The Order of Christian Funerals is a three-part ritual, with
Vigil (viewing), Funeral Mass, and Rite of Committal (internment). It is strongly encouraged that the Funeral Rites be conducted in the presence of the body of the deceased. This practice is most in accord with the sacred principles and rituals of the Christian Faith. However, the Mass of Christian Burial may also be celebrated with the cremains present in the church. Care should be taken that the cremated remains of the deceased are accorded proper respect through interment in blessed cemetery ground, or in a mausoleum. Any scattering of the cremains is not permitted, because of the reverence due the bodies and remains of the bodies of those who have been baptized and have been temples of the Holy Spirit.
The Vigil for the Deceased
The Vigil is usually celebrated at the funeral home. The parish funeral coordinator can arrange for a deacon to be present and assist with a scripture and/or rosary service. The vigil service is the most appropriate time for a eulogy or reflection, sharing of stories, etc., as opposed to during the Funeral Mass.
The Funeral Mass
The Mass is traditionally celebrated in the morning. The parish church is the proper place for the Mass of Christian Burial. For the Funeral Mass, Christian symbols (cross, bible, scapular, etc.) may be placed on the casket at the beginning of the Funeral Mass. All secular items, like flags or medals of Honor are important, but not part of the Funeral Mass. These secular and important symbols are removed at the church door and a pall placed over the casket. This symbolizes our unity in Christ through our baptism. Christian symbols are only used within a church. Flowers may be placed in the church. Photos and other items are normally displayed at the entrance to the church with the Book of Remembrance. A small table can be placed in the front of the altar for the cremains. Some families choose to have a picture and or flowers on the table with the urn. The parish funeral coordinator will help the family select songs, readings, and answer any questions about the details of the service.
The Rite of Committal
The Rite of Committal (internment or inurnment) is celebrated, at the cemetery, ending the three-part liturgy. If in town, the priest can accompany you to the cemetery for the Committal Service.