A Catholic funeral, like all funerals, is a time of sadness and mourning. However, in the Catholic faith there is joy in the belief that a funeral represents the passing of the beloved into eternal life. The Catholic Church has many traditions concerning funerals and funeral preparation.
The Order of Christian Funerals (OCF) and its Appendix on Cremation contain the Catholic Church’s official ritual prayer at death. These rituals are used at All Souls Catholic Church.
I. Vigil (within a time of Visitation or Wake)
The Vigil is the first time the Church gathers the grieving, surrounding them with faithful prayer. The Vigil prayer joins family and friends in turning to God. Comfort and support come to the family and those who feel this death most keenly. So much happens informally as memories and stories are shared and relationships renewed. Tears mingled with smiles make it a bittersweet time, but of great comfort.
Adequate time should be allotted for the visitation. It can be held at the parish church or at a funeral home, either the night before or the day of the Funeral Mass. If the visitation is held immediately before the Funeral Mass or Funeral Service, there is no Vigil prayer.
The Rosary, other devotions, or fraternal organization ceremonies can be part of the visitation, but cannot substitute for Church’s Vigil liturgy.
II. Funeral Mass (or Funeral Liturgy without Mass)
Celebrating the Funeral Mass in All Souls Church or Historic Chapel is the central act of worship in the OCF. The Eucharist is our earthly foretaste of the heavenly banquet, where we shall feast with Jesus and all the holy ones in eternal life. Even in the presence of death, we proclaim life…life through God’s Word and life in Jesus’ Body & Blood. For Jesus said, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall live forever. (John 6:54) Christ’s Paschal Mystery releases us from the power of sin and death. The dead are not forsaken, but embraced in life. The living faithful and the faithful departed join together in praising God, praying for a renewal of mercy and compassion.
The family expresses faith and finds consolation not by passively submitting to sadness, but by actively participating in hope: clothing the casket with the pall, selecting the Scripture readings and liturgical music, serving as greeters, lectors, gift bearers, servers, musicians, vocalists or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. The signs of Resurrection (baptismal water, candle, pall, white vestments, “Alleluias” and incense) fill the Mass. Listening, singing throughout, speaking the responses and, most especially, receiving Holy Communion resist death’s work to still and quiet the living. The All Souls Bereavement Ministry meets with the loved ones beforehand to choose the readings, etc.
The preferred funeral celebration is the Mass. At times, however, the nature of the deceased’s relationship to the Catholic Church may make it more appropriate to have a Funeral Liturgy without Mass at a Funeral Home. A Funeral Mass is not to be celebrated at a Funeral Home.
III. Rite of Committal (at the cemetery)
The Rite of Committal, the final liturgy of the OCF, should be prayed at the place of burial in the cemetery. It is a leave-taking… a committing of human remains to the place of eventual resurrection. The deceased has completed an earthly journey. The living make this last journey to that final place. Though they must continue their life journey without this loved one.
Why is the cemetery important? All Souls Catholic Cemetery is a place of honor and respect for the dead… a memorial to all buried there… a sacred place to express grief and hope through prayer and visitation… consecrated ground for those whose bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit and now await the call to resurrection. It is for this reason that ashes of the deceased are always to be buried in the ground or placed in a niche at a cemetery.
A representative of the Church is a great source of consolation in leading this prayer. If a priest or deacon is unable to preside at the Committal, a trained prayer leader may represent the parish community.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS FOR FUNERAL & BURIAL
I. “Drop off” at the cemetery
Family and friends should accompany the deceased to the cemetery for burial. It is becoming more common for a funeral home employee to simply “drop off” the deceased at the cemetery with no one present, no prayer offered. An evening funeral may have preceded and there was a sense of conclusion, but sometimes no services were conducted. But, no one should be buried without the company of caring people. Family or friends should make the effort to accompany the deceased to the cemetery. The Rite of Committal is to always be prayed prior to burial.
II. Omitting and shortening the Funeral Rites
Death is never convenient. Today people strive to reduce the inconvenience when they omitted, shortened and truncated the Funeral Rites to fill two or three hours…no more. People avoid death and minimize its impact by wanting to “get on with their lives.” However, taking time to gather for common grieving and to mourn the loss through meaningful rituals and prayers has spiritual and emotional value. There is a tested wisdom and human rightness to it. Shortening the visitation, perhaps omitting the Funeral Mass and not going to the cemetery are becoming more common. The time, experience, expense and feelings are all legitimate and honest. But to opt for less is less. Hurrying can hinder or delay appropriate grieving.
