The step-by-step guide above will guide you through the process. The Catholic funeral rite is divided into several stations, or parts, each with its own purpose. For this reason we recommend following the complete structure and making use of each station.
Vigil Service (Wake)
“At the vigil, the Christian community keeps watch with the family in prayer to the God of mercy and finds strength in Christ’s presence” (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 56). The Vigil Service usually takes place during the period of visitation and viewing at the funeral home. It is a time to remember the life of the deceased and to commend him/her to God. In prayer we ask God to console us in our grief and give us strength to support one another.
The Vigil Service can take the form of a Service of the Word with readings from Sacred Scripture accompanied by reflection and prayers. The clergy and your funeral director can assist in planning such service.
It is most appropriate, when family and friends are gathered together for visitation, to offer time for recalling the life of the deceased. For this reason, eulogies are to be done at the funeral home during visitation or at the Vigil Service.
The funeral liturgy is the central liturgical celebration of the Christian community for the deceased. When one of its members dies, the Church encourages the celebration of the funeral liturgy at a Mass. When Mass cannot be celebrated, a funeral liturgy outside Mass can be celebrated at the church or in the funeral home.
At the funeral liturgy, the Church gathers with the family and friends of the deceased to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over sin and death, to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion, and to seek strength in the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery. The funeral liturgy, therefore, is an act of worship, and not merely an expression of grief.
Please click on the tab at the top to see a funeral liturgy planning guide and a worksheet to make your selections.
Rite of Committal (Burial or Interment)
The Rite of Committal, the conclusion of the funeral rite, is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member. It should normally be celebrated at the place of committal, that is, beside the open grave or place of interment. In committing the body to its resting place, the community expresses the hope that, with all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, the deceased awaits the glory of the resurrection. The Rite of Committal is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who need faith no longer, but see God face-to-face.
Funeral Liturgy Planning Guide
- Contact a funeral home and begin working with a funeral director.
- Discuss with the funeral director your desired date and desired clergy member for the Funeral rites. The funeral home will then contact the Church to arrange the date and time.
After you have made contact with the funeral home and set a date for the Funeral rites:
- Review the funeral readings and consider which Catholic family member or friend would like to read:
- First Reading – Old Testament
- Second Reading – New Testament
- Prayers of the Faithful
- Review the Funeral Music selection possibilities, on the menu, and contact the Director of Music to discuss availability.
- Once you have prepared the Funeral Liturgy Selections Sheet – on the tab above – Contact the clergy member who will be presiding over the rites to discuss desired readings and offer your memories of the deceased. The clergy member would be happy to choose the readings for you, if you prefer. He will also discuss the day of the funeral and the flow of the liturgy with you.
- Consider whether you would like to have a friend or family member offer words of remembrance at the Vigil service the evening before the funeral.
- Follow-up with the funeral director for any last questions.
Funeral Liturgy Selections
(Review the list of information below – this you will share with the clergy member and Director of Music)
Name of Deceased:
Date and Time:
Presiding Clergy Member:
Liturgy of the Word
(See the funeral readings on the menu – they can be easily referenced by their alpha-numeric code, for instance: B2, C3, D4, etc.
1st Reading / Old Testament:
To be read by:
To be sung?:
Or, to be read by:
2nd Reading / New Testament:
To be read by:
Gospel – to be read by clergy:
Prayers of the Faithful – to be read by clergy, or:
If it is a funeral Mass, the gifts will be brought up by (One to four persons):
(See the Music selections on the menu)
Song of Farewell: