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How Does a Catholic Funeral Differ from a Protestant Funeral?

If you’re a Protestant, and you’re preparing to attend a Catholic funeral, you may wonder if it will be a completely new experience. You may even be nervous, wondering if your inexperience will cause a misstep that could prove embarrassing. Relax! Even if you feel lost during the service, you’re likely to be surrounded by people who know what they’re doing; just by following along you’ll be alright. The reality is that it probably won’t be completely foreign to you, but there are some things you might want to know.

  • There’s probably going to be more ritual than you’re used to seeing. If you’ve ever attended Catholic Church services, you know they typically include more ritual than Protestant services, and the same is true for Catholic memorial services and funerals. There will be standing and kneeling that’s not unfamiliar to Lutherans and Episcopalians but may throw people from other denominations, such as Methodists and Baptists, for a loop. Don’t worry! Just pay attention and follow along.
  • Communion will probably be offered, but not for non-Catholics. It’s very important for you to know that Catholic churches don’t allow non-Catholics to participate in communion. It’s ok, though: no one will think anything of it if you simply don’t make your way to the front.
  • There probably won’t be any eulogies. A Catholic funeral is meant to be not only an expression of grief but also a time of worship. There will probably be funeral readings and a homily, but there will not be any eulogies, which put the focus on the person who has died, rather than on Jesus’s saving actions and prayers for the soul’s repose.
  • The traditional funeral service for a Catholic usually lasts about an hour. Be aware there may also be a short burial service at the grave site.
  • If there’s cremation, the remains will probably still be buried. The Catholic Church used to ban cremation entirely and has relaxed that stance. However, it’s still not permissible to scatter the ashes or keep them at home, because it’s considered disrespectful.

If you have questions about a Catholic funeral, we’re happy to answer them for you. If you’re a Catholic and need help with funeral planning, please call us to learn about all we have to offer. We’re happy to assist you whether a death has occurred or you’re interested in pre-planning. Call today at 833-428-0379 or visit our website for more information.

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