Our last blog discussed ways a funeral benefits the deceased. A common saying is that funerals are for the living. In this blog post, we will consider some of the ways funerals benefit the living.
Grieving loved ones receive consolation and peace of mind from end-of-life rituals: Both the visitation and the mass give the grieving an opportunity to process loss, consider our own mortality, express our condolences, share stories and memories, honor the life of the deceased and witness the impact that person had in their community.
A funeral mass reaches beyond earthly life into the true hope of heaven: The funeral mass nourishes our faith and reminds us that the true hope of heaven lies in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death. The readings, music, homily and prayers of the mass provide meaning for the living. In commending the soul of our loved one to the mercy of God, we find consolation in the peace and comfort of a faith woven into the life of the deceased as well as that of the grieving. Additionally, the ritual commendation of the deceased reaches beyond life on earth and into the realm of the eternity to which they are commended, reminding loved ones of the true hope that comes from Jesus, who opened the gates of heaven. Rituals bestowed by our faith provide a context for considering our own mortality and further engaging our hope of eternal life with God.
By gathering with our community, we receive assurance that our own lives will be remembered when we die: As we pray for the deceased at their funeral mass, we can be assured that when we die, our gathered community will pray for us through a funeral mass as we are brought into the fullness of life with God.
A funeral mass and Catholic burial provides a witness of faith to others: Our act of having a funeral mass and burial in sacred ground provides witness to the world of our faith and our belief that there is more than just our earthly life—that life and death, in context, are part of God’s plan for our eternal salvation. It is this witness that provides a foundation for others who are seeking, hurting or estranged to heal, process and even experience conversion.
In conclusion: Mass is imperative, comforting, soulful, spiritual and has the power to bring other people back to the church that have since fallen away. There is beauty in the funeral mass, that reflects the beauty of the life of the deceased as well as of the community gathered in prayer. For more reflection on this topic, see Archbishop Naumann’s video on our website.