Vigil Service (Wake)
At the Vigil Service, usually conducted either in the funeral home or at the church, the faithful keep watch with the family in prayer. The Vigil is a Scripture or Prayer Service. The rosary, or part of the rosary, may be prayed as well, but should not be a replacement of the Vigil. This service is often the first gathering of the faithful and friends with the family, and some, who cannot attend the Funeral Mass.
The tradition of the Church has always been the celebration of the Mass with the body present. Christians respect and honor the body of the dead, which in Baptism became the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Funeral Mass includes the reception of the body, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the Final Commendation and Farewell. Funeral Masses may also be celebrated in the presence of cremated remains.
Rite of Committal
For the final disposition of the body, it is the ancient Christian custom to bury or entomb the bodies of the dead in a cemetery, which means a “resting place”. The Rite of Committal is the conclusion of the funeral rites and may be celebrated beside the open grave or the place of internment.
The Church strongly prefers that the body of the deceased be present for the funeral rites since the presence of the body clearly brings to mind the life and death of the person. It is recommended that if cremation is to take place that the cremation of the body takes place following the Funeral Mass. If the cremation takes place immediately after death, the cremated remains are permitted to be brought into the church for the celebration of the funeral liturgy, including the Eucharist.
Final Disposition of the Body or Cremated Remains
Following the celebration of the Funeral Mass, the earthly remains of the deceased are to be reverently buried or entombed in a mausoleum. The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home is not the reverent disposition that the Church requires.