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. 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 may be used at the funeral home, if they are displayed with some restraint. (For example, a symbol of one’s past military service.) The Church, seeking always to stress our belief in the resurrection of the body, strongly recommends that funeral rites be conducted with the body. Cremation is allowed, as long as one does not choose it for anti-Christian motives. In such a case, the preference is for cremation to follow the funeral rites (after the Funeral Mass). Out of respect for the body, 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 most especially, the cremated remains must never be scattered or mixed with any other ashes. In all cases, the Church warmly encourages the faithful to offer prayers for the dead. 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!
May God bless you!