Planning a Funeral
The time after a loved one dies is like riding an emotional rollercoaster. One minute you may find yourself unable to stop the tears from flowing, while at other times you may feel crass because you cannot cry at all. Planning the funeral for your loved one should be seen as a very special time. The celebration of the Christian funeral brings hope and consolation to the living. It reminds us all of God’s mercy and it serves as a reminder to us to always turn to God in times of crisis.
Funerals in our society serve many purposes….The vision of the 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, we can weep and pray profoundly, and remember in hope.
Major Funeral Rites of the Catholic Church
The Rite is meant to be three ritual moments.
- Vigil for the Deceased (Wake)
- Funeral Mass
Cremation and the Catholic Church
- The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained. However, 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)
- 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. It recognizes 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, because the body is not present.