The funeral Mass: This essential and complete “end of life” pastoral care is probably the most practical aspect of the Catholic faith.


But it’s quickly becoming a thing of the past, in many areas.

WORCESTER — Bishop Robert J. McManus is expressing concern that Central Massachusetts Roman Catholics are not scheduling funeral Masses for their dead.

This month, he sent a pastoral letter to Catholics in the Diocese of Worcester, urging them to include a Mass in funeral preparations for their beloved dead.

The sending of the letter coincides with the church’s traditional commemoration, in November, of the deceased.

The bishop’s missive has been read from church pulpits or included in parish bulletins.

“I’m extremely concerned because of the growing practice of Catholic families in not providing their deceased with a Mass of Christian burial,” said Bishop McManus in an interview with the Telegram & Gazette.

Bishop McManus said the official funeral rites of the church include three parts: the wake, the Mass and the commitment service at graveside.

He said that during the Mass,that the family has a chance to pray for the dead, asking God to forgive the decedents’ sins and to welcome them into heaven.

“There’s a presumption today that everybody gets to heaven,” Bishop McManus said. “I don’t think that people should think that’s a given.”


What actually happens at a Catholic funeral Mass

Editor’s note: This is just another sign of the sad lack of proper catechesis in today’s Catholic Church. Kudos to Bishop McManus for doing his job!


  1. The worst injury inflicted upon the Requiem Mass—and the Faithful attending—by the Novus Ordo is the excision of the Dies Irae sequence. But its inclusion might spoil any “everybody goes to Heaven” notions among the congregants. Can’t let anything intrude on their comfort zones, after all.

  2. My Grandmother died, in1994, without a Funeral Mass. She was a devout Roman Catholic, all of her life. Unfortuately, her 4 sons,except by Father- who was sick with Cancer, were vacationing, while she died, at a Catholic Nursing Home. My Father drove, from out of state. on Chemotherapy, to attend, a Graveside Funeral. With few relatives. He was appalled, at his brothers, treatment of her. When her husband died 20 years, before her, she had a elaborate Funeral and Mass for him. My things changed!

    I was on a long-distance trip, with my young children, and my Father, requested, I did not come, I still have regrets!

    • There’s no substitute for Catholic Tradition. Things were always done for a reason – even if the people of our day and age have forgotten what that reason might have been!

      I suggest you sign your late grandmother up for free perpetual daily masses at this site:
      You can sign up a many people as you like, for free. It’s a great service!


  3. While we’re on the subject, let me sum up a couple things I learned when I almost died from a surprise heart attack June before last. For one thing, DO NOT DO one of those ‘living wills.’ Research shows hospital staff do not read them, haven’t time to read them, and probably can’t read them due to the legalese. What the hospital does do is think every one is a DNR order for any and all reasons, and they act in accordance. No big law suits follow, typically, so there’s no reason to be a better reader. Instead of a Living Will, make sure your family understands the Catholic way to die, that number one, we can use the suffering at the end of life for our own sins and the sins of others, two, that we should have enough pain medication yet not too much pain medication, to be able to communate both to God in prayer and to the priest and one’s family. Anybody can understand that sweet zone: you should be able to talk. Regarding treatment,we are obliged to use all ordinary treatments (meaning, not too painful, reasonably certain to affect in a significant way whatever we’re dying of, and not too expensive to the individual, when that applies, and always food, hydration, warmth, and cleansing) but not extraordinary (the opposite of those elements mentioned as ordinary, i.e. too painful, not reasonably certain to affect what ails us, too expensive to the individual). If you do not have a Living Will, they have to follow US common law which comes from the great Catholic states and demand care for each individual.

    My Catholic high school class mailing list has cut me off from all mailings because somebody posted asking for prayers for a sister, because the family had just approved that the hospital up the morphine and cut off the feeding tube and hydration, and I protested vigorously and said they were killing her. The Morphine Drip is how they referred to it, notice the capitals and use of the article ‘The’–it’s a shorthand way of referring to the terminal dose of morphine the hospital will make available when up to a point well past extremely painful they act like morphine was gold and they were Shylock. The Morphine Drip means enough to kill you, not just to alleviate pain. A visiting nurse told me that during my heart attack weeks. My high school buds got very mad at me for saying it, but it was the truth. They were agreeing to kill her, and they were asking for prayers. It is so common now that people don’t even know it’s controversial. Here in Chicago, the city provides free legal services which regularly pass out ‘Living Wills’ to senior citizens at the senior citizen centers that give the hospital permission to do all those murderous acts. They witness the signatures, all smiles. Thank God I read mine.

    The Maryland bishops have a terrifice end of life pamphlet on their website. It’s available for download as a pdf. They spell out everything I said except the pain medication algorhythm, which comes from my pastor here in Chicago.

    • Janet,
      What are your thoughts on Hospice Care?

    • And you did not even go into the whole issue of “donating” unpaired, vital organs. A respected Catholic authority on that subject, Dr. Paul Byrne, puts it this way: No unpaired, vital organ that is viable can be “harvested” from a dead donor.

      The implication of that simple statement is horrifying.

  4. @Cathy, our pastor spoke favorably of it in our parish presentation, given that the ordinary forms of care are provided. He said he thought they were much better at pain management to stay in that good zon of neither too little nor too much. I haven’t had any thoughts on it yet! I hope to die from the kind of illness that gives me choices like that, a heart attack just hits, boom. @ Mark, do you happen to know any of the teaching on organ harvesting? The Maryland bishops’ pamphlet didn’t cover it as I recall, and our pastor didn’t, and although I know there are horrific abuses, I don’t know if the Church itself has a specific recommendation.

    When I was in Mexico, there was tv news item on early as I was dressing for mass. Parents had killed their new born child for the organs. They showed the dead baby, with holes where the vital organs would have been, and were interviewing the parents in the jail where they were being held (Mexican tv shows stuff like that). My elderly neighbor was out sweeping the street already and she had heard the report but she hadn’t understood it, she heard ‘black market’ and thought they meant the market, the ordinary market where everyone goes to buy everything. She thought they meant they were selling baby parts at our market. She was crying. I tried to write a story about it, it’s on my fiction blog, linked at my regular blog linked to my name, I think. “It’s Hard to Love and Sweep” is what I called it. This kind of thing is happening everywhere, is what I heard.

    • Sadly, unofficial/official (interpret that!) Catholic prelates have come out in apparent support of the “donation” of unpaired vital organs. However, their approval rests upon the wholly-relative “scientific” standard of “brain-death”. This standard was concocted in the 1960s by secular medical “ethicists” in order to morally justify the industry of vital organ “harvesting”. And it is an industry. Mega-bucks involved.

      Holy Mother Church—as is frequently the case—is way behind the ethical curve in this matter, because some of Her “authorities” have made common cause with the bogus “charity” of the utilitarian ethos of the secular society.

      Learn more here.

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