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Rite of Christian Funerals

:: Christian Funerals
It is with deep sympathy that we meet you on this occasion of the death of your loved one. You can be assured of the prayerful support of the community of St. Dominic’s now and in the days ahead. The Christian tradition that has been preserved in the Church continues to provide generation after generation with sacred ritual gestures and prayers that give us hope in our mourning. They are gestures that are fitting as we mark the transition from the earthly life that began with Christian baptism to the hope of eternal life in Christ after death. Family and friends may find comfort in the belief that Christ binds himself to those who mourn and rejoices with those who are called to eternal life. Christian death has traditionally been marked by three distinct gestures of prayer and ritual. It is customary for family and friends to gather on the evening (or afternoon) before the funeral to offer a simple set of prayers known as the Vigil (Wake) Service. On the following day the Funeral Mass takes place in the Church, and afterward, the family and friends process to the gravesite for the Rite of Committal. You will want to establish the times for these rituals as soon as possible after death (or even in preparation of an impending death in the family) by calling the parish office and speaking with one of the priests as soon as possible.
:: Vigil Service
The Vigil Service is usually conducted in the funeral home or in the parish church on the eve of the Funeral Mass. Here the faithful keeps watch with the family, remembering the deceased person’s life, praying to the God of mercy, and finding strength in Christ’s presence. The Vigil is a Scripture or Evening Prayer Service. The rosary or part of the rosary, may be prayed as well, but not as a replacement of the Vigil. This service is often the first gathering of the faithful and friends with the family, and it is the appropriate time for a family member or friend to remember the deceased with a eulogy.
:: Funeral Mass
The tradition of the Church has always been the celebration of the Funeral Mass with the body present. Christians respect and honor the body of the dead, which in Baptism becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Funeral Mass includes the reception of the body, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the Final Commendation and Farewell. Funeral Masses may now be celebrated in the presence of cremated remains. While eulogies by family members or friends are not permitted during the Funeral Mass (see Vigil Prayers), the priest will gladly meet with the family to incorporate memories of the deceased person’s life into the readings and homily selected for the Funeral Mass.
:: Rite of Committal
For the final disposition of the body, it is the ancient Christian custom to bury or entomb the bodies of the dead in a cemetery, which means a “resting place.” The Rite of Committal is the conclusion of the funeral rites and may be celebrated beside the open grave or place of interment. Here the faithful express their hope that, with those who have gone before marked with the sign of faith, the deceased awaits the glory of the resurrection and passes into the welcoming company of those who see God face to face.
:: Cremation
The Church strongly prefers that the body of the deceased be present for the funeral rites since the presence of the body clearly recalls the life and death of the person. It is the Church’s recommendation that if cremation of the body is to take place, it occurs following the Funeral Mass. However, if cremation takes place immediately after death, the Church now permits the cremated remains to be brought into church for the celebration of the funeral liturgy, including the Eucharist.
:: Final Disposition of The Body or Cremation Remains
Following the celebration of the Funeral Mass, the earthly remains of the deceased are to be reverently buried in a blessed grave or entombed in a mausoleum. The Church stresses that the cremated remains of the deceased are to be treated with the same respect given to the body, namely, they too should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum. The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, on the ground, or of keeping them in the home of a relative or friend is not appropriate for Catholics.
:: Catholic Cemeteries
In the Archdiocese of Toronto we are pleased to offer a number of Catholic Cemeteries in which we give special remembrance to our beloved deceased by ensuring proper honour and respect are given to their earthly remains, while maintaining these services at or below market cost. In addition, weekly and annual Masses for the Faithful Departed are celebrated for the souls of all the beloved dead who are buried in our cemeteries. Our local cemetery is Assumption Cemetery at Tomken and Derry Roads, Mississauga and can be reached at (905) 670-8801.