The death of someone we love is inevitably painful and traumatic. We want to help you as much as we can at this difficult time. If you live in the Parish, or worship in one of our churches, you are entitled to the help of a Priest to assist you through the process of making funeral arrangements and mourning. It may be that you would like a Priest to take a service for you at a local cemetery or crematorium or you may prefer to have a service in one of our churches before going to the cemetery or crematorium for a much briefer service of committal.
The service can be done with great simplicity or with more ritual and ceremonial. We will try to help you to decide what is best in your circumstances. It is important that the funeral helps you say goodbye to the person you love so the Priest will spend however long is necessary planning the service with you.
If a funeral happens in church:
- The coffin may be brought into church the day before the funeral or may arrive with the mourners at the time of the funeral
- The coffin may be draped in a beautiful pall to represent the continuing protection of the Baptismal robe. A crucifix and an open Holy Bible may be placed on the coffin. The Easter candle of new and risen life will burn near the coffin to show that as we die in Christ, so we shall be raised in Christ
- The Priest will welcome everyone and say a prayer
- Sometimes members of the family read from the Bible; sometimes they read poems written by others or by themselves
- The Priest or a member or friend of the family will talk about the deceased person
- The Priest will pray for the deceased person and for those who mourn. Usually everyone joins in saying the Lord’s Prayer
- The Priest may sprinkle the coffin with holy water to remind everyone of the promises secured in the waters of Holy Baptism. He may also burn incense to remind everyone of the sweetness of Heaven
- He will bless everyone before the coffin and mourners leave the church
- There can be hymns, organ music, a choir and a Requiem Mass.
After the service:
- The coffin will be taken to the graveside or the crematorium for committal
- The priest will contact a few days after the service to ask if he can be of any help
- If at any time you would like help with a bereavement problem or want to talk about the issues raised here please contact Fr Andrew Norwood
After a period of time has passed, it is often a very good thing to organise a memorial service in remembrance of a loved one.
Giving thanks is an important and very human response to the God-made uniqueness of the life of someone special, but a funeral is often not quite the time for such thanksgiving to be expressed, because of feelings of loss and grief that naturally dominate the heart and mind.
Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss holding a Memorial Service at either church in our Parish. The Church is a noble and dignified space, and the Clergy have a lot of experience in organising Memorial Services. They will be happy to talk with you about that.
All Souls Day Service
We welcome you all to Saint Mary-on-Paddington Green, usually on the 2nd November each year for the All Souls Service.
Tonight we stand together at one side of the Bridge of Love. We focus our attention across the bridge, on those we have known and loved (or failed to love) from whom we are now separated by death but whose memories still arouse powerful and sometimes painful feelings inside us. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother memorably remarked that “grief is the price we pay for love”, and that price can be very high when we feel we have failed to love as we ought. For all of us grief includes feelings of guilt and remorse as well as emptiness and powerlessness and yearning.
The empty coffin in the centre of the church represents all those on the other side whom we have known and about whom we have concerns. To some we need to express our thanks, our good wishes and the reassurance of our continued love and affection; to others we might offer our contrition, our apologies or our continued anger or incomprehension of their behaviour towards us. The offering of all these feelings is important so that we can feel peace, so that we can understand, so that we can get on.
The Bridge of Love between us and them is the Mass in which, during the Holy Communion, we are fed by the True Presence of Christ. When we take Christ into ourselves we receive Him in whose care our dead now rest, tenderly enfolded in His arms until the Great Day when we are all raised together. Indeed, not just at this All Souls Day Mass, but at every Mass, we are involved in the great communion of all the living and dead who are nourished by Christ.
As you make this annual and important revisiting of your own gathered souls may you be reassured by the knowledge of God’s love which feeds us not only now but beyond the grave and forever.
May they rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.