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Religious Rites & Practices

Below is a general summary of the funeral rites of several religions, Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox Jewish, Conservative Jewish and Mormon. This is by no means a complete list of religions or a detailed list of the practices of each religion. Rather, we offer these lists as a way to get a general understanding of the funeral rites and practices of a funeral you may be planning to attend or need to plan for. It is suggested that if you wish to find out more about these religious rites that you contact a clergy of the faith you are interested in.

LITURGICAL PROTESTANT FUNERAL RITE
Notification of the Clergy:
  Should be done as a matter of courtesy as soon as practical.
Removal of Remains:
  No restrictions placed on time of day or day of removal.
Preparation of Remains:
  Embalming is usually accepted and allowed.
Dressing and Casketing:
  No special restrictions or requirements at to clothing. The deceased's own clothing or clothing purchased from the funeral home may be used. No particular restrictions or requirements are placed on the type of casket that may be used. The clothing and casket are the choices of the family.
Seating Considerations:
  Review standards or customs for the individual church or family. Reserve seating for the family, casketbearers and honorary casketbearers in the front but not usually in the first row. Ushers should be aware of seating arrangements. Casket should be in front of the altar either parallel or at a right angle to the altar.
Order of the Service:
  Order of the service is usually as follows but, is up to the family and/or clergy. 1. Scripture reading, 2. Prayer, 3. Musical selection, 4. Eulogy(s), sermon, 5. Musical selection, 6. Benediction, 7. Recessional, 8. Post service review (if desired). Communion may be offered to the family the morning of the service.
Funeral Cortege:
  The Funeral Cortege is usually as follows but, is up to each individual family. 1. Escort and/or lead car, 2. Clergy, 3. Honorary casketbearers, 4. Active casketbearers, 5. Casket coach / hearse, 6. Family of deceased, 7. Friends.
Committal Service:
  The committal service is usually as follows but, is up to the family and/or Clergy. 1. Procession to the grave, 2. Seating of the family, 3. Placement of casketbearers, 4. Use of sand or flower petals by the clergy, 5. Benediction, 6. Dismissal.

ROMAN CATHOLIC FUNERAL RITES
Notification of the Clergy:
  Not usually done but in some areas is done as a courtesy.
Removal of Remains:
  No restrictions for deceased lay people but there may be restrictions for deceased priest or nun.
Preparation of Remains:
  No restrictions for deceased lay people but there may be restrictions for deceased priest or nun. Religious articles are removed during embalming.
Dressing and Casketing:
  No special restrictions or requirements at to clothing for deceased lay people. A priest will be dressed in the robes of the station in the priesthood. A deceased nun will wear the robes of her official position. For all deceased Catholics, Rosary Beads may be placed in the hands of the deceased. A crucifix may be placed on the outside of the foot panel of the casket and/or on the inside of the head panel. If used, the Sacred Heart should be placed inside the head panel.
Rosary / Wake / Vigil Service:
  A prayer service usually held in the funeral home the evening before the funeral mass. The priest usually officiates; however, anyone can recite the Prayers. Music may be used and flowers may be displayed. The casket is usually open during the service. Candles (vigil lights) may be placed by the casket, one at the head and one at the foot. A prie dieu is placed in front of the casket and a crucifix behind the casket. You may find a tray for mass cards in the vestibule. There may also be holy water and incense at the service.
Funeral Mass:
  A funeral mass may not be held on a Sunday or certain holy days and is always held in a Catholic Church. The funeral mass is usually a semi-private family service and may involve a processional from the funeral home to the church. A pall or a U.S. flag may cover the casket. The church processional begins in the Narthex and is in the following order: 1. Crucifer, 2. Priest, 3. Funeral Director, 4. Casket and casketbearers, 5. Family. The family is usually seated on the right side of the altar (as you face the altar) and the casketbearers are usually seated on the left side. The mass is usually celebrated by the priest and is then followed by the final Commendation (Absolution) with the holy water and incense. The mass is completed with the recessional and the blessing of the casket.
Funeral Cortege:
  The Funeral Cortege is as follows. 1. Escort and/or lead car, 2. Priest and acolytes may ride in lead car, 3. Honorary casketbearers, 4. Active casketbearers, 5. Casket coach / hearse, 6. Family of deceased, 7. Friends.
Committal Service:
  The committal service is usually as follows, but it is up to the family and/or the priest. 1. Procession to the grave with the priest, flanked by the acolytes, leads the casket, 2. Seating of the family, 3. Placement of casketbearers, 4. Use of sand or flower petals by the clergy, 5. Benediction, 6. Dismissal.

