Modern-Day Catholic Funerals

Modern-Day Catholic Funerals

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Modern-Day Catholic Funerals

The Catholics are entitled to Catholic Funeral rites on the basis of them being incorporated into the church by way of the Baptismal Sacrament. Among the Rites practiced by the Catholic faithful include prayers following the death of the person, prayers done when the body is presented, the service of scripture prayers at the wake, the church funeral service, as well as the internment prayers done at the cemetery (Quartier, 2009). All these services constitute the entire catholic funeral service as well as providing the special prayers by the church to the dead. In addition, they are also meant to meet numerous needs of the grieving family and friends.

Although people are less interested in dwelling on death, this forms a real part of the people’s families and lives. In this case, the catholic rites are meant to pray for the dead and helping the society handle the death realities and difficulties. Therefore, the faith brings courage and strength for facing the radical loss of the loved one. Whereas there are variable levels of orthodoxy in Catholicism, there is a common belief among Catholics that death is simply passing the physical world into afterlife, and the soul of the deceased eventually moves to live in heaven, purgatory or hell. On Christ’s return at the end of time, they believe that there will be a body resurrection for all the dead.

When a member’s death is imminent, a priest is called upon to offer Holy Communion and special Rites to the person expected to die. Following the death, a priest performs special rites before the funeral plans are began. In most cases, local churches often in good relationships with Catholic-friendly or Catholic funeral homes. The funeral masses cannot be conducted on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, or Easter Sunday (Ata, 2012). The masses may also not be held on Sundays of Advent, Lent, or the Easter Season. However, a funeral mass can be conducted during Ash Wednesday although there would not be an ash distribution in the church.

Organ Donation

Despite the existence of disagreements within the catholic church in regard to how acceptable organ donation is, the majority of the catholic leaders are in agreement with the brain death medical definition, which is the ultimate end of brain function that marks the individual’s end of life, and organ donation could be regarded as the last charitable act an individual could do.


This act is admissible in catholic faith, depending on the state rule or the funeral home responsible, and is acceptable when done prior to Vigil.


In many years, the Catholic Church has been against the idea of cremation, but in the recent years, the catholic faithful have approved the practice. The majority of churches insist on the body being present during the Funeral Mass before cremation is done afterwards (Parsons, 2012). The resultant remains are then buried at the sea, or in the ground, or entombed within columbarium to avoid scattering.

Wake, Viewing, or Visitation prior to a Catholic Funeral

The prayer service for Vigil is conducted the evening prior to the funeral day and it involves much of a wake or viewing, where families and friends congregate in the deceased person’s home, or in church for prayers and remembrance of the deceased. The prayers are presided on by a deacon or priest, although even a layperson that is knowledgeable on the traditions and prayers could preside over should the deacon or priest not be available(Quartier, 2009). The vigil provides the appropriate time for the friends and family to eulogize and pay civil or fraternal tributes to the deceased. It must be understood that eulogies may not be delivered during the funeral service.

Catholic funerals can be held within churches and chapels. The funeral masses are led by the priests, who may also take charge of the funeral liturgy. In the absence of a priest, the funeral liturgy could be led by a deacon, or the layperson that is knowledgeable with the traditions(Ata, 2012). However, the delivery of the homily is solely left for the priest or a deacon, and this also serves in the remembrance of diseased through incorporation of examples seen in the life of the diseased. All through the services, regardless of the person leading the services, laypersons are allowed to act as musicians, readers, ushers, pallbearers, and in many other roles. The nature of music at the service must be appropriate, and these may include psalms, hymnals and readings.

The Committal Rite is the interment service for the Catholics, and it involves the final interment or burring of the body. The service may be conducted at mausoleum, tomb, gravesite, or the columbarium. Friends and families come together with the deacon or priest to offer their prayers over the body for the final time(Parsons, 2012).

The Catholic Church has demonstrated significant levels of consistence in the preservation of the integrity of the funeral practices until today. However, the changing human society in terms of resources, political and global influences mean that adjustments should be done in other traditional practices in favor of the more popular and reasonably important practices, amongst which is body cremation. Generally, the Catholic funeral services remain purely religious as evident in the manner burial sites are made sacred through blessing the place in which the body will be placed or buried, and this is done by the priest or the deacon. More prayers are then recited by the priest or deacon before all other people join by saying the Lord’s Prayer.


Ata, A. (2012). Bereavement anxieties and health amongst the Australian-Italian Catholic community.Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 15(6), 555-570

Parsons, B. (2012). Identifying key changes: the progress of cremation and its influence on music at funerals in England, 1874–2010.Mortality, 17(2), 130-144

Quartier, T. (2009).Personal symbols in Roman Catholic funerals in the Netherlands.Mortality, 14(2), 133-14

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