Funerals in our society serve many purposes….The vision of Order of Christian Funerals Rite is..
- Create a ritual environment encouraging that death and its consequences be named;
- That grief and the pain of separation be named, expressed, and heard;
- Remembering that it is because of our faith in the promise given in the death and resurrection of Jesus that Christians can weep and pray profoundly, and remember in hope.
Who is eligible for a Catholic funeral?
- Baptized Catholics
- Catechumens (one who celebrated the Rite of Acceptance; an unbaptized person who is preparing for full initiation at the Easter Vigil)
- Children who die before baptism can take place
Major Funeral Rites of the Catholic Church
The Rite is meant to be three ritual moments…not two, not one. Pyschologically, one cannot come to an acceptance of separation and leave-taking by means of one decision. One must move through this painful process at one’s own pace. Each of these ritual gatherings has its own focus and work intended to support and strengthen the bereaved as the time for leave-taking and final farewell comes closer and looms larger.
- Vigil for the Deceased (Wake)
- Funeral Mass
- The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching….Can. 1176.3 (The Church prefers burial which expresses more clearly the faith in the resurrection and the dignity of the body)
- Most often misunderstood thought on Cremation….. The Cremated remains of the body MUST BE BURIED.
- In a cemetery
- Entombed in a columbarium (vault or recesses for cremated remains), or
- BURIED at sea (not scattered at sea)
- The Church calls for the cremated remains to be buried without undue delay. They recognize that there may be instances when burial must be delayed due to transport of the remains to another, perhaps, distant location. Placement of the cremated remains within the family member’s home is strictly forbidden.
- When cremation is chosen, one of the following options must be followed:
- (most recommended) Body is present for the funeral rites (Vigil and Mass) and cremated after for burial or internment; “What about the casket?”….Caskets are usually rented.
- Body is cremated and cremated remains are present for the funeral rites (Vigil and Mass). Cremated remains MUST be treated with the same respect given to the human body in a casket. During the Mass, the cremated remains are placed in front of the paschal candle, typically on a table and often with a picture of the deceased next to the vessel. The cremated remains are often sprinkled with Holy Water and incensed during the mass the same way the casket would be.
- (least preferred) Body is cremated and buried (or interred) prior to the Mass. The Mass would be called a Memorial Mass, not a funeral Mass in this option as the body would not be present.
Coordinator of Liturgical Ministries
Funeral Planning Resources:
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