The Order of Christian Funerals is the work of the international Commission for English in the Liturgy, based on the Ordo Exsequiarum, the funeral rites revised after the Second Vatican Council. The Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy directed that the rites should express more clearly the paschal character of Christian death (SC 81). This Order offers us fuller rites adapted to Irish circumstances by the Irish Episcopal Commission for Liturgy and approved by the Irish Bishops' Conference.
In the face of death, the Church provides us, in our grief and loss, with a proclamation of hope. We are created for eternal life and everyone who is baptised shares in the death and resurrection of Jesus. `You have been taught', St Paul wrote to the Romans, `that when we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised into his death; in other words when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father's glory, we too might live a new life. If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection' (Rom 6:3-5).
With prayer and ritual, we journey with the body of the deceased, honouring that body and commending the dead to God's merciful love. The principal celebration of the Christian funeral is the Mass, the memorial of the death and resurrection of Christ. At the Mass we pray that the divine life given to us at baptism may be brought to its fulfilment in eternal glory.
We also journey with those who mourn, for we recognise the pain of bereavement. This is part of the ministry of consolation, put simply and eloquently in the introduction to the Order: to care for the dying, to pray for the dead, to comfort those who mourn.
- Cahal B. Daly, Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of all Ireland
International Commission on English in the Liturgy