The month of November is the traditional season for Catholics to prayerfully remember all those who have gone before us ‘marked by the sign of faith.’ Following the Solemnity of All Saints that remembers all those who have lived the life of faith with integrity and are now one with the Lord in heaven, we celebrate All Souls Day. This day of prayer for the dead provides the opportunity for us to surround our beloved dead with our prayers, especially through the Eucharistic celebration, as we companion them on their journey to the Father.
Each and everyone one of us will be touched by the reality of death in the course of our journey of faith. We have all experienced the painful leave-taking of a loved one in death as we prepare for our own ‘going forth’ through death to eternal life in Christ.
The funeral rites of our Church help us to remember that no one truly dies alone but is accompanied by the community of believers as eternity opens for each one of us. The reformed liturgy of our Church and particularly its funeral rites provide opportunities for family and friends of the deceased to actively enter into this moment of passage as we shape a truly fitting farewell for our loved ones.
The Diocese of Orange has recently published two helpful resources for families and individuals who are called upon to plan a funeral celebration for a loved one. They are a Guide to Catholic Funerals and Words of Remembrance – Guide for Writing a Funeral Reflection. Both resources are available in the parish offices, Catholic cemeteries as well as online (rcbo.org/resource/guide-to-catholic-funerals/). These resources can be a helpful guide for families as they help shape a funeral celebration that both respects the funeral tradition of our Church as well as personalizes this important moment of remembrance and prayer.
The most advantageous time of preparation is before the crisis of an immediate death. In the course of a grave illness of a loved one, it would be both beneficial and comforting for family members to familiarize themselves with these guidelines. May they assist you in preparing a fitting and worthy celebration of prayer and remembrance for a brother or sister as they prepare for the fullness of eternal life.