Q: A parishioner wants to bring an urn with the ashes of her deceased relative to the parish mass this Sunday and have me say a few prayers. Is this allowed?
A: GIRM 380 permits funeral masses “on any day except for Solemnities that are Holydays of Obligation, Thursday of Holy Week, the Paschal Triduum, and the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, with due regard also for all the other requirements of the norm of the law.” Normally, I would consider a Sunday a Solemnity that is a Holyday of Obligation, but the specific references to Sundays in Advent, Lent and Easter gives me pause. The Ceremonial of Bishops’ Appendix III explicitly says that a funeral mass may be said on a Sunday in Ordinary Time. But that would mean, in this case, turning the entire parish liturgy over to the funeral, which may not be pastorally sound.
Paragraph 6 of the introduction to the Order of Christ Funerals says, “Pastoral reasons may on occasion require that a funeral be celebrated in the church without a Mass (which in all cases must, if possible, be celebrated on another day within a reasonable time); in that case a liturgy of the word is prescribed absolutely.”
Consequently, I advise celebrated a Mass for the Dead in honor of the deceased at some time in the near future, whether or not the family can participate.