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Funeral Mass Server Instructions
There are two types of funerals:
1. the body of the deceased is present in a casket.
2. the body is not present or has been cremated.
White is the colour for funerals so acolyte crosses are white; Father's vestments are white.
If there is no body, the
Mass is similar to a regular weekend Mass, except for the following:
- the Mass begins at the glass doors into the church where Father welcomes the family. Father will stand just inside the doors.
- the 3 servers will stand in the aisle around the first pew, facing toward the glass doors . The cross bearer will stand in the middle, with candle acolytes on either side. It is like lining up to process for regular mass, except facing the opposite way.
- after Father is done the opening, the first song begins, the acolytes turn and process up the aisle (cross bearer leading) There may not be a Proclaimer (book)
- line up at the front as usual, and proceed to chairs. If there is a guest priest, the cross bearer should sit next to the cross.
If a casket (body) is present:
· check the altar area to make sure the incense equipment, sprinkler are there. If you take the sprinkler out of the sacristry, make sure it has holy water in it. (Holy water is kept in the big crock just inside the main front doors.)
· Also note how many people are attending the funeral. This will affect how long communion will last. If it is a small group, the server may wish to light the charcoal earlier (during the homily instead of during communion).
The mass begins with the casket at the back of the church, by the glass doors. Acolytes line up facing the casket and the glass doors. An Honour Guard may be present (CWL or Knights of Columbus). Father will begin the mass. A white cloth (pall) is unfolded to cover the casket, as a symbol of baptism. Once the opening song begins, the cross bearer can turn and lead the way to the altar. Stop at the bottom of the steps. Father bows. Go to your usual places. Mass proceeds as usual, except the gifts of bread and wine may already be on the credence table.
The candle acolyte who does incense (closest to the altar) may light the charcoal during the homily. If there is a large congregation, it can be lit during communion distribution.
At the end of the funeral mass, Father will stand for the final preparations. When he does, servers go to stand with him. The candle acolyte who lit the charcoal will get it at this time (with the boat of incense). The other candle acolyte will take the holy water sprinkler. The cross bearer will get the cross and stand at the far end of the coffin (furthest from the steps). Leave enough room for the priest to walk around the coffin. Be prepared to stand holding the cross for quite a few minutes. Sometimes it helps to take the weight off your arms by hooking your thumbs in your rope belt.
The holy water and incense acolytes stand together with Father on the steps. He may hand his prayer book to the holy water acolyte.
Father will take the aspergillum
(sprinkler) from the acolyte and walk around the coffin, sprinkling it as he
goes. He returns the sprinkler to the acolyte.
Father will take the incense from the other acolyte. Hand him the boat so he can sprinkle incense on the charcoal and raise the lid to expose the charcoal. He will give back the boat and you give him the thurible. He will then walk around the coffin, incensing it. He will stop at the cross, bow, and incense the cross. The cross bearer may wish to avoid breathing.
Father will finish walking all around the coffin and return the incense to the acolyte on the steps.
Both acolytes return the sprinkler and incense to their original places (credence table and outside the door).
They pick up their candles and go to join the cross bearer. The two candle acolytes stand side by side between the cross bearer and the coffin, facing the altar.
During the last hymn, the funeral home directors will come and roll the coffin out of the way so it can be turned around. Father will come and stand with the acolytes. All acolytes remain facing the altar until Father indicates it is time to recess. Then the cross bearer turns and leads the way. The funeral directors will follow the servers and priest with the casket. They will stop before they reach the glass doors.
The 3 acolytes should stop before they get to the Sacristy and turn to face the casket. The white cloth will be removed from the casket and folded. Father will make a concluding prayer. Once this is finished and the casket is taken out to the coach, the 3 acolytes can return the cross and candles to their places. If they want to go downstairs for lunch (if provided), they may. Sometimes the Burns Room is set up for the choir and servers.
Youth Servers for funerals attend St. Francis School. Arrangements are made through the church office for them to be picked up (half an hour before the funeral starts), and driven back to school after the funeral.
If youth servers are unavailable, adult servers may be used and may wear their own clothing instead of a server gown.
About lighting the charcoal:
Ensure the supplies are on the small table by the back door: ash tray, tongs, 2 charcoal (one for backup in case first one is a dud), candle, lighter, matches, censer (thurible). The incense in the boat should be on its stand outside the door.
When it is time to light the charcoal, hold the charcoal in the tongs. Using a lit candle or wand lighter, bring the flame to the edges of the charcoal. Keep bringing the flame to different spots along the edge to light it. There may be some snapping sounds as it tries to ignite. This is normal. Some sparks may also fly around a bit. If you notice that the flame goes out when you bring it to the edge, this is normal also. It is because the charcoal is trying to light and is drawing oxygen away from the flame. You can move the flame away from the charcoal before it snuffs it out, and then bring it closer again.
It is perfectly fine to have two servers lighting the charcoal together. One can hold the tongs and charcoal and both can use a candle or lighter to ignite the edges. The lit part of the charcoal will be a thin grey area which will eventually spread to the rest of the charcoal. It is best to try to light it in different places along the edge so that the charcoal lights all over more easily.
Always be careful when lighting charcoal. If there is a problem, ask an adult for assistance.
Updated November, 2006.
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