Saint Dominic's Catholic Church, Torrance
Funeral arrangements

When someone dies please notify the priest as soon as you are able on 01360 - 310355, so that
he may meet with the family of the deceased and begin making arrangements for the funeral.

Planning a Catholic Funeral

A funeral is a time of sadness and mourning. But for Christians it is also a time to rejoice, for the Lord Jesus has won a great victory over death and made it possible for us to pass through to new and eternal life. This is our unwavering hope.

In a Catholic funeral we pray that our deceased brother or sister be admitted into paradise. We also derive strength from family and friends and lend our support to others in what can be a very difficult time.

If you are making the final arrangements for yourself, you may be tempted to spare your friends and relatives the pain and expense of long, elaborate funeral ceremonies. But keep in mind that they may need this opportunity to express their loss and their support for each other.

If you are making arrangements for the funeral of a relative or friend, your funeral director and your priest can help you choose the appropriate elements to make it a meaningful celebration of trust and hope in Jesus Christ.

Praying For The Dead:
Since the earliest days of the Church, Catholics have always prayed for the dead. This practice can be traced back to Old Testament times when the Maccabbean brothers prayed for their fallen colleagues with a view to the resurrection of the body.

Ever since the second century our greatest prayer, the sacrifice of the Mass, has been offered for the repose of the souls of the dead.

Praying for our deceased brothers and sisters reflects our Christian conviction that death is not the end of our existence; it is a point of change, and prayer to our merciful God on behalf of the dead will benefit both us and them.

Our relationships with our friends and relatives do not dissolve with death. We honour them by giving their bodies a dignified Christian burial and we assist them in their journey to heaven by our prayers. It is a source of great consolation to us that we are still able to help our deceased loved ones. Once they enter into the presence of God they pray for us in return with great power.

Preparing For Death:
As followers of Jesus Christ, we often recall his teaching that our true homeland is in heaven and we are only pilgrims in this world. So we constantly prepare for our future life in heaven by the way we live as Christians now.

At the onset of illness, the priest is called and the anointing of the sick is celebrated to receive any health God may wish to restore of mind, heart or body. When death threatens, one may receive holy communion, called "viaticum", which is food for the journey into everlasting life.
Elements Of The Funeral

The Catholic funeral has a number of elements which enable the Christian community to draw strength from one another and from God.

When one of its members dies, the Church is prepared to offer prayers after the death, at a gathering in the presence of the body, a vigil or wake, the procession to the church, the funeral Mass or Liturgy of the Word, and the committal at the cemetery.

Meaning Of The Funeral Mass:
The funeral Mass occupies a place of particular importance and should not be omitted casually.

The Eucharist is of central importance in our spiritual lives, it is also of central importance in our celebration of Christian death. At the last supper, on the night before he died for us, our Saviour transformed bread and wine into his own body and blood which he offered to his Father as a sacrifice acceptable to him. This is the Eucharistic sacrifice he asked us to celebrate as a continuing memorial of his death and resurrection. It is a pledge of future glory which sustains us all through life and is especially significant as we face the death of someone dear to us.

If some special consideration suggests that an alternative type of liturgy is more appropriate, a priest will be happy to discuss the details with the bereaved family.

A eulogy, which is not focused on God, is better given at the wake and not at Mass.

Active involvement by everyone increases the power of our prayer, drawing us closer to God and each other. So it is important that music selected for the funeral be found in the books provided in the church for everyone to use.

Christian Burial:
After the Lord Jesus surrendered his Spirit into the hands of his Father, his disciples carefully prepared his body according to the Jewish ritual and placed it in a new tomb. By the three days he spent there, he made holy the graves of all those who believe in him and by his rising again we are restored to eternal life. As his followers, we too place the dead bodies or cremated remains of our brothers and sisters in the earth with the expectation that God will raise them to life again with the glorified Christ.

Our Christian burial places are blessed for the purpose of holding the body or cremated remains until the resurrection on the last day. Therefore, such a consecrated tomb is the most fitting place of rest we can give our beloved relatives and friends.

The Order of a Catholic Funeral:

Catholics believe in Heaven and Hell, but also in Purgatory. This is a place for those who have died in a 'state of grace' (that is, they have committed 'venial' or forgivable sins) and may not go straight to Heaven.

A Catholic funeral can be with or without Mass:

* The Vigil for the Deceased: this is a service of prayers, songs and homilies either at the home of the deceased or in church, before the day of the funeral.
* Introductory rites: the priest greets the congregation and says: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." He leads the coffin and congregation down the church aisle. Holy water is sprinkled and there is an opening song and prayer.
* Liturgy of the Word: sermons from the Bible are read out, as well as a homily (a practical rather than theological sermon) and a Psalm.
* Liturgy of the Eucharist: there is a preparation of gifts, a Eucharist prayer is said and Holy Communion is received.
* Final commendation: Mass ends, prayers are said and the coffin is taken out of the church.
* Rite of Committal: prayers are said by the final resting place (at the graveside for burial and before the curtains close for cremation).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines what a funeral is:

The Christian funeral is a liturgical celebration of the Church. The ministry of the Church in this instance aims at expressing efficacious communion with the deceased, at the participation in that communion of the community gathered for the funeral, and at the proclamation of eternal life to the community.Catechism of the Catholic Church

Order of Catholic Funerals