Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Celebration of the Christian Mystery 419 the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and participation in the feast of the Kingdom which was anticipated in the Eucharist—even if final purifications are still necessary for him in order to be clothed with the nuptial garment. 1683 The Church who, as Mother, has borne the Christian sac- ramentally in her womb during his earthly pilgrimage, accompa- nies him at his journey’s end, in order to surrender him “into the Father’s hands.” She offers to the Father, in Christ, the child of his grace, and she commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body that will rise in glory. 186 This offering is fully celebrated in the Eucharistic sacrifice; the blessings before and after Mass are sacra- mentals. II. T he C elebration of F unerals 1684 The Christian funeral is a liturgical celebration of the Church. The ministry of the Church in this instance aims at expressing efficacious communion with the deceased, at the participation in that communion of the community gathered for the funeral, and at the proclamation of eternal life to the community. 1685 The different funeral rites express the Paschal character of Chris- tian death and are in keeping with the situations and traditions of each region, even as to the color of the liturgical vestments worn. 187 1686 The Order of Christian Funerals ( Ordo exsequiarum ) of the Roman liturgy gives three types of funeral celebrations, corresponding to the three places in which they are conducted (the home, the church, and the ceme- tery), and according to the importance attached to them by the family, local customs, the culture, and popular piety. This order of celebration is common to all the liturgical traditions and comprises four principal ele- ments: 1687 The greeting of the community. A greeting of faith begins the cele- bration. Relatives and friends of the deceased are welcomed with a word of “consolation” (in the New Testament sense of the Holy Spirit’s power in hope). 188 The community assembling in prayer also awaits the “words of eternal life.” The death of a member of the community (or the anniversary of a death, or the seventh or thirtieth day after death) is an event that should lead beyond the perspectives of “this world” and should draw the faithful into the true perspective of faith in the risen Christ. 1688 The liturgy of the Word during funerals demands very careful preparation because the assembly present for the funeral may include some faithful who rarely attend the liturgy, and friends of the deceased who are not Christians. The homily in particular must “avoid the literary 186 Cf. 1 Cor 15:42-44. 187 Cf. SC 81. 188 Cf. 1 Thess 4:18. 1020 627