After the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the faith community celebrates the final church rituals of the funeral rites.
145. At the conclusion of the funeral liturgy, the rite of final commendation and farewell is celebrated, unless it is to be celebrated later at the place of committal.
When might final commendation and farewell not take place at the funeral liturgy? Most likely when the committal will take place on a subsequent day or in a different faith community.
146. The final commendation is a final farewell by the members of the community, an act of respect for one of their members, whom they entrust to the tender and merciful embrace of God. This act of last farewell also acknowledges the reality of separation and affirms that the community and the deceased, baptized into one Body, share the same destiny, resurrection on the last day. On that day the one Shepherd will call each by name and gather the faithful together in the new and eternal Jerusalem.
So this final farewell is significant enough to warrant its own subdivision within the funeral liturgy. It’s not just a concluding rite with a few special things attached. Better to see it as of a kin to the sacramental rituals that take place at the beginning of Mass (such as the RCIA’s Rite of Acceptance) or after the homily (Baptism, Marriage, etc.).
Considering the two aims of this farewell ritual–acknowledging separation and affirming the shared destiny of the living and the dead–does the rite strike a balance between the two? Are mourners so overwhelmed with loss that they make less of the connection with the fate of the dead and their own mortality?