Are Wakes A Catholic Thing

Elaine Sutton
• Wednesday, 30 December, 2020
• 7 min read

Ya know my ex could tell you the exact difference between visitation and a wake, alas I hate talking to him, so we will never know.... His family owns funeral homes if you were wondering.

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And locally we have a lot of Jewish friends who further sit Shiva and people visit them then. ETA: The luncheon is generally called the “reception” and either held at the church, funeral home, or at a relative's house and if it's between the funeral and burial or after the burial depends on the family and service.

However, in my adult life, in the areas where I've lived, what Catholics, Protestants, Episcopalians did before the funeral would be called either a wake or a viewing. Many people do invite the mourners at the funeral to lunch afterwards (often at a restaurant).

When I moved to Illinois I noticed that people here always called them wakes, no matter what the religion. I never hear the term “wake” here, and it seems like in the south it is referred to more than the 'calling,' 'viewing' or 'visitation'.

I grew up in a traditionally Irish and German neighborhood, and it was called a wake the night or two prior to the funeral. The funeral consisted of going to the funeral home the morning of the burial for a very brief service where the guests and family view the deceased one last time before they close the casket.

It seems these days many are opting for a morning Wake that only lasts a few hours before the procession to the cemetery. The “funeral” was the entire burial service beginning in the morning, at the funeral home, church, driving past the deceased's last residence, and finally ending at the cemetery.

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And the “thank you luncheon” was the collection of all the guests from the funeral, that could stay for the family of the deceased, a little longer. I have heard the word “wake” used this way lots of times; the word I'm less familiar with in terms of funerals, because I'm not catholic, is “mass” to describe the memorial service, which is what I'd be more likely to call it.

Lots of visiting going on-but yup, we call it a wake. I am not Catholic, but I know a lot of people who use the term “Wake” for the times before the funeral.

Visitations, as I recall, were usually after the funeral, as a time for comfort with the family of the deceased. This may also be a regional thought, I grew up in Southern Ohio.

A wake is a social gathering associated with death, usually held before a funeral. Traditionally, a wake takes place in the house of the deceased with the body present; however, modern wakes are often performed at a funeral home or another convenient location.

A wake is also sometimes held in place of a funeral as a social celebration of the person's life. In the United States and Canada it is synonymous with a viewing.

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In the United Kingdom and some other parts of the Commonwealth, where it is not customary to have a public viewing ceremony before the funeral, the term is sometimes used for a gathering held after the funeral. The term originally referred to a late-night prayer vigil but is now mostly used for the social interactions accompanying a funeral.

While the modern usage of the verb wake is “become or stay alert”, a wake for the dead harks back to the vigil, “watch” or “guard” of earlier times. The term wake was originally used to denote a prayer vigil, often an annual event held on the feast day of the saint to whom a parish church was dedicated.

With the change to the more recent practice of holding the wake at a funeral home rather than the home, the custom of providing refreshment to the mourners is often held directly after the funeral at the house or another convenient location. The wake or the viewing of the body is a prominent part of death rituals in many cultures.

This ceremony allows one last interaction with the corpse, providing a time for the living to express their emotions and beliefs about death with the deceased. Word myths: debunking linguistic urban legends.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wakes (ceremonies). A visitation can take place any time, before or after the funeral service or disposition, and can last for hours or days.

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Here are some major religions' perspectives on viewings, wakes, and visitations: A viewing is customary in the Baptist tradition, and may be held at either a funeral home or at the church.

However, any chanting must be for practical reasons, such as to aid in the contemplation of the impermanence of life, rather than for mere tradition. Local, fraternal, military, or civil rites or traditions may be performed at the wake, so long as they do not conflict with the Buddhist Precepts (murder, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxication).

The Vigil is a prayer service usually held the evening before the funeral. Once the body has been properly prepared, the priest will then begin the First Panikhida, a prayer service for the deceased.

The wake will last until the body is brought to the church for the funeral service. During the wake, the Psalter (Book of Psalms) is read aloud by family and friends and subsequent Panikhidas are performed.

During the wake, family and friends gather around the casket and may recite hymns or mantras. At the end of the wake, before the body is removed for cremation, many Hindus place “Linda” (rice balls) near the casket.

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(Source: www.kirbysschoolofwake.com)

Any fraternal, civil, or military rites should be delivered at the viewing rather than at the funeral. When a Muslim dies, the body should be buried as soon as possible after death, thus there is no viewing before the funeral.

Some Catholic Church parishes perform the vigil for the deceased on a regular basis, while others have replaced it with the rosary. The custom of the wake comes from the ancient tradition of staying up all night in prayer before an important religious festival such as a saint's day.

Some Catholics follow a separate tradition of praying the rosary over the deceased person instead of holding a vigil. However, according to an article on Catholic funerals on the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin's website, the custom of praying the rosary is not an acceptable substitute for the vigil of the deceased.

During a wake service, scripture passages can be read and friends or family can give eulogies. The vigil service is a time to remember the life of the deceased person and commend his soul to God.

Family and friends gather around to console and support one another during the service, and pray for God to provide comfort and healing during their time of grief. Because the funeral liturgy is a formal Mass celebration, eulogies are not typically allowed during that time.

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