The Easter Journey: A model for the funeral rites
The model for Catholic funerals is the Easter journey of Jesus from death to resurrection. This is why the Church provides three parts to the funeral celebration namely the prayer vigil, funeral liturgy, and committal. You can find out more about the three parts by downloading the Guide to Catholic Funerals.
How long does the Service take?
The length of the service depends on the type of service you choose. The funeral liturgy can take two forms: the Requiem Mass (Funeral Mass) or a Funeral Service. The Church encourages a Mass since the Eucharist remembers and celebrates Christ’s own death and resurrection. A Funeral Mass can take anywhere between 45-60 minutes. However, while the Eucharist is our central liturgy, it is not always the best option for every funeral. To celebrate a funeral without Mass is also a valid form of Catholic worship. A funeral without Mass (Funeral Service) takes approximate 30-40 minutes.
How do I arrange for a Catholic funeral?
Before you make any plans, you need to think about whether you wish to have a Funeral Mass or a Funeral Service. Once you have decided this, approach your chosen Funeral Director and make your wishes known. The Funeral Directors are being paid to take the pressure off you, so they will liaise with the Church. Once things are confirmed, the priest or deacon who will conduct the funeral will make contact and arrange to meet with you and offer support. Do not make any firm arrangements about the Service until you have spoken with the priest or deacon.
How do I make arrangements for my own funeral?
Funeral planning can be a challenging task for your loved ones after your death. If you wish to make arrangements for your own funeral first think about the Funeral Director you wish to use and approach them. Most Funeral Directors offer pre-paid funeral plans where you make all of the practical choices and pay for your funeral in advance.
THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD: A NEW DOCUMENT FROM THE VATICAN (Published 25 October 2016)
AD RESURGENDUM CUM CHRISTO TOWARDS RESURRECTION WITH CHRIST
On 15 August 2016, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an important document regarding the burial of the dead and the conservation of ashes in the case of cremation. The complete document is available on the Diocesan website, but significant parts are printed here for the guidance of families arranging the funeral of deceased members.
To rise with Christ we must “be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). All necessary measures must be taken to preserve the practice of reverently burying the faithful departed.
Cremation is allowed providing that this choice has not been made through a denial of Christian dogmas, the animosity of a secret society, or hatred of the Catholic religion and the Church.
This document sets out the norms for the burial of the remains of the faithful and those pertaining to the conservation of ashes in the case of cremation.
It is true that Christ will raise us up on the last day; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already died with Christ. In Baptism, actually, we are immersed in the death and resurrection of Christ and sacramentally assimilated to him. “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead”. (Col 2:12)
Because of Christ, Christian death has appositive meaning. The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church. “Indeed, for your faithful people, Lord, life is changed not ended and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven”. (Preface of the Dead).
By burying the bodies of the faithful, the Church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body, and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as a integral part of the human person whose body forms part of their identity. She cannot, therefore, condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the “prison” of the body.
The Church considers the burial of the dead as one of the corporal works of mercy.
The Church raises no doctrinal objections to the practice of cremation, since the cremation of the deceased’s body does not affect the soul, nor does it prevent God in his omnipotence from raising up the deceased body to new life. Thus cremation, in and of itself, objectively negates neither the Christian doctrine of the soul’s immortality nor that of the resurrection of the body.
Cremation is not prohibited unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine.
When, for legitimate motives, cremation of the body has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area, which has been set aside for this purpose, and so dedicated by the competent ecclesiastical authority.
For the reasons given above, the conservation of ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted.
The ashes may not be divided among various family members and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation.
In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementoes, pieces of jewellery or other objects.