Catholic Funerals & Cremations
Catholicism is one of the largest religious denominations here in Australia. Throughout the world, it is well-known that Catholics firmly believe their souls will enter Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory depending on the physical life they’ve led.
Cosmopolitan Funeral Services is prepared and ready to accommodate Catholic families and their funeral customs.
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll learn regarding Catholic funeral customs and etiquette on this page:
- What Is a Catholic Funeral?
- What Should You Expect During a Catholic Funeral?
- What Is the Etiquette For a Catholic Funeral?
- What Happens After a Catholic Funeral?
What Is a Catholic Funeral?
A Catholic funeral is a religious service for both the deceased and bereaved whose faith is centered on the soul living on after death. This belief is also centered upon how righteously a person has lived their life, as it will determine whether their soul is allowed to enter Heaven.
However, Catholics also believe that a soul can be condemned to Hell or even Purgatory. Purgatory is for the souls who have committed forgivable sins in their lifetime and may eventually be sent to Heaven.
The Catholic funeral is considered a time to ask God for mercy on behalf of the deceased person’s soul in hopes of forgiveness so their soul may rest peacefully above.
What Should You Expect During a Catholic Funeral?
How a Catholic funeral unfolds depends on the type of service chosen: Funeral Mass or funeral liturgy.
A Catholic funeral Mass is led by a priest in celebration of the deceased’s life and the embodiment of Jesus Christ. This Mass traditionally includes a Eucharistic Prayer as well as the giving of the Sacrament and Holy Communion.
During the Holy Communion, those of the Catholic faith proceed to the front of the church to receive their communion and the sacrament (a communion wafer and the priest sipping from the chalice of wine, symbolizing the blood and body of Christ). Non-Catholic mourners are encouraged to rise and join the procession but receive a blessing rather than Communion. This is the part that’s considered a celebration.
A Catholic funeral liturgy, on the other hand, does not include the celebration of the Holy Communion. This is usually because Mass is restricted to certain days depending on the priest’s availability as they are the only individuals that can perform the celebration. In the event that a deacon is available, however, a sermon will still be given.
During both types of services, faith-based music will be played, and family members and friends can request certain psalms, hymns, and readings to honor the deceased. Because this is a time to ask for mercy, many prayers will be said during the main service.
Once the main service has concluded, the Rite of Committal will take place where the deceased is to be buried. During this time, the priest or deacon will bless the site before leading mourners in one last prayer — usually the Lord’s Prayer.
It should be noted that while Catholics do not have a specific mourning period, it is common for memorial services to proceed up to six months after the death, as well as on the anniversary of the death.
What Is the Etiquette For a Catholic Funeral?
Mourning guests should dress in black, semi-formal clothing. For women, this would include long dresses, skirts or pantsuits and for men, this would include a suit and tie or a sport coat with a tie.
If black is unavailable, the next darkest colour is acceptable. Formal hats are acceptable as well (and traditional for women), although men should take their hats off before entering the church.
During prayer, it’s acceptable to bow your head, remain seated, or kneel. During hymns, the congregation may be asked to rise, and it is expected that they do so if physically able.
What Happens After a Catholic Funeral?
After The Mass or liturgy and the committal at the gravesite, it is common for the family of the deceased to hold a reception with food and drink for family and friends. This is often a continuance of the memory of the deceased as well as the celebration of their life and time for people to mourn.
Cosmopolitan Funeral Services: Catholic Funeral Directors
At Cosmopolitan Funeral Services, we understand how difficult losing a loved one is as well as the importance of a proper service that honors their faith, traditions, and beliefs.
We have the experience and the resources to help you through the entire planning process, ensuring that your loved one is sent into the afterlife properly. We can also guide you and your family on other components of the funeral, including the viewing, burial, reception, and financial planning.
To speak with one of our funeral directors, please call 1300 211 010.