A Friend Is Cremating His Mother

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?

No. There is no good way to approach a person **whose mother has just died **and “charitably” try to push church teaching on them. If he asks, that’s one thing. To just go up to him, no.

You can have masses said for the repose of the souls of his parents if he is not having a funeral mass.

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.

This. For all you know, his parents requested to be cremated; it isn’t your place to approach him. This isn’t something you should get involved in.

Lou

Scattering is pretty much like discarding.
Tossing them out on the ground or over water.
I DO think that would not constitute proper interment.

God would have no problem even in the case of those blown up by an atomic bomb. That’s not the issue.

The Church allows for cremation because in some instances, i.e. mass health emergency, natural disaster, or lack of land, nothing else would be practical. Burial is still preferred.

The body must be respected because in eternity there will again be a body. For this reason, ashes must be treated as though they still were a body.

Scattering is a denial of resurrection power and for this reason cannot be approved.

OP: Sadly, there really is nothing to say. The bereaved will do as they see fit. If you can, have Masses said for her.

ICXC NIKA

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?

No. There is no good way to approach a person **whose mother has just died **and “charitably” try to push church teaching on them. If he asks, that’s one thing. To just go up to him, no.

So your opinion is to pretty much stand aside and let someone do something you know is wrong because they’re grieving. We would never want to “push Church teaching” on anyone.

You can have masses said for the repose of the souls of his parents if he is not having a funeral mass.

That sounds like a good idea, thanks.

So your opinion is to pretty much stand aside and let someone do something you know is wrong because they’re grieving. We would never want to “push Church teaching” on anyone.

It is hard to say, from a reasonable and logical standpoint, that this practice is definitely wrong.

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.

Pagan traditions have no place in the Church.

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.

ICXC NIKA

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.

What do you hope to accomplish here? The OP asked for a Catholic opinion.

Silly old men, eh? That’s so nice. Are you sure you’re a Catholic?

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.

It isn’t hard to say from a Catholic standpoint.

  1. 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.

Instead of raising questions as to his religion, why don’t you address the points he is making?

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:

I’m out.

Unfortunately yes. I often wish that I’d been born into a more generous and humanistic faith.

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