"In the face of death, the Church confidently proclaims that God has created each person for eternal life, and that Jesus, the Son of God, by his death and resurrection, has broken the chains of sin and death that bound humanity. Christians celebrate the funeral rites to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the gift of a life which has now been returned to God, the author of life and the hope of the just."
Praying for our beloved departed
"The Church, through its funeral rites, commends the dead to God's merciful love and pleads for the forgiveness of their sins. At the funeral rites, especially at the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice, the Christian community affirms and expresses the union of the Church on earth with the Church in heaven in the one communion of saints. Though separated from the living, the dead are still one with the community of believers on earth and benefit from their prayers and intercession. At the rite of final commendation and farewell, the community acknowledges the reality of the spiritual bond that still exists between the living and the dead, and proclaims its belief that all the faithful will be raised up and reunited in the new heavens and a new earth, where death will be no more."
"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 turn always to God in times of crisis...'If one member suffers in the body of Christ which is the Church, all the members suffer with that member' (1 Corinthians 12:26). For this reason, those who are baptized into Christ and nourished at the same table of the Lord are responsible for one another...when a member of Christ's body dies, the faithful are called to a ministry of consolation to those who have suffered the loss of one whom they love.... The Church calls each member of Christ's Body—priest, deacon, layperson—to participate in the ministry of consolation: to care for the dying, to pray for the dead, to comfort those who mourn."
Shouldering our responsibilities
"Members of the community should console the mourners with words of faith and support and with acts of kindness, for example, assisting them with some of the routine tasks of daily living. The community's principal involvement in the ministry of consolation is expressed in its active participation in the celebration of the funeral rites, particularly the vigil for the deceased, the funeral liturgy, and the rite of committal. In the celebration of the funeral rites, laymen and laywomen may serve as readers, musicians, ushers, pallbearers, and, according to existing norms, as special ministers of the eucharist."
The quotes above are from the Order of Christian Funerals, approved for use in the United States by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and confirmed by the Apostolic See. 0 1989, 1985, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. (ICEL). All rights reserved. Used with permission.