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Prayers

Rite of Committal with Final Commendation

204. The rite of committal, the conclusion of the funeral rites, is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member. It may be celebrated at the grave, tomb, or crematorium and may be used for burial at sea. Whenever possible, the rite of committal is to be celebrated at the site of committal, that is, beside the open grave or place of internment, rather than at a cemetery chapel.

205. Two forms of the rite of committal are provided here: “Rite of Committal” and “Rite of Committal with Final commendation.” The first form is used when the final commendation is celebrated as part of the conclusion of the funeral liturgy. The second form is used when the final commendation does not take place during the funeral liturgy or when no funeral liturgy precedes the committal rite.

206. In committing the body to its resting place, the community expresses the hope that, with all those who have gone before marked with the sign of faith, the deceased awaits the glory of the resurrection. The rite of committal is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who need faith no longer but see God face to face.

STRUCTURE AND CONTENT OF THE RITE OF COMMITTAL

207. Both forms of the committal rite begin with an invitation, Scripture verse, and a prayer over the place of committal. The several alternatives for the prayer over the place of committal take into account whether the grave, tomb, or resting place has already been blessed and situations in which the final disposition of the body will actually take place at a later time (for example, when the body is cremated or will remain in a cemetery chapel until burial at a later time).

208. The rite of committal continues with the words of committal, the intercessions, and the Lord’s Prayer.

The rite of committal with final commendation continues with an invitation to prayer, a pause for silent prayer, the sprinkling and incensing of the body, where this is customary, the song of farewell, and the prayer of commendation (see nos. 227-231).

209. The act of committal takes place after the words of committal (in the rite of committal with final commendation, after the prayer of commendation) or at the conclusion of the rite. The act of committal expresses the full significance of this rite. Through this act the community of faith proclaims that the grave or place of interment, once a sign of futility and despair, has been transformed by means of Christ’s own death and resurrection, into a sign of hope and promise.

 210. Both forms of the rite conclude with a prayer over the people, which includes the verse Eternal rest, and a blessing. Depending on local custom, a song may then be sung and a gesture of leave-taking may be made, for example, placing flowers or soil on the coffin.

ADAPTATION

211. If there is a pastoral need for a longer committal rite than those provided here, for example, when the funeral liturgy has been celebrated on a previous day or in a different community, the minister may use the appropriate form of the committal rite and adapt it, for example, by adding a greeting, song, one or more readings, a psalm, and a brief homily. When there has been no funeral liturgy prior to the committal rite, the “Rite of Committal with Final Commendation” may be used and similarly adapted.

212. The rite of committal may be celebrated in circumstances in which the final disposition of the body will not take place for some time, for example, when winter delays burial or when ashes are to be interred at some time after cremation. The rite of committal may then be repeated on the later occasion when the actual burial or interment takes place. On the second occasion the rite may include a longer Scripture reading as well as a homily.

In case of a body donated to science, the rite of committal may be celebrated whenever interment takes place.

MINISTRY AND PARTICIPATION

213. The community continues to show its concern for the mourners by participating in the rite of committal. The rite marks the separation in this life of the mourners from the deceased, and through it the community assists them as they complete their care for the deceased and lay the body to rest. The act of committal is a stark and powerful expression of this separation. When carried out in the midst of the community of faith, the committal can help mourners to face the end of one relationship with the deceased and to begin a new one based on prayerful remembrance, gratitude, and the hope of resurrection and reunion.

By their presence and prayer members of the community signify their intention to continue to support the mourners in the time following the funeral.

214. The singing of well-chosen music at the rite of committal can help the mourners as they face the reality of separation. At the rite of committal with final commendation, whenever possible, the song of farewell should be sung. In either form of the committal rite, a hymn or liturgical song that affirms hope in God’s mercy and in the resurrection of the dead is desirable at the conclusion of the rite.

215. In the absence of a parish minister, a friend or member of the family should lead those present in the rite of committal.

The minister should vest according to local custom.


216. When the funeral procession arrives at the place of committal the minister says the following or a similar invitation.

A

We gather here to commend our brother/sister N., to God our Father and to commit his/her body to the earth/elements. In the Spirit of faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, let us [raise our voices in song] and offer our prayers for N.

B

As we gather to commend our brother/sister N. to God our Father and to commit his/her body to the earth/elements, let us express in [song and] prayer our common faith in the resurrection. As Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, we too are called to follow him through death to the glory where God will be all in all.

