Continued – Christian Funerals: “In the face of death, the church confidently proclaims that God has created each person for eternal life and that Jesus, the Son of God, by his death and resurrection,
has broken the chains of death that bound humanity.” In the same way “when someone is sick, the Christian community rallies to support that person, so too, when a member of Christ’s body dies, the faithful are called to the ministry of consolation to those who have suffered the loss of one whom they love.” I believe, here at Saint Anthony parish, we do that fairly well if not very well for those who allow fellow parishioners to minister with, to and for them. Besides the possibility of a Vigil Service, the Mass of Christian Burial, and the Committal rites, families are faced with so many choices upon the death of a loved one. The Church suggests, highly recommends, that each family member begin to reflect on their wishes in the event of their death, their passing from this life into eternal life in terms of their Funeral Rites. Besides the selection of prayers, scripture texts, there is music, silence, the symbols of our faith, baptismal water for sprinkling, Easter candle, possibly incense, funeral pall or casket garment, cross/crucifix, flowers, even personal prayer books or Bible, pall bearers, and more. With the ever increasing expense of funerals, more people are choosing cremation over burial regardless of the mortuary or funeral home, people are choosing cremation. “Although cremation is now permitted by the Church, it does not enjoy the same value as burial of the body. The church clearly prefers, whenever possible, that the body of the deceased be present for the funeral rites, since the presence of the human body express the values which the Church affirms in those rites. The cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they come. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes, the manner in which they are carried, the care and attention to appropriate placement and transport and final disposition. The cremated remains should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium,” not kept on the mantle or scattered from the air or on the ground. Keeping the ashes intact is always preferred, not subdivided in lockets or containers for each family member or dispersed in multiple locations. The celebration of the Funeral Liturgy in the presence of the remains of the body of the deceased person is permitted in the dioceses of the United States of America. The appropriate prayers from the Funeral Rite are selected, prayed, and celebrated,
and then the Rite of Committal is celebrated at the cemetery or columbarium as soon as possible after the Funeral Liturgy.
It is my personal recommendation that every person who has a living will or trust also makes the time to sit down with me or members of the Pastoral Care team and outline, according to the practices and traditions of the church, your thoughts on your Christian Funeral. It is an invaluable gift for your family. Not having a funeral plan allows for great leeway in terms of your family members interpreting what you, their parents or siblings wanted without any specific guidance from you. Please help your families, make a plan!
*“Sentences in quotes” are excerpts from the General Introduction: Order of Christian Funerals.