We recognize that Christ gave His life that all might have eternal life, and that His risen and glorified Body is the pattern of what we hope to become. We recall that through our Baptism we were welcomed into the Communion of Saints and can therefore continue to pray for one another even after death. For death is not an ending, but the beginning of a transformation into a glorious existence; the bonds forged by love in this life cannot be broken by death, for they have been taken up into that Love which loves until the end – and beyond.
While everyone knows that the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) made changes in the celebration of the Eucharist, the other sacraments and liturgies were revised as well. Among these was the Order of Christian Funerals, which saw substantial shifts in emphasis. Previously, the focus had been on God’s judgment, expressed above all in the ancient hymn Dies Irae – “Day of Wrath” – and the black vestments worn by the priest. In the reform the focus was shifted to the power of Christ’s Resurrection and our participation in it through our Baptism. This is symbolized by the priest’s white vestments (although purple and, yes, black, may still be worn), the Paschal Candle (the sign of the presence of the Risen Christ in the midst of the Church), the sprinkling of the casket with holy water as a reminder of Baptism, and the white pall placed on the casket (recalling how we are “clothed with Christ” at our Baptism),
In the funeral rites of the Church we commend the departed to God’s mercy, pray that we ourselves might be consoled and renewed in hope of eternal life, and thank God for whatever gifts and blessings our loved one received in this life. It also provides the opportunity to say a proper farewell. The Catholic funeral is structured in 3 parts. In the Vigil (or wake), we begin to accept the finality of death by viewing the body, gather as a community for mutual support and prayer, and share memories of the one we have lost. (The Vigil service is the most appropriate time for eulogies.) In the Funeral Mass, we pray for the forgiveness of the departed through the merits of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection. (A family member or friend may speak briefly about the life of the deceased at the Mass, but the focus here is on what God has done for us in Christ.) At the Committal (or burial), we commend our loved one to God as we take our leave in the hope of ultimate reunion in Heaven.
Although cremation is now permitted by the Church (as long as it is not viewed as a denial of the ultimate resurrection of the body), it is still preferred that the body of the deceased be present for the Funeral Mass if at all possible. It is through the body that we come to know a person; it is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, washed in the waters of Baptism and fed with the Body of Christ. The body is therefore treated with tremendous reverence – and so should the cremated remains of a body. The ashes should therefore be buried in a grave or columbarium, where a person’s memory may be enshrined, rather than kept in one’s home (who will take care of them in later years?), or scattered to the winds.
Please call the Parish Office, 904-641-5838, when a loved one has passed away to make arrangements for the Funeral Mass.
A list of Funeral Homes in our area:
Corey-Kerlin Funeral Home, 940 Cesery Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 904-744-8422
Corey-Kerlin Funeral Home, 1426 Rowe Ave. Jacksonville, FL 904-768-2598
Hardage Giddens, 11801 San Jose Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 904-288-0025
Quinn Shalz Funeral Home, 3600 Third Street S, Jacksonville Beach, FL 904-249-1100
“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this is to see what you believe.”
Remembering a Loved One
As you prepare for a Catholic Funeral Mass, it is important to remember that you are not alone. The following is a list of “things to know” as you begin your planning:
“The Christian funeral is a liturgical celebration of the Church. The ministry of the Church in this instance aims at expressing efficacious communion with the deceased, at the participation in that communion of the community gathered for the funeral, and at the proclamation of eternal life to the community.” (CCC #1684)
The Order of a Christian Burial
The Order of Christian Funerals is designed to remember the deceased in a loving and dignified way. There are three parts to a Christian Funeral:
- The Vigil
- The Funeral Mass
- The Rite of Committal/Burial
The Vigil is a time of acceptance of the end of the loved one’s earthly life, while remembering them amongst community.
It consists of a time to gather with friends and family, typically at a funeral home or church. During the Vigil, there will be readings from Sacred Scripture, prayers for the deceased, and an appropriate setting for sharing in remembrance of the deceased.
At the Funeral Mass, we pray for the repose of the soul of our loved one, our own consolation, and in thanksgiving to God for the gift of this life.
The Funeral Mass consists of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The celebrant shares a few remarks on the life of the deceased while focusing on the readings of the liturgy, God’s compassionate love and the Paschal mystery (Jesus’ death and resurrection). During the Mass, one friend or family member can have the opportunity to share briefly in remembrance about the deceased.
The Rite of Committal/ Burial is considered the final act of caring by the community for the deceased and their body. This is a time of farewell and hope. This is when individuals come to realize in a more meaningful way that the bonds of affection forged in this life are not broken by death. The Rite of Committal takes place at the gravesite after the funeral Mass.
Notes on Cremation
The Order of Christian Funerals, teaches us how important it is to keep in mind the dignity of the loved one, and the respect due to their mortal remains. After all, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” Our bodies are a gift that the Lord has given to us to cherish and take care of, including those of our loved ones. In knowing this, it helps one understand why cremation is not necessarily the first choice for the deceased. The Church realizes, though, that funerals can be quite expensive, so some may chose cremation.
If cremation does take place, the remains are to be honored properly, in a way similar to the reverence given to the body. This means that scattering, mixing, or separating the remains is prohibited in the Catholic tradition. The remains should be placed in a cemetery, columbarium, or some other reverent and proper place. It is important to not display the remains, for example, on a living room mantle, because the remains were a person, and deserve the memorial of a special place. It is natural for family and friends to visit a specific place in order to honor and remember a deceased loved one.
It is our hope at Holy Family to assist you in any way we can during times of loss.