A Helpful Guide to Catholic Funerals

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What happens during a Catholic funeral mass? How long does a Catholic funeral last? Read on to learn everything about Catholic funerals here.

Remember Pope John Paul II?

He made history in 1978 by becoming the first non-Italian pope in over 400 years. When he passed away in 2005, mourners gathered from all over the world to attend his funeral.

Again, Pope John Paul II made history. Historians consider his funeral to be one of the most famous funeral ceremonies of the 21st century.

Are you getting ready to attend your first Catholic funeral? If so, you’ll want to know what to expect. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Catholic funerals.

Pre-Funeral Services

Before the funeral begins, there may be several different services that take place. Here’s a list of common pre-funeral services for a Catholic funeral:

  • Vigil
  • Rosary
  • Wake

The vigil is a time to honor the deceased through prayer. Vigils also provide a chance for friends and family members to read scripture. However, you won't be able to choose spontaneous readings.

Instead, anyone who wants to read a passage of scripture out loud has to prepare it ahead of time with the priest. Loved ones can also use the vigil as an opportunity to share cherished memories of the deceased.

The rosary is a specific prayer recited before the funeral mass. If the deceased was known to say the rosary prayer a lot, this will be an especially important part of the ceremony.

Finally, the wake is an opportunity to visit the body and say goodbye. Wakes also provide friends with a chance to comfort family members.

How Long Does a Catholic Funeral Last?

A funeral ceremony that includes mass will usually last over an hour. For instance, Pope John Paul II’s funeral mass took about 2.5 hours. If the funeral ceremony doesn’t include a mass than the service will likely last 45 minutes to an hour.

What to Expect During Funeral Mass

You can expect the funeral mass to have a sincere and somber tone, one of respect. The clothes you wear should match the atmosphere of the mass. All clothing should be conservative and black, and jewelry needs to be simple and neat.

Here’s a shortlist of the services and rituals carried out during mass:

  • Greeting by priest
  • Coffin procession
  • Holy water
  • Opening song
  • Popular hymns
  • Opening prayers
  • Bible readings
  • Mass (Holy Communion)
  • Prayers
  • Coffin exits
  • Graveside prayers

There won’t be any eulogies during the funeral mass. Instead, family members can say a few words during the wake before the funeral or at the reception after.

While there aren’t any eulogies, you will hear music played throughout the service. Popular hymns will play during different segments of the mass rituals.

Saying Goodbye

We’re glad we could help shed some light on what goes on at a Catholic funeral. We hope that our article was able to help prepare you for what lies ahead. For more articles to help you prepare for important moments, check out the rest of this site.

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