Skip to the content

The Funeral Mass: Praying for Our Beloved Dead

The Funeral Mass: Praying for Our Beloved Dead

By Sr. Denise Herrmann, CSA, Pastoral Associate & Director of Liturgy and RCIA

Since the beginning of the Christian faith, the Mass has been prayed at the time of death of a loved one. The Mass is the greatest connection we have with Christ himself who suffered death and was buried. In the Mass, the Church on earth is united with the heavenly Church, that is, with all the saints and angels and all who have gone before us, who are interceding to Christ on behalf of the deceased. The Church on earth and the heavenly realm are praying for the loved one—that all sins may be forgiven, the soul may be purified, and the loved one may be received into eternal life with God.

The funeral Mass is the greatest gift we can give a Catholic at the time of death. The Order of Christian Funerals (OCF) gives us reassurance of this great gift. The OCF states that the purpose of the funeral Mass is “to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the gift of life which has now been returned to God…” (OCF 5) In the funeral Mass, the Church commends the dead to God’s merciful love and prays for the forgiveness of their sins. (OCF 6) Though separated by death, the deceased is still “one with the community of believers on earth and benefit from their prayers and intercession.” (OCF 6)

The funeral Mass is par excellence of all the ways of turning to God in our sorrow and mourning. We are consoled by the Word of God in the Scriptures and are sustained in the Eucharist as we grieve. Faith is strengthened through the mystery of the Sacrifice of the Mass where Christ continually offers to his Father the sacrifice of his life.
There is no part of human suffering and sorrow that Christ does not know. Through the prayer of the priest and people gathered at the funeral Mass, a profound union with Christ’s suffering and death occurs as well as being able to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s resurrection. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, he has broken the chains of sin and death.

The funeral Mass with the body in the casket is the Church’s preferred way. It is a very visual reminder of the impact of death and of the promise of the resurrection of the body at the end of time. In the context of a funeral Mass, there is the strong message that death is not the end; it is the gateway to eternal life with God.

At the time of the death of a loved one, there are so many details to take care of. Everything can be quite overwhelming. If possible, planning ahead of time for one’s funeral Mass can be quite helpful to the family members left behind. Our parish liturgy office can help you with any questions and with pre-planning for a Catholic funeral Mass.

Also, it is a strong Catholic tradition in the weeks and months after the death of loved ones to have Masses offered for them that they may have eternal life with God in heaven. Such Mass Intentions can be arranged with our parish office at 608-271-7421 or arranged via our Mass Intentions webpage.

Return to Blog

Support Our Parish

In gratitude for God’s generosity, we dedicate a sacrificial portion of our gifts of time, talent, and treasure to serve Christ and His Church by supporting the needs of our parish.