Vigil Service (Wake)
"At the vigil, the Christian community keeps watch with the family in prayer to the God of mercy and finds strength in Christ's presence" (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 56). The Vigil Service usually takes place during the period of visitation and viewing at the funeral home. It is a time to remember the life of the deceased and to commend him/her to God. In prayer we ask God to console us in our grief and give us strength to support one another.
The Vigil Service can take the form of a Liturgy of the Word with readings from Sacred Scripture accompanied by reflection and prayers. It can also take the form of one of the prayers of the Office for the Dead from the Liturgy of the Hours. The clergy and your funeral director can assist in planning such service.
The first rite is called the Vigil. It has three options:
- Vigil for the deceased with reception at the church
- Gathering in the presence of the body
- Transfer of the body to the church or place of committal
Vigil for the deceased with reception at the church is best used when the viewing is held in the church. It would occur at the very beginning, after the body has been brought into the church.
Gathering in the presence of the body is best used when the viewing is held at the funeral home. This rite can be used at any time during the viewing but the best time is to begin the viewing.
Transfer of the body to the church or place of committal would normally happen at the end of the viewing when the funeral liturgy or committal will follow immediately.
It is most appropriate, when family and friends are gathered together for visitation, to offer time for recalling the life of the deceased. For this reason, eulogies are usually encouraged to be done at the funeral home during visitation or at the Vigil Service.