Catholic Funeral Rites
The long-standing tradition of the Catholic church flows logically out of fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith such as:
- the dignity of each human person
- the importance of Baptism into the faith
- the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ
- the promise of Jesus that one day we will also share eternal life
- the celebration of the Eucharist as the great act of thanksgiving for redemption
Within the context of these realities, the death and burial of a Catholic Christian is experienced and must be celebrated. The church provides the Order of Christian Funerals, with three distinct elements as the proper and fitting way for the death of one of Her members to be observed.
The church offers the Vigil, usually observed as a wake for the deceased in the funeral home. The Mass of CHristian Burial is celebrated for family, friends, and the parish community at the parish church in the presence of the deceased.
Following the celebration of the funeral liturgy, it is proper that the Committal Rite and Farewell take place in a Catholic cemetery
Here the deceased is laid to rest among members of the same faith community who preceded this person into eternal life, and professed the same sure conviction that one day the body will be reunited with the soul to rise in glory to be with the Risen Lord. Then the Kingdom of God will be fully realized.
Thus, the church's practice of maintaining cemeteries flows from theology and history. At death we focus on Baptism and the body as a temple of the Holy SPirit, nourished at the Eucharistic table.
Death is rightly celebrated at the parish church, the place of Baptism and Eucharist, the place where the bereaved find comfort in the believing community and strength in the Eucharist that is celebrated for them on behalf of their deceased relative or friend.
Our cemeteries manifests the "now/not yet" status of the Kingdom of God. We are now a people of history, a people redeemed but still in pain and sorrow. In the future, with both the general and particular judgment, we will experience the promise of eternal life in God's Kingdom. This is why we pray as Jesus did, "Thy Kingdom come..." We are a people who come to our cemeteries to be reminded of our history, our Catholic beliefs and practices, and our community as identified in the various parishes of the Diocese of SPringfield yesterday, today and tomorrow. We, as a community, profess our beliefs and value system...even in the silence of the grave.