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
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
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
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.
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