Funeral Mass and Other Things


I am a 25-year-old single woman who became Catholic this Easter! Recently I realized that I now am "established’ enough in this world that it is worth my time to write out a will. I’m just going to write my wishes on some papers for my parents in case anything should happen to me. The problem is, my parents are Protestants, and I am a new Catholic, so I have some questions about how to express my wishes for a funeral mass, etc. Can anyone help me with the following:

  1. Do you know a good pamphlet / website / cd that explains the Catholic church’s view on handling death? (Like, I know they prefer burials if there is a body, but why? What arrangements need to be made in the event of a funeral? And what about end of life issues - what are the parameters on pulling the plug and such)? It would be nice if there was something that just said, “So your Catholic loved one just died and you don’t know where to begin…” :slight_smile:

  2. Can anyone explain to me the CC’s view on burial vs. cremation? I am still struggling with this, but I want to trust in the church because it hasn’t led me astray yet. But seriously, I always figured that, once we die, we are dead, and what happens to our bodies is not important. This is why I had always just planned to be cremated because it would be easy and cost effective for those left behind. I know my family would balk at the idea of a funeral, and if I’m not even sure of it, I’m sure they won’t be.

  3. Can someone explain the parameters on end of life issues? I know my dad is a very “If I’m in a coma, pull the plug” kind of guy, but I think that the CC teaches only to pull a plug if you are on life support for oxygen and heartbeat? And then you should not donate organs because they take them out of you while you are alive? Can someone confirm / deny / clarify?



You can donate organs. At least, I’m sure the Church teaches it’s an act of charity. As for me, I do see it as laying my life down for someone in need. I’d rather someone benefit from my strong, healthy heart than die needlessly because one could not be found.

For cremation, you can, but you must be buried in consecrated ground. Your body is a temple of God, to be raised on the last day and we, as humans, need to give it respect (not that God can’t do anything He wants. I’m sure St. Joan of Arc, my patron, will be raised even though her ashes were spread in the river Seine. These rules are for us, as humans, to learn about God’s ways).

A Catholic funeral rite is divided into three parts. The first is the vigil or wake, where people gather and can say the Rosary and other prayers for your soul (as, unlike Protestants, we believe in Purgatory and have a tradition of praying for the dead). The second is the actual Mass. The third is the rite of burial. Read the Order of Christian Funerals for more specifics.

Another good reference is the book Why Do Catholics Do That? They have a good chapter on funeral rites and the author sums it up nicely.

Someone else could probably answer far better than I. This is simply my understanding.

The Order of Christian funerals


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