Over the last few years, priests and parish ministers are experiencing family members of deceased Catholics forgo a Roman Catholic Funeral Mass for their loved ones. These Catholics practiced their faith which gave them joy, strength and the compass to raise a Catholic family. Some family members say: "Well, we just want something private, Mom/Dad were low key people", or "Most of their generation has already passed, so not many people would attend", "Mom was a saint, she doesn't need our prayers" or "I'm not a Catholic, why would I have a Mass?"
These are real sentiments, but we must understand what the Funeral Mass is and what it is not. It is not a "memorial service," it is not exclusively for the living, it is not a "tribute" to the deceased. There is another time and place appropriate for those wonderful gatherings.
Let's look at what the funeral Mass is. The Church through its funeral rites commends the dead to God's merciful love and pleads for the forgiveness of their sins. At the funeral rites, especially at the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice, the Christian community affirms and expresses the union of the Church on earth with the Church in heaven in the one great communion of saints.
Though separated from the living, the dead are still at one with the community of believers on earth and benefit from their prayers and intercession. (Timothy II: when Paul prays for someone who died named Onesiphorus, saying: “May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day.”)
At the rite of final commendation and farewell, the community acknowledges the reality of separation and commends the deceased to God. In this way it recognizes the spiritual bond that still exists between the living and the dead and proclaims its belief that all the faithful will be raised up and reunited in the new heavens and a new earth, where death will be no more.
Have you expressed to your family in writing your wish to have the Roman Catholic Funeral Mass celebrated at your death? You cannot assume that they will understand your wish to be accompanied by the prayers of the Church.
Learn more about the Catholic Funeral Mass HERE.
(Article by Louis Scarpa)