Funeral Guidelines

The Roman Catholic Diocese Of Fresno
Office of Worship
in collaboration with the
Most Reverend  Armando X. Ochoa, D.D.
June 24, 2013

The  Office  of Worship  has  received  requests  for  some  guidelines  and  suggestions regarding some elements  of the  Order  of  Christian  Funerals  (OCF},  such  as what  should  be  done  at a Vigil/Rosary, issues  dealing  with Remembrances (eulogies)  and with cremains  in the Church  for the Funeral Mass. The entire constitution on the Order of Christian  Funerals  can be found in all funeral ritual books.

  • If the family requests  the rosary,  the ministers  should respect their wishes.  However, the service should still include (the reception of the body, if in Church), a liturgy of the word, with at  least an  appropriate gospel reading, since the  proclamation of  the word is the  high point and central focus of the  vigil (OCF, 22, 59). The Rosary is not advisable  when many non-Catholics are present,  nor may the Rosary  take place  before the funeral Liturgy.   If the Rosary  takes place on the day of the Funeral Mass,  it must be separated by a reasonable amount of time from the Mass. (see OCF, 55).
  • Music: Parishes are pastorally responsible to provide liturgical music at all funeral Masses (Liturgical Music Today, 31). A few elements,  sung well, should be given priority. Preference  should be given to congregational singing of the acclamations, the responsorial psalm, the song of farewell at the final commendation, and appropriate entrance and communion songs. An organist  or other instrumentalist, a cantor, and whenever  possible,  a choir should be present to assist the congregation in singing the songs, responses, and acclamations of the funeral Mass. Recorded music should not replace “live” music, nor should favorite songs of the deceased  replace  liturgically appropriate  music. Music should reflect the themes of the selected readings  or Christians’ hope in the Risen Christ.
  • Homily: A brief  homily  based  on  the  readings  should  always  be  given  at  the  funeral Mass, but never any kind of eulogy (OCF, 141).
  • Remembrances  (Eulogies):     A   member   or   friend   of   the   family   may   speak   in remembrance of the deceased before  the final commendation begins,  after  the  Prayer after  Communion, or  better  yet,  at the  beginning  of  the  liturgy.  (OCF,  197,171).     The Vigil,  or the  reception following the  Funeral  Mass  is  a venue  for  remembrances. The  Presider,  should he allow  a remembrance  to be given at Mass,  allows  only  one person,  and limits the time.   If there is the instance  where  the Rosary  is recited  on the same day of the Funeral Mass, a eulogy in between the two events is suggested.
  • THE CELEBRATION OF THE FUNERAL LITURGY IN THE PRESENCE OF THE CREMATED REMAINS – In the United States, effective June ?, 2007 
    • It is the policy  of the Diocese of Fresno to permit the funeral liturgy to be celebrated in the presence of the cremated remains as permitted by the indult received by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops from the Congregation for Divine Worship (Prot.1589/96/l)’Dated July 30, 1997. Appendbt2·guides. pastors and pastoral·ministers in the celebration of the Funeral liturgy·for the Order of Christian  Funerals  as approved for use in the· United States.
    • The faithful have the right to the implementation of this indult. Pastors and all pastoral ministers are to respect all requests by the faithful to celebrate  the Funeral Liturgy in the presence  of the cremated remains.