We’ve already read that the focus of the funeral rites is on Christ, and the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. We touch upon how this salvific reality transforms human mortality through the Scriptures, prayers, rituals, and music of these rites. And yet, pastoral ministers are urged to “keep in mind” the person who has died. Good ministry makes connections, and somehow, the funeral isn’t just a cookie-cutter experience in which we insert a casket and a mourning family and take our cue from there.
16. In planning and carrying out the funeral rites the pastor and all other ministers should keep in mind the life of the deceased and the circumstances of death. They should also take into consideration the spiritual and psychological needs of the family and friends of the deceased
- to express grief and their sense of loss,
- to accept the reality of death,
- and to comfort one another.
I see two things of note. The inclusion of psychology as a ministerial consideration is significant. Second, I peeled out those three goals of pastoral ministers. Especially notable is the sense that the Church’s ministry is not focused on what clergy and others do for those who mourn. We’ve already touched on the importance of a ministry of companionship. Its methods and goals may seem vague to a more task-driven view. But the best ministry we can offer most all families is to give them the tools to deal with grief and loss long after the funeral is over. More, people can and should be given the tools to serve and minister to one another.