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christian burial


Life, death, and resurrection are sacramental mysteries we celebrate in the funeral rites. The focus is on baptism. We are baptized into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and our faith in this mystery motivates people arranging the funeral of a loved one.

The Mass of Christian Burial is the primary funeral service for Catholics. It should be planned with the help of the priest. There are some options such as having an evening Mass with interment the following morning, as well as a morning or afternoon funeral Mass followed by interment the same day.

A funeral Mass is held only in a Catholic Church--it may not be held in a funeral home's chapel. The Mass of Christian Burial is not permitted on Sundays, Holy Days, or the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, or Easter).

There is a special rite to be used at the funeral home and a rite of committal at the cemetery with a priest presiding. Some Catholics also ask for secondary services, such as a Rosary service or "Wake" using scripture readings, reflections, remembrance stories, and hymns. This secondary service is not to take the place of the liturgical rites of the Church.

It is the ancient Christian custom to bury or entomb the bodies of the dead. Cremation is permitted unless it is evident that cremation was chosen for anti-Christian motives. Cremains (ashes) may be brought into the church for the Mass of Christian Burial. Proper burial or entombment of cremains is required. Cremains are not to be scattered over the land or water, but are to be interred. This shows respect for the person who is a member of the Body of Christ through baptism.Contact the rectory as soon as a loved one dies to prepare the funeral Mass.

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