An Overview of Catholic Funeral Rites
The journey through the Catholic Funeral Rites begins in the parish whether you are interested in advance planning or making final preparations for a loved one. And ends with the final placement into consecrated ground. The Catholic Funeral Rites include the Vigil Service, Funeral Liturgy and Rite of Committal.
Vigil Service (Wake)
The Vigil Service usually takes place during the period of visitation and viewing at the funeral home. It is a time to remember the life of the deceased and to commend him to God. In prayer we ask God to console us in our grief and give us strength to support one another. It is most appropriate, when family and friends are gathered together for the visitation, to offer time for recalling the life of the deceased. For this reason, eulogies are encouraged to be done at the funeral home during the visitation or at the Vigil Service.
The Funeral Liturgy is the central liturgical celebration of the Christian community for the deceased. When one of its members dies, the Church encourages the celebration of the Funeral Liturgy at Mass in the church or the chapel of a catholic cemetery. When Mass cannot be celebrated, a Funeral Liturgy can be celebrated at the church or in the chapel of a catholic cemetery or in the funeral home. At the Funeral Liturgy, the Church gathers with the family and friends of the deceased to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over sin and death, to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion, and to seek strength in the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery. The Funeral Liturgy is an act of worship and not merely an expression of grief.
Rite of Committal (Burial or Interment)
The Rite of Committal, the conclusion of the Funeral Rite, is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member. Normally it is celebrated at the place of committal, that is, beside the open grave, tomb or niche. With the committal the community expresses the hope that the deceased awaits the glory of resurrection. The deceased passes with farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who need faith no longer, but see God face-to-face.