Q: I’ve got a funeral Mass tomorrow. My parish hasn’t had a funeral in several years, so I’m now learning some past practices. My secretary thinks in the past the casket has been placed in the sanctuary in order to allow more space (it’s a small church). I’ve never seen this done – I’ve only seen the casket placed in the center aisle, which is what you indicate in your Light in the Darkness. You give a good reason there to use the center aisle. That would be my preference.
Is there any history of bringing the casket in the sanctuary? Is it something that is even allowed?
A: I don’t see a problem with it. I don’t know of any legislation forbidding it. There’s quite a bit of flexibility in these rites. For a while I pastored a church where the center aisle doubled as the sanctuary. We put the coffin there.
My prayers for you and the repose of your parishioner’s soul.