Roman Catholics much like other Christian denominations believe in life after death. Nowhere is this clearly demonstrated than in funeral Masses. The prayers for the deceased and more so the content of these prayers and the songs that accompany them reveal a deep seated belief system in the afterlife.
Funeral Masses are held in church-settings and often take place 2 to 7 days after the passing on of the faithful. Typically, a Catholic funeral service comprises three main sections which could be broken further into subsections. So how long is a Catholic funeral mass?
The night before the funeral, the body is usually taken to church to accord the family the opportunity to spend some quiet time ahead of the funeral Mass. If this is not possible because of logistical constraints, the body is brought on the funeral day.
Mourners pray the rosary with some background music as they read scriptures and share some of the moments they have with deceased.
A Funeral Mass
Also known as a Requiem Mass, the funeral Mass is offered as a repose for the soul of the departed. The Mass is divided into several stages.
- Introductory Rite – The priest stands at the door of the church and greets the congregants.
- Procession – The priest makes his way up the aisle followed by the pallbearers and the congregation. During the procession, the priest sprinkles holy water.
- After the pall is placed on the coffin, the priest lays the Christian symbols which include the Bible, the cross, and the rosary beads.
- Before the Holy Communion Mass, the congregants are led into a time of prayer and reading of the word. The reading could be from the old testament or the new testament in addition to a psalm.
- During the Holy Communion, the bread and wine are brought to the altar by family or friends before the Eucharistic Prayer is made.
- After the Holy Communion, the coffin is taken out of the church and onto the graveside where the Rite of Committal is conducted. The family and relatives of the deceased take time to pay their last respects before the body is laid down into the grave.
The funeral Mass may take anything from 20 to 30 minutes. However, it is not uncommon for funerals to last a little longer depending on the setting. The entire process is printed in a funeral booklet that is based on the revised Roman Missal or the Catholic Order of Christian Funerals.
Funeral Without Mass
You can choose to have a funeral without Mass. In this case, there is no Holy Communion served during the Mass and is referred to as ‘Funeral Outside Mass.’ It happens in a case where most of the congregants are non-catholics.
There is also another variation where the funeral service is held at the cemetery chapel. Normally the outline of the funeral service is the same only that it takes a much shorter time, about 20 minutes. After the funeral, there is a reception held for those present to relax. This could be in a home, a restaurant or a pub.