The Church’s Liturgical year concludes in several weeks with the Solemnity of Christ the King. The Sunday readings for these last several weeks draw our attention to the End Times: our personal end (when one dies), and the end of time when the Lord returns in glory. This is an additional reason why November is set aside as a special time to pray for the dead. It is also a good time for us to review the rituals of the Church at the time of death. Since in baptism the body was marked with the seal of the Trinity and became the temple of the Holy Spirit, Christians respect and honor the bodies of the dead and the places where they rest. In addition, it is this body which we honor in death that the Lord will raise on the Last Day. Care must be made that we do not simply conform to secular standards regarding care for the bodies of the dead and in the funeral rites. In particular we should be cautious so that secular or profane practices do not make their way into the Funeral Mass. Sacred and Catholic music only should be played or sung at the funeral. The presence of legitimate secular symbols (for example, symbols of one’s past military service) may be used during public visitation in the church or at the funeral home, if they are displayed with some restraint. The Church, seeking always to stress our belief in the resurrection of the body, strongly recommends that funeral rites be conducted with the body present. Cremation is allowed, as long as one does not choose it for anti-Christian motives. In such a case, cremation should be done after the funeral rites (after the Funeral Mass). Out of respect for the body, and in hopeful remembrance of our Lord’s resurrection, the ancient Christian custom is to bury or entomb the bodies of the dead. This includes the cremated remains. One should never have the cremated remains in an urn in one’s home, and the practice of scattering ashes is strictly forbidden. In all cases, the Church warmly encourages the faithful to offer prayers for the dead. One of the most beautiful ways of praying for our beloved dead is to have a Mass offered for their intention (the suggested offering for a Mass is $10.00 – please contact the parish office). We unite ourselves more closely to our beloved dead, and assist them in the process of purification so that they might more easily enter the glories of Heaven. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them!
Although the kickoff of the Diocesan Annual Appeal was delayed this fall, I hope that you have by now received the letter from Bishop Callahan along with the Appeal information. I’ve already sent in my pledge and gift and hope you will generously support the DAA.
May God bless you!