Chapter 13. Our Eternal Destiny • 159
tion and care to help them live their last moments in dignity and peace.
They will be helped by the prayer of their relatives, who must see to it
that the sick receive at the proper time the sacraments that prepare them
to meet the living God” (CCC, no. 2299).
Not only do we care for the dying to help them pass their final
moments in dignity and peace, but we also maintain reverence for their
bodies once they are deceased. “The bodies of the dead must be treated
with respect and charity, in faith and in the hope of the Resurrection.
The burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy [cf. Tb 1:16-18]; it
honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit” (CCC,
no. 2300). The rituals accompanying respect for the dead include the
funeral vigil (wake), the funeral itself, and the burial of the body or
the cremated remains of the deceased at the cemetery. Participation in
these rites enables friends and others to demonstrate reverence for the
deceased, to pray together for the eternal repose of the deceased, and to
give the family of the deceased prayerful support.
The Christian funeral liturgy tells us that life is changed, not ended.
Funerals are acts of faith. In the dialogue between Martha and Jesus
just before the raising of Lazarus, Jesus tells her, “Your brother will rise
again.” She replies, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the
last day.” Jesus then identifies himself as the Resurrection and the Life,
and asks her, “Do you believe this?” She responds, “Yes, Lord, I have
come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (cf. Jn 11:17-
27). We express this same belief at Christian funerals. Jesus, who walks
with us through all our other events in life, is present at our funerals,
the liturgy of the passage from death to eternal life. Arrangements for a
funeral need to include a Mass and burial in a Catholic cemetery when-
It is preferable that the body be buried in a Catholic cemetery or
columbarium (repository for cremated remains) consecrated for this
purpose. We bury the body or the cremated remains of a person once