Funerals, Cremations and Memorial Masses
The body of a deceased Catholic Christian was once washed in Baptism, annointed with the oil of salvation and fed with the Bread fo Life. The presence of the body brings to mind the Church’s reverence for the sacredness of life both natural and supernatural.
Therefore, the Church clearly prefers and urges that the body of the deceased be present for the Funeral Mass. Sometimes however, it is not possible for health, financial reasons or for other extraordinary circumstances for the body to be present.
In that case, it is permissible to bring the cremated remains to the church for the celebration of the Funeral Mass. In other cases, it may be necessary to celebrate a Memorial Mass without the body or the cremated remains present. This is a family decision and it is recommended the family consult the parish priest for advice and suggestions.
From the first century, Christans have followed teh Semitic custom of burying the dead, both in contrast to the Roman practice of cremation and in opposition to the contempt shown Christians by their persecutors in their occasional cremating of the bodies of martyrs and scattering their ashes.
Down through the centuries, the practice of rites of burial prevailed. Thus, whenever possible, the Church prefers the interment or entombment of the body because it gives a fuller expression to our Christian faith. However, since 1963, cremation has been an acceptable option for those of the Catholic faith.
Whenever cremation takes place before or after the funeral rites, the Church expects the family to seek an appropriate final resting place for the cremated remains of the body. The scattering of the cremated remains or keeping the cremated remains in a home, or as jewelry, are NOT the reverend dispositions the Church requires.