We are all just diamonds in the rough.
Monsignor Pope is the best. He has a great post on the 'strange practices emerging' with the 'cremains' of our loved ones.
Evidently not a few people keep mom and dad at home, on the desk or on the mantle, while ungrateful nephews forget about Uncle Buck and put him back in the closet, yet Auntie Lola is made into a broach. There appears to be no limit to what one can do with the ashes of the deceased. It's a cult.
All cheekiness aside, Monsignor Pope really does help Catholics navigate what can and should be done when it comes to funerals - specifically cremation and burial.
From a pastoral point of view, these norms are clear and understandable. However, as a pastor, I must say that I have growing concerns over practices that are appearing with the more widespread use of cremation.
The norms clearly indicate that cremated remains are not to be scattered, divided, or retained in the homes of the faithful on fireplace mantles, on shelves, or in other places. But these norms are somewhat difficult to enforce.
The problem emerges essentially from the detachment of the funeral Mass from interment. When cremation is chosen, it is common for the funeral Mass to be celebrated quickly but the burial to be scheduled at some “later date” when arrangements can be more conveniently made. Frequently clergy are told that the family will “call back” at some point in the future. But often these calls never come and burials are put off indefinitely.
Issues such as money, logistics, and family disputes are often factors in the delay.
Priests, too, are often busy and do not have time to follow up to see if “Uncle Joe” is ready for burial now. As such, many deceased remain unburied for weeks, months, or years, or perhaps never even buried at all.
I was shocked a couple of years ago to discover that a certain Catholic family still had the cremated remains of an uncle on the top shelf of their closet. The delay centered around who in the family was going to pay for the burial lot and debates about whether burial was even necessary at all. Perhaps the ashes could just be scattered out in the woods.
Without the urgency to bury the dead, the burial is often given little regard. - Finish reading here.
I think the problem does have a lot to do with the detachment of the funeral Mass from interment, as well as a lack of urgency to bury the dead.
The division of ashes seems to me to hearken back to pagan practices, although some of the 'spiritual-not religious' may claim it isn't unlike the disposition of the relics of the saints, as I noted in my comment on Monsignor's post.
Terry Nelson says:March 19, 2015 at 11:07 amExcellent article Father. I wasn’t aware of the variety of developments such as making jewelry with the cremains – as I have heard them referred to. I knew you could make a diamond out of them or send them into space. You suggested fragmentation of the ashes was “ghoulishness and (in) bad taste”. However, since you brought it up, many people regard the collection and veneration of relics, which from ancient times included bodies and body parts, (St. Catherine’s head), bone fragments, and so on to be ghoulish as well. (I don’t – but a lot of people seem to – esp. non-Catholics.)
My point is, I think some people may have that practice in mind when making a diamond out of mom or attempting to keep the ashes.
In Latin countries, the practice of wearing relics or relicarios is a very old tradition. In fact the theca or pendant which holds the relics have a loop to facilitate wearing the relic around the neck. So as ghoulish as it may seem, cremains in a locket may not be all that strange.
Thanks for presenting clear Catholic teaching on the subject however. Your posts are very helpful.
It's always something.
Nothing ghoulish about this ...