Catholic Funeral Rites
July 7, 2018
Catholic funeral rites dictate that after death, the deceased goes on to the afterlife – whether that is heaven or hell.
At the end of time, Catholics believe that when Christ returns, the bodies of the dead will be resurrected. When it comes to Catholic funeral rites, there are many differences.
Some Catholics adhere rigidly to Catholic traditions while other adopt a more relaxed approach to Catholic funeral rites in modern times. For instance, Catholics traditionally prohibit cremation, but the Church has relaxed the outlook now.
For Catholics, when death looks inevitable, the family summons the priest to administer rites and Holy Communion to the dying person.
Catholic Funeral Rites – The Vigil Service or Wake
The priest prays with the family and comforts them. He is available to answer any questions the family may have. The family approaches a funeral director at this time regarding burial or cremation, your choice of readings and responses as well as music.
Catholic funeral rites have different parts, with each one serving its purpose.
At the vigil, the Catholic community will keep watch with the family. The Vigil Service usually takes place during the time of visitation and viewing at the funeral home. This time is used to remember the life of the deceased and to commend the deceased to God.
This vigil service is a service with readings from Sacred Scripture accompanied by a time of prayers. The Vigil for the Dead is the primary rite the Christian community conducts following death and before the funeral liturgy.
It takes place at the funeral home, in the home of the deceased or any other suitable place. The Vigil is the perfect time for tributes and songs which the funeral Mass isn’t able to accommodate.
The circumstances for the celebration of these rites can vary from place to place. During the vigil, family and friends gather for visitation, to offer time for recalling the life of the dead. Eulogies are given.
Catholic Funeral Rites – Mass or Liturgy
When one of its members dies, the Catholic Church encourages the celebration of the funeral liturgy at a Mass. When Mass is impossible, there is a funeral liturgy at the church or even at the funeral home. The Catholic funeral service is a mass in a church the day after the vigil with the body present.
The traditional requiem mass forms the heart of Catholic funeral rites. It is much the same as other Catholic masses except that there is no incense. Also, the kiss of peace is not exchanged. The priest, dressed in black, will greet the coffin at the door of the Church and sprinkle it with Holy Water. The priest also grants the departed absolution.
Catholic Funeral Rites – Burial
Before the burial, the priest usually officiates at a short ceremony at the graveside. The ground or mausoleum is blessed by the priest. When the funeral rites have ended, it is a welcome custom for Catholics to gather and share a meal and to console one another.
After this time everyone starts making their way back home, but those in the area continue to bring food and take care of small chores to help the family face life again and get used to the empty gap left behind by the death of their family member.
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* YouTube video about planning a Catholic funeral
All info was correct at time of publishing