“In the face of death the Church confidently proclaims that God has created each person for eternal life and that Jesus, by his death and resurrection, has broken the chains of sin and death that bound humanity.“
–The Order of Christian Funerals #1
The Order of Christian Funerals is meant to guide the Catholic community in their quest to celebrate life and provide consolation to those who are grieving the loss of their loved one. It is broken down into three parts, each serving its specific purpose. While all Catholic funerals share a similar format, the celebration of remembrance of the loved one is unique and personal to the individual’s life.
The Vigil is often the first time family and friends gather for prayer and support, in remembrance of a treasured life, after a loved one dies. The service features readings from Scripture along with reflection and prayer, and is usually held at a parish church or funeral home. It is a time to give strength to the grieving and faith to trust in the promise of eternal life. Eulogies are to be conducted during the Vigil Service.
The Mass is a celebration of the deceased one’s life, where family and friends gather to praise God and reaffirm that life has not ended, but just begun in the company of Christ. The body is present for this celebration, which is not just an expression of grief but an act of worship. A homily, not a eulogy, is delivered after the Gospel in order to help all those who are in attendance to understand the mystery of Jesus’ victory over death and his resurrection.
During the committal, family and friends are guided through the challenging processes of letting go of their loved one’s earthly presence. It is the conclusion of the Order, as the body is committed to its final resting place. Farewell prayers are spoken and final goodbyes are said, as the deceased is welcomed into the company of heaven.