Holy Family Catholic Church at 9800 Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32256 US - Funerals
One of the major liturgical reforms resulting from the Second Vatican Council (aside from the Mass, of course!) was the revision of the Order of Christian Funerals. Previously, the emphasis 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 Paschal Candle (the sign of the presence of the Risen Christ in the midst of the Church), the white pall placed on the casket (recalling how we are “clothed with Christ” at our Baptism), and the sprinkling of the casket with holy water as the minister speaks the words, “In the waters of Baptism N. died with Christ and rose with Him to new life. May he/she now share with Him eternal glory.”
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 the 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 Christ’s Passion and Resurrection. (A family member or friend may speak briefly about the life of the deceased at the end of the Mass.) 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. They should therefore be buried in a grave or columbarium, where a person’s memory may be enshrined, rather than keptin one’s home (who will take care of them in later years?), or scattered to the winds.
In this month of November, we remember in a special way all those who have gone before us. 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.
When a loved dies, please contact the Parish Office to arrange for an appointment with the Priest to begin Funeral Liturgy planning, 904-641-5838 or firstname.lastname@example.org.