When someone dies, the funeral is our most important opportunity to bid them farewell, give thanks for their life, and pray for their soul.
Christians bury their dead in the sure and certain hope of resurrection. On the Last Day, we will be resurrected in our bodies, and the whole of creation will be renewed as God reigns in judgement over all he has created.
When we die, we need God to make us ready for the life of heaven. He removes from those he has chosen all vestige of sin and the consequences of our mortal frailty so that we can spend eternity with him. For Christians, it is Christ’s death and Resurrection that give us the promise of eternal life and open the gates of heaven to us.
When a friend or loved one dies, the easiest way to organise a funeral is through a firm of funeral directors, or undertakers. They will care for the body of the deceased until the funeral, and will make all necessary arrangements for the funeral liturgy.
There are basically three sorts of funeral which can be celebrated at St Benet’s:
1. Funeral service at the crematorium.
This is the most common form of funeral. It usually takes place at a crematorium chapel and lasts about half an hour. The service will involve readings, prayers, hymns, and the opportunity for people to offer eulogies and reflections on the departed person’s life. At the end of the liturgy, we commend the mortal remains of the departed to be cremated. The ashes from that cremation will then need to be buried on another occasion, either by the next of kin, or as part of a further burial service.
2. Funeral Mass in St Benet’s Church followed by burial or cremation.
This form of funeral is the most elaborate and lengthy. It involves bringing the mortal remains of the deceased to St Benet’s Church where a Funeral mass is celebrated. A Funeral Mass is a celebration of the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion by some) in which we pray for the soul of our departed loved one, give thanks for their life, and commend their soul to God. This form of funeral is particularly suitable for someone who, in this life, had a strong a lively Christian faith, or who was a part of our regular worshipping community. It can also be preceded by a reception of their body into St Benet’s Church the night before. This allows us to celebrate Vespers of the Dead, and for the body to remain in church over night before the funeral the next day. After the Funeral Mass, we proceed either to the crematorium to commend the mortal remains of the departed to be cremated, or to the cemetery, where the body is buried.
3. Burial service at the graveside.
This is probably the shortest and simplest form of burial service. It involves burying either the body of the deceased, or the remains which were cremated after an earlier funeral liturgy. A few short prayers are said at the graveside, and the remains of the departed are than lowered into the grave.