The chief emphasis of the Catholic Burial should be not upon death but on Life eternal – not on a dead body but on a living soul. All life is a preparation for dying and for Eternity, and there is therefore the need to be prepared both materially and spiritually. The former includes making provision for one’s family – the making of a Will in accordance with Catholic principles. (Please refer to our leaflet “Estate Planning – Making your will”) A part of our preparation for death as a Catholic is regular worship, and the receiving of the Blessed Sacrament. Even when age or infirmity or illness comes upon us, we can still participate in the worship of the Church through the ministrations of our Priests.
It is the responsibility of the family to call the Priest in such circumstances. In any emergency that necessitates calling the doctor, your parish Priest should also be called. In the case of sudden death, the Priest should be called immediately. In case of a sudden death or expected death call the Church at any time.
The Priest should be consulted before arrangements are made for the Funeral. In the making of Funeral arrangements, we are reminded as Catholics of the simplicity of our Lord’s own burial, and that extravagant expenditures at the time of death are not a valid indication of our love and concern for the deceased, but in many cases place an unnecessary burden of the bereaved. The accent on costly methods and paraphernalia – in fact any undue concern about he body – is a worldly and pagan emphasis, not a Christian one. The Catholic’s emphasis should be towards God; the lifting of our hearts in prayer, the commending of ourselves and those we love to the care of God, and the conduct of rite and custom in simplicity with dignity.
Church families are encouraged to take part in the Requiem Mass in the parish church at the time of bereavement.
The Requiem Mass
The proper place for the Funeral rites is the parish church. To offer Holy Mass for the repose of the soul of the deceased is an ancient rite of the Church, and the same service continues to be used for rich and poor alike. It is an expression of our oneness in Christ and our corporate life, as of those who have already known and shared the eternal life which God has given and will give.
The Funeral Pall
In keeping with the thought of the equality of every person under God, it is an ancient custom of the Church to cover the coffin with a Funeral Pall during Holy Mass.
The Requiem Mass is the appropriate service for a Catholic who has died. The whole congregation – including the relatives of the deceased and the pallbearers – should participate in the Mass according to the liturgy as at any other Mass.
Choice of Hymns
The hymns should be chosen in consultation with the Priest, and should witness to the Catholic belief in Life everlasting.
Flowers and Memorials
It is suggested that opportunities be given for friends to make donations to the Old Catholic Church of B.C., in memory of the deceased, and as a concrete and appropriate way of expressing their sympathy.