The funeral rites celebrated by the Maronite Church are the visible means by which the praying Church accompanies the faithful departed on their final journey to God. Through hymns, readings, and the burning of incense, the Church accompanies the newly departed to the gates of Paradise and assists them through the prayers of the Church. The funeral rites usually begin at the Funeral Home where a wake service is offered consisting of an ancient hymn and the burning of incense, the following day the funeral rite takes place at the church, and finally, the rites conclude at the cemetery with another service of hymns and prayers as the body of the newly departed is commended to God and to the earth.
Place. The Divine Liturgy for the Faithful Departed (funeral) should be celebrated in a church and not in a funeral home or cemetery chapel.
Time. Divine Liturgies for the faithful departed can be celebrated on any day except a Sunday, a Holy Day or Holy Thursday, Good Friday, or Holy Saturday at a time that is convenient for the parish, celebrant and family. The Prayer of Incense can be conducted at the funeral home at a time convenient for the celebrant and the family; it is the custom to celebrate the Prayer of Incense at the end of the visitation hours.
Readings. Usually The Maronite Divine Liturgy contains one reading from the New Testament and the Gospel (chosen by the celebrant). It is not a custom in the Maronite Church to have an additional reading from the Old Testament, however, if the family wishes to have an Old Testament reading it is possible. Suggested readings are on the parish Website and are available at the parish office.
Readers. Please try to choose individuals with clear speaking voices, who will be able to proclaim the Word of God during the funeral.
It is helpful to give your reader a copy of the reading before the Divine Liturgy so that they can prepare in advance. If you wish the parish to provide readers to proclaim the Scriptures, please indicate this on the planning form.
Eulogies and reminiscences. Eulogies, expressions of the deceased person life in the faith, are not to be given during the Divine Liturgy, but can be given at the funeral home or mercy meal. Reminiscences, recollections of the person’s life, can also take place at the funeral home during the visitation hours or at the mercy meal.
Music. The family is responsible for making arrangements with the music director at Saint Louis Gonzaga Church. We encourage using our music director because of his familiarity with the Divine Liturgy, but other accompanists or singers can join him.
The music director will assist you in the music selection process which is to be drawn from our own rich Maronite tradition. However, before or after the Divine Liturgy religious music from other traditions may be sung, provided it is suitable for a Catholic setting.
Offertory Gifts. It is possible to have family members or friends of the faithful departed to be a part of the offertory procession.
Visiting clergy. Visiting priests or deacons are welcome to take part in the Divine Liturgy at the discretion of the presiding priest from Saint Louis Gonzaga Church. Please inform the pastor in advance. A letter of “suitability of ministry” may be required.
Cremation. If possible, the body should be present in the church for the service. Following the Liturgy, it may be taken for cremation and the ashes properly buried with the priest and family in attendance.
It is preferred that the cremation takes place after the final rites in the church. However, due to particular circumstances, when the body cannot be present, the cremated remains of the body should be present for the Divine Liturgy and the Rite of Committal. The Prayer of Incense will not be offered if the body was already cremated. The cremated remains of the body should then be reverently buried or entombed in a cemetery or mausoleum.