Thursday, March 31, 2011

Catholic Funeral Mass

Early last week I learned that the father of two boys in my daughter’s school died of a heart attack during spring break. Although he is ten years older than us, both of his sons are my daughters’ age, and for three of the last four years at least one pair of them has shared a classroom teacher. In this way I’ve come to meet and casually know their mom, who volunteers at the school and occasionally served as room mom.

The funeral took place at the LDS church at the end of my street last night. A crowed of young and old gathered in the parking lot, creating a sea of black suits mixed with bright red shirts. (The deceased worked as coach for the University of Houston Cougar Swim Team and their school color is red.)

That night I passed by the funeral gathering on my way to attend a class at my church, where I spoke with another PTA mom about this family and their plans. We also discussed what we might do in a similar situation. My thoughts went back to the LDS parking lot, all those people waiting to go inside and pay their respects, worship his life, and honor him. If something happened to my husband, what would we do? Where would I have him buried? How would we worship his life?

The Catechism states that "The Christian funeral confers on the deceased neither a sacrament nor a sacramental, since he has 'passed' beyond the sacramental economy. It is nonetheless a liturgical celebration of the Church." (CCC 1684)

Would I have a Funeral Mass said for him? Even though he’s not Catholic, he has attended church with me and our children semi-regularly for the past 15 years. We were married in a Catholic church without a Mass. If he’s dead, isn’t the religious service in part to comfort me and our daughters. If we’re Catholic, wouldn’t it make sense to have a Mass?

On the flip side, if I died – would having a Funeral Mass and Rosary comfort him? I suppose these are discussions we need to have with each other while we’re still living.
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