ORTHODOX JEWISH FUNERAL RITE
Laws of Mourning:
  Upon death, the close relatives to the deceased are to observe certain mourning periods. During these periods, the relatives; Father, Mother, Husband, Wife, Child, Brother or, Sister, are to humble themselves as a display of respect for the deceased. The garments are to be torn on the day of the death. The mourners are to abstain from work, festivities and amusement. There are three periods of mourning to be observed. Shivah, a seven-day mourning period, begins the day of burial and ends on the seventh day; a candle is burned for these seven days. Sholoshim, a thirty-day mourning period, where the mourners abstain from all festivities and amusement for thirty days following the death. Yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death, when a Yahrzeit candle is lit in the home.
Notification of the Clergy:
  The local Rabbi is immediately notified unless it is the Sabbath (Saturday) then he is notified immediately thereafter.
Removal of Remains:
  No removal is made from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, unless the non-removal interferes with public health and safety. If the death was from a violent cause, then all of the blood-stained clothing or other materials need to be included in the casket with the remains.
Preparation of Remains:
  Embalming is usually not practiced but is allowable with the permission of the Rabbi. The body is prepared or cleansed in a prescribed way by certain members of the Synagogue (Chevra).
Dressing and Casketing:
  The Chevra dress the deceased in a white, linen shroud called a Tachrichim. The deceased is then placed in an all wood casket that contains no metal (an Aron) and has the Star of David on the outside of the foot panel. A bag of earth from Israel is placed under the head or sprinkled on the body. The casket is closed and never again opened.
Order of the Service:
  Funerals are not held on the Sabbath (Saturday) and are not held in a Synagogue but, may be held in a funeral home. Flowers are not permitted at the funeral service. All men must wear yamakas at the funeral service. A candelabrum (Menorah) may be near the casket.
Funeral Cortege:
  There is no traditional order to the Cortege (Levaya) but often the Levaya stops at the Synagogue where the doors of the hearse and the doors of the Synagogue are opened and prayers are said by the Rabbi.
Committal Service:
  Cremation is forbidden by the Jewish faith. At the committal service there will not be any mechanical devices used to lower the casket into the grave; hand straps are used.

CONSERVATIVE & REFORM JEWISH FUNERAL RITE
Notification of the Clergy:
  It is not necessary to contact the Rabbi. The funeral arrangements are usually made by the family.
Removal of Remains:
  There are usually no restrictions placed on time of day or day of removal.
Preparation of Remains:
  Embalming is usually accepted and allowed.
Dressing and Casketing:
  No special restrictions or requirements at to clothing. The deceased's own clothing or clothing purchased from the funeral home may be used. No particular restrictions or requirements are placed on the type of casket that may be used. The clothing and casket are the choices of the family.
Seating Considerations:
  The family or Rabbi determines the seating.
Order of the Service:
  Funerals are not held on the Sabbath (Saturday). The funeral service may be held in the funeral home, residence or a Synagogue.
Funeral Cortege:
  The cortege does not usually stop at the Synagogue.
Committal Service:
  The family of the Rabbi determines if cremation, interment or entombment. A mechanical device may be used to lower the casket.

CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS (MORMON)
Notification of the Clergy:
  Notification of the clergy is not required by the church but should be done as a matter of courtesy as soon as practical.
Removal of Remains:
  No restrictions are placed.
Preparation of Remains:
  Embalming is accepted and allowed.
Dressing and Casketing:
  There is no restriction on the type of casket to be used – it is up to the family. If the deceased has not been through the Temple, then there are no restrictions on clothing and it is up to the family. If the deceased has been through the Temple then the deceased is dressed entirely in white with green apron.
Order of the Service:
  Funeral service may be held in the funeral home or the Tabernacle but not in the Temple. The services are usually as simple as possible and flowers are discouraged. The order of the service is usually, 1. Prelude, 2. Invocation, 3. Eulogy/obituary, 4. Musical selection, 5. Speaker, 6. Benediction, 7. Postlude.
Funeral Cortege:
  There is no prescribed cortege.
Committal Service:
  Earthen burial is customary but other modes are permissible.

It is important to remember that these are just guidelines and that there are many variations and enhancements to these religious practices. How you want to be remembered or, remember your loved one is entirely up to you and what you are comfortable with. You should discuss these practices and the options available to you with your funeral director.


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