential misunderstanding about Catholic Communion restrictions.
Finalizing the location
A Funeral Mass is customarily held in the parish church of the deceased or his/her family. The liturgy outside of a Mass may be conducted either at the funeral home or at the church.
Selecting Scripture readings and hymns
Ceremony planners are often given a planning booklet or help choose among various options. While this liturgical planning may at times seem an added burden to some survivors, such personalized touches can greatly enhance the beauty of the funeral ceremony, and give added comfort to those in attendance.
Inviting specific friends or relatives to serve as lectors, gift bearers, and Eucharistic ministers .
Some close survivors may feel too overcome by grief to be able to read clearly or assist with the service. In that case, someone who is a bit less emotionally involved may be asked instead. If no friends or family are able to assume these roles, other members of the parish may be contacted.
Asking someone to offer a remembrance speech:
Though this is optional and specific guidelines vary, the family may elect to have a representative speak briefly at the vigil service about the life of the deceased.
At larger funerals. Some mourners (usually six to ten) may be invited to carry the casket in and out of church. Non-Catholics as well as Catholics may be pallbearers at a Catholic funeral.