What can non-Catholics do at a funeral Mass?


#1

My grandmother's funeral Mass is soon. Unfortunately there is a rift in the family, and one of the grandchildren in particular feels she is being left out of the service because she thinks we are not letting her do anything. She was not raised Catholic and in fact considers herself Jewish. I am wondering what the thought is currently in the Church of a non-Catholic doing a reading or bringing up the gifts during the Mass. I always was under the thought that only Catholics could participate in the Mass. Can an exception be made in the case of a funeral service?


#2

I am very sorry for your loss and pray that your grandmother rests in peace.

As to your question: As a general rule of thumb, public participation in the religious aspects of the Mass ordinarily should be performed by practicing Catholics. Reading Scripture, distributing Communion, and bringing up the gifts are all religious functions (the first two in fact being *ministries *and not merely "functions").

You might point out to your cousin, if you can do so in a gentle fashion, that there are aspects of Jewish liturgies that non-Jews are not allowed to perform (reading from the Torah, opening the ark, processing with the Torah scroll), simply because they are not Jewish. Non-Jews often are welcomed at Jewish liturgies but are there as guests who do not publicly participate in the liturgy -- no matter how closely related they are to Jews who are participating in various Jewish rites the non-Jews are attending.

That said, it is possible to invite non-Catholic and non-Christian family members to take part in non-religious functions at a Catholic funeral liturgy (and other such liturgies where sacramental milestones are commemorated). Examples include greeting new arrivals, helping people to find seats, providing information about the service and the facilities (e.g., timing of the service, location of the restrooms, directions to a reception), and overseeing the guestbook.


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