Burial Requirements

As I’m getting up in age I’ve started to think about my funeral arrangements. Frankly, I think mortuaries are very opportunistic and downright egregious when dealing with people amidst grief. I’ve known some funerals of late that cost 15k or more. That to me is ridiculous. I could expound on this, but that is another thread for another time.
I’ve checked into my state laws and I am free to be buried on private property. I have a parcel and a landowner agreeable to do the deed, since I won’t be of much help myself. One caveat would be I would have to be buried within 24 hours of death or I would have to be embalmed. That is a short window of time but in talking to the landowner, He has agreed to pre-dig my grave and then cover it so nothing falls into it in order to meet the 24 hour deadline. Trust me, we’ve covered the logistics and have brought in enough people in the loop that this could get done by someone in that short amount of time- as long as I die relatively close by.
My question is, is it required to have a Mass and graveside service per the catholic church? Or can some one just drop me into a hole in the ground, say a quick personal prayer and go about their business? It seems I heard that a mass was required (I don’t understand why, but there are lots of things I don’t understand…) and it won’t shock me if it is. I just thought I’d ask this question as it has been on my mind lately.
I’ve virtually no family and few if any friends, so it isn’t like anyone would be missing out on saying good bye. I’ve agreed to compensate the landowner for his trouble. I’ve offered a handsome sum of money, but am still saving a bundle compared to the going rate of funerals.
You may think this a joke, but I’m completely serious. Thanks,

Minion, good for you for starting to think about these things! I cannot answer your question about needing to have a mass said, but I can expand a bit of information about home funerals and green burials, which is basically what you would be doing here.

There is a whole movement underway these days to have natural burials. We are thankfully moving away from the Jessica Mitford way of American Death. There are green burial sites now that don’t require anything more than a shroud or a simple wood coffin. Eco-friendly.

I also want to point out that home funerals, where the body is kept at home until the burial, is becoming more available. There are people who can help you put this together, some in Colorado too. The law of burying a body within 24 hours can be extended if you use ‘refrigeration’ or, if at home, dry ice. Just pack the ice in towels and put it around the outside of the body lying in bed. It will suffice for at least 3-4 days. That way, you are not under the gun to have everything ready in that first day.

Do a google search for ways to be in touch with local people who can help. It is meaningful way to care for the body after death.

I’m certain, too, that a priest would come and do a graveside burial.

The first person you should talk to about this is a PRIEST!! Seems you’ve talked to everyone but him. I would definitely want the ground I am to be buried in BLESSED, (Consecrated.) While a Mass of Christian Burial may not be required, why wouldn’t you want that? That Mass is for YOU and you would be “missing out” if you deprived yourself of it. Please, talk to your priest and let him help you with this. God Bless, Memaw

Are public cemeteries blessed and consecrated? Or do people get buried there just because everyone else does? Call me naïve or even cynical but I don’t see the need to be buried on blessed ground.
What would I actually be “missing out” if I choose to not have a mass? In my simple mind, what happens after I die is for those left behind, not for me. While no one knows the time line of events after one expires (as far as judgment and those things) are we not taught that we always have a chance at salvation up until death, but as soon as we die our fate is sealed? If that is so, I can’t imagine not having a mass or not being buried on holy ground would have any impact on my soul…
I’ll pass on asking a priest. I’ve known some priests who for whatever reason strongly market some morticians over others. And a few priests had (have) an open disdain for particular morticians. I find the entire situation to be very troubling and will avoid that drama. What I am proposing is very different to the normal burial to say the least. The chances of finding a priest to understand and support my idea, and not push and guide me toward a conventional funeral (for whatever reason) are probably rather slim.
I simply want to know the stance of the church, not the opinion of my local priest.

Yes. If it is a Catholic cemetery the entire thing is blessed. If it is a Catholic section of a shared cemetery, the Catholic section is blessed. If it is a public or military cemetery, the individual grave of a Catholic is blessed.

Can’t say why people get buried there. Church law requires provisioning of Catholic cemeteries, where possible. You would hope Catholics would be buried in a Catholic cemetery.

Talk to your pastor about it, he can bless it at any time. He can do the graveside committal at any time after your death, also.

If you do not have a mass of Christian burial, which seems unlikely given the time constraints, talk to your pastor about having memorial masses said for the repose of your soul.

Masses for the repose of your soul have to do with purgation, not judgment.

The priest will bless the grave no matter where it is. The priest will say a memorial mass whether you have a funeral mass or not.

I think you are letting things you’ve made up in your head prevent you from getting REAL assistance locally.

