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Catholic Funeral

The Order of Christian Funerals

Diocesan Guidelines for Funeral Liturgies in the Diocese of Meath

Appreciations / Eulogies given by families and friends of the deceased should not take place in the Church, but may occur after the rite of committal at the Cemetery.

General Considerations.

1. The Catholic Funeral Rites are set out and explained in the book Order of Christian Funerals – Approved by the Irish Bishops’ Conference for use in the Dioceses of Ireland (Veritas Publications) and confirmed by the Holy See in 1991.

2. One of the tasks of those presiding at funeral liturgies is to guide and direct mourners and funeral directors in their participation in the rites. Presiding clergy, and any other person leading any part of the rites, should be thoroughly familiar with the contents of the Order of Christian Funerals, and in particular with the explanations set out in the notes preceding each Rite.

3. The Catholic funeral liturgy provides for the community to gather at several different times, or stations, to pray for the dead and accompany the bereaved. Each of the stations has its own character, which should be respected (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1686-90).

4. The three main stations of the Catholic funeral are as follows:

  • The gathering(s) in the presence of the body, in the family home of the deceased person, in a funeral home, or in another suitable place. The principal gathering of this station is the vigil for the deceased. This station is completed with the closing of the coffin, and it is followed by the transfer of the body to the church.
  • The reception of the body into the church, followed, either immediately or on the next day, by the funeral Mass or a funeral liturgy outside Mass.
  • The gathering at the cemetery, for the committal (burial) rites.

5. While extraordinary pastoral circumstances will sometimes necessitate that the funeral rites be adapted to meet particular needs, and while the wishes of families in times of particular tragedy should be addressed with pastoral sensitivity, the Bishop requests that adaptations which might be allowed in order to address exceptional circumstances should not become ‘normalized’.

6. The following guidelines will not repeat what is already given in the Order of Christian Funerals. Instead they will address some questions concerning correct practice that have arisen among clergy, members of the faithful, and funeral directors in the diocese in recent times.

7. Pastors and funeral directors are asked to adhere faithfully to these guidelines, leading the Christian people towards an ever deeper understanding of the meaning and the comforting richness of the funeral liturgy, faithfully and correctly celebrated. Pastors are asked, also, to explain these guidelines, at an appropriate time, to funeral directors and to the people.