Catholic Belief and Guidelines for Funerals and Burial of Loved Ones

Last Sunday the Gospel spoke about burying the dead. The Church teaches that burying the dead, or assisting and comforting those who have lost loved ones, is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy.

Our Catholic belief in the Resurrection of the Body, as well as our recognition of the value of praying for the deceased, leads to certain expectations regarding funerals and proper burial or disposition of the body of the deceased.

The day of the burial, there is usually a Funeral Mass at the church or a Liturgy of the Word service at the chapel beforehand. (In our Diocese the celebration of the Mass is not allowed in a Funeral Chapel.)

Cremation is becoming more and more an option today. The Catholic Church prefers a full body burial, but does accept cremation, as long as there is going to be a proper burial. The cremated remains (also called “cremains”) are to be treated with the same respect as the body. The cremated remains should be disposed of in a designated cemetery, not left on the fireplace hearth, or other non-permanent location. The ashes are not to be scattered, either on land or at sea, though dropping an urn in the ocean is acceptable. The donation of bodies for scientific research is permitted by the church. However, in keeping with the respect for the body, there should be reasonable assurance of the remains will be disposed of in a reverent manner upon completion of the research.

At the time of death, the church office should be contacted to arrange for the funeral service. A family member (or members) will usually meet with me to plan the Liturgy; it can also be arranged by email if helpful. The Funeral Liturgy can also be planned in advance.

Making one’s own preparations for the Rite of Christian Burial in advance is a gift of the heart to our loved ones. In making our own preparations, we want to guarantee that your Catholic beliefs are recognized and honored when it comes to our final wishes.

Here at St. Catherine’s we are blessed with an active Bereavement Committee, led by Belle Grubbs. The committee assists with the Funeral Liturgy, and the reception afterwards, if there is one. They also send condolence cards to the family. For more information contact the Bereavement Ministry – Belle Grubbs (858) 279-6245.