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The Christian Mass Funeral Planning Is Important

Jan 7, 2008
Funeral planning is often difficult when your mind is swimming with so much grief and emotion. However, keeping busy is the best thing you can do. Taking a meaningful role in the funeral proceedings can be great consolation to remaining friends and family members, whether it's reading, reciting a memorial, leading the prayers, carrying the casket, bringing up gifts, planning the luncheon or selecting the songs.

When funeral planning, once you've decided upon cremation or burial, you may choose an optional vigil, if you so desire. The vigil is held the night before the funeral mass in the church with scriptural readings, prayers or rosary recitation.

Generally, vigils aren't necessary, but some extremely devout Christians choose it because they believe in the healing power of prayer. Other options to consider include: wakes and viewings (scheduled through a funeral home), a church mass, a graveside memorial mass, as well as post-funeral luncheons.

During mass, the priest will say the Opening Prayer, just like any normal mass. Afterwards, the Scriptural Readings will begin. The church can point you to several options that are meaningful and appropriate, while the priest chooses a powerful Gospel.

Your first reading will be from the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament. Next there will be a Responsorial Psalm (a popular one being "The Lord is my Shepherd"). The second reading is from one of the New Testament letters.

Finally, the Gospel comes from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. To personalize the mass, friends or family members are often called upon to do the first and second readings. Make sure everyone is well-rehearsed to hold their composure for the duration of the reading.

Next, the Father will give a homily about life, death, life after death and the deceased. Sometimes a best friend, spouse or family member gives a personal reflection after the Gospel, ideally something light, memorial and heart-felt.

Be sure to bring your tissues! Following the homily, the Prayers of the Faithful are said for the family members and friends. These can be written by family and friends, said by family and friends, or said by parish members.

The gifts of bread and wine are brought forward by two or more family members. This is the part of ceremony that usually involves children in the family. You may also choose a song (something soothing like "Ave Maria").

The ancient Eucharistic prayer is said, the Greeting of Peace is given and the ministers distribute Communion like a normal mass. Even guests who have not received the sacrament can approach the Father, with their arms crossed over their hearts, to receive a blessing instead. The mass then ends with incensing of the body and closing prayers, before the casket is led out of the church.

Once the mass has concluded, there is usually a procession to the cemetery. In the funeral planning, some families may decide to skip the mass altogether and simply have a graveside service with a minister present, with all prayers done over the gravesite before internment. Bagpipes are a powerful touch. Sometimes flowers, such as roses or carnations are distributed to all present to leave on top of the casket as a final goodbye.
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