I need some help handling a sensitive situation with a friend of mind. His mother just passed away and he’s planning on cremating her.
Now, he and his family were raised Catholic, but by no means are practicing. They’re the type who get Confirmed mostly for cultural reason and then never enter a Church again. The reason I’m concerned is because when my friend’s dad passed away years ago, they cremated him, and then spread his ashes over the ocean. They also didn’t have a funeral.
I didn’t feel like I was close enough to him at the time to say something, but at this point we’ve been friends for years. He is not planning on having a funeral for his mom, and I seriously think he’s going to spread her ashes as well.
Does anyone have ideas about how to approach my friend about this with charity?
In reality, since church teaching on cremation itself has changed, I think that the teaching on spreading the ashes will likely change as well. I mean, is it really disrespectful to spread the ashes rather than to have them all in one place? Will God have any problems with the whole resurrection thing if they are spread out rather than in a coffin? I think not.
Well, the church currently agrees with you. However, I think there is something to be said for tradition. The Vikings consistently cremated their dead leaders, viewing it as a perfectly honorable way to handle the dead bodies. There are now several traditions in which the body is spread out on some scenic area, and I am certain that the people who do have this tradition do not view it as disrespectful. Not doing it yourself is one thing, but saying that it is immoral is a totally different story (and why the church dabbles in this is beyond me).
You would in all honesty tell me that spreading the ashes over a large field is not “proper internment” but putting the ashes in a container and then putting them in a large field is? That is like saying that if you put all your trash in a trash bag and then take it to the huge dumpster it is properly disposed of. However, when you scatter your trash in a huge dumpster it is improper disposal. How is the location of the ashes (either on a beach or in a container) this important?
Well, they were pagans, so that’s really pertinent.
The church doesn’t agree with me, I agree with the Church. Big difference.
The Church has ruled on this.
Yeah, I think keeping a person all together in one spot is more respectful. Yes.
My first husband was cremated. We interred his ashes in a Catholic cemetery. The children were very relieved that we were not going to scatter them It would have been very upsetting to them.
The Viking “tradition” of placing the body in a wooden boat and setting it afire at sea might be seen by some as honorable, but no civil state, never mind the Church, would allow it.
Keeping the ashes together in an urn, as they were together in the body, maintains Respect for the human body that was and will be again. Scattering them to the wind, like dust from your feet, does nothing of the kind.
I couldn’t agree more! I spent a lot of time in Afghan arguing with mad fundamentalist mullahs about this kind of stupidity. I would say that the wishes of the deceased and their families take precedent over any doctrine determined by a lot of silly old men in Rome a couple of hundred years ago.
Ah, pagan traditions have no place in the church? How do you explain the tradition of the Christmas tree? Easter bunny? How about celebrating the birthday of Jesus on December 25th, commonly known to the Romans as the feast of Sol Invictus, also celebrated as the winter solstice? I think that pagan influences on the church are kind of obvious. If you still want to deny them, I recommend you read some history.
With regard to your comment about the Church (let alone the state) not allowing the Viking burial ceremony to be practiced, let me remind you that the Church used to prevent the cremating of bodies period. The Church has a history of changing its mind things. I am a bit unsure of your point about civil governments not allowing it, I am pretty sure that the government doesn’t care what ceremonies you have to celebrate the memory of passed ones.
As far as your point about scattering ashes to the wind being disrespectful, again – is it, really? Some cultures might say so, but in other cultures it might be the height of respect to free one’s ashes from the imprisoning urn. This is not a matter of morals here, it is a matter of personal opinion and tradition. That the Church has made it a morality issue is very much bewildering.
In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. These courses of action cannot be legitimized by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation.
And yet, things change. As the Church recognizes the things that differ in the course of time, such laws will no doubt continue to reflect the spirit of Christ, rather than rigid dogmas.
For your information, the Church is also not supposed to violate the law of reason. Knowledge of God comes through two things, faith AND reason. It is incomprehensible that these things will ever contradict one another.
If one is seignior a Catholic funeral and internment, one would follow the rules of the Church. If not, do whatever you want. But it’s not Catholic.
These are the current guidelines for the times in which we live.
If the Church ever changes (I doubt it) I’m sure they can let you know. :rolleyes: