Planning of a
Christian Funeral: Saint Elizabeth Seton Church,
280 Brook Street,
Rocky Hill, Connecticut
ORDER OF CHRISTIAN FUNERALS
"At the death of a Christian, whose life of faith
was begun in the waters of baptism and strengthened at the eucharistic
table, the Church intercedes on behalf of the deceased because of its
confident belief that death is not the end nor does it break the bonds
forged in life." #4, General Introduction Order of Christian
Why should you make some choices regarding your funeral
prior to your death?
First, planning now helps you to have your desires and
needs met with regard to your funeral as an expression of your faith.
Second, such planning help alleviate many concerns and
questions which otherwise would fall solely to your survivors in a time of
Third, it allows for the natural, healthy and necessary
process of expressing and dealing with grief at the death of a loved one.
The Catholic Christian community and its rituals stand as a unique support
in times of morning.
What is a Catholic Christian funeral?
The rites (worship and prayers) take us from the time
of serious illness through death, burial and the grieving process for
survivors. The Order of Christian Funerals allows us to choose the rites
and texts that are most suitable to the situation: those that most closely
apply to the mourners, the circumstances of the death and the customs of
the local community. The funeral ritual is a celebration and a reminder
of our hope in the promise of our resurrection through our Lord
Jesus Christ, We believe that, as our faith tells us, "life is
changed not ended" In bodily death, and the ritual that we choose
for this final celebration of our life on earth should
reflect that faith.
What are my options?
First and foremost, please call Saint Elizabeth Seton
Church (5293222) if a member of our parish is near death.
The following outlines various elements of the Catholic
Order of Christian Funerals:
Prayer Service for a Dying Person
When a person is at the point of death, his or her
family and friends may gather at the bedside and pray this short ritual.
This may be prayed with or without a church minister present, If a church
minister is present, this person may be ordained or not ordained.
What about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
at the time of death (formerly known as "Extreme Unction")?
This Sacrament should be administered during a person's
serious illness which may or may not result in death. If a dying person
has not already been anointed, please call the church. The Sacrament of
the Anointing of the Sick is not administered after one has died, however
the above referenced prayer service can be celebrated.
The Wake Service: Vigil for the Deceased
Gathering of the family in the presence of the
deceased: This service is for the first time the family gathers in front
of the body at the funeral home. This may be led by a member of the
family, the funeral director or a representative of the Church. Wake
service: A prayer service at the funeral home during the visiting hours,
It consists of Scripture readings and prayers. You may choose various
options within this rite if you so desire, This is it time when a eulogy
can be given and mementos of the deceased person's life may be shared.
This is the liturgical center of the Order of Christian
Funerals. The body of the deceased person must be present in the Church
for this ritual. The most meaningful celebrations are when the Scripture
texts, prayers and musical selections have been chosen beforehand to
reflect the life and faith of the person who has died. Your parish
community stands ready to help you in this selection process and would be
willing to provide lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, and other ministers as
All selections should empower the full participation of
those gathered to celebrate this liturgy in responses and singing.
Many symbols are used during the funeral Mass. These
The Paschal (Easter) Candle speaks to us of Christ's
Resurrection: The holy water and pall (white cloth placed on casket)
speaks to us of our Baptism; In addition, family members are invited to
place on the coffin a religious symbol which was meaningful to the
deceased person, such as a crucifix, bible, prayer book or rosary beads to
name a few possibilities.
"Any national flags or the flags or insignia of
associations to which the deceased belong are removed from the coffin at
the entrance of the church. They are replaced after the coffin has been
taken from the church." # 132, Order of Christian Funerals.
This rite, with the body of the deceased person
present, may be used for various reasons including when the Funeral Mass
is not permitted, namely on solemn feasts including Holy Thursday, Good
Friday or Holy Saturday or when for pastoral reasons the pastor and the
family judge that the funeral liturgy outside Mass is more suitable form
of celebration. This rite normally takes place in the parish church but
may also be celebrated in the home of the deceased, a funeral home or
cemetery chapel. Selections for prayers and Scripture readings may be
made, however this rite includes neither the liturgy of the Eucharist nor
the distribution of Eucharist.
Burial The Rite of Committal
The rite for burial is the conclusion of the funeral
rites, celebrated at the grave. It includes prayers and scripture readings
which again, may be selected beforehand.
In Christ shall all be made alive
Catholics may be cremated, as long as the cremation is
not viewed as a denial of the resurrection of the body. It is not
permitted for the cremains (ashes) to be present in the church for the
funeral Mass or the other rituals except for the Rite of Committal
(burial), And, the cremains themselves must be buried, they may not be
scattered in keeping with the Church's teaching on the honor due the human
If it was not possible to celebrate the Funeral
Liturgy, a memorial Mass or service may be celebrated for the deceased
person at another time.
How do I plan my funeral rites now?
Counsel is available from the parish pastoral staff by
appointment. Once arrangements have been made, completed selection forms
should be filed with the parish and your immediate survivors who will be
responsible for your arrangements.
The celebration of the Christian funeral brings hope
and consolation to the living. While proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus
Christ and witnessing to Christian hope in the resurrection, the funeral
rites also recall to all who take part in them God's mercy and judgment
and meet the human need to turn always to God in times of crisis. # 7
of Christian Funerals