The Armchair Liturgist: Scheduling Funerals

At my last parish, when we had a rare funeral, daily Mass at noon would be “cancelled,” and people were invited to worship at 11am, 10:30, or the late morning time when we scheduled with the family and funeral home. This never totally sat well with me, as the lunch hour was predictable for university staff, and students, well, they weren’t going to get out of class for most any schedule change.

The parish before that, we had early morning Mass, and funerals were “extra” liturgies, again, late morning.

My new parish has far more funerals than the university community, but we also have a varied daily Mass schedule: two days at 8:30, and a third at 11am.

Sit in the purple chair, and render judgment. Usurp daily Mass? Your call. Remember, some parishes have only one priest available.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Scheduling Funerals

  1. Liam says:

    There is a first a canonical issue: the limits on bination and trination in Canon 905. For background on that, see Suffice it to say that I would imagine the Archbishop of Seattle has given the permission necessary for a pastor with no assistants to celebrate both a daily Mass and a funeral Mass on the same day.

    As for the pastoral issue, I would think it resolution would be particular to each parish, and that no one answer fits all circumstances. Were I in the purple chair, I’d begin to invite people to discuss this – not by framing it as a problem, but to learn what are people’s desires – and expectations – regarding the daily Mass, and who are the people to whom that is relevant. And then ditto for parishioners at large – as this could arguably affect anyone in the parish – in terms of their desires and expectations for their own loved ones.

    UNderstand that funerals where remains are to be interred in a national military cemetery may need to be completed by a given time in order to meet the military logistics of the cemetery. Consult with funeral directors on that issue. I only learned about this when my mother was buried in Calverton NMC last October – they process about 60 interments daily, and it’s a VERY precise ballet at the seven “committal shelters” (too complex to allow burial at the grave with family present except in high profile situations like battle deaths, high rank et cet.).

  2. David says:

    I agree that there no one answer and each parish would need it’s own solutions and maybe even more than one solution.

    However, I tend to think that in parishes like a university parish or a parish in a large downtown or other place with large concentration of people and a regular daily mass schedule designed around work schedules, that canceling that mass for a funeral at a different time, isn’t really serving anyone’s needs.

    A few extra people may attend the funeral, but most won’t be able to and since funerals tend to not have significant advance notice it’s very possible for people to not even realize there is a schedule change until they show up for mass and it was cancelled. Frustrating and confusing people is not likely to contribute to any sense of community that may be one of the goals in combining the masses in the first place.

    But, in a different parish where daily mass already varies and where the core group of attendees are not those with work obligations, the canceling of daily mass for the funeral may work as an welcome expression of community and even a reminder that we are all connected in our faith even if we never knew each other in life.

  3. FrMichael says:

    Good comments here.

    I would also add that in my experience many daily Masses have Rosaries and/or devotions scheduled immediately after Mass. That doesn’t work well with the ritualized procession out of the church of a Funeral Mass.

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