Celebrating a witness of Christ
I have called you by name; you are mine.
– Is 43,1
Before death: Please make prearrangements with a funeral home. Ensure you have named someone, before you become too ill, for ”power of attorney” as well as a ”liquidator”. This is important.
At time of death: Please call the funeral home for them to take the body and then call the church office for arrangements. Prearrangements are different from ”a will”. Generally, a “will” is read AFTER a funeral, so that any wishes for funeral services will, unfortunately, be discovered too late. Pre-arrangements ensure that a person’s desires for funeral services are respected.
Mary Queen of Peace Church
A Catholic funeral ends the life of a disciple of Christ. Because someone was baptized into the life and death of Jesus, the person should also celebrate the end of their life, and the beginning of eternal life in the context of the Eucharist (Mass).
For a Catholic, it is normal practice to have a mass at the funeral, preferably with the body, but the ashes can also be used. This celebration is done in the Church. The Eucharist (Mass) cannot be said in the funeral parlour. A funeral parlour is not a house of God, where Catholics celebrate the life of Jesus, by reading scripture, celebrating sacraments, and the general gathering of the Christian community.
So, a funeral is celebrated in the Church, when the body is blessed with Holy water, in remembrance of the person’s baptism. It is honoured with incense, symbol of our tears and prayers. The person’s body is surrounded with our prayers, tears, and especially our hope in the Resurrection. We implore the Risen Jesus, who conquered death, to achieve this for our beloved family member.
A common practice for Catholics, is to have a Mass celebrated some days after the death of a loved one. The parish secretary can book such a celebration for the family.
It is also common practice to invite the priest, or a deacon to lead prayers at the funeral parlour some days before the funeral. In some traditions, the prayer evenings can go on for several days.
Why such pomp around a death? It is because life is precious. The death of someone whom we loved, laughed with, ate with, danced with, shared life with is a sacred event. Such an event cannot be passed over as insignificant, as our society tends to do. If death and its rituals are meaningless… what are we saying of someone’s life? If someone’s death and passing is not celebrated and given to Christ, then what was their life worth? Life is precious. It is to be celebrated, and death is a moment to honour and express our deepest appreciation for a sacred life which is passing on into eternal life with the Lord.
Do not forget to keep your parish in your will. Parishes need financial assistance from wills as much as loved ones do. This allows our Christian community to carry out its mission. Thank you for thinking of us.