SCRIPTURE VERSE

217. One of the following or another brief Scripture verse is read. The minister first says:

We read in sacred Scripture:

A      Matthew 25:34

Come, you who are blessed by my Father, says the Lord
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world

B     John 6:39

This is the will of the one who sent me, says the Lord
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.

C      Philippians 3:20

Our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior,
the Lord Jesus Christ.

D     Revelation  1:5-6

Jesus Christ is the firstborn of the dead;
to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

PRAYER OVER THE PLACE OF COMMITTAL

218. The minister says one of the following prayers.

A  If the place of committal is to be blessed

Lord Jesus Christ,
by your own three days in the tomb,
you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you
and so made the grave a sign of hope
that promises resurrection
even as it claims our mortal bodies.
Grant that our brother/sister may sleep here in peace
until you awaken him/her to glory,
for you are the resurrection and the life.
Then he/she will see you face to face
and in your light will see light
and know the splendor of God,
for you live and reign for ever and ever.
R.  Amen.

Or:

405.2 O God,
by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest,
bless this grave,
and send your holy angel to watch over it.
As we bury here the body of our brother/sister,
deliver his/her soul from every bond of sin,
that he/she may rejoice in you with your saints for ever.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Or:

405.3. Almighty God,
you created the earth and shaped the vault of heaven;
you fixed the stars in their places.
When we were caught in the snares of death
you set us free through baptism;
in obedience to your will
our Lord Jesus Christ
broke the fetters of hell and rose to life,
bringing deliverance and resurrection
to those who are his by faith.
In your mercy look upon this grave,
so that your servant may sleep here in peace;
and on the day of judgment raise him/her up
to dwell with your saints in paradise.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Or:

405.4. God of endless ages,
through disobedience to your law
we fell from grace
and death entered the world;
but through the obedience and resurrection of your Son
you revealed to us a new life.
You granted Abraham, our father in faith,
a burial place in the promised land;
you prompted Joseph of Arimathea
to offer his own tomb for the burial of the Lord.
In a spirit of repentance
we earnestly ask you
to look upon this grave and bless it,
so that, while we commit to [the earth/its resting place]
the body of your servant N.
his/her soul may be taken into paradise.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

B If the place of committal has already been blessed

All praise to you, Lord of all creation.
Praise to you, holy and living God.
We praise and bless you for your mercy,
we praise and bless you for your kindness.
Blessed is the Lord, our God

R. Blessed is the Lord, our God.

You sanctify the homes of the living
and make holy the places of the dead.
You alone open the gates of righteousness
and lead us to the dwellings of the saints.
Blessed is the Lord, our God.

R. Blessed is the Lord, our God.

We praise you, our refuge and strength.
We bless you, our God and Redeemer.
Your praise is always in our hearts and on our lips.
We remember the mighty deeds of the covenant.
Blessed is the Lord, our God

R. Blessed is the Lord, our God.

Almighty and ever-living God,
remember the mercy with which you graced
your servant N. in life.
Receive him/her, we pray, into the mansions of the saints.
As we make ready our brother’s/sister’s resting place,
look also with favor on those who mourn
and comfort them in their loss.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

C

Almighty and ever-living God,
in you we place our trust and hope,
in you the dead whose bodies were temples of the Spirit
find everlasting peace.
As we take leave of our brother/sister,
give our hearts peace in the firm hope
that one day N. will live
in the mansion you have prepared for him/her in heaven.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

INVITATION TO PRAYER

227. Using one of the invitations below, or in similar words, the minister faces the people and begins the final commendation.

A

Before we go our separate ways, let us take leave of our brother/sister. May our farewell express our affection for him/her; may it ease our sadness and strengthen our hope. One day we shall joyfully greet him/her again when the love of Christ, which conquers all things, destroys even death itself.

B

Trusting in God, we have prayed together for N. and now we come to the last farewell. There is sadness in parting, but we take comfort in the hope that one day we shall see N. again and enjoy his/her friendship. Although this congregation will disperse in sorrow, the mercy of God will gather us together again in the joy of his kingdom. Therefore let us console one another in the faith of Jesus Christ.

SILENCE

228. All pray in silence.

SIGNS OF FAREWELL

229. The coffin may now be sprinkled with holy water and incensed, or this may take place during or after the song of farewell.

