The first hint of it comes as the family and friends of the deceased move into the pews and take their seats, as though some show were about to begin.
The second hint comes when a simple motion for the congregation goes unheeded, necessitating a distracting and interruptive verbal instruction.
The third hint comes when the congregation makes no response to the opening prayer, or to the readings.
I celebrated such a funeral for a man yesterday - may he rest in preace - and my heart was deeply pained as I wondered how many sacriligous Communions would be made at that funeral by those who call themselves Catholic but who seemingly have not darkened the doors of a church in many years nor made a sacramental confession.
Simply consider how very often this happens in our parishes! Both at funerals and at weddings, and perhaps even First Communions and Confirmations and graduations. We should all be moved to tears at such a deplorable situation. Where is the fear of God? Where the love of the Eucharistic Lord?
The responses do not change, nor do the postures. Catholics who regularly attend the Holy Mass and who enter into it's prayer should not be dumbfounded at funerals or weddings.
I cannot help now but wonder if when next I meet with a family prior to a funeral if I should not bluntly - and humbly - ask when the last time was that the family went to Mass. This would give me the opportunity to encourage them - and to ask them to encourage others among their family and friends - to make a sacramental confession prior to the funeral that they might worthily receive the Eucharist and not eat and drink condemnation upon themselves (cf. I Corinthians 11:27-32).