Praised be Jesus Christ! Lenny went on vacation and asked Bobby to watch over his house. About a week later, Lenny called home and asked "How's my cat?” Bobby hesitated and sadly told Lenny that his cat died. "What?! You shouldn't have broke the news to me like that! You should have done it slowly. The rst me I called, you should have told me he was on the roof. The second me I called, you should have said there was no way to get him down. The third me I called, you should have told me that you tried to get him o the roof, but she fell down and died," explained Lenny. Bobby apologized and went about his day. About a week later, Lenny called again and asked "How's my Granny?” There was a long silence and then Bobby replied, "Well, she's on the roof.” I’ve been meaning to write about death for some me. Of the many distressing things we’re subjected to these days, one that stands out is the waning interest in how we show respect for the dead. Many pagan practices are becoming popular and sadly, Chris ans seem to have forgo en that we bury our dead out of respect for God and the deceased person. If there were a theme song for the confusion that abounds regarding death, I’d vote for Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind.” People eschew burial in a blessed plot and instead sca er the ashes over the back forty or on the 50 yard line of Lambeau Field. Urns o en contain the ashes of more than one person and now even cross the species line as the family pooch or puddy cat is thrown into the mix. Lastly, people wear their loved one’s remains in a locket so as to keep them “always in my heart.” These are pagan practices and are not consonant with our ancient belief in the resurrection of the body. The Catholic Church allows cremation as an exception, but once again, we’re proving that we cannot handle exceptions. For the record, we believe that burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy. Many might not know any be er and truly do have good intentions. But it’s wrong (perhaps sinful, if the person knows what our faith teaches) to not bury our loved ones in the ground. May- be it’s the rising cost of funerals that drives some of these practices. Frankly, fads like these confuse people into doing things that delay proper grieving and give us some sense that this person belongs more to me than to God. In the event that I am not being clear enough, our Catholic faith (and just human decency) demands that we bury our dead in a place where they can be remembered and continue to benefit from our prayers. If you have an urn at home, I will be very happy to say the prayers of commital as you o er your loved one back to God. As mentioned earlier, people get confused by these trends and think that the Church condones them: the Va can recently clarified that only burial in the ground (or in a columbarium – we have one of these at Gate of Heaven cemetery) is permissible for people of faith. As long as we’re on this topic, another disturbing trend is the idea of not having a funeral Mass. Even when this happens I always try to o er a private Mass at some point for the sake of the deceased’s soul. People in Heaven were saved by Jesus and His sacrifice at Calvary. Nothing is more powerful in bringing the soul to God than the Mass. Depriving our deceased loved ones of these graces is always and everywhere to be avoided. When a priest dies in our diocese, all of the other living priests o er three Masses for the repose of his soul – even if Father Burish refuses to pray for me, I should be well covered by my other brother priests.
May God grant eternal rest to our deceased loved ones and console us who remain!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin