The Order of Catholic Funerals

The Catholic Church has a ritual for when someone dies called the Order of Christian Funerals. The focus of these funeral rites is on the mystery of Jesus’ death and Resurrection, and on worshipping, praising, and thanking God for the life of a loved one that He has now called home.

The Church’s funeral rituals include three parts. The vigil, the liturgy, and the committal provide opportunites for the community of faith to mourn well and heal, pray for eternal peace and rest for their loved ones, and hope for a heavenly reunion.

The process begins when the family and friends gather at a wake or vigil to recognize that the person’s life on Earth has ended and to offer support to one another. This is an appropriate time to pray for the deceased and share stories or offer a eulogy.

The principal act of the funeral rites is the liturgy or Mass which must be held in a Catholic church. Catholics honor the body of the deceased at Mass while praying that God will show his mercy and admit their soul into Heaven for eternity.

Readings from Sacred Scripture remind the community that death is not the end and that their loved one still exists. The creed affirms the belief in the reunion of the body and soul at the resurrection and in everlasting life.

In the Eucharist, an intimate and holy communion is shared with Jesus, who died so that man could live forever. Baptism is recalled because the deceased Catholic was once baptized into Jesus’ life and death and they can now share in his Resurrection.

Finally, the body of the deceased is taken to it’s final resting place during the committal. The remains of the deceased are buried in a permanent place, returned to the earth in a place set apart as holy ground. A cemetery provides a common place for loved ones to visit.

A journey for the faith community:

There are three parts to the Order of Christian Funerals:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8: 38-39

The value of the vigil, Mass, and burial:

All three rites are important:

The Christian funeral is a liturgical celebration of the Church. The ministry of the Church in this instance aims at expressing efficacious communion with the deceased, at the participation in that communion of the community gathered for the funeral, and at the proclamation of eternal life to the community.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1684

The funeral rites take time:

A process inherited from the Jewish people:

The rite for the burial of the dead should express more clearly the paschal character of Christian death, and should correspond more closely to the circumstances and traditions found in various regions. This holds good also for the liturgical color to be used.

Pope Paul VI, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 4 December 1963

Catholic funeral Masses have a purpose:

Participating in the Paschal Mystery at a funeral Mass:

Symbols in a funeral Mass remind us:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Wisdom of the saints:

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