Funeral Rites Across Different Cultures: Roman Catholicism

With more than 1.2 billion followers, Roman Catholicism is the oldest and largest branch of Christianity.  Catholicism is the branch of Christianity headed by the Pope, who makes decisions on issues of faith and morality.  Catholicism teaches that it is the church divinely founded by Jesus Christ.

Catholics believe that death is a passing from the physical world to the afterlife.  On the night before the funeral, a wake is held.  Loved ones gather to read scripture and prayers. Eulogies may be delivered as well although they are not part of the funeral itself.  The funeral ceremony is a formal mass that takes place in a Catholic church.  Typically held inside the decedent’s particular local parish or church, a mass during the funeral service is of great importance for Catholics as it represents the soul being returned to God and passing over into the afterlife.  Held by the graveside, the Rite of Committal is the final step in the order of Catholic funerals.  A Catholic priest reads from scripture and makes concluding remarks of comfort for the bereaved.  The priest says a blessing before the body or remains is interred to make the burial site a sacred place.  The priest concludes by presenting a statement of committal of the body back to the earth, an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven.

The Catholic faith hinges on the belief that God made us to enjoy eternal life with him and that death is not the end.

Woodlawn continues to be a non-sectarian cemetery without a specific religious affiliation.