The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and participation in the feast of the
Kingdom which was anticipated in the Eucharist—even if final
purifications are still necessary for him in order to be clothed with
the nuptial garment.
The Church who, as Mother, has borne the Christian sac-
ramentally in her womb during his earthly pilgrimage, accompa-
nies him at his journey’s end, in order to surrender him “into the
Father’s hands.” She offers to the Father, in Christ, the child of his
grace, and she commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body
that will rise in glory.
This offering is fully celebrated in the
Eucharistic sacrifice; the blessings before and after Mass are sacra-
The Christian funeral is a liturgical celebration of the Church. The
ministry of the Church in this instance aims at expressing efficacious
at the participation in that communion of
gathered for the funeral, and at the proclamation of eternal
life to the community.
The different funeral rites express the
tian death and are in keeping with the situations and traditions of each
region, even as to the color of the liturgical vestments worn.
Order of Christian Funerals
) of the Roman
liturgy gives three types of funeral celebrations, corresponding to the three
places in which they are conducted (the home, the church, and the ceme-
tery), and according to the importance attached to them by the family, local
customs, the culture, and popular piety. This order of celebration is
common to all the liturgical traditions and comprises four principal ele-
The greeting of the community.
A greeting of faith begins the cele-
bration. Relatives and friends of the deceased are welcomed with a word of
“consolation” (in the New Testament sense of the Holy Spirit’s power in
The community assembling in prayer also awaits the “words of
eternal life.” The death of a member of the community (or the anniversary of
a death, or the seventh or thirtieth day after death) is an event that should lead
beyond the perspectives of “this world” and should draw the faithful into the
true perspective of faith in the risen Christ.
The liturgy of the Word during funerals demands very careful
preparation because the assembly present for the funeral may include
some faithful who rarely attend the liturgy, and friends of the deceased
who are not Christians. The homily in particular must “avoid the literary