Three Liturgical Q&A

‘Requiem’ Mass

At a workshop I attended recently, you said that we should not call funerals ‘Requiem Masses’. One funeral director told me that ‘Requiem Mass’ is the correct term to use in funeral notices and on service booklets. Now I am confused!
Requiem Mass' was the name of the funeral Mass in Latin before it was revised and translated into English after Vatican II. It was the first word of that Mass which was totally different (black vestments, totally impersonal, all about judgement, etc) from the Funeral Mass that is celebrated today. Why would you describe a liturgy as a Requiem Mass when it isn't that at all?

If you have a look at the contents page of the Order of Christian Funerals, you will see that Requiem Mass isn't mentioned. Two forms of funeral are listed there - Funeral Mass and Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass. That is the wording that should be used.

We no longer use the term ‘extreme unction’ but Anointing of the Sick, because that is what it is, so it puzzles me that some people insist on talking about Requiem Masses.

Cross or Crucifix?

When we venerate the Cross on Good Friday, should we be using a Cross or Crucifix?
The liturgy for the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday) repeatedly refers to ‘the Cross’. The accompanying words for the Showing of the Holy Cross are ‘Behold the wood of the Cross …’, so clearly it is the Cross itself as a symbol of our redemption that is being venerated.

If it was intended that a crucifix (cross with a figure) be used, the Missal would say ‘a cross with the figure of Christ crucified upon it’ as it does in paragraph 308 with regard to a cross on or near the altar for Mass.


Some churches have the Australian flag hanging on the wall or in another prominent place. I have never seen this in a Catholic church. Is it because they are not allowed?
The flag is a symbol of a nation. We are of course patriotic and proud to be Australian, but the Church is more than the Australian nation. The gospel must be allowed to critique our culture and national identity. For example, we need to pray that our treatment of refugees will be more humane and for an end to violence in our society.

It is appropriate to display the Australian flag on Australia Day and ANZAC day as a focus for our prayer intentions, as long as is does not obscure or dominate the central symbols of altar, lectern, cross and font.

While the ritual book for funerals says that flags are not to be displayed at a funeral, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference received approval from Rome in 1990 for the placing of the Australian flag on the coffin of an ex-serviceman at his funeral because the custom is commonly used by the RSL.


Elizabeth Harrington