Each sacramental action of the Church is celebrated using ‘living words and actions’ that have evolved over millennia of prayer and faith. The official words and actions of each rite open our minds, hearts and senses to the presence of God in our midst, whenever we gather for worship.
Rite of Blessing for Expectant Parents and their Children in the Womb
Ko te Ritenga Whakapai i ngā Mātua me ā rāua Tamaiti kei roto tonu i te Kōpū
This Rite of Blessing invites Christian families to rejoice in the dignity of the expectant mother and the child she carries in her womb, to joyfully welcome the gift of the child to be born as a gift from God, a "treasure to be cherished, blessed and greeted by the family of the Church". Yet keeping in mind the story of the Holy Family, this Rite also recognises that pregnancy may be a vulnerable time, bringing its own burdens and challenges on the journey towards birth, and baptism.
- the blessing may be given by the Celebrant within Mass OR
- may be used as a blessing outside Mass, celebrated by a priest, deacon or lay leader
- separate selections of scripture readings, prayers and hymns are provided for these celebrations
- an appendix offers prayer resources for parents of a still-born child
- contact details for diocesan pregnancy and family support services are available at the back of the document
- in addition, a set of 10 cards, with the words of the Blessing for Parents and the words of the Blessing for the Child in the Womb, printed in English or Te Reo have been prepared. These beautifully illustrated cards may be offered to parents as a memento of the blessing and for continuing prayer
Some samples are available in the links below:
- English Blessing for Parents and Blessing for the Child in the Womb
- Te Reo Blessing for Parents and Blessing for the Child in the Womb
$12.00 for each book
$15.00 for each pack of 10 cards (please indicate English or Te Reo)
Distributed by the National Liturgy Office on behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.
Order of Christian Funerals | Whakaritenga Tangihanga Karaitiana
For Catholics the death of a loved one is understood in the light of the death and resurrection of Christ. The Christian who dies in Christ Jesus is “away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-15:8
Click the red button for additional resources
A Catholic funeral expresses this hope of resurrection and provides friends, family and the Church community with an opportunity to pray for the soul of the deceased and to entrust it to God.
It is an ancient practice of the Church to keep vigil on the eve of major Christian feasts and this practice is extended to funerals. On the evening before a funeral, those who wish to may have a vigil service for the deceased person. The vigil service usually takes place in the church but it can be held in the family home. It is a time for the community to gather with the family of the deceased person, to keep watch and find strength in Christ’s presence, and to celebrate the person’s life.
The usual order of a vigil is: opening song, introductory rite, liturgy of the word, prayer of intercession and concluding rite. Before the concluding rite there is an opportunity for sharing memories and paying personal tributes to the deceased, such as speeches, poems, songs or symbols. The family may also choose to include a rosary or part of it.
Funeral Service without a Mass
At a funeral service or Mass the community gathers with family and friends of the deceased to give praise and thanks to God for the gift of the deceased person’s life and to commend the person to God's mercy and compassion.
Sometimes a family prefers a simple funeral service without a Mass, with readings from scripture, prayer and music and a final commendation. During the commendation the casket is sprinkled with blessed water as a reminder of the person’s Baptism. Incense symbolises the prayer surrounding the deceased person and rising to God. There is no liturgy of the Eucharist or Holy Communion at this service.
Funeral Service with Mass (Requiem)
The Funeral Mass includes the reception of the body, the celebration of the liturgy of the word, the celebration of the liturgy of the Eucharist, and the final commendation and farewell. When the body is received into the Church at the beginning of the Mass the priest sprinkles it with holy water in remembrance of the person’s Baptism.
The scripture readings highlight the mercy and forgiveness of God, and the prayers are for the deceased person, the bereaved, those present and the whole Church. Full use of song is encouraged for both the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
During the Final Commendation and Farewell the gathered assembly bids farewell to one of its members and entrusts them to the care of God. This is followed by a song of farewell, during which the body of the deceased is honoured with incense as a visible reminder that during the person’s earthly life he or she was a temple of God and dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
The Rite of Committal
This is the final act of the community in caring for the body of its deceased member. It may be celebrated at the grave, tomb or crematorium. Whenever possible, the rite of committal is to be celebrated at the site of committal.
Psychologically and emotionally this final act of separation is often a most difficult time for the family and friends of the deceased. The full reality of death is experienced as the body of the deceased is returned to the earth from which it came and the family and friends must "let go" in the act of separating themselves from the deceased.
In these difficult moments the Church, once again, offers its comfort and support. Viewed in the context of faith the grave is not a place of despair and hopelessness but, rather, united with Christ in his own death and burial, a place of rest and peace in which the soul of the believer is with Christ and the body awaits the promised resurrection on the last day.
This rite is very brief. It consists of an invitation to prayer, recitation of a scripture verse, prayer over the place of committal, the act of committal, intercessions, Lord's Prayer, concluding prayer, and prayer over the people and dismissal.
Like all the other elements of the Catholic funeral, in these final moments the family and friends of the deceased do not stand alone, but with the Church there to offer its gift of presence and hope based on faith.
To talk about Catholic funerals with a priest or parish worker in your area contact your diocese or local parish.
An outline for organising a funeral can be found in the red related resources button at the top of this section.
Can I have a Catholic funeral if I or my family are not practising Catholics?
The parish is there to support the bereaved at the time of a death. This is just as true for those who do not have strong ties with a parish as for those who do. The priest will welcome the opportunity to discuss the funeral ceremony with family or friends who are planning the funeral or with the funeral director on their behalf. He or a lay parish worker will help select scripture readings and hymns and arrange the roles that different people will have during the service.
How can I cater for friends and family who are not Catholic?
When planning a funeral with the priest or lay parish worker, mention that there will be non-Catholics present. Ask if the priest can acknowledge these people at the funeral, guide them through the ceremony by explaining the various components and rituals, and provide timely instructions.
Can I have a church funeral without a full Mass?
Yes. Sometimes a family prefers a simple funeral service without a Mass. It consists of readings from scripture, prayer and music and a final commendation, but there is no liturgy of the Eucharist or Holy Communion.
Can Catholics be cremated?
The long-standing practice of burying the body of the deceased in a grave or tomb as Jesus was continues to be encouraged as a sign of Christian faith. However, owing to contemporary cultural considerations, the practice of cremation has become part of Catholic practice in New Zealand and other parts of the western world. The 1983 Code of Canon Law states that cremation is not forbidden "unless it has been chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching." (Can.1176.3)