The Catholic Church sees the death of a Christian as the end of the earthly pilgrimage and the beginning of a new and eternal life with God. The rites of the Church reflect this belief. The rites of the Church aim to assist the dead with prayers of the Church for their eternal salvation in Jesus Christ and to aid the family and friends of the deceased in their time of loss and sorrow with a message of hope and consolation in Jesus Christ.
The focus of the Catholic Funeral Liturgy is God. The Church praises God for His goodness and for the gifts of life and love which He bestows and are experienced by the deceased. In the Funeral Liturgy, the Church turns to God in faith for the reward of eternal life for those who believe in God and lived for God in this life. The Church prays to God for the healing and consolation of those who mourn.
The Funeral Liturgy is an aid for both the living and dead. As we gather to pray for our beloved dead we are strengthened and renewed in our faith so that we can recommit ourselves to loving God and living our lives in Jesus Christ. The dead are assisted by our prayers for the forgiveness of their sins and for their entrance into eternal life with the saints in glory.
The Funeral Liturgy is closely tied with the Rites of Baptism when the promise of eternal life in Christ is first given to those who believe. The ritual symbols of water, the paschal candle, the pall, the Word of God and the journey to the altar, all recall the journey that begins for the Catholic in baptism.
The Order of Christian Funerals has three stations reflecting the earthly pilgrimage and the journey to Heaven for the followers of Jesus: The Vigil at the funeral home, the Funeral Liturgy at the Church and The Final Commendation and Burial at the cemetery.