ASK FATHER: I’m dying and I want for my funeral…

St_Joseph_Saint-Austremoine_Issoire_n3From a reader…


I am dying and planning my funeral. I like the formulations in the old Latin funeral more than in the Novus Ordo. Can English translations of the old mass be substituted for parts of the new Mass?

The provisions of Summorum Pontificum, that great gift of Pope Benedict XVI to the Church, do not permit mixing of the two forms of the Roman Rite. Thus, the English translations of the prayers of the Extraordinary Form cannot be used during Mass celebrated in the Ordinary Form.

An option does remain open to you: ask to have your funeral Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form (in Latin, of course), and provide the congregation with booklets which contain the translations you prefer.

This is a good reminder to all of us to pray and prepare for our own deaths and for our own funerals.  In this day and age when we can’t always rely on our friends and family members to share our beliefs and our desire for a Catholic funeral.  Outline what you want.

Also… everyone should pay attention too… pray for a holy death, both for yourself, for our interlocutor above, and for those dear to you:

O holy St. Joseph, who died in the arms of the Son of God and in the presence of his holy Mother, I beseech you at my last hour to stand by me, with your immaculate Spouse, that assisted by both your prayers, I may repent of my sins, and breathe my last breath in an act of perfect love and confidence in my Savior, repeating his blessed Name, exalted above every name, and proclaiming joyfully “Lord, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” Amen.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. donato2 says:

    The translation booklet won’t come close to cutting it for today’s average attendee at a Catholic funeral Mass. Said average attendee these days does not even know the responses for the new Mass.

    There is a definite need for materials designed for “first timers” at the Latin Mass. The red Ecclesia Dei booklet that is commonly made available appears to me to be designed for people who know the Mass already. I know from experience that it leaves a first timer totally lost (largely because it does not distinguish between what the priest or choir says/sings aloud and what is silent). I have created a booklet that is designed for the “first timer” at a high Mass. That’s what will be handed out at my funeral Mass, I hope at least.

  2. John Nolan says:

    The Propers for the Requiem Mass (Introit and Kyrie, Gradual, Tract, Sequence, Offertorium, Communio) can be used in the Novus Ordo, and like all Mass Propers, may be rendered in English.

    Indeed, there are so many options in the NO funeral rites you can pretty well have what you like, including ‘My Way’.

  3. Bob B. says:

    I’ve been thinking that I would like Gregorian Masses said after I leave – I need all the help I can get.

  4. Father, wishes such as an EF mass cannot be secured by a will and testament as they are not tangible properties. Also a bishop/parish priest could say no on that same vein. To guarantee that the EF is done, could say one tie a beneficiary policy of X dollars to having it and that if said wishes are violated the money would instead go to a relative or Catholic Charity of choice (not the diocese?)

  5. ReginaMarie says:

    To whomever submitted this question to Fr. Z: I am praying for you!

  6. Latin Mass Type says:

    The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales has a booklet you can order titled A Guide to ensuring you have the Traditional Mass at your Funeral . Actually, you can download a PDF of it on that page for free!

    The specifics are to England and Wales, but the information is helpful.

    In summary, Catholics have a right to ask for the Extraordinary Form for a funeral, or a subsequent Requiem. While practical considerations may come into play—the availability of the church at a particular time,the availability of a priest able to say the Mass, of servers and singers and so forth—the priest may not refuse permission for a Mass because it is to be in the Extraordinary Form.

    For members–
    In case of any confusion, the Latin Mass Society will be more than willing to help not only with practical difficulties but with any issues surrounding the interpretation of the Church’s law and the attitude of the hierarchy.

    Maybe we need an organization like this!

  7. To the person that asked this question…. A prayer for you

    “Almighty and merciful God, who hast bestowed upon mankind saving remedies and the gift of everlasting life, look graciously upon us Thy servants and comfort the souls which Thou hast made, that, in the hour of their passing, cleansed from all stain of sin, they may deserve to be presented to Thee, their Creator, by the hands of the holy angels. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

  8. Stephen Matthew says:

    In a better time perhaps what the inquirer desires would be considered both a reasonable and entirely licit request. We do not live in that better time, but perhaps some may live to see it. In the time of our children’s children’s children it may even come to be that the normative funeral liturgy will be something like what the inquirer is desiring.

    Hold it.

    What he asks IS in fact entirely possible NOW, but only for a small number of Catholics (Anglican Use of the Roman Rite).
    It was once possible for any Latin Catholic (1965 Roman Missal).
    How hard is it to get permission to use the Anglican Use? It should (if the world were just and Church administration efficient) be reasonably easy given it is technically still the Roman Rite and thus not a bi-ritual faculties issue, but I suspect it rather complicated in practice.

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