Christian Burial

Our Deepest Sympathy...

 

... to those who have lost loved ones. The clergy, staff and parishioners of Saint Uriel's offer our prayerful support at this time of your loss.  We want you to know that in the days and months ahead we want to be of whatever help we can. While we cannot remove your pain, we hope to be able to assist you in whatever way possible as you seek God's loving presence even in the midst of suffering.

We hope that you will find the  information on this page helpful.  The parish clergy and staff are here to assist you in planning a Funeral Liturgy and celebrating the Rites of Christian Burial, including selections for readings, music, and family participation in the Mass.  We will help you prepare for the three stages of Christian burial: the Prayer Vigil, the Funeral Mass, and the Interment. 

 

The Christian faith teaches that with death, life is changed, not ended. The Rites of Christian Burial give vibrant expression to this hope.

 

The Church's funeral rites have three basic purposes: (1) to give thanks for God's gift of the departed person's life and all that he or she meant to us; (2) to commend the departed person's soul into the care and safekeeping of Almighty God until the Day of Resurrection; and (3) to call to mind the shortness and uncertainty of all human life, and so recommit ourselves to the service of God and neighbor in whatever time we have left.

While it is fashionable these days to refer to funerals as "celebrations of life," the rites of Christian Burial really celebrate the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord, who has conquered sin and death on our behalf.

Before a Loved One Dies

 

If at all possible, please do not wait until death has occurred to contact the Church. The parish clergy will be happy to visit and provide the Church's sacramental and pastoral ministrations to the dying and offer support and comfort to the family. Similarly, when someone has just died, please call the priest to come and offer the Prayers at the Time of Death. Calls for these purposes can and should be made at any time of the day or night.

Scheduling the Funeral 


It is preferable for the next-of-kin or other person making the funeral arrangements on behalf of the family to call the clergy directly rather than asking the Funeral Home to do so.

 

We will do everything we can to accommodate family needs in scheduling the funeral. We are able to do this planning with very short notice. We understand the importance of flexibility, especially when family members live far away.

Unfortunately, certain days and times may not be open owing to scheduled use of the church building and the availability of clergy. Funerals cannot take place on Sundays and certain Holy Days. Arrangements should be finalized with the Funeral Home or reception venue only after the parish has been consulted and the day and time confirmed.

The Vigil

If desired, a Vigil may be held prior to the funeral. This often takes the form of a Viewing and Visiting Hours at the Funeral Home. In this case, it is appropriate to invite the clergy to come and read the short service of Prayers for a Vigil.

The Vigil may also take place in the Church on the eve of the funeral. This allows for observance of the ancient custom of the body or urn resting overnight in the Church prior to the Burial rites.

The Funeral

 

The priest conducting the funeral will meet with the next-of-kin and other family members several days before the funeral to offer pastoral support and to plan the funeral together - including the form of the service and choices of readings and appropriate musical selections. This meeting is also helpful to the priest in preparing the funeral homily.

For those who were active Church members, it is highly desirable that the funeral service take the form of a Mass of Christian Burial, also known as a Requiem Mass. Such a funeral Mass is appropriate for any baptized Christian.

In certain circumstances, it may be more appropriate for the funeral to take a form of the Burial Office - that is, a service of readings and prayers with no Eucharist.

At both Requiem Masses and Burial Offices, the body or cremated remains are ideally present in the Church. In exceptional circumstances, however, the funeral may be offered as a "memorial service" without the body or cremated remains present. 

 

Family members may have the opportunity to participate in the Burial liturgy in appropriate ways, such as reading one or more of the appointed Scripture readings. Such participation is always at the discretion of the officiating priest.

Participation of clergy from outside the parish similarly requires a direct invitation from the officiating priest. Participation of outside musicians or singers requires the approval of the St. Uriel's Church Musician.  

A white or violet funeral pall covers the casket or urn at every Burial service in the Church. The rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, 1979 prohibit an open casket.

Flowers, if desired, will be provided by the St. Uriel's Flower Guild and placed in the Church's vases in the customary locations at the Altar, and will remain in the Church following the funeral.

 

Sending floral displays to the Church is discouraged. They are more appropriately sent to the Funeral Home or the Reception venue. Any such floral displays received on the day of the funeral will be placed at the back of the Church near the entrance.

Because the Church's Burial Rites focus on the future hope of eternal life in Christ rather than on the past, displays of items of personal remembrance such as photographs are more appropriate at the Funeral Home or at a Reception following the funeral than in the Church.

Eulogies by family or friends of the departed are not part of the Anglican funeral tradition. At the discretion of the officiating priest, however, selected family members or friends may be invited to offer brief personal reminiscences immediately before the funeral liturgy begins. But it is worth considering making the Vigil or the Repast the time for such personal reminiscences instead.

The Interment

Following the Burial service in the Church, the clergy are available to travel to the cemetery or other place of interment for the Committal Service. This needs to be made clear in advance, however, so that the priest can plan his schedule accordingly.

 

The clergy are also available to officiate at Interments held in the days, weeks, or months following the funeral.

Saint Uriel's has available a Columbarium for the Interment of cremated remains. Members of the parish, or those with connections to the parish, may purchase niches for themselves or their family. For more information, please contact the Parish Office.

The Reception 

The family may choose to host a reception or repast following the Funeral or Interment. However, there is no requirement to do so.

 

When such an event is held, it may be a more appropriate venue than the Church for pictorial and floral displays, as well as for extended speeches and the reading of messages from those who could not be present.

If the family desires, the Parish Hall is available for a reception following the Mass. While there is no fee for the the use of the Parish Hall, donations will be gratefully accepted. The family is responsible for the costs of catering, setup, and cleanup.

Who Can Be Buried From the Church? 

Since burying the dead is one of the Church's traditional "corporal works of mercy," we will consider requests to conduct funerals for all persons, whether or not they were Church members. The Episcopal Church's Burial Rites include an option for those who did not profess the Christian Faith.

It is not the case that those who took their own lives cannot buried from the Church. We are eager to offer the Church’s rites and the consolation of the Sacraments in these sad circumstances.

A Mass of Christian Burial may be celebrated for an unbaptized infant. In the case of an unborn child who has not survived pregnancy, it is appropriate to give the child a name and request a Requiem Mass. Doing so may help in the family's process of grieving and healing.

On Cremation

While many Churches used to frown on cremation because it seemed to deny the Christian hope of the Resurrection, we now encourage consideration of cremation as an economically and ecologically responsible alternative to traditional burial. There are three principal options:
 

  • The body may be brought to Church for the Mass and then cremated, with the interment following at a later date.

  • The cremated remains may be brought to Church for the Mass, with the interment following directly after the Mass.

  • The family may choose to have direct cremation and interment (or scattering) of the ashes, with a Requiem Mass offered at a later time when family and friends can come together. 
     

Any of these options, or variations on them, may be discussed with the parish priest. 

 

Planning your Funeral in Advance

In consultation with the parish priest, you may plan your funeral now to alleviate your family's burden later. Your wishes regarding music, scriptures, and other aspects of your Mass of Christian Burial will be kept in the Parish Office. We have some helpful tools to assist you in reflecting on and preparing for your funeral. Having the Advance Directives of a deceased Church member  on file can be enormously helpful to the clergy when interacting with next-of-kin and family members who may be unfamiliar with Anglican burial practices.