Death is swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
—1 Corinthians 15:54–55, NABRE
The introduction to the Order of Christian Funerals (OCF), which is the ritual book that prescribes how the Church celebrates funerals, says:
“In the face of death, the Church confidently proclaims that God has created each person for eternal life and that Jesus, the Son of God, by his Death and Resurrection, has broken the chains of sin and death that bound humanity” (no. 1).
As Christians, we believe that because of Christ’s resurrection, death has no power over the baptized. Baptism gives us a share in the promise of eternal life.
The introduction of the OCF then reminds us that “Through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, men and women are initiated into” Christ’s paschal mystery; that is, his passion, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven (no. 2). Our first death comes in the waters of baptism where we die with Christ; our old self is washed away, and we rise from the waters as new creations. As members of his Body, we share intimately in the Christ’s life, and throughout our lives, our relationship with Christ is deepened and strengthened every time we share at the Eucharistic table. The second death, our earthly death, is a birth into new life; our sharing in the fullness of Christ’s resurrection.
When a loved one dies, there is bewilderment, grief, and pain. The community of faith has the responsibility to accompany those who mourn with prayer and a consoling presence. As a member of the Body of Christ, the deceased, lived and prayed in this community of faith, this family; there is a longing to care for our sister or brother as they pass from this life to the next.
The OCF continues:
“The Church through its funeral rites commends the dead to God’s merciful love and pleads for the forgiveness of their sins. . . Though separated from the living, the dead are still at one with the community of believers on earth and benefit from their prayers and intercessions” (no. 6).
“The celebration of the Christian funeral brings hope and consolation to the living” (no. 7).
When a member of our community dies, the parish family is ready to accompany you and all those who loved the deceased.
The funeral rites within the Catholic tradition consist of three stations or ritual moments:
All three ritual moments “follow a natural movement from death to committal. . . . Throughout the ritual process, the church is present in prayer and faith as it raises to memory the life of the deceased and the memory of its own story—that of Jesus, who has made the journey from death to life” (Margaret Smith, Facing Death Together: Parish Funerals [Chicago, Liturgy Training Publications, 1998], 24–25).
For more information on each ritual moment click on the links below.
Resources for Funeral Preparations
Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled: The Catholic Understanding of Death and Eternal Life
Eternal Rest in the Lord: Preparing the Liturgy of the Word at Catholic Funerals
Now and at the Hour of Our Death: Instructions for My Medical Treatment, Finances, and Funeral
If you are arranging a funeral, please contact the parish office at (773) 324–2626.