The ceremonies and prayers of the Catholic Church connected with death are found in the Order of Christian Funerals (OCF), the ritual book used by priests and deacons in conducting funeral services. A Catholic funeral ordinarily involves three occasions of prayer that take place over the course of two or three days. In celebrating these moments of prayer we celebrate our faith in Christ, we express our love for the person who has died, and we remain faithful to a human relationship that has touched our life. As we shared part of our loved one’s journey through life, we now share the steps of his or her final journey to God.
The ceremonies and prayers that comprise the funeral ritual are also ways that the Church shows its concern for one of its members. We became part of the family of the Church at our baptism and that relationship is not broken even by death.
The three principal parts of the Catholic funeral liturgy are the vigil service (commonly called the wake service), the church service, and finally the committal service. In these times of prayer, the Christian community accompanies the body of the deceased from the place of the wake, ordinarily the funeral home, to the church building, and then to his/her final resting place. The community of the Church that has accompanied the person in his or her journey through life now walks with him or her from this life to the next.