III. The role of music in the Funeral Rites
The OCF notes that music is "integral to the funeral rites." Hymns and songs help express Christian hope, console those who mourn and point us to the Paschal Mystery of Christ's saving death and resurrection. Music should be part of each of the three major ritual moments: the Vigil, the Funeral Mass and the Rite of Committal. Music or songs that are not liturgical or appropriate for the rites can be included at times apart from the funeral rites, for example during the wake or after the committal service at the cemetery. Our All Souls Parish musician assists in choosing fitting music from the many appropriate compositions. Solos and recordings do not belong in the Rites.
IV. The Homily & Words in Remembrance
The homily is important within the Funeral Mass. A priest or a deacon delivers a homily, since liturgical homilies are part of the sacramental rite of the Eucharist. Based on the Scriptures just proclaimed, the homily speaks of the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection and gives the deeper meaning to the experience of death and dying. Because the homily is more significant, the priest should not be asked to deliver a eulogy.
The OCF allows a family member or friend to offer words in remembrance of the deceased within the Vigil service or the Funeral Mass. Even so, this is not a time for a eulogy. Liturgy always speaks of the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection, the source of deepest meaning in life. So, anything said within liturgical prayer should reflect on the grace and goodness of God first and then life of the deceased in that context.
Because of the sensitivity of these moments, the reflection should be written ahead of time. The words of remembrance should be no more than three minutes and submitted in writing to the priest celebrant of the Mass. Extended, irreverent and solely entertaining speeches are not appropriate.
There is a natural desire to say good things about the deceased after death. A eulogy is speaking in praise of someone. Words of eulogy, although not fitting within prayer, could be presented outside of one of the rites when family and friends are gathered.
The Catholic Church prefers full body burial in consecrated ground. However, since 1963, Catholics may choose cremation. Cremation is allowed as long as there is no intentional denial of the resurrection of the body. Yet, the choice to cremate is not the final choice. Cremated remains must be placed in a cemetery where the Christian faithful are buried. The burial of cremated remains should be reverent, public, accessible and marked.
Cremated remains should be placed in a cemetery — a grave or a niche — as soon as possible. The Church prefers cremation after the Vigil and Funeral Mass, (indirect cremation). Cremation immediately after death (direct cremation) is permissible with only the cremated remains present at the funeral rites. Cremated remains are not to be kept or handled differently than a body. The Catholic Church does not permit cremated remains to be scattered over water or placed in some favorite place because this is the remainder of a human person. The need to customize or personalize burial rituals should not lead to unusual and disrespectful cremation placements or practices.
VI. Special burial situations
A. Care for miscarriages
All life is sacred. The remains of fetuses or still-born infants are to be given reverent burial. Families can choose private arrangements after a miscarriage. All Souls Catholic Cemetery will work with families to provide burial space for pre-born children at little or no cost. Likewise, funeral directors are experienced in helping with burial arrangements after at such an untimely loss.
B. Donation of body organs or the whole body
Moved by charity, Catholics may donate their whole bodies or organs from their bodies. The only requirement is proper, reverent cemetery placement of any remains that are eventually returned afterward. The family of a donor should celebrate a Memorial Mass after the person's death. The Rite of Committal with Final Commendation (OCF, nos. 224-233) may conclude with suitable prayers.
C. Charitable burials
Burial in All Souls Catholic Cemetery is available to every Catholic who is entitled to a Christian burial. Inability to meet the cemetery costs is no deterrent to Christian burial. When financial hardship is present, the parish priest, the funeral director or the family should contact our parish office. All Souls Catholic Cemetery, perhaps in conjunction with public agencies, can provide charitable assistance. Dignity and respect ought not be withheld in death for those who were poor.
VII. Advance Planning for funeral and burial
Death is certain. The time and place of death are not. For many reasons, advance planning for funeral and burial is best. It avoids handling dozens of details under the emotional weight of sorrow. Pre-planning avoids overspending due to grief, while allowing preferences and choices to be clearly fulfilled. Planning secures a desired location in All Souls Catholic Cemetery.
VIII. What is a “home parish”?
A death may leave a family wondering where to turn for a parish. Conditions might exist: inactive membership, a remarriage without an annulment, a new parish priest, a relocation after retirement or residency with family or in healthcare institution. Does a parish membership end then? No, a parish is a faith home. Like a gentle and welcoming Mother, a parish supports families in a time of loss and uncertainty. So, families should initiate contact with a parish, preferably the home parish of the deceased. Even if physically apart from the parish for years, a sort of “honorary” membership endures. Children who have no attachment to the Catholic Church or with any church should not avoid or minimize this parish relationship by the deceased. It may be a time to heal or renew broken or strained relationships.
All Souls Catholic Cemetery is one of the few Catholic Cemeteries in the area. People from all parishes are welcome.
All Souls Catholic Cemetery
Our faith in the Resurrection of Christ does not prevent physical death. We need to live well and give consideration to the manner and location of burial .All Souls Catholic Cemetery is located on the south side of State Highway 46A (25th Street) east of Hardy Avenue (about 3000 west).
The risk taken by Joseph of Arimathea to claim the body of Jesus after his death on the cross shows the respect Christians have for the human body. God not only created us in the fullness of our humanity, but also sent his Son to take on our body and our nature.
Being in the image and likeness of God makes our bodies innately honorable. Look as well at the elaborate efforts, again risking arrest and death, of the Christians living in persecuting Rome. They worshipped underground and buried their dead in catacombs.
At this time All Souls Catholic Cemetery offers two burial options: burial of bodily remains and cremated remains. In the future we will also offer niches in a columbarium for cremated remains. While respecting your preferences — personal, familial, emotional, financial and spiritual — we will guide you with full, unhurried, in-depth disclosure so you can make prudent and informed choices.
Regardless of the burial option chosen, it is important to understand that All Souls Catholic Cemetery is not selling real estate. Actually, a purchaser is acquiring rights to burial space, assuming complete control over all immediate and future burial decisions. The space is continuously owned and maintained All Souls Parish and the Diocese of Orlando, providing firm, long-term stability. Contracts, supporting paperwork and policy establish ownership and control of these rights, even through changing generations of family.
Burial Option 1: Graves: Interment
Background: A Better Understanding
In the second account of creation in the Book of Genesis (2:4-25), God breathed life into the clay of the earth to not only form, but also enliven human beings in the divine image. (The Hebrew word for "human" means "breathing clay.")
The prayer of the Church refers to earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust when burying the faithful. It is a natural and normal process to return to the earth from which we are made. This return to the earth is the essence of in-ground burial customs. The practice is deeply embedded in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Burial in the earth has close connections with the natural process of planting, growing, reaping and lastly death. There is a certain trust in placing a seed in the earth; we abandon and bury a seed believing in the warmth of the sun, the nutrients of the soil and the moisture of timely rains. Jesus said, Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit (John 12:24).
All Souls Catholic Cemetery has provided for in-ground burial services uninterrupted in Sanford since the parish’s founding. In-ground interment remains a traditional choice for the area's Christian faithful.
An outer burial container or vault is required for all casket burials; it is not included in the cost of the grave or burial service fee.
All Souls Catholic Cemetery requires adequate and dignified memorialization for all burials. We can help you provide a granite or bronze memorial. Other special memorialization, such as permanent vases with floral arrangements, granite etchings and photo ceramics, is available additional expense.
Families are often keenly aware of other members already interred in a cemetery and want burial space near them. We are as accommodating as possible.
All Souls Catholic Cemetery reserves a portion of every grave sale, even beyond state requirements, in a special endowment (perpetual) care fund to assure preservation of these sacred burial grounds and maintain their continued operation.
The memorial of flush marker graves must remain level with the ground. Decorations may be placed in a permanent in-ground vase. A marker may include more than one grave. All the graves in Sections A, B, and C are flush marker graves.
The memorial of raised marker graves can rise out of the ground. Raised marker and monument privileges are possible in Sections 1 and 2 of All Souls Cemetery. Annual or perennial plantings are allowed on three sides of the memorial, as well as permanent in-ground vases.
A completed Burial Rights Assignment Form is the best way for an original owner (a married couple exercises joint ownership) or their heirs to clearly define whether a burial space will be used for full-body burial or cremated remains, and by whom.
For information on purchase costs, please call Mary Valente at 407-322-3795 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Burial Option 2: Cremation & Inurnment
Background: A Better Understanding
From 1886 to 1963 the practice of cremation was forbidden for Roman Catholics around the world. In the spirit of Vatican Council II (1962-1965), the practice was restored in 1963. Nevertheless, over 40 years later, uncertainty regarding cremation remains prevalent.
Yes, Catholics can choose to be cremated. The revised Code of Canon Law (1983) states — The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons, which are contrary to Christian teaching (Canon 1176, paragraph 3). Obviously, denial of the Resurrection of the body or an attachment to non-Christian (secular or religious) beliefs would be contrary to Christian teaching.
Going back into Christian history and tradition, the Church has always expressed a preference for full-body burial, whether above-ground or in-ground. The risk taken by Joseph of Arimathea to claim the body of Jesus after his death on the cross shows the respect Christians have for the human body.
God not only created us in the fullness of our humanity, but also sent his Son to take on our body and our nature. Being made in the image and likeness of God makes our bodies innately honorable.
