Viaticum / Funeral Liturgy

How is a Funeral Liturgy planned?

If you have any questions, feel free to call the Parish Office at 573.635.7991

It is a very good idea to think about pre-planning as much as possible. You CAN pre-plan your Funeral Liturgy to lessen the burden on your loved ones.

If you know that you or a loved one is close to death, as a Baptized Catholic you have a right to the (Last) Sacraments, as many as are able to be received. This is known as “Last Rites.” We pray to our heavenly Pastor St. Joseph for a peaceful death, and this is the best way that we know how to enter into our eternal rest.  “Last Rites” consists of:  Viaticum “food for the journey”, is the final reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist (if possible); the Sacrament of Confession; and the Sacrament of the Anointing (and often times the Apostolic Pardon Blessing). Often, only the Sacrament of Anointing and other blessings / prayers are able to be received for those who are unconscious or who are very near death. If you are in the hospital or nursing home, please have the nurse or assistant call the on-call priest (for more immediate assistance) or call the parish directly for a priest. Deacons cannot Anoint or hear Confessions.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

1523  A preparation for the final journey. If the sacrament of anointing of the sick is given to all who suffer from serious illness and infirmity, even more rightly is it given to those at the point of departing this life; so it is also called sacramentum exeuntium (the sacrament of those departing).139 The Anointing of the Sick completes our conformity to the death and Resurrection of Christ, just as Baptism began it. It completes the holy anointings that mark the whole Christian life: that of Baptism which sealed the new life in us, and that of Confirmation which strengthened us for the combat of this life. This last anointing fortifies the end of our earthly life like a solid rampart for the final struggles before entering the Father’s house.140

1524  In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum. Communion in the body and blood of Christ, received at this moment of “passing over” to the Father, has a particular significance and importance. It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection, according to the words of the Lord: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”141 The sacrament of Christ once dead and now risen, the Eucharist is here the sacrament of passing over from death to life, from this world to the Father.142

1525  Thus, just as the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist form a unity called “the sacraments of Christian initiation,” so too it can be said that Penance, the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist as viaticum constitute at the end of Christian life “the sacraments that prepare for our heavenly homeland” or the sacraments that complete the earthly pilgrimage.


An Overview Of Catholic Funeral Rites

From the USCCB website

At the death of a Christian, whose life of faith was begun in the waters of Baptism and strengthened at the Eucharistic table, the Church intercedes on behalf of the deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end, nor does it break the bonds forged in life. The Church also ministers to the sorrowing and consoles them in the funeral rites with the comforting Word of God and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 4)

Funeral Liturgy

The funeral liturgy is the central liturgical celebration of the Christian community for the deceased. When one of its members dies, the Church encourages the celebration of the funeral liturgy at a Mass. When Mass cannot be celebrated, a funeral liturgy outside Mass can be celebrated at the church or in the funeral home. There are no Masses in Funeral Homes

At the funeral liturgy, the Church gathers with the family and friends of the deceased to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over sin and death, to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion, and to seek strength in the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery. The funeral liturgy, therefore, is an act of worship, and not merely an expression of grief.

Rite of Committal (Burial or Interment)

The Rite of Committal, the conclusion of the funeral rite, is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member. It should normally be celebrated at the place of committal, that is, beside the open grave or place of interment. In committing the body to its resting place, the community expresses the hope that, with all those who have gone before us 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.


Typically, when a loved one passes away, working with the funeral home, the parish is contacted and the priest-celebrant (for a Mass) or deacon is chosen. The Parish is contacted, often by the funeral home, to set the time and date. The family often works with the Priest, musician(s), and the funeral luncheon committee.

Some things to think about:

  • Reading choices
  • Hymn choices
  • Persons to fulfill the various roles (i.e. Lector, Offertory, etc.)
  • Will there be a Luncheon? If so, how many?


One of the most important things we can do for our loved one who passes away is to pray for them. Please be assured of the St. Joseph Cathedral Parish’s prayers for your loved one and your family.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord… and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, Rest in Peace.