An overview of funeral rites and rituals

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Funerals all across the world look different from each culture to culture, community to community and setting to setting. There is no universal method of performing certain rites in the funeral. Still, the commemoration of the dead and grieving the void lost love one leave behind is a universal practice. Therefore, regardless of the community and culture, funerals are arranged in every society. They reflect the reverence that society has for their dead and how they prefer to commemorate their memories in death. For certain communities, a funeral is a part of religious faith, rites performed in the ceremony are sacred and universal. However, others interpret a funeral as a necessary obligation. However, all people from all social backgrounds perform funeral rites and proper ceremonies to bid a fitting farewell to society. Funerals provide a collective grieving experience to those who mourn their loss and are also an opportunity to re-affirm communal and social attachments.

According to Anthropologists, funeral rites are also known as the rite of passage since it dramatically influences the social status of the dead and his immediate family members. For instance, the status of dead changes from being an active member of the community to only a memorable one. The status of the immediate family is decided by reviewing how death has affected one another. Hence, anthropologists see an only befitting way of carrying out and accepting this transition in status by performing due rites. The essential rationale behind funerals is to acknowledge change and to accept death. Human alone, finds it hard to assimilate massive changes, independently. Nonetheless, within a communal setting, the loss can be grieved with integrity among friends, peers, and family.

Catholic funeral and its rites

A Catholic funeral is a sacred, religious service that is held for a deceased Christian. It is a mandatory service and is much revered in the catholic faith, for the rites performed are helpful to the soul of the dead in their afterlife. Thus, Catholic funerals rites are a part of a procedure to bless the deceased’s soul and pray for a peaceful afterlife.

This belief is shared by all believing Christians, who unconditionally trust that the soul either goes on to heaven or hell and therefore needs sincere prayers. However, according to Christian beliefs, there’s another destination where the soul can end up. It is called Purgatory. It is specially reserved for those who have committed such sins in life that are seemingly forgivable and can end up in heaven. Therefore, believing in Purgatory is an essential part of the Christian faith.

Keeping the concept and belief in Purgatory, catholic funerals are held to pray for the deceased soul and help it reach heaven successfully. Therefore, catholic funerals and their rites are profusely religious matters that involve lots of praying and remembering the deceased in good words. It shall also be noted that all Christian funerals are not similar; for instance, Catholic funerals are reasonably different from other Christian funerals. Catholic funerals, in particular, have to take place in a Catholic church, with a Catholic priest presiding over the ceremony.

There are relatively more rites in a commemoration ceremony for Catholic funerals than other Christian funerals. Funeral vigil, masses, liturgy and committal, each symbolizes a specific historical incident. At times, there’s also an arrangement of music throughout the Catholic funeral service.

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Importance of performing funeral rites

The time and process of Catholic funeral rites provide deceased family and friends with time to remember, pray for and grieve their lost loved one. The Catholic funeral rites broadly consist of three specific and essential parts. Each of which is vital for its reasons – the Vigil, Funeral Mass and the Committal. By performing funeral rites and attending Catholic funerals, the friends and family of the deceased are reminded about the support of Jesus Christ to all believers.

Catholic Funeral Rites

Following funeral rites are usually performed are Catholic funerals.

  1. They begin with a vigil or prayer just a day before holding mass prayer.
  2. The dead body of the deceased is taken to Church as an act of returning to God.
  3. For reminding Baptism, the coffin of the deceased is thoroughly sprinkled with holy water.
  4. A funeral mass is arranged, asking God to bless the dead and take them to the afterlife.
  5. Holy Communion is arranged as part of Funeral Liturgy.
  6. A reading session is held to remember the resurrection of Christ on the day of judgment.
  7. Afterward, a short committal ceremony is performed in the cemetery.
  8. Then refreshing incense is sprinkled over the coffin, and special prayers are offered on behalf of the deceased.
  9. Lastly, the coffin is buried into the ground with a Catholic priest making special prayers for the deceased eternal peace.

Catholic funeral service is important to bring the community together and to refresh the faith of the Catholic Christian community upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In addition, it’s an opportunity to reiterate the importance of Catholicism among the community and remind them about the afterlife.

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Vigil or Prayer Service

The vigil prayer service is held during the initial visitation days at the funeral home, where friends and family come to pay their respects. This service is mainly an attempt to remember the dead and pray for his afterlife. Moreover, prayers for providing patience to grieving families are also made during this service. The entire community comes out to support and console one another and to overcome grieve.

Clergy and Catholic priest can assist in preparing for vigil service. Selective texts from sacred scripture or the bible are read while offering prayers and reflecting upon the life and death of a lost loved one. Eulogies in honor of the deceased are also offered during vigil service since its gathering is most apt for reciting eulogies and praying for the peace of the dead.

Funeral Liturgy

The liturgical celebration is a mandatory part of the Catholic funeral service. Mainly at liturgy service, Catholic Church gathers and encourages the Christian community to be grateful to Christ for His victory over sins and death. It is either arranged outside Church or funeral home. This service is arranged to seek Christ’s strength, mercy and compassion. Funeral Liturgy is an act of worship offered by friends and family of the deceased and not an act of grief like vigil service.

Rite of Committal

This is the final act of service in a Catholic funeral. Arranged to express the communion that exists between the Catholic Church on earth and the Church in heaven. It is normally celebrated at the place of committal, either outside Church or at the funeral home. In this concluding act, the deceased’s body is committed to resting place, and the gathered Christian community is reminded of the glory and promise of resurrection along with Jesus Christ later.

Catholic funerals and their respective rites are thoroughly sacred to many believers around the world. Each of the rites performed is done so for a precise reason and to offer prayer for the deceased’s soul.