The Christian attitude toward death, based on hope and confidence in Christ's victory over death, was one of the most important ways Christianity differed from the ancient culture into which it was born. As Christianity became inculturated in the Middle Ages, Christian rites surrounding death and burial were among the most important ways that an entire culture, however imperfectly, took on the impress of the Christian faith. Despite the ambivalent and even bleak regard of death in modern...
Christian rituals related to death did not begin at the funeral service. Dying itself was surrounded by many Christian rites. During the Reformation, Protestants' sharp attacks on the medieval beliefs in purgatory and intercession for the deceased eventually shifted attention in the modern world away from a preoccupation with death to a widespread ignoring of the reality of death.
The Christian funeral must find ways to affirm Christian belief in Christ's victory over death, commend the deceased to God's mercy, and comfort the survivors.
The following funeral liturgy is designed as a service of witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like every service of Christian worship, it is rooted in the paschal mystery, the death and resurrection, of Christ.
The following is an outline for an informal funeral service that reflects the themes described in the articles above.
Since the liturgical celebrations of the funeral bring together family and friends who are experiencing deep grief, the ritual itself should minister to these people. Therefore, the ritual should be attentive to all the senses; be marked by beauty, dignity, and reverence; and with simplicity invite the participation of the assembly.