These words from Bishop Ingham offer comfort at this time as you grieve the loss of your loved family member or friend.
“Sickness, suffering and death touch the very core of our journey through life. At some stage they will affect every one of us. The death of people near and dear to us can destabilise us more than somewhat.
Being confronted with the fact that we will one day die, we struggle to make sense of such loss and to come to grips with the fact that a human life is irrevocably ended on earth whilst ours continues to go on. In this human experience of intense loss and grief, we reach out for the comfort and support of our family and friends and the support of the wider community of faith.
The funeral rites of the Catholic Church (vigil, funeral, rite of committal) not only pray for the eternal repose of the deceased, but also give us support as we mourn. A context is provided in which we can grieve the final separation we experience. These Church’s funeral rites employ a language and symbolism, chiselled out over centuries, to comfort the grief-stricken where ordinary words fail.
Thanks to our faith in the Communion of Saints we know that, despite death, we are still connected, even though we now have to relate to our deceased in a different way until we are reunited in eternity.”Most Rev Peter W Ingham DD Bishop of Wollongong
Knowing what to do next will help you and your family plan for the kind of ritual and farewell you would like.
It is best to contact the Parish Priest or parish office staff to arrange a meeting. They understand that this will be a difficult time of transition and will do their best to make the planning process as simple as possible.
Usually, arrangements for funerals are negotiated between the family, the parish and the funeral directors.
There are three main funeral rites available following the death of a member of the Catholic faith. You may choose one or more of these options. (detail below can be found on the Archdiocesan website)
Vigil for the Deceased
The first is the Vigil for the Deceased. The night before the funeral, family and friends may come together to pray in the presence of the deceased’s body. Eulogies may be delivered in remembrance of the loved one or the Rosary might be prayed. This may occur in the deceased person’s home, or the chapel of your parish church.
Funeral Liturgy or Mass
The Funeral Liturgy or Mass (includes Holy Communion) is a more formal gathering, led by a member of the clergy. Sometimes, a person may make decisions about their funeral Mass prior to their death. In other cases, family members may plan the funeral. This can include choosing the readings, prayers and hymns, the display of symbols significant to the deceased, and appointing appropriate people to act as ushers, greeters, readers or special ministers of the Eucharist. A homily is delivered during the Mass and a person close to the deceased may offer a short ‘Word of Remembrance’. The priest concludes the funeral by commending the deceased into God’s care.
It is important that you discuss with the parish priest your choices regarding prayers and music. Whilst the deceased may have had a favourite song, it is often not appropriate that secular music be played within a funeral Liturgy or Mass. Booklets containing the hymns and prayers are often a good way to include special photos, poems or other words of remembrance. Some funeral directors will offer this service, but again the parish office will be able to provide you with good advice regarding this and other local customs.
Rite of Commital
The final rite is the Rite of Committal. This takes place at the grave, tomb or crematorium, where the priest may offer a verse from scripture, the Lord’s Prayer and Prayers of Committal.