At the time of the death of one of its members, the Church proclaims with confidence that God has created each person for eternal life, and that Jesus Christ by his death and resurrection has overcome sin and death forever. The Church prays for the deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end, and that there is still a bond of community with the living. The Church ministers to the sorrowing and gives consolation to them by means of the Funeral Rites.
The Parts of the Funeral Liturgy
There are three distinct parts of the funeral for a Catholic. They are the Vigil Service, the Funeral Liturgy, and the Rite of Committal.
1. The Vigil Service
The Vigil is marked by a sense of “being with” and “watching over” the body or the cremated remains of the deceased. This service offers the opportunity for family and friends to express their sorrow and find strength and consolation through the proclamation of Sacred Scripture and prayer.
2. The Funeral Liturgy
The Funeral Liturgy is the main service of worship of the community for the deceased. There are two forms: the Funeral Mass and the Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass, which follows the same outline as the Funeral Mass except with the Liturgy of the Eucharist being omitted.
3. The Rite of Committal
The community shows its care for the remains of the deceased by the Rite of Committal. These prayers are offered for the deceased as the body or cremated remains are committed to its final place of rest.
Planning the Funeral Liturgies
The parish priest will assist the family with the liturgical preparations. Most often these preparations involve having the family visit the Parish Office. During this meeting, you will receive a folder of materials to assist you in making the liturgical arrangements. Only hymns may be played during the funeral Mass.
Words of Remembrance (Eulogies)
In the Catholic Church, words of remembrance are given during the Vigil Service, at the Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass, if it takes place in the funeral home and/or at the reception. Eulogies, because of their secular nature, are not permitted in the Archdiocese of Ottawa.
Cremation is decided upon by the deceased as part of his/ her final arrangements, or by the family at the time of death. The Catholic Church continues to encourage the tradition of the burial of a body; however, it does not object to cremation. Cremated remains are always to be treated with dignity. For this reason, cremated remains are to be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or niche provided for this purpose. Cremated remains should never be scattered or kept in the possession of family members.