Catholic funeral without the body?

Suppose someone desired a Catholic funeral, but the family objected and would not release the body. Could a Catholic funeral still be held for the deceased? How would such a thing be arranged?

This is a very real concern for some of us (though hopefully not soon given my age). There are 4 states with strict next-of-kin rules, of which I live in one. Two more only allow the deceased control with a pre-paid contract, putting it out of reach for anyone who can’t afford such a thing.

Regarding arrangement, presume also that no money would be available for such a thing.

Ordinary Form Funeral Mass in the absence of the body (1970 Roman Missal)
Program

  • The rite of reception and commendation is omitted.

  • White, Violet or Black vestments are worn

  • Prayers from the Funeral Mass are used along with selected readings from the Lectionary as well as appropriate music and chants.

Extraordinary Form Funeral Mass in the absence of a body (1962 Roman Missal)

  • The Rite of Reception is omitted

  • A catafalque is set up before the altar gates flanked by unbleached candles and covered with a black pall for The Rite of Absolution at the catafalque.

  • The Requiem (Exequial) Mass is celebrated in black vestments.

  • The Homily is given after the Mass but before the Absolution.

  • The absolution at the catafalque is similar to the rite of commendation.
    Video Here
    Program

Is it possible that it could be stipulated in your will?

Do you or will you have life insurance? Who will pay? Seems making your wishes known in you will should let your next of kin know your last request. Otherwise, when someone pays for something, they tend to take ownership of the decisions.

(Man, I need to get my will written up!)

I am living paycheck to paycheck with almost no savings and fairly significant student loan debts. There is no money to do such a thing. In any case I live in a state where the next of kin have absolute rights over the disposal of the body, no matter what you want.

I have seen funeral masses with only a picture displayed so what you’re asking in the title is possible though if it were me I’d try to already have arrangements made with my parish/cemetary as well as having a stipulation in my will that none of the estate will be settled until after the requiem mass is held (needless to say with body present).

See previous post. Right now I don’t have anything that would qualify as an estate once you pay the student loans. There’s not a lot in the bank and my most valuable asset is probably the computer I’m typing this on.

I’d say if you’re young enough to have student loans this likely isn’t worth putting much worry into.

Not really (I’m young enough to still be in school, actually), but things do happen to the young, and having had medical issues in the past I am more aware than many. Pray to God I am never in that situation again, but I am aware of what can happen. My family is virulently anti-Catholic so I know they would want nothing done with the Catholic Church.

I believe you can still write up a will with your last wishes. You can probably do that without the help of a lawyer, but need it notarized, perhaps a $20 fee. Most likely there are resources on line to explain how to do it. I doubt that your legal will with your wishes would be ignored in favor of a next of kin law.

By the time you’re old enough to worry about that you’ll probably have a Catholic spouse and your funeral arrangements will be each other’s responsibility. Worrying of death is pointless; put that energy into living instead!

Not in the states I referred to. The law is absolute - you cannot create a legal document that overrides the wishes of the next of kin.

I have been in points with my health before where the possibility of dying was a real one, young or not. Again, I pray those do not occur again but it is not worth counting on given continued issues. Nor am I particularly desirous of marrying and having children who would be able to take care of such things.

I was thinking the same thing. Put your thought and energies into making Catholic friends.

I really don’t want to sound ghoulish, but I’d have thought a clause saying the body must be present for the Requiem before the estate can be settled could cause legal difficulties for the family left behind.

There are often cases where there is just no body available. A severe fire, a plane crash, a bomb, someone lost at sea…

If I were in a situation where I had to put that in the will I probably wouldn’t care.

By the time a will is read isn’t that too late already. I think the best thing to do is have a talk with family members asking that you wishes be adhered to or give a friend power of attorney. I wonder if this kind of thing can be put in a living will.

In addition, if there isn’t any estate to speak of, the will may never get “read.”

It doesn’t work in real life like it does in the movies.

When someone dies, in the hospital or from expected means, burial is generally pretty quick. Not to sound ghoulish, but you don’t want to leave a body just sitting around waiting for the attorneys to crack open the will.

When my mother died, her will was never read. At least not officially. Everything was going to my father, so why bother with the expense?

When my dad died, we had to close out his estate. We didn’t file the will, because it was so out of date that my sister and I agreed that it no longer stated his wishes. We used a little known option, Small Estates Act. It allowed us to close out his checking account without having to go through probate.

But all of this happened well after he was buried.
**
DarkLight
you have indicated before that you are concerned about having a Catholic funeral. Have you spoken to your pastor? Does your family know that you are Catholic? Both of those will go a long way toward making sure your wishes are carried out.

Talk to your parish priest, Maybe something could be set up for Masses to be said for you in the event you should die young. My Aunt’s children didn’t have a funeral Mass for her but I’m sure that didn’t effect her Eternity as she was a faithful Catholic. That’s why the Church always prays for ALL Holy Souls. God Bless. Memaw

I do say this with all sincerity… if you are a man, join the Knights of Columbus and take a look at their (incredibly affordable) life insurance plans. Your situation is exactly what life insurance was created for. If you are a woman, meet and marry a nice Catholic man who can join the Knights of Columbus and take a look at their (incredibly affordable) life insurance plans.

My family doesn’t know. Not that it would make a difference. I’m not kidding - they’re of the stripe where the Catholic church is Satan himself. They will not even set foot in one.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.