At funerals we as Catholics are to primarily memorialize and honor the deceased, while at the same time bid farewell to our loved ones. As we celebrate both the life and transmigration of the loved one’s soul to a better place, it gives family and friends aid and comfort in their mourning.
Ritual of the funeral mass includes procession and recession, reciting blessings and bible readings by priest and family, blessing of the casket, adoration of God and the Holy Eucharist. Culturally, it is all part and parcel of shaping the dying experience and dealing with the fear of death.
Psalm 23: 4 “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. ”
This often parallels with the dying experience of most cultures in this world. For example, among Buddhists, mourners will read the teachings of Buddha [sutras] to help accept death and calm the mind. With dying it is believed the deceased will be reborn in a heaven of peace and relaxation beyond our suffering world [Nirvana].
Psalm 30 : 11 “Thou hast turned to me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sack cloth and girded me with gladness.”
Many Native American tribes confront death with stoicism and self control. What comes ‘round, goes ‘round and the loved one now makes ways for others in this world. This is more a circular rather than a lineal relation between life and death.
Among Pacific Islanders, relatives and friends will gather around the dying person to give spiritual strength and comfort. Their ceremony includes prayers asking for peace, mercy and guidance from God. Dying patients are requested to discuss important matters with family, give away belongings and give directions for completion of anything else unfinished.
Philippians 3: 20-21 “ But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
The dying of loved ones among African Americans unites the family and family members remain united through sharing the care giving. The terminally ill person will try to stay active and remain vital within the family. Recognizing the ultimate termination of life, family members continue the respect in this effort to ease the dying process.
Many cultures as those above, offer different coping strategies of dealing with death, both our loved ones and ours to come. Culture then is just an expression of our life process culminating in the ultimate purpose and meaning of our lives. Again, as mentioned above, the spirituality that may be connected to a culture helps alleviate fear of death. But more than that, Catholicism focuses on our heavenly home and perfection of the soul.
1Corinthians 15: 51-52 “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”