5 Traditions for a Catholic Burial

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Originally posted on November 20, 2019, this post has been edited for accuracy and relevancy.

Of course, funeral traditions vary across different cultures, countries and religions. These manifold customs and traditions in the wake of a loss are an essential ways for these cultures to navigate, and survive, the grieving process. Over the years, St. Charles has come to honor all of these notable religions and traditions.

As Long Island’s leading monument provider, we understand the integral importance of honoring your faith throughout times of grief. In this post, we’ll discuss the traditions of a Catholic burial, one of the foremost creeds on Long Island.


1. Before Death: Last Rites

For devout Catholics, the process begins before death. Often, Catholic end-of-life planning involves the family contacting a priest as soon as a family member grows seriously ill. The priest then administers the Holy Communion and reads the Last Rites directly before they pass.The Last Rites’ purpose it to prepare the soul of the individual for death. This process starts with the priest giving the Sign of the Cross. Then, he administers the Sacrament of Confession or the Act of Contrition.

priest eucharistic rites

Next, the priest will either renew the baptismal promises or recite the Apostles’ Creed. Finally, the priest will anoint the individual and offer Communion.


2. After Death: Wake Service

Catholic traditions dictate a mourning period. This differs from Jewish funeral traditions, where the burial takes place immediately after death.

It’s typical for the family of the deceased to consult a funeral home right after death. It’s important to make funeral arrangements as soon as possible.

Normally, the family organizes a vigil or wake service a few days after the death. The body undergoes embalming at a funeral home, where the service takes place.

It’s common for a friend or family member to give a eulogy in honor of the deceased as part of their mourning rituals.

During this service, those in attendance will be lead in a prayer service.


3. Funeral Services

Generally, mourning periods last one or two days. The funeral takes place once this is over. Usually, catholic funeral services are in a Catholic church.During the funeral service, the priest leads those in attendance in the funeral mass. Additionally, he delivers the homily, or the sermon that praises the life of the dead. In many cases, he includes anecdotes from their life.

Casket in a cemetery with flowers on top


4. Catholic Burial Traditions

Typically, the burial is reserved for family and close friends. And, it is considered the most important step in saying goodbye to loved ones.

The family accompanies the body of the deceased to the cemetery. Here, the priest leads the family in one final prayer over the body. Usually, the burial is the most difficult step for the grieving family, as this is typically where the reality of their loss becomes overwhelming.

To properly prepare the burial site, the priest will bless it. According to Catholic traditions, people may be buried in a gravesite, mausoleum, crypt, or tomb.


5. Cremation

For years, the Catholic church considered cremation unacceptable. However, in 2016 the Pope updated these guidelines to remove the stigma surrounding cremation. Cremation is embraced as a Catholic tradition provided the ashes are placed in a sacred place.

Once they’re blessed, the remains are permanently placed in the earth.

Conclusion: How St. Charles Monuments Can Help

At St. Charles, our aim is to help guide families through the most difficult period they face. No matter your faith, your desired inscription or the nuance of your customs, our staff will craft a beautiful and meaningful monument for your loved one.


What people say about us

“Thank you Marcus. We drove by the monument yesterday afternoon. My husband and I were very pleased. Thank you for giving us a gift of comfort and peace.”

Mary Amber

“Thank you so much. It has been a comforting and pleasant experience working with St. Charles Monuments. The memorial set looks great.””

Pam Carter

“The headstone is beautiful. They did a fantastic job. Again my family and I thank you for all your help with suggestions and with the arrangements.”

Laura Leddy

“My family and I visited my husband’s grave today. We were very pleased with the results. It looks very nice. Thank you.””

Mrs. Guginsky

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 for all Cemeteries in NY & NJ
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 for all Cemeteries in NY & NJ