The Order of Christian Funerals │ by Deacon Marc

The Order of Christian Funerals

Denver CO Funeral Home And Cremations

When I was 14, one of my closest friends passed away.  I was confused.  I was angry.  I didn’t know what to expect.  Thankfully, I had my parents to walk me through and support me through the journey.  I can remember vividly walking into the funeral home as a 14 year old boy.  I showed no emotion.  My mind was swirling.  I was thankful to see my friend one last time.   I did begin to find some joy when we were led in prayer by a priest which was followed by sharing stories.  I spoke about the times we went camping and the mentoring he provided me as a young scout.  The following day, we then went to the Catholic Church were we celebrated the Mass.  I can remember my friend being wheeled in his casket down the long aisle.  Within the Mass, my feelings all came to a head and this 14 year old strong boy started to cry, really cry.  I finally allowed myself to surrender in the presence of God to all the emotions I was feeling.  As he was carried out of the Church, I can clearly remember singing the hymn “On Eagles Wings” and asking God to help strengthen me.  We left the church and began the procession to the cemetery.  At the cemetery, the crying continued but I received comfort when the priest explained we were going to trust my friend to God.   The parents wanted to witness his final placement privately.  Therefore, after we finished the prayers, everyone started to leave.  I was one of the last.  I walked up and tapped on his casket twice asking God to care for my friend and to strengthen me.   It was not long after that final goodbye that the tears dried up.  I went to the reception where we continued to share memories of my friend.

Unbeknownst to me, at that time, I experienced the beauty of the Order of Christian Funerals and its three parts.  The church has the tradition of walking individuals through three distinct parts:  the Vigil, the Funeral Liturgy (typically a Funeral Mass), and the Committal.   These parts represent a journey from the home, to the church, and then to the cemetery.  These parts all include time for prayer and to varying degrees time to remember the individual who passed away.  Each of these traditions is designed to help individuals spiritually and psychologically move through the experience of losing someone and transitioning to a new way of life without that person.  The practices of the Order of Christian Funerals are built on many years of tradition, scripture, and Church teachings.   Hence, there is great wisdom and beauty in this practice.

While there is great beauty and wisdom in the Order of Christian Funerals, our world today does not always embrace this tradition.  As a society today, we often want things done quickly.  All too often I see families combining the three parts so that they take place back, to back, to back.  In other cases, individuals will skip one or more parts.  In doing so, individuals are often not only robbing themselves of opportunities to grow through this process both spiritually and psychologically, but in many cases they are foregoing graces for themselves and the deceased.  I am so thankful I was able to experience the Order of Christian Funerals when my friend passed away.  I was able to say goodbye to my friend, grow in love for God, and embrace a faith-filled community.   It was truly an experience of filling the void of loss with faith.

Deacon Marc Nestorick
Outreach Manager
Catholic Funeral & Cemetery Services of Colorado

For more information, visit our website: https://cfcscolorado.org/services/funeral/

Stations of a Catholic Funeral – Part 4: The Rite of Committal – Funeral Facts with Deacon Marc

Below is a transcript the the video:

We’ve been going through a journey where we started talking about why we have funerals and the four basic reasons why we have funerals; that worshipping God, thanking God for his love and mercy, for asking God’s graces to fill that void that we have with faith, and then finally to pray for that person who passed away.

And then we talked about the fact that there are three stages or stations to the right of Christian funerals, and we talked about the vigil, we talked about the funeral liturgy which is the funeral mass the source and summit of our faith, and then today we’re talking about that final stage the committal.

The committal is a very powerful time it’s that time where we are saying goodbye to the loved one for that final time and turning it that loved one over to God in their final resting place in most cases the committals held right where that person is going to be laid to rest and so there are times when it can’t be you have pouring down rain you have snow hail whatever it may be sometimes the presider won’t end or the family will say let’s hold it inside the building and then we’ll move to that place to final rest and place the person in the ground or in that fault or niche or whatever it may be but for the most part that committal is held right at graveside or right at that point of the person being placed in that in a niche where they’ll have that final resting place.

There are two forms of a committal there’s the right of committal and then there’s also the right of committal with commendation so if the person didn’t have a funeral liturgy didn’t have a commendation at the funeral liturgy that can be done at the committal time as well but for the most part most people have that liturgy and we’re doing the right of committal and so we’ll talk about that today.

The committal has a couple of different pieces to it there’s the introductory right where we talk and welcome people to the right and we really talk about the fact that we’re here for two reasons one again to pray for that person passed away and secondly to pray for ourselves and ask God to fill us at this time of trouble that this time where many of us are feeling a lot of pain.

We’ll then have a very brief scripture verse just to ground ourselves back into scripture and a scripture verse that we read and then there’ll be a prayer of over that place of final commitment and oftentimes that location will be sprinkled with holy water and blessed at that point in time if it is not already blessed.

After we have the prayer of the place of final rest that is where traditionally the person is laid to rest so if the person is a traditional burial that casket will be lowered into their place or if they’re being placed in a niche the person will be placed in the nitche and door will be placed over in front of it.

That can also be done at the end of the right for pastoral reasons if it’s believed it’s best to do so at that time but in a lot of ways it makes sense to do it here because then after that final committal of that person into the ground or into their place of rest then there is the Lord’s prayer, there’s a final prayer for the individual and then there is the blessing of those that are there and so it kind of does bring closure to the whole right by having that committal of the body take place right there in the middle.

And so, you have some opening prayers the committal of the body and then some closing prayers and the blessing at the end. People always ask, “should we stay for that committal body into the final resting place?” and I always highly encourage it.

The reason being is we are physical psychological beings and we’re spiritual beings as well and that seeing that person laid into the ground or put into the nitche has a very powerful impact in helping us in those four components that we’ve talked about regularly about why do we have funerals and so being present therefore that is highly recommended and highly impactful in most cases as well but it’s also understandable as to why people wouldn’t be there for that

And so, it all does come down to why do we have the right of Christian funerals? why do we have a committal? We have a committal because we’re going to thank God for his love, we’re going to worship him and we’re going to ask God to fill us with his graces through this right, and then finally we’re praying for that person on their journey.

That is our funeral facts this week with Deacon Marc make it a great week and May God bless you.

 

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