Incense and Ashes
  • I am Episcopalian and music director and organist in an Episcopal Church. I also play funerals frequently for the local mortuaries, either in their chapels or churches, including the local Roman Catholic parish. The funeral mass I played today raised several questions about the liturgy. The deceased was a recent convert to Catholicism, a long-time invalid, and had a very small family. Entrance hymn was "Amazing grace." Communion solo was "Ave Maria." Final hymn was "How great Thou art." Other than prelude, this was extent of music. My first question concerns the entrance rite. The deceased had been cremated and the urn was on a small table in front of altar. Sprinkling, incense, and customary prayers were read by priest. Is this common for cremations? Are these acts supposed to precede the entrance hymn? I had assumed it would only have been done when a casket was present. (Also, there was no type of pall placed on the box containing the ashes.) Second, the celebrant approached one of the family members and clearly asked him why he had not received communion. Was this not a personal decision that mourner should have been allowed to make without being questioned? This was in a clear and distinct voice that could be heard by me in choir area at back of narthex. Third, the priest gave a dismissal after HGTA. There was no procession out and absolutely nothing in the manner of a commendation rite. The priest then exited through sacristy door. Family stood in place for several minutes. Should an usher or server not have communicated to them that they could leave? In fairness, the service seemed more like an "instructed Eucharist" and the servers and lectors were excellent and very reverent. Thoughts from the forum as I am still attempting to mesh what I witnessed today with what I have normally experienced at masses in this parish. I should add that the priest while new to the parish is certainly "seasoned" in terms of age and experience -- perhaps thirty or more years as a priest. In other words, what was done correctly and what was not?
  • I hope this is an unusual, perhaps unique, event.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,176
    There are crazy people everywhere. You just have to get used to it.
  • A tornado hits the region and tastefully rearranges your house. You visit the results in a hardhat. Is that your bathtub hanging off the lamppost? Is that your second floor in the driveway?

    It's unlikely the tornado will visit your house again, but unfortunately this tasteful rearrangement hits some churches every weekend...
  • Surely the second half of the ritual commonly referred to as Mass is the Mass of the Faithful, at which "instruction" shouldn't be necessary.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,622
    There is a set of guidlines for one diocese here.
    My reading is that the first part was OK with the ashes present.
    But the end was not, that seems to be the procedure where cremation and interment of the ashes have preceded the Mass.
  • In determining if this is common I rely on this mathematical formula: number of priests per diocese x number of churches x number of Mass times to the nth degree of “pastoral sensitivity variable” minus 50 if priest still has supernatural Faith and minus 100 if bishop has the Faith. That’s how common this is likely to occur...
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck