Must Catholics have a funeral Mass?

Is it a requirement that deceased Catholics must have a Mass said at their funeral? I don’t like the idea of my many non-Catholic friends being told that they may not receive Communion at such a Mass, so when my time comes, I would prefer to have a simple memorial service instead.

You are indeed free to choose to have a memorial service instead of a funeral Mass, as you explain. Canon law gives you a lot of latitude and does not prescribe a funeral Mass. It does not tell you what to do.

For instance, it says the funeral of a member of the faithful is normally to be held in the parish church of that person, but another church may be chosen, if that is what you or your family wants. The consent of the parish priest is needed for this, and that of whoever is in charge of the other church.

It is sound Catholic practice to celebrate a public Mass for the repose of the soul of the deceased as an integral part of the funeral service, with the body of the deceased present. The Church prefers the body to be there in order to reverence it at the ceremony as a temple of the Holy Spirit before it is interred.

If this is not done, Catholics are encouraged to have Mass offered for the deceased as soon as possible after their death. There are some dioceses in the United States where there is an insistence on this. The reason is the Church’s firm tradition of prayers for the dead.

The souls of the faithful who have left us are either with God in heaven or in the process of being cleansed from the remnants of sin in the condition we call purgatory. We pray for the latter because we are one with them in the Communion of Saints and can ask God to have mercy on their souls. We also offer our own sacrifices to God for this.

I know it can be argued that non-Catholic friends and family want to show their sympathy with the bereaved family, and desire to take Communion with them to show this. It is a sad fact, however, that, whereas the Catholic Church considers taking Communion as a sign of our unity in one Lord, one faith and one baptism (Eph 4:5), separated Christians do not completely share this kind of unity with us.

9 Responses to Must Catholics have a funeral Mass?

  1. P.R.Margeot November 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    The comment to Mr.Shackleton : ” I don’t like the idea of my many non-Catholic friends being told that they may not receive Holy Communion at such a mass…” was very well answered by him. Thank you.
    It is a grave duty of priests,particularly in S.A.,to always remind people at funerals( mainly) that only Catholics, and sometimes it is also necessary to mention Catholics in a state of grace, may approach the Holy Table for Communion. It is elementary prudence. Sacrileges must be avoided at all cost, even if the priest renders himself unpopular.
    Salus animarum suprema lex.

  2. volente smith November 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    I am delighted that this is a topic in this news paper, as i have a complaint on the priest in the Vryburg North west province, who has a problem to bury certain members of his congrigation if they have not paid their monthly dews, even though when the person was still alive, and could go to church.

    I am a Catholic myself and so is all of my family, which includs the Mc Carthys and Rygaarts in Vryburg.

    Mc Carthy`s who is the oldest growing family in this part of Vryburg, and which originated in Ireland.

    It is with great sadness that my family once again had to go through with a funeral bieng done in another church by another priest, because the parish priest in Vryburg are to besotted with money, and charges the earth and the moon for a funeral service.

    If thier is someone out there reading this comment, and can do something about this i plead with you to do something about this priest, as his actions are driving people away from the church.

    God bless

  3. P.R.Margeot December 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    In some countries I know, priests are now NOT available for funerals….No, these are run by lay people, admittedly good people, always willing to help.
    I shudder when I think that this is a strong possiblity that soon we will be in the same boat. Stretching the imagination a little, very soon, we will be told that the parish will be run by dedicated men and women who would have been blessed and suitably trained. Oh yes, they would be highly qualified people. But dear Catholics, we must wake up to the reality that we are being conditioned, prepared for a life on earth without priests(or without sufficient, suitable, holy priests) who give the good sacraments, who say the good , holy,mass, the Sacrifice of Calvary. Soon there will be no priests. Then Catholics will run in circles desperately looking for a Catholic priest to confess their sins. Kyrie Eleison.
    Catholics, the time is now to start asking for the mass of all time, the Tridentine mass. The Pope said in 2007 (officially, formally) that that mass had never been banned 40 years ago. But millions have been deprived of it very unjustly. Now justice is being done and Catholics should take advantage and request it through their priests first, then their Bishops. As we all know, the young people are the ones now asking for it : they have sensed the sacred in that Mass which showers the world with Grace anbd blessings…
    The salvation of souls is the supreme law of our Holy Church.

  4. P.R.Margeot December 2, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    To Mrs Smith above: I sympathise with you, that’s all I can say. I do not even know what to suggest.
    All I can tell is you that in my part of the world, our priests travel 40 kms to the countryside, to the African farms,where some faithful live. Two weeks ago I accompanied my priest to a funeral : a tent had been hired for the occasion, there were a good 70 people from the surrounding area who came for the ….funeral mass and formal funeral service and formal burial a few metres away from the tent. It was raining, the roads and tracks were nearly impassable, mud everywhere, long grass INSIDE the tent, a plastic sheet was used as a carpet in front of the altar( this time a simple table BUT which looked very traditional it goes without saying. The priest had of course brought everything in his suit-case)
    That family were overjoyed that a priest had come all that way to give the good sacraments, to properly give the solemn farewell to a soul which had received the Extreme-Unction a few days before. Now THE question : did the family pay for all this effort ? I did not ask the priest , as this is not my business, but I can assure you that no demand of money is made when it comes to the salvation of souls, and when it comes to give a Catholic burial to a Catholic.
    I happen to have enough money to pay for my funeral when it comes, but I am absolutely certain that if I did not, I would still have a funeral mass and a proper Catholic burial by the good priests that we have. All the poor in my parish are assured to have a funeral mass if they so desire.
    We keep the Hope that things will change one day. We pray for many holy Priests to be ordained in the coming years. The salvation of souls is always the great law of the Holy |Church.

