We always try to offer the Mass of Christian Burial for any Catholic soul that has died. I am so grateful for the systems we have in place in our parish to prepare those Masses, and then carry them through in a beautiful way. With this bulletin letter I would like to address the preference for having the body of the deceased at the Mass, and burying the body, rather than cremating it.
Although the Church has given permission to have cremains at the funeral Mass, the preference has always been, and continues to be, that the actual body of the deceased (not the cremains) be present for the Mass. Here are some excerpts from a National Bishops' Conference document explaining this preference:
The Church has always held a preference for corporeal body. The body of a deceased loved one forcefully brings to mind the mystery of life and death and our belief that our human bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and destined for future glory at the resurrection of the dead. In addition, the body which lies in death recalls the personal story of faith, the past relationships, and the continued spiritual presence of the deceased person.
This is the body once washed in baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the bread of life. This is the body whose hands clothed the poor and embraced the sorrowing. The human body is so inextricably associated with the human person that it is hard to think of a human person apart from his or her body. Thus, the Church's reverence and care for the body grows out of a reverence and concern for the person whom the Church now commends to the care of God.
Although cremation is now permitted it does not enjoy the same value as burial of the body. Catholic teaching continues to stress the preference for burial of the body of the deceased. Likewise, the Church clearly prefers and urges that the body of the deceased be present for its funeral rites, since the presence of the human body better expresses the values which the Church affirms in its rites.
If cremation truly must be chosen for economic or other reasons, funeral directors today are prepared to discuss with the family the possibility of having the body of the deceased at the funeral Mass, and then doing cremation afterwards. Ask your funeral director about the possibilities; but if at all possible, have the funeral Mass celebrated, and choose to bury the body.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,