The parish community of the Abbey, Erdington extends its sympathy and support to you and your family at this time of loss. The death of someone you love is always very difficult. Expected or unexpected, it does not make any difference. We know, instinctively, that nothing will be the same again.
There are so many arrangements that need to be made too, not least your loved one's funeral. In the funeral liturgy we celebrate the life of faith of your loved one, we pray for them and for those of us who mourn their loss. We look for strength in God's promise that he will never forget his own: "Does a woman forget the baby at her breast, or fail to cherish the child of her womb. Yet even if they forget, I will never forget you," Is. 49:16. V
No doubt, you will want to be as fully involved as you can in the planning and celebration of your loved one's funeral.
The following is offered to help you in this regard.
Time of the Requiem Mass or Service
A funeral liturgy normally takes place at 11.00am. Sometimes it takes place at the 10.00am public Mass so that it enables some of the parishioners to gather with you and your family and support you with their prayers. There may be situations where it is not possible or appropriate to have a funeral at this time. If so we will do our best to find a time suitable to both the family and the Abbey.
Planning the Funeral Liturgy
There are a number of different ways family and friends can be involved in the funeral liturgy. Below you will find a few guidelines that we follow about the way these services are conducted.
1. Choose Readings
In every funeral liturgy the Church attaches great importance to the readings of the Word of God. "In this time of loss the family and community turn to God's Word as a source of faith and hope, as light and life in the face of darkness and death" (Introduction to Rite of Funerals).
You may choose to have either one or two readings before the Gospel reading. You may ask a member of the family or friend to read. The priest celebrating the Mass or leading the service, however, always reads the Gospel.
It is not appropriate to have a non-scriptural reading at this point in the liturgy for obvious reasons. There will, however, be an opportunity later in the liturgy.
2. Choosing a Psalm
You may also choose a psalm, which may also be read by a family member. If you choose two readings and Gospel reading, the psalm is read between the first and second reading.
If you choose one reading and the Gospel reading, the psalm comes between the two.
You may, however, wish to omit the psalm and have a suitable hymn at that point.
3. Prayers of Intercession
After the homily, the priest invites the people gathered to pray for the deceased, the family and all those who mourn.
You may choose the intercessions or compose your own. A member of the family or friend may be invited to lead the congregation in these prayers.
A selection of Scripture readings, psalms and prayers of intercession is available to help you in your choice.
4. Presenting the Offertory Gifts only in a Requiem
At Mass you may choose a family member or friend to bring the gifts of bread and wine to the altar.
5. Choosing Hymns & Music
You will be given a sheet with a selection of hymns and how they may be used at different parts of the Mass or Service. They should reflect our belief in the resurrection. You are not limited to the selection you find there or the suggested use. It is a guideline only.
You may wish to include a favourite piece of music that is not a hymn or, indeed, religious. If so, we would suggest that this be as you leave the Church. It is not appropriate to include such a piece of music during the Mass itself.
6. Tribute to the Deceased
The funeral liturgy provides the opportunity for something to be said about the deceased before the final commendation and farewell at the end of the Mass or Service. This can often be quite an emotional moment both for the person speaking about the deceased and family and friends listening. We would suggest, therefore, that it be brief.
This is the appropriate time, too, for reading of a poem or reflection should the family wish.
7. Biographical Notes
It will be helpful to provide some biographical notes about your deceased loved one to help prepare the funeral liturgy. The priest will probably not use all the material provided, but it would be invaluable background information.
A Prayer When a Loved One Has Died
We give back to you, O God, those whom you gave to us. You did not lose them when you gave them to us and we do not lose them by their return to you. Your dear Son has taught us that life is eternal and love cannot die. So death is only a horizon and a horizon is only the limit of our sight. Open our eyes to see more clearly and draw us closer to you that we may know that we are nearer to our loved ones, who are with you. You have told us that you are preparing a place for us: prepare us also for that happy place, that where you are we may also be always, O dear Lord of life and death.