For an introduction to the current Roman Catholic funeral rite, as well as many useful books, visit the ACP Family Bookstore. The Archdiocese of Chicago also has its own set of policies for funerals.
is the usual custom to have three stations for a
funeral: a wake at the funeral home, a liturgy at the San Rocco
Oratory itself, and a service at the cemetery.
Prayer at the Wake
the rector will come to the funeral home the evening before the
funeral, say at 7 or 7:30 p.m. The prayers at the wake consist of a
short vigil, in two parts: (1) opening prayer, hymn, Gospel
reading, brief sermon, and (2) litany, with sung response,
final prayer, Our Father, hymn, dialogue, and
dismissal. Usually, we stand for the first part and kneel
for the second, up to the Our Father. If people wish to do so,
apart from this liturgy, it's also appropriate to say the rosary
together or the chaplet of Divine Mercy, according to the wishes of the family.
families have a wake just on the morning of the funeral. Others
prefer to have an evening Mass for the funeral, say, at 7
p.m. If you wish, especially for regular members of the
oratory, you can have the wake in the church itself, instead of a
funeral home. If you wish, you can have two nights for the wake, as has
been customary on the north side of Chicago. The choice is yours.
evening before, after the wake liturgy, the family can choose
pallbearers, as well as one or two readers for
the Scripture readings at Mass the next morning. It is also
possible for the family to make a choice among the many Scripture
readings suggested, if they wish to do so. Usually at
the funeral Mass, there are three readings, counting the Gospel, as on
Sunday. Therefore, as on Sunday, there would be an Old Testament
reading and a New Testament reading, each of which could be read by a
different reader. In general, it's difficult for an immediate
family member to take a reading; a better choice will often be a cousin
or a good friend, as you wish.
also permitted to have someone speak in memory of the deceased; the
talk given is called a eulogy. Such a talk can certainly be given
at the wake and is appropriate at that time. It is also possible
to have a eulogy given at the funeral liturgy itself. At San
Rocco Oratory, it is the usual custom to have such a talk given after
the introductory rites, before the Liturgy of the Word begins.
Just after the opening prayer, everyone sits down; the priest presiding
would then invite the speaker to come forward. Please note that a
eulogy is optional; it is not required. Most families don't
provide such a talk. If given during the funeral liturgy, a eulogy
would appropriately be a short talk, not more than five or ten minutes
at the most. At the wake the evening before the funeral, the
family can decide if they want to have a eulogy; it's their choice.
funeral liturgy usually is celebrated at 11 a.m. This is a
convenient time, to make it easier for people to be there,
especially if some people have to travel a good distance to the
church. As mentioned, an evening Mass at 7 p.m. is also an
A Mass is the
usual choice; however, for any good reason, a Liturgy of the Word is
also a possibility. This would be like the first half of Mass, up
to the General Intercessions, the Prayer of the Faithful,
followed by the Final Commendation.
during Lent, the organ is normally not used; this custom, long
maintained in the Roman Rite, makes the liturgy somber and
restrained. As at the wake the evening before, singing without
accompaniment can be especially reverent and inspiring.
Singing without accompaniment is also our own ancient tradition,
maintained for over a thousand years. It is still the general norm
in the Christian East. This norm doesn't mean we don't sing; we
do. It's just that the singing is not accompanied by the organ,
unless it's necessary.
almost every funeral, the people sing the same familiar songs, so that
participation is easy, making for genuine prayer. For example,
many of the acclamations are the same as those sung at Sunday
Mass. People who particpate in Mass regularly at San Rocco will be
already comfortable with much of the funeral music.
The opening antiphon, Eternal Rest,
is the ancient Requiem Aeternam, now sung in English. People can
join in the singing readily, without any problem. Similarly, the
communion antiphon is May Light Eternal, the ancient Lux
Aeterna, sung in English. Both antiphons are sung over and over
again, in response to verses of specific Psalms. Both antiphons
are traditional Gregorian Chant.
An appropriate Psalm, sung after the First Reading is I Lift My Soul,
Psalm 25. Sung responsorially, as at the entrance and during
Communion, the Psalm provides a brief refrain sung first by the leader,
then by the people; it is repeated again after each verse of the Psalm,
As at the wake, the
people can kneel for the prayer of the faithful, the General
Intercessions. In response to each petition, the people sing Lord, we beg you, hear our prayer or Kyrie, eleison.
the preparation of the gifts, it is appropriate for family members to
present the bread and wine, as at Sunday Mass, in a procession.
Afterwards, the altar is incensed, as a sign of honor to Jesus
Christ. The people can sing Father, Make Your Mercy Known or another appropriate hymn.
most of the people present are from San Rocco, we can sing the Sanctus
and the Agnus Dei in Latin, as usual. At funerals, it is
common for much of the Eucharistic Prayer to be recited, as during
Lent. The preface and final doxology are always sung, as is the
Memorial Acclamation, usually Christ has died.
Service at the Cemetery
the rector will go to the cemetery and say a few brief prayers in the
cemetery chapel or graveside, as circumstances dictate. This
service involves a blessing, a commendation, a litany, an Our
Father, dialogue, prayer for those present, and dismissal.
Interment normally takes place at a later time.
the family wishes to have a luncheon afterwards at our new
hall, on the grounds of the San Rocco Oratory, they would be welcome to
do so. The facility has a complete kitchen and dining
facilities. It is convenient and comfortable. This hall is
located just east of the church building itself, on the other side of
the parking lot. To reserve a time in this hall, please
call Yvette Betancourt (708) 654-7497. That's her
cellphone. Her email address is email@example.com. She will be glad to help you. See the Sunday bulletin for further information.