The greatest mystery of human life is the eternal question: “what comes next?” That is an agonising question for beloved husbands and wives, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, friends and family; and that question has echoed down the ages. Over generations and generations the Church has developed a way of talking about the end of life and expressing the hope that lingers in even the most sceptical person. That is what a Christian funeral is about.
“The celebration of the Christian funeral brings hope and consolation to the living. While proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and witnessing to Christian hope in the Resurrection, the funeral rites also recall to all who take part in them God’s mercy and judgement and meet the human need to always turn to God in times of crisis”
In a Christian funeral, the focus is on the mystery of God who brings each person into life, cherishes that person and receives them to himself when they die. We also focus on the family and friends who are left behind: to support them with our prayers and sustain them with our presence. Every funeral will be different because every person is unique. It is always important to recognise this, but also important to recognise that we, as a community of faith, are not gathering just to be nostalgic about someone, but rather to commend that person to God through our prayer and worship.
If someone dear to you has died and you need to arrange the funeral, or if you want to plan your own funeral, or simply find out more about what Catholics believe about death and life after death, then the first person to approach is your local parish priest – and even if you don’t know him well – or at all – you will find him as someone with whom can talk these things through.
There is a National Catholic website which deals with all aspects of death and dying which you might find helpful, you can access it here. And to access contact information for our parishes click here.