The purpose of the Catholic Funeral Liturgy is:
- To express our sadness at the death of the one we love, and to receive comfort.
- To express our faith in the Christian belief in the resurrection to eternal life and the life of the world to come.
- To recall with thanksgiving the blessings received from the one who has died.
- To offer Christ’s perfect sacrifice on the cross in the Sacrifice of the Mass for our dear departed one,that he or she may be gently cleansed of any sins or imperfections in Purgatory,and so prepared for the fullness of God’s presence in Heaven, the fulfilment of our human destiny.
Celebrating a Catholic Feneral
The Church encourages us to celebrate the funeral in three main stages:
- The Vigil of Prayer, usually the evening before the funeral;
- The Funeral Liturgy, which may be a Mass or a Funeral Service;
- The Committal at the cemetery or crematorium.
When it is not practical to celebrate all three stages the funeral may comprise a single act of worship either in a cemetery chapel or crematorium.
The parish clergy will help you consider what is best and practical for your particular circumstances.
They will ensure the services are true to the tradition of the Church, appropriate to the one who has died, and those who gather to pray for them.
Please ensure that you make contact with the priest who will lead the funeral service before finalising any arrangements with the Funeral Director.
- The Vigil of Prayer: This Vigil is the first stage of the farewell journey. Its mood is one of quiet support which helps to prepare the bereaved for the final leave-taking. It may be held in the home of the deceased person, at the Funeral Director’s but preferably in the church.The Vigil is traditionally led by a priest. It will include prayers and readings from scripture. It may include the Rosary, and appropriate liturgical songs and hymns.
- The Funeral Liturgy: The Funeral Liturgy usually takes the form of the celebration of Mass, the highest form of prayer in which the Sacrifice of Christ himself is made present. In offering this Sacrifice, we commend to God the soul of the deceased in union with Christ himself. In some circumstances it is suitable for the Funeral Liturgy to take the form of a Liturgy of the Word only. The Funeral Liturgy usually takes place in the parish church but it may sometimes in certain circumstances be appropriate to hold it in the chapel of a cemetery or crematorium.
- The Committal: The final act of saying farewell takes place in a brief service at the graveside or at the crematorium. When a body is cremated it is encouraged that there be a further brief service, some time later, for the burial of the ashes.
Who will help me plan the funeral services?
The priest, deacon, or other nominated members of the parish community will be happy to help.