Very nice, thank you. This is exactly what I was looking for. A couple of notes:
It doesn’t seem that the blessed ground thing is a big deal at all. It can be an entire cemetery, a section or an individual grave. Hence, I see no reason why it can’t be out behind the shop buildings on a working cattle ranch.
Next, you state church law requires Catholic cemeteries when possible. Who rules on the possibility of a Catholic Cemetery? And what is the penalty for not having one when it is possible to have one??
Frankly, I find the mindset that catholics should only be buried with catholics to be very troubling. To me that type of thinking is arrogant and sanctimonious… Personally I wouldn’t give one wit who I was buried next to.
I’ve collected indulgences along my path in life so, assuming I make it into purgatory, I feel I should be covered pretty well in that regard. If I don’t make it to purgatory, well at that point no amount of masses will help me. Worst case scenario (other than being thrown into hell) is making it purgatory and having to do my time. It may be horrible and awful, but my take is it will end one day and I’ll be admitted into heaven. eventually… So the end result is what I would focus on.
The thought of me buying my own memorial masses does not appeal to me in any way.
If other people want to buy a memorial mass for me, great! If not, I’ll bank on my indulgences that I’ve picked up in my life to temper my purgatory suffering.

What exactly have I made up in my head? Quite presumptive, in my opinion. Regardless, thanks for your post. I can actually start to see this whole thing coming together.

With God, there is NO time limit. He is Eternal and so are our prayers. So the Mass said for you after death will benefit you then as will our prayers. And we may need them if we spend any time in Purgatory. Every Mass gives us Sacramental Grace. I hope you do go to Mass at least on Sunday. The Grace is such a Blessing now and for us after Death. BUT you cannot receive the Grace without a priest. Don’t judge all priest by what you “think” they will say. Talk to him and at least give him a chance to help you. The Blessings would be yours for eternity. God Bless, Memaw

While God is eternal and has no time line, the time we have at obtaining salvation is definitely finite. We all have a set amount of time to achieve salvation.
While I cannot receive the graces that are obtained from a mass without a priest, I certainly can and do receive grace from God without the assistance of a priest. I believe priests help people achieve salvation, but Jesus gives salvation directly to us.
I think I’ve received the answer that I came here seeking. It sounds like there is no rules violation by not having a funeral mass or by having a rather unconventional burial. That is really all I was wanting help with.

You still need to talk to a priest, but you seem very reluctant to do so. We don’t always know what the true answer is and our opinion may very well be wrong and I think you know you need a priest’s help in this. If one is not in the “State of Grace,” one cannot receive Grace except the Grace to help us get out of the state of serious sin.That is called Actual Grace. And that is the Sacrament of Confession. We just cannot make up our own minds how we want things to be, we need the Church to guide us and that means a priest to help us understand what the Church actually teaches. Jesus gave us the Church to guide us thru life and at death. I certainly wouldn’t want to die without it even if I didn’t have any family or few friends. God Bless, Memaw

To be honest given the crazed price of funerals in London and the price of tombs when I go in some years I will opt for cremation. There is one spot left in the family grave and to give an idea how crazed and expensive it is here that is a shared tomb. My mother is buried in it and the other occupants is a small girl who died in the Great Flu era just after WW1, the cost to obtain two plots there (and this is 26 odd years ago so bear that that in mind) was around £10,000. Or in US dollars around $20,000 dollars that many years ago the dollar and pound traded against each other at different rates. The cost for my mother’s funeral was over £4,000 and was a modest affair. Many people here in the UK simply can’t afford anything but cremation any more and the cemeteries are too packed for new graves.

Did someone say that? Certainly not I. Again, you are railing against a non existent foe, it seems.

Can. 1240 §1. Where possible, the Church is to have its own cemeteries or at least areas in civil cemeteries that are designated for the deceased members of the faithful and properly blessed.

§2. If this cannot be achieved, however, then individual graves are to be properly blessed.

The bishop ultimately determines whether it is feasible or not in his territory.

You are just determined to rail against something, but again something that is not there.

Did anyone say that Catholics should be buried only with Catholics? No.

One never buys a mass.

A lot based on comments that seem intent on finding nefarious motives on the part of the Church.


I made the comment about the viewpoint of being buried on a working cattle ranch based on my opinion that it would not be viewed as appropriate. It was just a hunch on my part based on 50 years of being a catholic. If the church does not object I find that both refreshing as well as shocking.

While no one said that “catholics should only be buried with catholics” the following comment was made: " you would hope that catholics would be buried in a catholic cemetery." That is the mindset that I found (and still find) very troubling. Quite frankly, I want to be buried in the cheapest place available. Free is really good.

“One never buys a mass.” That is the term I learned from my folks growing up. While it may be incorrect, it is how my parents, both life long catholics, referred to the practice. While there is no formal fee for a mass (that one typically has said for a deceased person for instance) I am certain that a donation is implied. I don’t object to it by the way, just stating what seems obvious. I certainly will say that though there is no formal fee, it is an expectation to submit money with the request. Buying a mass or donating money at the same time of having a mass said… seems like semantics to me.
Here is what I see that I have made up in my mind: That the catholic church would object to me having myself laid to rest in a body bag put in a hole dug outside of the heifer pen on a working cattle ranch- with the ranch owner digging the hole himself and then saying a few kind words and a short prayer after filling up the grave. To now know that I was wrong is, again ,both refreshing and shocking. But I’ll take it… Thanks.

