Are Funerals Allowed on Sundays?
By Fr Kenneth Doyle
Question: Recently a funeral Mass was offered on a Sunday afternoon in our parish for a longtime parishioner. I believe I remember as a child being taught by the sisters in our Catholic school that funerals were never held on Sundays (except possibly in time of war or during the Middle Ages when the plague was rampant). Have things changed?
Answer: Canonically and theoretically a Catholic funeral Mass may be offered on most Sundays during the year. The church’s General Instruction of the Roman Missal provides that a funeral Mass “may be celebrated on any day except for solemnities that are holy days of obligation, Thursday of Holy Week (Holy Thursday), the paschal triduum, and the Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter” (No. 380).
Some might point out that the sadness of a Sunday funeral clashes with the joy of celebrating the Lord’s Day, but one could argue just as convincingly that nothing lifts the spirits of mourners more than recalling the resurrection of Jesus and his promise of our own.
Practically speaking, though, many parishes (I would even say most) do not hold funeral Masses on Sundays – the reason being that, with the shortage of clergy, most priests have all they can do to offer the number of Sunday Masses needed for their parish congregations. Additionally, many cemeteries or undertakers are not open on Sundays – or, if they are, there are additional fees for crew members’ overtime.
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