Are you ready?
Having received the Anointing of the Sick, Confession, and Viaticum, a Catholic is spiritually ready to make their final pilgrimage from this life to the next, however, they are often not logistically prepared. As Catholics, it is our duty to give a Christian a proper Christian burial and to pray for the dead. Sadly in this day and age, there are so many ideas about what to do with a person's body once they die. As such it is our responsibility to make sure that our wishes to be buried according to the Rites and Traditions of the Church are made known and possibly even written down.
“Why does it matter once I am dead?” you might ask. Well, first of all, we all know that no one is perfect and yet Jesus tells us that we must be perfect as God the Father is perfect. As such, eternal life is never a CERTAINTY, even for the most saintly Christian. The writings of the Saints attest to this uncertainty. As St. Paul notes, we must work out our salvation with fear and tremble. Thus, we truly need and should desire the prayers of the church and our family, which as we read in the book of Maccabees are the only act of love we can afford the dead. Because of our belief in the Resurrection of the Body, Catholics treat the body with great respect after death, treating the body in a sense as an icon of the person for whom we are praying. On a less selfish note, it’s also important to realize that our friends and family need a venue in which to mourn. Pretending like death didn’t happen is neither healthy nor truly comforting. For two millennia the Church has been in the business of helping people understand death and dying from the point of view of our Faith which is the only source of hope in the face of death. Make sure that even if your children and loved ones don’t know how important a funeral is that you give them this one last gift by making your arrangements early.
A Traditional Catholic Funeral
Traditionally the body is visited on the vigil of the funeral by family and friends, this vigil is a time for mourning, for eulogies or good words of remembrance about the deceased, and for prayer. On the day of the funeral, prayers are often said by the family at the funeral home before the body is taken in solemn procession to the Church where the solemn Mass of the Dead is celebrated. Finally, after the funeral Mass, the body is taken to a cemetery for burial in the ground where the body awaits the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment.
The costs of funerals being what they are, cremations are quickly becoming a popular option. For a long time cremation was forbidden by the Church because many suggested that cremation was a denial of the resurrection of the body. Today the Church allows cremation, suggesting that a funeral Mass is celebrated BEFORE cremation. However, if this is not possible, a funeral Mass might be celebrated with the remains present, HOWEVER, because of our respect for the body and our expectation of the resurrection, remains that have been cremated MUST be buried in a cemetery.
Speaking of costs, if money is an issue, please do speak with your parish priest or the funeral director about ways you can minimize the costs. As a Church, we have a duty to provide Christian burial and we will work with you and your family to make sure that you or your loved one is buried with dignity with all the rites of the Catholic Church.