The Month of September 2019

My Friends,

Catholic Cremation
The following is a listing of some of the often asked questions concerning cremation that was published in a Catholic journal I was recently reading.  It is presented below for your prayerful reflection.

Here are answers to some common questions about cremation that summarize Catholic teaching and practice regarding this burial practice. Hopefully this information helps you to better understand how the practice of cremation can be accomplished within a Catholic context, especially in relation to our funeral and burial rites.

If you have other questions about cremation, please speak with me or call The Catholic Cemeteries Offices: Calvary Cemetery (314) 792-7738 or Resurrection Cemetery (314) 792-7737.
What makes cremation Catholic?

Cremation is Catholic when it is “of the Church” — that is, everything surrounding cremation, in all aspects, embodies the faith and practice of the Church.

Cremation is Catholic when the Order of Christian Funerals is celebrated in its liturgical fullness. This includes prayers at the time of death in the presence of the body, a vigil prayer during the time of the wake, a Funeral Liturgy, and the rite of committal.

Cremation is Catholic when the cremated remains of the body are committed to the ground or a niche in a Catholic cemetery. As part of a continuum of faith with the parish community, Catholic cemeteries call to mind the resurrection of the dead and the communion of saints.

How should a Catholic plan for cremation?

First, discuss your questions with a knowledgeable pastor or contact the Catholic Cemeteries for more information.

Second, if your decision is to be cremated, make your wishes known in your will or in documents designed to help plan your funeral and burial.

Lastly, as you plan, keep in mind the therapeutic value to your family of celebrating the full funeral liturgy with the body present.

When should cremation take place?
The Church prefers that cremation take place after the full funeral liturgy with the body.
When choosing cremation, is it necessary to purchase a casket and embalm the body?

If the body is present for the funeral liturgy, with cremation to follow, you may rent a casket or purchase a special cremation casket that will later be consumed in the cremation process. In some states, if the body is present for public viewing, embalming is required.

What is a proper container for the cremated remains?
After cremation, the cremated remains must be placed in an appropriate container. An appropriate container need not be expensive. Classic urns, made of metal, bronze, or wood, can be purchased from the funeral home or an online provider.

Although jewelry, dishes, statuary, and space capsules are offered commercially, they are unacceptable receptacles for cremated remains in Catholic funeral practices. It is also unacceptable for Catholics to have cremated remains made into jewelry, artwork, or other objects of display or consumption.

When cremation is chosen, what are the funeral liturgy options pertaining to the Order of Christian Funerals?
Presence of the body at the funeral liturgy:

The Church prefers and urges that the body of the deceased be present for the Funeral Mass, since the presence of the body better expresses the values which the Church affirms in these rites. In this scenario, following the funeral liturgy at the parish church, the family may find it consoling and meaningful to go in procession to the crematorium and be present for the placement of the body into the cremation chamber. In any case, after the cremation is completed, the family should gather later for the Rite of Committal at the cemetery.
Presence of the cremated remains of the body at the funeral liturgy:

The cremated remains should be contained in an appropriate vessel and treated with the respect and dignity accorded to the body, including the respectful transportation and handling of the cremated remains to and from the church. A small table or stand is to be prepared for the container at the place normally occupied by a casket. The container may be carried in during the entrance procession or it may be placed on a table or stand before the liturgy begins. Holy water and incense may be used to reverence the cremated remains and the Easter candle will be burning nearby; however, the pall is not used. Photos and other mementos may be used at the vigil but are not appropriate for the Mass. The rite of committal is celebrated at the cemetery as soon as possible following the funeral liturgy. The cremated remains, like the body, are always laid to rest with solemnity and dignity.

No body or cremated remains present at the funeral liturgy:
In those situations when cremation and committal take place before the funeral liturgy, a vigil prayer, visitation, and rite of committal may occur before the funeral liturgy. The funeral Mass is celebrated as indicated in the Order of Christian Funerals. Prayers which do not make reference to the honoring or burying of the body of the deceased are chosen instead of those having those themes.

What does a Catholic do with the cremated remains after the funeral?

The Church requires that the cremated remains be either buried in the ground in a cemetery or placed in a mausoleum or columbarium.

Since the human body was the temple of the Holy Spirit during life, was fed at the Eucharistic table, and will share in the bodily resurrection, contemporary cultural practices like scattering the cremated remains over water or from the air or keeping the cremated remains at home are not considered reverent forms of disposition that the Church requires. Other practices such as commingling cremated remains or dividing up cremated remains among family members or friends are not acceptable for Catholics.

What burial or inurnment options are available in a cemetery?

There are two primary options for the final disposition of cremated remains in a cemetery: in-ground burial or above-ground inurnment.

Each year every pastor, by Church norms, is required to present to the Archbishop what is formally titled the “status animarum” of the parish.  Among other facets of this “state of the parish” are statistics detailing, simply, the numbers reflecting various aspects of parish life.  Numbers, of course, do not convey the whole picture of the life of a parish family.  They reflect one dimension of each of the 180 parishes in the eleven counties of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

We have completed and submitted to Archbishop Carlson the “status animarum” for the parish family of the Pro Cathedral of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist.  With respect to “numbers” the following presents a snapshot of “us”!  As of 30 June 2019, there are 60 households in the parish with a total of 107 persons.  In the last fiscal year, from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, there were eight infant Baptisms.  There were no adult Baptisms but one Profession of Faith. There was one First Communion and one Confirmation.  During the last year there were three marriages celebrated at St. John’s.  And we offered here three Funeral Masses.

Welcome News
Recently I received welcome news from the Archdiocesan Leadership of the 2019 Annual Catholic Appeal.  Our goal for the 2019 Appeal was $38,000.  Your gifts, as of the formal conclusion of the Appeal, total $39,949.  We have, then, again surpassed our goal!   

Our new donor goal was three.  We numbered six first-time donors.
I am grateful to you!  The Archbishop & Appeal Leadership are grateful!  Most importantly, the 1/2 million children & adults who benefit from the “people programs” funded by the Annual Catholic Appeal, without regard to race or creed, are most grateful.

Once more you demonstrate that our numbers are small but your hearts are great!
          Thank you!  Thanks be to God!

In Brief
Please take time to read on page three of today’s bulletin, the “Parish Financial Report” for the fiscal year recently ended. Every pastor is required to submit this each year to the Archbishop and to the people of his parish.

It is to be a transparent accounting of my stewardship of our parish resources. The report speaks for itself. In addition to the balanced income and expenses it reports, our reserve funds on deposit are significant & assure a stable future.

Thank you to all those on whose shoulders we stand and who, in large part, have made this so. Thank you to all of you, as well, for your faithful & generous support of our mission and ministry so that we can continue to be – as we have for 172 years now -- a spiritual oasis in “Downtown West”!

For a number of years on the island at the east end of the parish parking lot, there was a statue of “Christ the King”. Some months ago it was vandalized beyond repair. It was removed & buried at Calvary Cemetery. Temporarily a statue of “St. Therese of Lisieux – the Little Flower” was loaned to us to stand in its place. Recently, an anonymous benefactor has provided for us a high quality statue of St. John, Apostle & Evangelist, our parish patron. It will be set permanently in place soon. We are blessed! We are grateful!

Monsignor Delaney