Wednesday, September 16, 2009


In reality nobody – well, almost nobody prepares for a Martian abduction. I mean really, the chances are so small. But if every you were abducted by Martians you would think, “Why didn’t read that pamphlet and have a small bag packed and ready to go - and granola bars?”

With that in mind I ask you to consider reading this short post even though you may find it completely out of relevancy for you at the moment or unpleasant reading. This is just a short to-do list in the inevitable event of . . .

Phone calls come in to the rectory quite often with the plea, “I think that I am supposed to call you and arrange a time for funeral. My (insert relationship here) died, I’ve never done this before and am not sure what to do.” Well, my friends, here is what I suggest you do in simple format. It is a check off list of what would work around here – exact details may change in your location.

When a person is seriously ill call early for a priest to anoint him. Do NOT wait until death is imminent. You want to make sure that a priest is available to come in time. Let the priest know the state of the person (not an immediate emergency but soon – or – they have a few hours etc.) Have an address, phone number, and possibly directions ready.

When your loved one dies call the funeral home of your choice. There is a reason they are called undertakers. They under take all the arrangements for the family. A good funeral home that is familiar with the Catholic Church will immediately notify the parish of choice and arrange a day and time for you and handle the finances.

It would be a good idea to have spoken with your loved one about funeral plans – preferred readings, songs, etc. You time will be taxed between the death and funeral. Be prepared. You may need to arrange a meeting at the parish to discuss the Mass. You may need to call the rectory if your parish provides a funeral luncheon.

Eulogies are not part of the Mass and should not be done. The proper place is at the funeral home or luncheon.

The priest, deacon, or other person might perform the following: A prayer service at the funeral home the day before, the funeral Mass, and committal service. Some parishes still meet the body at the funeral home and lead the cortege to the Church but that is becoming rarer.

Now about those Martians . . .


Victor S E Moubarak said...

"There is a reason they are called undertakers. They under take all the arrangements for the family."

And I always thought it is because the "take" people "under" ... six feet deep under!

Good post Father.

Our church requires at least three months' notice if you wish to have a Mass offered - e.g. for a sick person or a special intention, or offer Mass for a deceased relative.

I hope they don't have the same rule for funerals! I'll check next time I see the priest. Just in case ...

Fr. V said...


I hope not!

Michelle said...

I just saw this - and having had to do just this -- for my husband at age 30, in the ER, without even my purse, in another state, with no family within 3000 miles -- all I can say is that I'm glad the priest at the other end knew what to do, since I hadn't a clue.

When I cleaned out my mother's drawers after she died, I found a set of candles in a box, along with instructions on what to do when someone was dying that was very similar to yours! Lists are good things in times of great stress.

Still, I hope I have no need of such advice for years to come...