In these three sequential rites, Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church offers to those who are mourning a way to prepare themselves spiritually and emotionally to say their goodbyes.
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The Vigil (Wake)
At the Vigil, the Christian community keeps watch over the family in prayer to the God of mercy and finds strength in Christ’s presence. The Catholic Vigil is a prayer service, usually held the evening before the funeral. The community of friends and family will usually gather for a service at the funeral home.
The Funeral Mass
The core of the Catholic funeral celebration is the Mass. The Eucharist is at the center of the Catholic faith – the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Scripture readings and prayer also play a prominent role in the Catholic funeral service, along with songs, hymns, and a brief message. The Mass, the memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection, is the principal celebration of the Christian funeral. While following the directives of the Church’s ritual in planning the liturgical celebration, the choice of music, color of vestments, biblical readings, and homily should reflect the family’s wishes, while emphasizing as well the community aspect of faith which remains unbroken in death.
The casket remains closed during the Funeral Mass and should be covered with a white pall in remembrance of the baptismal garment. In addition to its liturgical significance, the pall serves a very practical purpose: it avoids ostentation, prevents possible embarrassment of the poor and emphasizes Christians’ equality before God.
The Rite of Committal (Burial/Interment)
In the Catholic faith, there is great respect for the body. Catholics believe that the body is “the temple of the Lord” and that at the End of Days, there will be a resurrection of the body. This service at the cemetery is the last farewell, in which the Christian community honors one of its members before the body is buried or entombed. With priest and mourners accompanying the body to the cemetery, the rite is celebrated at the grave or tomb or in a cemetery committal chapel. Whenever possible, those who were part of the Catholic community are buried in a Catholic cemetery. As well as being a sacred place, it recalls the community of all the faithful, living and deceased. When a Catholic is to be interred in other than a Catholic cemetery, the priest will bless the individual space and then follow the usual ritual.
For More Information
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