My husband and I went to Saturday evening Mass tonight, as is my usual routine. It was short one altar server, but the Deacon was present and provided the homily. At least it was supposed to be the homily. Rather than relate the Gospel reading to everyday life, he said a few words asking all to pray for the retiring Pope and for the Cardinals in the upcoming Conclave. That actually made some sense, but then he launched into the discussion of death, cremation and the Church’s views on the matter. We were all advised that upon death we should be buried, not cremated. The Church has allowed for cremation since Vatican II, however, those who are cremated should have those ashes interred in a Catholic cemetery. Anyone who has ashes of loved ones in their homes should consider removing them from their home and interring said ashes in a Catholic cemetery. For anyone who needed any information regarding funeral planning, the representative from the local Catholic cemetery was available after all masses this weekend.
As I sat favorite pew listening, I was quite shocked and completely unsure what to think. While I know that planning for this eventuality is important, was this really an appropriate topic for a homily?
As we walked out of the church, I noted that the rep from the cemetery was sitting behind us.
My late parents were both cremated. Their respective ashes are in a “companion” urn that resides on the mantel in my living room. My mom had wanted to be cremated and have me keep her ashes with me to spare me the necessity of visiting her grave in a cemetery. Mom was never able to visit her own mother’s grave. She passed away first and my dad died four months later. He had told me that he also wanted to be cremated and his ashes were to be with my mother’s and I was to keep the urn with me forever.
Are my actions sacrilegious? Perhaps to an ultraconservative Catholic, they may be but I do not agree. I see this as following my parents’ wishes and keeping the commandment of honoring thy mother and father. While I fully expect to spend some time in that lime gelatin with pineapple chunks that is purgatory (for reasons that have nothing to do with cremation), I highly doubt that failing to inter my parent’s urn in a cemetery will send me to hell.