Guidelines on Funerals and Wakes during Pandemic
Given recent questions about funerals and wakes, it is important to clarify and reiterate current guidelines and policies, keeping in mind that those already issued by Cardinal Cupich on Friday, March 13 allow for funerals and other liturgies under certain conditions. These guidelines and policies are in effect until further notice.
Funerals can proceed with immediate family members but should not exceed more than 10 people (this number is per CDC guidance as of Tuesday, March 17 and is in effect until further notice)
If this condition is met, the funeral Mass must take place in the church
It is strongly recommended that no one from a vulnerable population attend
Social distancing (six feet) should be observed with attendees requested to sit apart
No physical contact at any point; no physical Sign of Peace, while offering comfort, etc.
If Holy Communion is distributed it is to be done so in the hand; please suspend the sharing of the common cup for the blood of Christ
After the funeral Mass, the physical space within the church must be cleaned and sanitized
Wakes and Viewings
Viewings will only be conducted in cases when the body has been embalmed
Wakes and visitation can proceed with immediate family members, but again should not exceed more than 10 people in attendance at any given time
Social distancing (six feet) should be observed as much as possible
Care should be taken to provide comfort to the bereaved without physical contact
Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes should be provided
Funeral directors must consider how best to comply by the guidelines provided by the CDC and the Archdiocese of Chicago
The committal of the body should be done at the gravesite; again, with immediate family not to exceed 10 people
No pre- or post-service social gathering is allowed in parish buildings or on parish property.
Funeral Planning at Our Lady, Mother of the Church
“At the death of a Christian, whose life of faith was begun in the waters of Baptism and strengthened at the Eucharistic table, the Church intercedes on behalf of the deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end, nor does it break the bonds forged in life. The Church also ministers to the sorrowing and consoles them in the funeral rites with the comforting Word of God and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.”
When a Catholic dies, the Church has a set of liturgical rites to help those who grieve through those first difficult days of loss. One will often hear the word “celebration” regarding these rites. It is not a misnomer to use the word, for we celebrate the life of loved ones, and we celebrate and express our belief in the promise of eternal life.
The funeral is the central service of these liturgical rites, and should help those gathered to find comfort and solace.
Typically, here at Our Lady, Mother of the Church, a member of the Ministry of Consolation will contact you to assist you with planning the Funeral Liturgy for your loved one. These pages here are to provide you with selected readings, psalms, prayers of the faithful and hymn selections to review prior to meeting with the Ministry of Consolation. Here are some helpful links:
“Music is integral to the Funeral rites. It allows the community to express convictions and feelings that word alone may fail to convey. It has the power to console and uplift the mourners and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love. The texts of the songs chosen for a particular celebration should express the paschal mystery of the Lord’s suffering, death, and triumph over death and should be related to the readings from Scripture.”
In the funeral liturgy there are seven opportunities for hymns:
the Gathering Hymn, the Psalm, the Hymn at the Presentation of the Gifts, the Hymn at Communion, a Post-Communion Hymn, a Hymn during Incensing, and the Recessional Hymn at the end of the Mass. The music selected for the funeral liturgy should be chosen with great care. Our music director is prepared to assist with the music for the Funeral liturgy. If the family has their own musician whom they would like to have participate in the liturgy, we would welcome their participation. Please let us know ahead of time.
To this point, we offer a list of hymns that are appropriate to a funeral Mass. Special requests for music that is not on the list will be considered providing that it is an appropriate Christian song for a funeral Mass and that we have the music for it. Please note that the words to the hymns can be found in our hymnal, Gather Comprehensive, Second Edition.
Our Lady, Mother of the Church sincerely offers you our sympathy on the death of your loved one. Many families want to share stories about their family members and this is good to do. However, these stories are best shared at the funeral home, cemetery or luncheon following the service. Therefore, please know that eulogies are not permitted in Our Lady, Mother of the Church.
Please, look also at Funeral Guidelines from Archdiocese of Chicago.
Although cremation is now permitted by the Church, the Church clearly prefers that the body of the deceased be present for the Funeral Mass since the presence of the body better expresses the main beliefs that the Church affirms during the funeral ritual. At times, when it is not possible or practical to have the body present for the funeral, the cremated remains should be present.
The cremated remains, treated with the same respect as given to the human body, should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium. The practice of scattering cremated remains or keeping them in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased is not considered the reverent disposition that the Church requires. After the Funeral Mass, the cremated remains should be reverently taken to the place of burial or entombment in a timely manner.
A Final Word
We hope these explanations of the rites and symbols of the Funeral Mass and other information are of help to you during the preparation of your loved one’s funeral.
If we at Our Lady, Mother of the Church can offer any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
May our merciful Lord grant you consolation in your sorrow.