  5. P.R.Margeot December 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    P.S. Do you know what the priest told me afterwards: that there was no difference between that mass that he said in a marquee on that rainy morning for a poor family who understood everything and saying a mass in a cathedral. Basically the altar was/is the same. The beauty and richness of the mass of all time. Deo Gratias.

  6. Joseph December 6, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    Many years of defiance against Church teaching are now reaping their benefits. Roamns 1:18-32 says God gave them over to the desires of their hearts and men turned on men in lust etc etc. Years of contraception and murder of the innocent, the blood of the holy innocent now cry out to their creator. What was their crime, guilty in the womb, they got a death sentence for trying to obey God their Creator and accept life.

    Who knows why the numbers of priests and nuns is going down? Are we not consorting with the father of lies and in search of the holy souls of God’s priests in the womb we agree to sacrifice them to the pagan god Moloch? How do we know that the ones who are targeted by this wave of murder in the womb are not to be the priests? How come priests and nuns started decreasing with the rise of the sexual revolution and shedding of clothing in which the inner garments have become public dress.

    Contraception, condoms, homosexulity, lesbianism, immodesty, lack of reverence at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass etc etc etc. We rejected Humane vitae and even rejected the teaching of Mother Mary at Fatima about dressing, penance and sacrifice …

    Let us cry out to the owner of the harvest to please bring us workers into His field. True a labourer deserves his wages as Christ Jesus said but also the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not foor sale. Freely you have received so now freely give is what the Divine King commanded.

    Holy Communion is Jesus truly present, we do not agree to sacrilege so that our friends may not get offended. Truth is offending. Communion is for the Baptised Catholics as far as I was taught from the CCC and it is different from funeral biscuits.

  7. P.R.Margeot December 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Catholics, the time has arrived. We have to decide on the course of History. Our History,on our humble level, our parish, our faithful, our priests, our bishops, our sacraments, our fidelity to our Holy Church, the Pope. To start with.
    Then those in Authority will take the actions required to steer the Church towards calmer waters, as the Pope has already done and is doing.
    We , the infantry so to speak, can start with small things( do not forget the infantry gets hurt first ! So what, it is for God and our Lord Jesus Christ) :
    1) when we go to the Holy Table, we kneel and take communion on the tongue(to follow the Pope)
    2) we go to confession often, if we find a good priest who still believes and acts like the Curé d’Ars
    3) If we are allowed (a privilege, let’s not forget) in the Sanctuary, we ALWAYS genuflect when passing in front of the Tabernacle, the Holy of Holies
    4) when entering our pew, we always genuflect,as was done for time immemorial and to salute Who is in the Holy of Holies
    4) we dress modestly: ladies you have a huge responsibilty in this regard. Be properly covered, you must not draw the eyes and attention of men to you. Ideally your head should be covered, but nobody will say anything to you !!
    5) In church, there should be no talking, if one has to say something to a neighbour, it is done in a very low voice.Long conversation is not recommended…
    6) the Rosary: Our Lady asked us to recite it daily. Families can start, timidly at first, but slowly let the idea permeate down to the children, who then will be enthusiastic about the idea. The rosary could be recited before the meal in the evening.
    7) In our lounge, near the entrance door, we could have a crucifix which would be seen all the time, every day. What a reminder it would be. Also why not a holy picture or two: the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Pope ! Why not. He is our supreme boss on this earth
    8) In our cars,(not all Catholics have cars or even food to eat), we could have a small distinctive sign, discreetly visible to other cars. My own experience( and I am not a holy-than-thou type, I am a sinner who desperately wants the Holy Church and its members to be back on track and in the business of saving souls) is this : I have a rosary hanging aroung my rear-view mirror as do hundreds of Catholics. At traffic lights, whenever I see the car next to me with a rosary, I look at the driver, touch the rosary, smile, and whow….you should see the result. He/she was sort of waiting for that gesture…My day then is made. Small thing I know.
    For today, that’s enough !
    Great times are coming, we have and keep the Faith. We pray for each other.
    JMJ

  8. P.R.Margeot December 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    To all readers: I salute your guardian angels, may they protect you tonight from all evil. Have a great Sunday in our Lord Jesus Christ. To those going to communion tomorrow morning, you may want to be bold and audacious and receive the Host on your tongue. Then others may follow you, who knows…Remember: only consecrated hands can touch the Body of our Lord and Saviour. Catholics, the time has arrived : do it , you wil not be sorry. You will reap huge rewards soon afterwards. We cannot mock God…

  9. Danny November 12, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    “I don’t like the idea of my many non-Catholic friends being told that they may not receive Communion at such a Mass, so when my time comes, I would prefer to have a simple memorial service instead.” – This is also something I’ve been thinking about lately.

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