General view of body during cremation process (superior view). Note the calcination of the vertebral spinous processes, vertebral ends of ribs, and medial border of the scapulae.
I was reading an obituary of a woman from Panama born in 1930 and with a very Catholic name, first and middle. The obituary, very short, says she was a great wife and mother. Then there is this little ditty: "no funeral services are planned, but a get-together at her daughter's residence!"
Chances are, this poor woman of Catholic heritage was either a "none" herself, or her children have become nones and could not be bothered with even a religious graveside service. Why? Because they are nones first, and secondly poor old mom was cremated and they'll do as they damn well please with with her ground-up bone fragments and any dental fragments, metal implants and the like along with those of many others previously cremated in the same oven. Who knows, many some ashes will go to family members, others be sprinkled in places she like or would have liked to visit or simply thrown out at the funeral director's discretion.
More and more when I read obituaries, no matter the religious affiliation of the deceased, there is this little coded language ditty: "Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date." This in fact means "THERE WILL BE NO FUNERAL!"
Although the obit I read this morning was more honest. It said "THERE WILL BE NO FUNERAL!"
What I fear the most is that Catholic nones are giving there practicing Catholic parents "NO FUNERAL RITES WHATSOEVER, NOT EVEN A GRAVESIDE" because cremation allows for whatever these nones want to do or not to do.
Is this a mortal sin and a scandal? And should the Church once again ban CREAMATIO? I say YES, YES, AND YES!
This probably shows the the effects of presumption on the lives of the parents. They think everything will be taken care of, no insurance, no savings, no storing up blessings and teaching the children. The wicks are going out and the groom is near.
I prefer burial, but sometimes for space/geographical purposes, you may need cremation. Think Tokyo, New York City, London, Paris---it is not like they are making more land these days. The New York City area has some 20 million people---assuming all of them would be dead within 100 years, where would they all go if they were buried? The East River? The Hudson? The ocean? And of course people die in plane crashes, war (bombings) and fires---sometimes there is nothing left to bury. Some priests here in Atlanta have been cremated in recent years.
While it is undoubtedly true that the full liturgy for the dead presupposes interment, cremation has been allowed in the Catholic Church since 1965. However, it follows the Requiem Mass and Absolutions. To offer a Requiem Mass in the presence of the cremated remains is a serious abuse. It is not allowed in England and Wales and in most of Europe.
Funeral mass in the presence of cremains is allowed in the USA.
If you ban cremation, what penalty would you apply to offenders? You threaten them with hell now if they intentionally miss Mass, but that doesn't get them to church, especially on Holy Days of Obligation. You gonna threaten them with the same for choosing a process that will not drive them into debt? The average funeral costs in the USA are between $8,000 and $10,000. Direct cremation can be had for $695.00.
I have ministered in two parishes with a large population of poorer African Americans. They were scrupulous to purchase low cost funeral insurance from their favorite black funeral home so they could be given a proper Christian burial without loved ones have to spend money on it they didn't have or having to have a paupers funeral. There are funeral homes that offer these.
It is absolutely a scandal and a mortal sin to be cheap about a loved one's Christian burial. Cremation is cheaper but so is forgoing living above one's means or spending unnecessarily on luxuries that prevents even psychologically the desire to give a loved one a funeral that could cost up to $10,000 or more depending on selections of casket and other items.
Poor people have for ages swung decent Christian burials. It is only the affluent today and those who don't think it is necessary to purchase burial insurance who want the cheapest funeral possible.
Pre-need arrangements should be made and memorialized if a Catholic desires a Catholic funeral and a casketed burial vs. cremation. Find someone willing to ensure that your wishes are executed as intended.
Fr. AJM - Rightness/Wrongness of cremation aside, perhaps you could suggest what persons do to ensure that their wishes regarding their faith and burial are carried out??? My answer is simplistic as this has never been an issue in my family. Perhaps there are specifics to ensure one's wishes and faith are respected.
ByzRC, I established a family trust and detailed will to control those things. My attourney is a very perennial minded Catholic allied with one of our parishioners who is also an attorney. Basically there is a book in his hands that walks my survivors through the entire process. There are names and contact information. Everything is paid in advance. I only have to be sure to not drink up all the wake money beforehand. It is not very expensive, the cemetary plot is by far the most expensive part.
Does anyone have guidance as to what should be written on the stone? I have my own idea, but wonder what I should have. I like simple name and dates. Anything else?
There's nothing scandalous, much less mortally sinful, in spending little on a funeral. A proper Christian funeral need not cost anywhere near $8,000 to $10,000.
Pre-planning and pre-paying for funeral services can help assure that one's wishes are carried out. Talk with your priest, talk with your funeral director, write down what you want and do not want, and go from there.
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