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Funeral Liturgy

If you are visiting this page due to the death of a loved one, please accept our sincere condolences. Be assured of our prayers for the happy repose of their soul, and that you and your family may be consoled in your grief.

The following information is provided to assist in the preparation of the Mass of Christian Burial in Downpatrick Parish.

The Rites of the Church - All the baptised are entitled to the full Rite of Christian Burial. You and your family will experience the Rite of Christian Burial in three distinct and important parts:

The Wake Service - This will take place in the deceased’s late home though it sometimes happens at Funeral Directors chapel of rest. A priest of the parish will lead this service of prayer and scripture. At this time someone from the family, or a friend, may wish to remember the deceased by sharing personal memories, as in a eulogy.

The Funeral Liturgy - This is the most important part of the celebration of Christian Burial. This is almost always celebrated within a Mass. The bodily remains are honoured by being brought to the church. We celebrate the life of the deceased in the whole context of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Time and Place of the Funeral Liturgy - A funeral may be celebrated on any day of the week except Sundays and Holy Days. There are also some restrictions concerning funerals during Holy Week. The priest will discuss these restrictions as they apply.
The funeral liturgy is ordinarily celebrated in the parish church.

Planning the Funeral Liturgy - The funeral liturgy is one of the most beautiful and meaningful celebrations of the Church. Your family has the option of personalising the Mass by choosing the scripture readings and by requesting specific hymns.

The Easter or Paschal Candle is lit to symbolize the light of the risen Christ and our belief that He has conquered the darkness of sin and death. This candle stands in the sanctuary space to greet the body and remind us that our loved one, through his or her death, shares in the victory of Jesus over these powers of darkness.

The Pall points back to the white garment given us at our Baptism and symbolizes our life in Christ. It is draped over the coffin at the beginning of the liturgy. Therefore it is recommended not have flowers placed on coffin during the Mass.

Symbols of Christian Life, A book of the gospels, and cross will be placed on the coffin as a sign that the Christian is marked, in Baptism, and through Jesus’ victory over death is brought to eternal life.

Readings - When choosing passages from scripture, there should be one reading, either from the Old or New Testaments. 

Music - There are several musicians available in the Parish who can be contacted through the parish office. Local undertakers can also provide you with a list of church-approved musicians.

Please know that only sacred music is appropriate for a Mass of Christian Burial and only sacred music can be used at St. Mary's. Pop music, West End show tunes, Rock songs or folk songs are not permitted for the Mass of Christian Burial. Church-approved musicians can guide you in tasteful and appropriate music choices.

The Committal - A priest, or deacon of the parish will accompany the deceased’s remains and the family to the cemetery, where the Rite of Christian Burial will conclude with the prayers of Committal and Final Commendation. Should one wish to speak in memory of the deceased, as in a eulogy or a remembrance, the Funeral Rite allows for such to usually take place as part of the Prayer of Commendation that will be prayed at the cemetery

Remarks of Remembrance - The parish policy is as follows: eulogies are not allowed in any circumstance. Brief Remarks of Remembrance about the deceased are permitted but only if certain rules are followed.

We encourage families to write their own remembrances of the deceased and give them to the priest-celebrant so he may properly prepare the homily for the Mass.
Remarks of Remembrance should properly be delivered by a family member or friend at the wake, burial site/crematorium or at the reception following the Mass.

However, if, in the most exceptional of circumstances, Remarks of Remembrance are to be delivered at the Mass of Christian Burial in Downpatrick family members and friends are reminded of the following guidelines, all of which are strictly observed:
• Only one person may deliver the Remarks of Remembrance
• These remarks are to be delivered after the Rite of Final Commendation from a lectern and the person is to wait until invited forward by the celebrant of the Mass
• These remarks must not exceed five minutes, they must be brief. We ask you to remember the proverb: ‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’ This proverb is based on the words of Polonius in ‘Hamlet’ by William Shakespeare: ‘Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief...’
• These remarks must be prepared in advance, type-written, and limited to two pages double spaced
• A copy must be provided in advance of the Mass to the Parish Office by email no later than 6pm on the evening before the Mass of Christian Burial.
• In preparing the Remarks of Remembrance please be mindful of the following:
• they must reflect the faithful departed’s Catholic faith and his/her relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church
• they must not focus upon the hobbies, cooking, pastimes, sports teams, pets, alcohol consumption, etc. of the deceased
• if humour is to be used it must be used with discretion
• the remarks should not be simply a re-reading of the deceased’s obituary
• there must be no use of inappropriate humour, offensive words, or foul language at anytime
• these remarks are being offered at Holy Mass before Jesus Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament and should reflect proper reverence and decorum
• remember these remarks should not be trivial, light-hearted or exceedingly humorous but rather reflect the nature of the event, namely Christian faith, hope and joy.

A Sample of Readings is available here

Funeral Liturgy: About Us
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