The Catholic Funeral Rites in the Order of Christian Funerals (1989) are celebrations that enable the Christian community to mourn as well as to hope by focusing on the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ. These guidelines are offered to assist in effectively preparing the funeral rites with individuals and families.

Understanding Death - A Christian Perspective

Death and passing on to eternal life are mysteries at the center of the Church’s belief. Although American culture generally recoils from death and tries to deny it, “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.” (Order of Christian Funerals, #1)

Celebration of the Church

Christian funerals are not private observances, but celebrations of the whole Body of Christ, in which, “Christians celebrate the funeral rites to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the gift of life which has now been returned to God, the author of life and the hope of the just.” (Order of Christian Funerals, #5) Therefore these rites are celebrated with appropriate choices of music, readings, gestures, and decorations that are consistent with a Catholic understanding of death. “The celebration of the Christian funeral brings hope and consolation to the living. While proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and witnessing to Christian hope in the resurrection, the funeral rites also recall to all who take part in them God’s mercy and judgment and meet the human need to turn always to God in times of crisis.” (Order of Christian Funerals, #7)

Funeral Planning

There are occasions when a Catholic person dies before they share with family members or friends their wishes concerning a funeral and burial. In such a case, the person may be buried without a Catholic funeral or even before the parish knows of the death. In order that family, friends, and your parish understand your wishes in regard to the Funeral Rites of the Catholic Church, please prayerfully consider the information and questions provided in this planning workbook. A representative from the Cathedral Basilica Parish will be happy to meet with you and any family members to explain the rites and the choices that are available. Please call the main office at 314-373-8202.

Funeral Rites of the Catholic Church:

Vigil (Wake)
Funeral Liturgy
Rite of Committal (Burial or Interment)
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