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The Catholic Church’s Perspective on Death
In the face of death the Church confidently proclaims that God created each person for eternal life and that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has broken the chains of sin and death by his own death and resurrection. At the death of a Christian, whose life of faith began in the waters of baptism and was strengthened at the Eucharistic table, the Church intercedes for the deceased because of its belief that death is not the end and does not break the bonds formed in life. The Church also ministers to the sorrowing family and friends and consoles them with the funeral rites.
Christians celebrate the funeral rites to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the life which has been returned to God, the hope of the just. Family and friends are invited to participate personally by reading, presenting the Eucharistic gifts of bread and wine or personal symbols of the deceased person’s faith and life. The parish community shares in these actions to support the family of the deceased. Holy scriptures, intercessions, music, and the Eucharist all contribute to the support of the deceased and family.
The Church prefers that the Vigil and Funeral services take place with the body present. After the cremation has taken place, the Church expects that the cremains will be place in a worthy vessel and interred in a grave, mausoleum or columbarium. Whatever the sequence of actions and religious services, cremains are to be treated with the same respect as the body.
Bereavement Ministry at Our Lady of the Assumption
The minister contacts a family member within 24 hours of notification of a death. Sooner may be necessary, depending on time available before the funeral services. They meet with as many family members as want to be involved in liturgy planning. This meeting may take place either in the Rectory or in the family home.
The bereavement ministers support grieving family and friends following the death of their loved one. The ministers especially assist with planning of funeral services: Vigil, Funeral Mass, & graveside service. This may include explaining the Catholic services and opportunities available for family/friends to participate. Specific assistance will be directed to the selection of scripture reading and certain prayers. Music is very important and is arranged by a funeral music minister.
Bereavement ministers act as contact person with the family and as sacristan at the Funeral Mass. They introduce the Ambo & lectern to readers and speakers. They also instruct and guide those who bring up the Eucharistic gifts and any optional symbolic gifts. They also pass on any information about the deceased person and their family to the priest or deacon. The bereavement ministers also set up the liturgical vessels and books, and get out the pall. They also put things away and close the sacristy after the funeral.
The Bereavement ministers follow up with a sympathy card and grief resource list 30 days after the funeral. A phone call is also appropriate. Families of all those buried from Assumption are invited to and All Souls Day Mass of remembrance.
The bereavement ministers encourage pre-planning of funeral church services. Some individuals may want to be involved in selecting reading, music, and participants in their own funeral services. Others may wish to plan ahead to assure themselves a Catholic funeral and interment services. Such a process would involve the person contacting the bereavement ministry by contacting the parish Because there is more time than at the time of death, the process could be done more completely.
Consider the Conversation
There comes a time in our lives when we need to have a conversation with our loved ones or friends about end of life issues. Often this is an uncomfortable conversation to have with the people we love, whether it’s on our behalf or theirs. The OLA Bereavement Ministry can assist families in addressing this issue and will walk with those who wish to plan their own services in advance. You could consider this a loving act for your loved ones.
Catholic End of Life Ministry
The End of Life Minister accompanies the Catholic sick near death or dying, providing emotional & spiritual support to them, their families and loved ones. The EOL Minister provides criteria for the sick & dying from the National Bishops Conference, gives referrals to sacramental and to medical personnel, provide Viaticum by a Eucharistic Minister (in the absence of a priest), provides Catholic Liturgical Prayers for the Dying & Immediately Deceased, plus provides many other modalities to the dying & their love ones in preparation for a peaceful death. The EOL Minister is Certified by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Department of Cemeteries after 24 to 30 hours of intensive training & after years of being a Eucharistic Minister to the Sick or/and Bereavement Ministry at a Catholic parish.