Overview of the Rites
The Greatest Event
The event unique to our Christian faith is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We first enter into this mystery in Baptism, when we die to our old selves and are born anew in Christ. Throughout our lives we die and rise in various ways, embodying the Paschal Mystery of the Lord. Our bodily death is not an end, but the ultimate passage to eternal life — the greatest event of our lives.
The Church celebrates the Christian life in her daughters and sons through rich signs and symbols in prayer and sacraments. These rituals express our beliefs. This is especially evident in the Order of Christian Funerals — the rites for the passage of believers from death to eternal life.
By means of the funeral rites it has been the practice of the Church, as a tender mother, not simply to commend the dead to God, but also to raise high the hope of its children and to give witness to its own faith in the future Resurrection of the baptized with Christ.
— Decree for the Order of Funerals, Congregation for Divine Worship, The Vatican: Rome, 1969
Parts of the Journey
The Order of Christian Funerals provides three major liturgical celebrations and prayer moments:
Part I Vigil
Part II Mass of Christian Burial
Part III Rite of Committal
Through the prayers and rituals, the community faithfully accompanies a believer from the moment of death to a final resting place. Ever prayerfully, the community also supports the bereaved through the early stages of the grieving process.
The celebration of the funeral rites expresses an acceptance, a creed and a journey. The rites accept human mortality & death in the midst of life, ultimately one's own death. We let go, handing our dead and ourselves over to God.
The rites also declare our creed & our faith in Christ, the Risen One who put death to death by His dying and rising to new life. We believe Christ's Resurrection is our inheritance as His disciples.
Finally, the rites comprise a movement — an earthly journey from the place of death to the funeral home…to the church…to the cemetery.
This journey reminds the faithful of their own journey from grief and sorrow to hope and peace, from loss and sadness, to gain and growth.