Well, if you can arrange to be martyred, you don’t have to worry about any of this stuff! You go straight to Heaven, your body hallows the ground you’re buried in, and other people want to be buried close to YOU. (And that’s how the first Catholic cemeteries and catacombs came to be.)

Just remember that, like the early Christians, we do expect the resurrection of the body. We do hope for our souls to go to Heaven (or at least the Purgatory part of Heaven!), but then we expect to be reunited with our bodies. (Heck, even the people whose souls go to Hell will be reunited with their bodies and resurrected.)

Therefore, we give respect and honor to the bodies of all the dead. “Cemetery” comes from the Greek “koimeterion,” which means “sleeping place, dormitory.” If possible, we let Catholic dead bodies rest in holy ground, blessed by God, because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Of course, this blessing means that the place is like a church, just like a Christian body is like a church. Either one can be profaned like a church if people don’t act respectfully.

However, it is true that home burials can be done, if you can persuade a priest to consecrate the ground (and if local authorities are okay with it). If you live way far out, you are more likely to get permission; he will either bless the ground of the grave or bless some soil and put it in the coffin. And if worst comes to worst and you’re way out there, and nobody can get hold of a priest, it’s actually okay to take blessed earth from a cemetery somewhere else, and put it in the grave or in the coffin. And that’s why a lot of settlers would travel with a little bag of holy ground from their native place, in case they had to be buried out in the wilderness.

(I don’t know why that never showed up in Highlander; I guess it would have totally ended all the beheadings, so that’s probably why. And now that I think about it, that little bit of canon law explains some of the odder vampire legends.The more you know!)

Burying cremated remains usually doesn’t need as much local secular permission, but the place needs to be well-marked to prevent misunderstandings. (For example, you don’t want somebody thinking that Farmer Bob is a psycho killer.)

So yeah, think well about where you will leave your Temple of the Holy Spirit to wait out the time before the General Resurrection! If accidents happen, that’s one thing. If you don’t want to bother, that’s a bit hard on your poor body.

I’d take the martyr thing, I’m fairly certain… especially if I got a say so as to the when and maybe the how, lol. It probably doesn’t work that way though.
I think I shall procure me some blessed dirt, seems like a prudent move on my part. That way I’ll have that portion of this thing covered.
I’ve checked with the legal eagles of my area and, at least as of right now, there wouldn’t be any problem doing a home burial, though I did get some funny looks and had to do some convincing to prove I was serious.
As far as “farmer Bob” being thought of as a psycho killer, the person I have lined up to do this deed at the present time already has people wondering about him. But trust me he is a good guy. He said he’s ready to throw me in a hole and cover me up at any time. Friends like him don’t come around often… :slight_smile:

Minon, I thought you might find this interesting:
"Augustine had wanted to sail back to Africa with Monica, his mother, and several of his friends, but shipping was at a standstill because of a civil war.

After their mystical experience of joy and happiness had passed, Augustine and his mother became silent.

Almost as if she sensed her forthcoming death, Monica later turned to her son and said, “My son, as to me, I no longer find any pleasure in this life. What more I have to do here, and why I am still here I do not know.”

“Put this body anywhere. Do not let care about it disturb you. I ask only this: that you remember me at the altar of the Lord, wherever you may be.” [Confessions 9, 11, 27] Within five days, Monica was very ill with a fever." augnet.org/default.asp?ipageid=104

St. Monica was a wealthy woman, who could have had an expensive and pompous funeral. Thank you for posting this question. I’ve been wondering the same, I’m all for keeping it simple.

EXACTLY!!! Thanks for posting this!
Now… at the risk of sounding foolish and naïve (and possibly more) who is Augustine and his mother Monica? I would assume it to be the great St Augustine, and I see you reference St Monica… I guess I should do some research, and that I can do on my own.

This is exactly what I was hoping for. Basically, I’m the rogue person who is always going against the norm, who always seems to be marching out of step… But I will add that marching out of step in today’s society is not necessarily a bad thing, lol. Thanks again for posting.

Things were a lot different then than they are now. If I’m not mistaken, I think they were on a journey when she died. I’m sure Monica never meant any disrespect for her body and certainly Augustine would never do that.either. My husband, (he knew he was dying), after I asked him where he wanted to be buried, ( he had several choices), told me to just throw his body in the Missouri River, but he knew I would never do that. God Bless, Memaw

MeMaw I am thinking you are correct in that St. Monica didn’t want her body thrown just anywhere. But, she most definitely wanted to be remembered at Mass. :slight_smile:

I’m sure she didn’t mean any disrespect for her body. I think she meant he didn’t have to take her to her home. Just bury her where she would die. The Mass is actually the most important part of a death. Pray for all Holy Souls. God Bless, Memaw

Yes, the great St. Augustan and his Mother. She prayed for many, many years for his conversion. Imagine what a Mothers prayers can do.God Bless, Memaw

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