Would you be surprised to learn that for the first time in U.S. history, the vast majority of Americans don’t make adequate plans for the burial of their deceased loved ones?
Surprisingly, many Catholics are part of this statistic. In fact, as few as 33 percent of baptized Catholics seek burial in the Church, with only one third of that group participating in the full Catholic Funeral Rite. Rather than adhere to our faith traditions, the norm has become for Catholic families to have their loved ones cremated without a Vigil or Mass, only to hold a celebration of life-type memorial at a later date.
This can be explained by the way our perception of death has changed as a society. When we encounter pain, we try to deal with it as quickly as possible, and that path-of-least-resistance mentality applies to funerals today, too.
Unfortunately, when we take a shortcut laying our loved ones to rest, we miss out on the opportunity to begin true healing. After all, the Catholic Funeral Rites serve as a timely reminder that death is not the end for the faithful — there is hope in eternal life. It offers us the grace we need to go through the process of committing our loved ones to Christ, but it also provides us with the context we need to suffer and mourn well as we cope with the aftermath of a loss in the months and years ahead.
At Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes, part of our ministry is to educate families on the beauty and dignity of the Catholic Funeral Rites. Over the past several months, we have been working with our local parishes and Catholic school leaders to develop a program that invites Catholics to learn about the power of this time-honored tradition.
We have created educational materials about the Catholic Funeral Rites, as well as a series of videos in English and Spanish, to demonstrate the impact the Vigil, Funeral Liturgy and Rite of Committal have had on members of our faith community. Through their witness, they share personal stories of loss and the hope the three sacred moments of the Order of Christian Funerals provided them in their time of need.
We invite you to view these testimonials for yourself at dopccfh.org so you can see first-hand how these time-honored rites provide comfort, hope and healing to the grieving. If you would like to learn more, please contact your parish or Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes directly at (602) 267-3962.
Ryan Hanning, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Theology at University of Mary, Tempe.