There are an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics. They believe a person will be judged to Heaven, Hell, or to Purgatory. Catholics believe Jesus died to redeem oneself from sin. Before death, there is no assurance that they will go to Heaven, so family and guests pray for their loved one’s acceptance into heaven. The priest is one of the first persons contacted after death or as death approaches.
Embalming is standard so that a viewing or vigil is possible. During the viewing a kneeler sits next to the casket. Guests use the kneeler to pray. Immediate family typically stays the entire time of the viewing and guests offer words of hope and sympathy.
Catholic funeral services are called a “Funeral Mass.” The Funeral Mass is conducted in a Catholic Church, not a funeral home. The Priest follows a formal pattern of prayers are followed, along with a sermon and various scripture readings. Holy Communion comes near the end of the funeral mass. To begin the Priest greets the casket at the entrance of the church, sprinkles holy water on it. At the end the Priest circles the casket while incensing it.
Most of our local Catholic Churches allow personal remembrances, special music, and some other parts that might be considered non-traditional.
While a casketed burial has been the traditional custom of the Catholic Church, cremation is now allowed and the ashes are required to be present for the Funeral Mass.
A formal burial service immediately follows the service, and is conducted by the Priest. If cremation was chosen, ashes are required to be interred at a Catholic Cemetery, not scattered or kept at home.