Look as well at the elaborate efforts, again risking arrest and death, of the Christians living in persecuting Rome. They worshipped underground and buried their dead in catacombs, over 300 miles of excavated tunnels and caverns.
Actually, the Church did not have difficulty with the process of reducing a human body to its component parts by fire, as much as with the internal attitudes or beliefs often underlying this external action.
Why did Catholics move away from cremation? Three reasons stand out. The basic reason was faith in the resurrection of the body. As such, there was a great respect for the member of the Body of Christ and temple of the Holy Spirit. Another cause was a strong response to persecutors’ burning of bodies as a taunt against belief in the Resurrection.
What was behind the shift in today’s approach towards cremation? Many times cremations seemed reasonable as when the remains had to be transported great distances or financial, ecological or space considerations were paramount. Other reasons were national or ethnic customs, concerns about burial, and even personal preferences or choice made on behalf of another.
The cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they come. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes, the manner in which they are carried, the care and attention to appropriate placement and transport, and the final disposition. The cremated remains should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium. The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires. Whenever possible, appropriate means for recording with dignity the memory of the deceased should be adopted, such as a plaque or stone which records the name of the deceased.
— Reflections on the Body, Cremation and Catholic Funeral Rites
Statement by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, 1997, paragraph 417
Although cremation has moved from "forbidden" to "acceptable" for faithful Catholics, there is a need for further reflection on the reasons for choosing cremation and the consequences for the Christian funeral and burial. For example:
Too many cremated remains linger in closets or basements, on shelves or tables. The decision to cremate is not the final decision about someone's funeral plans.
Mingling, dividing up, scattering on water or land are not in keeping with the Church's teaching. Burial at sea means placing the cremated remains of your loved one into the deep within a container, not scattering atop the water.
Putting cremated remains into a locket or using them a "raw material" to create an object is not proper. Sometimes the short-term desire for a "send-off" that is customized and personalized overwhelms a long-term view based on remembrance, visitation and prayer.
A proper way to celebrate a funeral with the cremation would follow one of the following.
If the cremation and the final placement must precede the funeral rites — this may result when burial occurs in a remote location. An un-recovered body and a body donated to science present similar cases. In these situations, a memorial gathering, often with full celebration of the Mass following a time of visitation, may be planned for family and friends to honor the deceased and to strengthen the living.
If the cremation is done after the funeral liturgy — The Church prefers delaying the cremation until after the Mass of Christian Burial. This is accomplished by renting a casket with a removable liner for the Vigil and Funeral Mass. This allows the presence of the body and all the power it conveys. The mourners might even be able to journey with the body to the crematory. In any event, there should be a gathering after the cremation for the Rite of Committal when the cremated remains are placed in a cemetery or mausoleum. The cremation by itself, in the eyes of the Church, is not adequate final disposition of the body of a believer.
If the cremation is done before the funeral liturgy — sometimes a cremation cannot be delayed until the funeral rites have been celebrated. All the rites of the Order of Christian Funerals can still be celebrated accordingly. Cremated remains in a worthy vessel are to be treated with respect and dignity because they are the remains of a human person. While a picture of the deceased may be used during the visitation and Vigil, it is not appropriate during the Funeral Mass when the remains are placed in the sanctuary; much like a casket is closed during a Funeral Mass. Holy water and incense may be used to reverence the remains and the Easter candle burns nearby.
Grave Considerations for Inurnment
All Souls Catholic Cemetery subscribes to the following principles for disposition of cremated remains and has enacted these specific placement regulations and general policies to insure that cremated remains are buried in a place that provides for distinguished and adequate memorialization of the deceased —
Two cremation urns can be placed in a full-sized grave.
One cremation urn can be placed in a partial-sized grave.
We do not recommend the placement of an urn inside a casket.
We do not place urns on top of an existing casket or cremated remains burial.
We do not place urns in any space not designated or consecrated as burial space.
An outer cremation vault is required for all in-ground burials; it is not included in the cost of the grave or burial service fee.
A completed Burial Rights Assignment Form is the best way for an original owner (a married couple exercises joint ownership) or their heirs to clearly define whether a burial space will be used for full-body burial or cremated remains, and by whom. This Form can be completed with no charge by contacting the Cemetery Office.
Niche Considerations for Inurnment
Cremation is chosen more and more frequently by Catholics. The choice of cremation is not the final choice, however. The choice of cremation requires the subsequent choice of a location for final, permanent, reverent and memorialized placement of the cremated remains.
All Souls Catholic Cemetery is contemplating building a columbarium, a structure that has niches designed as a repository for urns containing cremated remains. This columbarium will be built using construction materials and engineering principles that insure permanence.