The Roman Catholic Funeral Rite vs. the Jewish Funeral Rite
Funeral services in the 1990’s are more complex that they have ever been before. The modern funeral director must not only be aware of and comply with their own state and local rules and regulations, but also with the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule and a variety of Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) rules. Add to this the fact that the so-called “traditional funeral” has become less and less traditional. While the religious aspects still play a major role in the majority of the funerals held in the United States, changes in the attitude of the clergy and the families, changes in funeral home structuring and pricing, and changes in the funeral home facilities and services that they render have caused a great change in the funeral itself. There are several religions that practice funeral rites, however, in this paper I will attempt to compare/contrast the Roman Catholic Funeral Rite vs. the Jewish Funeral Rite.
Introduction to the Roman Catholic Church
Of all the Christian religions in the world, the Roman Catholic Church is the largest, claiming approximately one billion members worldwide. In the United States there are about 55 million members. Roman Catholics believe that since Jesus Christ brought salvation into the world, He was the founder of their Church. They also believe that the Church has preserved the teachings of Christ and that the Holy Spirit guides the Church through its ministry.
In regard to funeral rites, the Roman Catholic Church believes that all Catholics should be buried from the Church with a Mass. There is no actual charge for being buried from the Church. The funeral director should be able to guide the family as to the practices if an honorarium is customarily given to the celebrant. Clergy Notification
The practice of notifying the deceased’s clergyman when a death occurs was at one time a common as well as sensible practice. However, today, this practice can in no way be considered the usual. Factors such as time of death, place where death occurred, and the relationship between the family and the clergy, each play a role in the family’s decision as to the appropriate time to notify the clergy of the death.
Many families would be hesitant to call the clergy in the middle of the night and may determine that more can be accomplished by waiting until morning. This may be especially true in cases where the death was expected or where the Sacrament of the Sick had been administered.
Since many priests want to participate in the decision making process for the date, time, and location of the funeral service, the funeral directors may want to determine whether or not the family had contacted the priest, who is to celebrate the Funeral Mass, prior to entering into discussions concerning the scheduling of the Mass. Removal of the Remains
There are generally no church restrictions that would prohibit the removal of the remains at the time of death. In cases where the deceased was a clergy or a member of a religious order, there may be delays in the removal should there be a desire for special prayers by members of the order before removal. Preparing the Remains
There are no specific restrictions as to the preparation of the remains of the body. Religious articles worn by the deceased should be removed, recorded, and replaced after the preparation of the body. The family should be asked if the religious articles should remain on the body or removed and returned to them.
If the deceased is a clergyman or a member of a religious order, there may be restrictions as to how the remains are prepared. Some groups may request that the embalming be done in the convent, monastery, or rectory rather than in the funeral home. In this case, the funeral home should check with the individual within the church, monastery, or convent to obtain proper instructions and authorization to prepare the...
Cited: Curley, Terrance, P. Planning the Catholic Funeral. Liturgical Press, July 2005.
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