The Vigil ordinarily takes place prior to the Funeral Mass and may be celebrated in the family home, in the funeral home or at the church where the Funeral Mass is scheduled.
At the Vigil the Christian community joins the bereaved family to keep watch in prayer to the God of mercy and finds strength in the presence of Jesus Christ. The family and community look to God's word for faith and hope, as light and life in the face of darkness and death.
The Vigil consists of an opening rite, reading from the Scriptures, a reflection, prayers of intercession and a blessing. This service typically accommodates opportunities for personal sharing by family members and friends.
Participation of the bereaved family members is encouraged in both developing and leading a Vigil that truly remembers the life and relationships of the deceased. Parish leadership is typically available to assist in developing the Vigil. While the Vigil may be lead by a member of the clergy, others may be selected by the family for both leadership and participation.
Besides providing a setting for the Vigil, a wake gives those who have suffered a loss the opportunity to face the death of their loved one, to adjust to a new reality, to find comfort and support in the company of others, to share stories and remembrances of the deceased and to express their sorrow and grief.