230. The song of farewell is then sung. The following may be used or some other song may be sung:

SONGS OF FAREWELL

Saints of God, come to his/her aid!
Hasten to meet him/her, angels of the Lord!
R. Receive his/her soul and present him/her to God the Most High.

May Christ, who called you, take you to himself;
may angels lead you to the bosom of Abraham.
R. Receive his/her soul and present him/her to God the Most High.

Eternal rest grant unto him/her, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him/her.
R. Receive his/her soul and present him/her to God the Most High.

2

403.2. Lord our God, receive your servant,
for whom you shed your blood.
R. Remember, Lord, that we are dust:
like grass, like a flower of the field.

Merciful Lord, I tremble before you,
ashamed of the things I have done.
R. Remember, Lord, that we are dust:
like grass, like a flower of the field.

3

403.3 You knew me, Lord, before I was born.
You shaped me into your image and likeness.
R. I breathe forth my spirit to you, my Creator.

Merciful Lord, I tremble before you:
I am ashamed of the things I have done;
do not condemn me when you come in judgment.
R. I breathe forth my spirit to you, my Creator.

4

403.4 I know that my Redeemer lives:
on the last day I shall rise again.
R. And in my flesh I shall see God.
or
R. On the last day I shall rise again.

I shall see him myself, face to face;
and my own eyes shall behold my Saviour.
R. And in my flesh I shall see God.
or
R. On the last day I shall rise again.

Within my heart this hope I cherish:
that in my flesh I shall see God.
R. And in my flesh I shall see God.
or
R. On the last day I shall rise again.

5

403.5. I know that my Redeemer lives,
And on that final day of days,
His voice shall bid me rise again:
Unending joy, unceasing praise!

This hope I cherish in my heart:
To stand on earth, my flesh restored,
And, not a stranger but a friend,
Behold my Saviour and my Lord.

6

403.6. Lazarus you raised, O Lord,
from the decay of the tomb.
R. Grant your servant rest,
a haven of pardon and peace.

Eternal rest, O Lord,
and your perpetual light.
R. Grant your servant rest,
a haven of pardon and peace.

7

405.7. You shattered the gates of bronze
and preached to the spirits in prison.
R. Deliver me, Lord, from the streets of darkness.

A light and a revelation
to those confined in darkness.
R. Deliver me, Lord, from the streets of darkness.

“Redeemer, you have come,”
they cried, the prisoners of silence.
R. Deliver me, Lord, from the streets of darkness.

Eternal rest, O Lord,
and your perpetual light.
R. Deliver me, Lord, from the streets of darkness.

PRAYER OF COMMENDATION

231. The minister then says one of the following prayers:

Into your hands, Father of mercies,
we commend our brother/sister N.
in the sure and certain hope
that, together with all who have died in Christ,
he/she will rise with him on the last day.

[We give you thanks for the blessings
which you bestowed upon N. in this life:
they are signs to us of your goodness
and of our fellowship with the saints in Christ.]

Merciful Lord,
turn toward us and listen to our prayers:
open the gates of paradise to your servant
and help us who remain
to comfort one another with assurances of faith,
until we all meet in Christ
and are with you and with our brother/sister for ever.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

B

To you, O Lord, we commend the soul of N. your servant;
in the sight of this world he/she is now dead;
in your sight may he/she live for ever.
Forgive whatever sins he/she committed through human weakness
and in your goodness grant him/her everlasting peace.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen

COMMITTAL

232. The act of committal takes place at this time or at the conclusion of the rite.

PRAYER OVER THE PEOPLE

233. The assisting minister says:

Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessing.

All pray silently. The minister, with hands outstretched, prays over the people:

Merciful Lord,
you know the anguish of the sorrowful,
you are attentive to the prayers of the humble.
Hear your people
who cry out to you in their need,
and strengthen their hope in your lasting goodness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

The minister then says the following:

Eternal rest grant unto him/her, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon him/her.

May he/she rest in peace.
R. Amen.

May his/her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

A

A minister who is a priest or deacon says

May the peace of God, which is beyond all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God
and of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Amen.

May almighty God bless you,
the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen.

B

A lay minister invokes God’s blessing and signs himself or herself with the sign of the cross, saying:

May the love of God and the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ
bless and console us
and gently wipe every tear from our eyes:
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen.

The minister then concludes

Go in the peace of Christ.
R. Thanks be to God.

A hymn or song may conclude the rite. Where it is the custom, some sign or gesture of leave-taking may be made.

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