Family & Friends Are Invited To Participate in the Funeral Mass in Several Ways.
Family and friends of the deceased, should if possible, assist in planning the funeral Mass. The selection of prayers, scripture readings and personal remarks all contribute to meaningful and personal reflections during the celebration of the Mass.
Pall Bearers & Honorary Pall Bearers
Serving as a Pall Bearer or Honorary Pall Bearer for a friend or relative is one of the most honorable duties a person could ever to be requested to perform. Although there are no firms rules requiring the number of Pall Bearers present, generally six active pall bearers are appropriate for this purpose.
There often is some physical requirement of a Pall Bearer when transferring the casket remains from the funeral home, to and from the church and again at the cemetery.
For those not physically able to act as a Pall Bearer, the recognition of a special relationship may be equally profound in the designation of an Honorary Pall Bearer. Honorary Pall Bearers are recognized and seated with the Active Pall Bearers but are not asked to provide assistance in transferring or carrying the casket.
Placing of the Funeral Pall
The body is brought into the church in the presence of the lighted Paschal Candle. The priest greets those gathered and sprinkles the casket with holy water as a reminder of our Baptism. A funeral pall, reminding us of the garment given at baptism and therefore symbolizing our life in Christ, is draped over the coffin at the beginning of the liturgy. Family members or friends are encouraged to do this, although the placing of the pall may likewise be done by others. The use of this pall also signifies that all are equal in the eyes of God (Jas 2:1-9). (If cremation has taken place before the funeral, the placing of the pall is omitted.) This is followed by the opening prayer.
Ordinarily, two readings plus a responsorial psalm and gospel acclamation will precede the gospel. The family, in collaboration with the priest or minister, can select one text each from the Old Testament Readings and New Testament Readings. Non-biblical texts may not replace scriptural readings at Mass. The Gospel Reading is usually selected by the priest and always proclaimed by a deacon or priest. If a family member or friend is a parish reader or comfortable with public speaking you may want to invite them to do the Old Testament and New Testament readings which are always proclaimed from the lectionary. The emotional nature of the funeral may make it difficult for some to do this. In this case, the priest and parish staff are ready to help you with this task. Some families ask about using readings that are from a different source. These readings are best done outside of the liturgy, perhaps at the funeral home or at the cemetery.
(Note: During the Easter season, both readings are from the New Testament.)
Presentation of Gifts
During the preparation rite, up to four family members may present the gifts of bread and wine to be consecrated during the Mass. The funeral director will assist the family at the appropriate time. The usual order of Mass is then followed: responses sung, the Our Father spoken, and the sign of peace exchanged.
Family members who serve as Eucharistic Ministers in their home parishes are welcome to participate in this capacity during the Communion of the Mass. Please be sure to inform the funeral director with this information so that the names of those participating may be included in the service program and of course as a courtesy to the celebrating clergy.
Remarks of Remembrance - Eulogy
Sometimes a family member may wish to speak in remembrance of the deceased. This is done after the introductory rites or before the final commendation. One person may speak for three to five minutes. This would be an opportunity to speak of the deceased person’s own faith and how it inspired others by example.