This week marks the one year anniversary of a new approach to Funerals at Sacred Heart Parish. Our new approach arose from an initiative begun two years ago by Archbishop Lucas. Throughout the course of that year, the archbishop led the archdiocese of Omaha through a reflection on our funeral liturgies in light of secularizing societal forces. I enjoyed attending workshops and focus groups in which we looked again at our funeral rites, discussed current funeral trends across the country and considered new ways to share our Catholic faith in this context.
The archbishop’s reflection culminated on All Souls’ Day, 2014. On this Sunday, Sacred Heart parish celebrated Mass with newly arranged funeral propers. Set by Dr. Marie Rubis Bauer and Dr. David Hurd (In paradisum) in English to the original Requiem melodies, these propers allow us to sing the actual Church prayers for our parish funerals. After All Souls’ Day, we introduced these chants into all of our parish funerals. In our situation, this worked best by adding these chants to our four hymn musical accompaniment. Thus, the entrance proper “Requiem aeternam” is followed by the entrance hymn. The Communion proper “Lux Aeterna” is followed by a hymn. Finally, the “In Paradisum” is followed by a recessional hymn.
I am exceedingly grateful to the Bound for Glory Choir for accepting this change to our funeral music practice. They join me in singing some of the more simple propers. Their ministry provides profound comfort to those who mourn.
Another change we implemented was to begin printing worship aids for funerals. As we have many visitors and non-Catholics at funerals, this seemed to be an important way to welcome people into the ritual.
Requiem: Grant your servant rest, a haven of pardon and peace. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
Lux aeterna: May eternal light shine upon them, O Lord: with Thy Saints forevermore, for you are merciful. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them.
Song of Farewell: Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.
In paradisum: Into paradise may the angels lead you. At your coming may the martyrs receive you and bring you into the holy city Jerusalem. May the choirs of angels welcome you, and with Lazarus who once was poor may you have peace everlasting.