Purpose of a Catholic Funeral


It is my understanding that Catholic Funerals are for the soul of the deceased, as they need our prayers if they should be in purgatory. It seems that so many funerals are now understood as a simple celebration of the life of the person and an almost certainty or presumption that the soul of the departed is in heaven regardless of what kind of life they lived. I don't understand why the pall covering the casket is now white whereas it was black. It's supposed to be a sign of baptism, but IMHO it changes the focus and purpose of the Mass towards almost guaranteed salvation. It seems to me to be cruel not to focus on praying for the souls of the deceased because those in purgatory need them. That's how it used to be anyways. I know that death and funerals are very sensitive situations, but the reality of the Church's teaching on purgatory and hell still prevail. I'm interested in your thoughts....



Purgatory serves the purpose of expiation and cleansing of imperfections to be worthy to be in God's presence. If God, knowing every little detail about a person's life, rules that it's 25 years, how is it cruel to not pray for that duration to be shortened? Why would it have to be 5 years if God said 25? Is there something that makes you think that Purgatory is such an awful place to be, a sort of Gulag camp?

But your point about the presumption that everybody is saved, that everybody goes straight to Heaven is well taken.


The Church calls for prayer for the Holy Souls. From the CCC:
1054 Those who die in God’s grace and friendship imperfectly purified, although they are assured of their eternal salvation, undergo a purification after death, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of God.
1055 By virtue of the “communion of saints,” the Church commends the dead to God’s mercy and offers her prayers, especially the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist, on their behalf.


Fr. Finigan recently posted an entry on his blog, “Reasons why we should pray for the Holy Souls” –

Father Z has information regarding indulgences applicable only to souls detained in Purgatory –

I myself have great devotion to them and offer up many prayers for their relief and that they may get to Heaven soon. With my father’s death this year, it is an even dearer concern.


Jesus, God and man,
imprisoned by love in Thy most holy Sacrament,
have mercy upon us.

  • Blessed John Henry Newman, December 22, 1851

Tú y yo sabemos por la fe que oculto en las especies sacramentales está Cristo,
ese Cristo con su Cuerpo, con su Sangre, con su Alma, y con su Divinidad,
prisonero de amor.

  • San Josemaría Escrivá, 1 junio 1974
    … Our Lord Himself frequently said; and it is recorded as an Apostolic tradition from Him
    by St. Justin the Martyr. He says ‘Jesus often said, “They who are near Me are near a
  • Abp. W. B. Ullathorne, August 1st 1886


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