Proper prayers before funerals

Question: Some of us are upset that our new pastor has replaced the Rosary on the evening before funerals with a vigil service. Our old pastor always used the Rosary, and this is what most people requested. Our new pastor says that the Rosary is an unofficial prayer and that there is an official vigil service that should be used. Please comment. 

— Name and address requested 

Answer: It seems that both your former pastor and your new one are not quite up to speed on what is appropriate for use on the evening before funerals. Your former pastor was correct in responding to requests that the Rosary be used. This is the tradition that many people have been raised on, and it remains quite appropriate today. It seems, however, that your former pastor may have erred by not using the official vigil service as well. The fact is both the official vigil service and the Rosary may be used at the same gathering. The vigil service (which is essentially a Liturgy of the Word) takes pride of place. This may be followed by the Rosary if this is what family members request. 

Your new pastor is correct in promoting the official vigil service on the evening before funerals. This is what the Church provides for this occasion, and it should be used no matter what else is requested. However, the denial of the Rosary to the bereaved hardly demonstrates pastoral sensitivity. The Rosary may be recited after the vigil service is over. 

What if your pastor continues to refuse the use of the Rosary along with the vigil service? There is a simple solution: Inform him politely that someone from the family or a family friend will be leading the Rosary after the vigil service is finished. 

The vigil of funerals is meant to be an extended affair and all kinds of prayers may be used. The vigil service itself also provides that someone from the family or a friend of the deceased may speak in remembrance of the one who has died. While the funeral Mass does not provide for people giving talks on the deceased (a growing practice), the service used on the day before the funeral Mass provides plenty of opportunity for various people to express their remembrances of the deceased and to express their faith in the Resurrection. 

Low-gluten hosts 

Question: I suffer from celiac disease and cannot receive the host at Communion as I am allergic to it. I have heard that there are gluten-free hosts available, and that I could tolerate these. Can you tell me more about these and how I could go about getting them? 

— Name withheld, St. George, Utah 

Answer: Up to recently, there was no solution to this problem and people with celiac disease could only receive holy Communion from the chalice (in itself a complete and full form of Communion). Totally gluten-free hosts are not, however, acceptable as they do not represent proper bread for the Eucharist. 

There are, however, low-gluten hosts now available that constitute valid matter for the Eucharist and that are tolerable by people with celiac disease. 

These may be purchased from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, 31970 State Highway P, Clyde, MO, 64432-8100. You could order a small supply from this community, and ask your pastor to consecrate one for you at each Mass you attend. 

Msgr. M. Francis Mannion is a priest and theologian of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Send your questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.