For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even to death.-- Psalms 48:14
“The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised.
The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that ‘neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ bring deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn.”
-- The Book of Common Prayer, page 507
It is appropriate that the family and friends come together for a pastoral visit and prayers before the burial service. A vigil, found in the Book of Common Prayer (page 465), may be held at the funeral home where the body is kept before the service.
The Holy Eucharist
Burial services are held using one of the prescribed rites of the church. The presence of Eucharist is dependant on the directive of the deceased and the wishes of the family. For more information about planning and preparing the service, please download our Funeral Planning Form, here.
The presence of the body
If it is possible, the body or cremated remains of the person who has died are present in the church for the burial service. The casket is closed and covered with a pall (owned by the church), as are the cremated remains, signifying the equality of all before God. The family does not need to purchase an urn for ash remains.
Participation in the service
Relatives and friends may read lessons and prayers, and present the bread and wine at the offertory. A member of the clergy preaches a sermon. A brief eulogy or reflections may be given before the sermon.
Flowers in the church are limited to those placed on the altar. Floral arrangements from family and friends may be placed in the Parish Hall parlor where the family gathers before (and possibly, after) the service.
A brief service of committal at the grave or columbarium, restricted to the family or open to all, comes typically after the burial service, but can precede a memorial service. There is also a simple burial rite for those who are not professed Christians.
In place of flowers, it is common for families to suggest memorial gifts to the church or to a charity for lasting remembrances. St. James Episcopal Church will send letters of thanks to donors as well as acknowledgement to the family of the deceased of memorial gifts received to the church.
Leaving your Material House in Order
It is important for all persons to have a will. The St. James Legacy Society has a brochure outlining the possible benefits to you and your loved ones as well as the church and its ministries. We welcome your questions about this possibility. For more information, contact our Administrative Secretary, Sylvia Rabalais (225-387-5141).
Throughout the history of Christianity, the Church has provided for burial within churchyards or crypts. This ancient tradition is consistent with the Church’s belief in a decent and reverent burial for all. For family and friends, a measure of comfort may be drawn from interment on consecrated church property.
While in modern times the traditional churchyard has virtually disappeared as an actively used place of burial, St. James Episcopal Church is able to provide a consecrated, well-maintained place for the interment of ash remains of parish members and their immediate families. The St. James Episcopal Church columbarium is located in a landscaped area along the north wall of the Chapel of the Twelve Apostles in the vicinity of the memorial pool and garden.
For information about niche availability in the St. James Columbarium, please contact our Administrative Secretary, Sylvia Rabalais (225-387-5141).