Funerals and the Catholic viewpoint

How important is a funeral? Are we required to have one for the deceased? A close friend just passed away and his wish was to not hold a funeral or any memorial service.

The individual was a non-believer and as such I pray for his soul.

there is no requirement for a funeral, the body may be cremated and the remains reposed properly, with due blessing and prayers of the church, without it, but the friends and relatives should ask the priest for Mass to be said for the intention of his soul. It is a work of mercy to bury the dead which would include arranging for any of this. It does indicate a problem if a Catholic sees no need for prayers for the dead of any kind, nor any respect paid to the remains of his created body through which he came to know God in his creation and in his Son. But a full blown expensive funeral is not required.

My sympathies to you.

Is your friend a Catholic?

Organize a requiem Mass for him. If he is in purgatory, that would do much good.

He was a non-believer.

Oh, wait a minute. Does the Church only let Requiem Masses be said for Catholics? If so, sorry for that mis-conception.

It does only give requiems to Catholics.

He may have been baptised as a Catholic or received into the Catholic Church.

I think a funeral mass would only be for a Catholic. However, you can request a mass for anyone.

It is very sad that he wants it that way, in a sense selfish not to allow friends and family the ritual of a send off if nothing else.

A dear friend of mine died and he was agnostic. His funeral was depressing to me beyond belief…it was so trite and empty of any meaning at all.

he does not need to ask for a requiem Mass, but it would be a kindness to ask for a Mass to be said for the repose of his soul, which he can do at any parish and can be said at any time. That does not mean it is a memorial or funeral.

there is nothing to prevent his friends and loved ones from gathering in any way they wish after his death to commemorate his life, mourn his passing, and express care for his soul. Deceased is not in charge of the arrangements, you know.

Thank you to all who have responded! Our friend had stated that he did not believe in any kind of life after death. He was rather firm in his conviction (non-conviction?) in this regard. I am very concerned about his soul…Matthew 16:16 seems to have the answer to this.

Moments before our friend took his last breath, he opened his eyes and looked all around his room, actually looking past his family that was with him. It seemed that he saw something of great interest, but did not verbalize anything. He then quietly passed away.

Steve Jobs sister reported a near identical experience while Jobs was on his deathbed. Jobs had gathered his family to be around him as he knew his time on earth was extremely short. Just prior to his passing, he looked around the room as though something of interest was there, again looking past his loved ones, and exclaimed “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow”, and shortly after passed away.

You can fill in the blank in both of the above as to what type of vision was seen…

May God have mercy on his soul.


As a brought up Catholic, I believe that the body should be buried,in the Ground, so that at the end of time,Jesus well rise us up those that are asleep.To his new world. I know that in some cases, this is Impossable dew to the Body being destoreyed in a fire, plane crash or in a car. But those that die normally,should be buried in a casket.

Everyday I read in the newspaper obituaries of people who don’t want funderals, or don’t have one paid for by their families

I think it’s sad just to basically throw the body away without any prayers or family present.

After all it is in our bodies that we are baptised, confirmed, recieve Holy Communion and are anointted.

Actually, in New York State, at least, you can’t just “throw a body away.” It has to be properly buried or cremated, by law. Even when a body is donated to medical science, it is cremated. The medical school near here periodically has a nondenominational service for those bodies which were cremated after use by the school, and if there is no family to claim the cremains they are buried individually in a plot on the university grounds.

What I say is neither Pelagian nor semi-Pelagian. I am also going to be somewhat up front. Please forgive me for my curtness if it seems that way. I assure you I have a great love for you, and I have deep concern running through me for your friend.

You are Methodist. You are Baptised properly. Your Baptism operates by virtue of the Catholic Church; that is, the most blessed Sacrament of the Altar. In this way your actions participate in the intentions of the Catholic Church.

Honestly, examine your friends weaknesses during this time of free-will in the Here and Now.

If he was given to drink. Mortify yourself for his sake by avoiding drink for a long-period of time. If her was given to being a workaholic. Take time away from activity, for spiritual reading and prayer. If he was miserly give a portion of your pay over for the sake of the poor. As always alms, fasting, and prayer; especially Marian prayer, which is most charitable (remembering that Charity covers a multitude of faults).

When we are in the Gehenna of Purgatory the Lake of Fire pouring out of the Sacred Heart of Jesus burns away all impurities. “Burns away the rust” is the old spiritual saying. God desires us exlusively. He is a jealous God as Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP is heard saying. He wants no earthly-attachments in us. The pains of the fire are real indeed. And, it is possible, as it happens to many souls that he is so far from reaching the pearly gates, he is so far down the Seven Story Mountain that he possibly even thinks himself damned to hell.

When I was a boy there was a young lady named Winifred who would dwell in the old farm house. She would set the table for breakfast on Sundays. Many nights she would spend looking out the dutch door to the back where the chickens liked to peck. My brother, eight-years my elder, would sometimes ask her small questions. And, she would sometimes tuck my mother into bed if my father was out of town on business. Winifred was murdered a century before at the bottom of the hill a few hundred feet straight from that dutch-door. She was just only then working her way up the mountain. Sometimes a prowling lion would chase her away. It was frightful thing to deal with in that house.

Or, he is in the Gehenna of Hell and he is damned forever. Blessed are they who do not go to hell. For, the grace incurred by your mortifications is not lost. God wastes not His Grace. He will gladly apply it to other souls in need of the same reparation.

I also offer you this. Give it to Mary. She will take your offerings, meagar that they are, insufficient that they are, and place them on golden-dish for the Most Blessed Trinity to accept. God will never turn away His Mother.

It is a sad state of affairs that many souls go to the Gehenna of Hell. It is a sad state of affairs that many souls go to the Gehenna of Purgatory. We should all be holy ones, but that is not the reality.

It makes me sad to think of the poor souls; sadder still the lost souls.

I do hope that your friend is awaiting your assistance. The constant complaint of souls passing through the Lake of Fire pouring out the Sacred Heart of Jesus is that their earthly loved ones assume they have gone directly to Heaven. Many souls must suffer decades and even centuries because their loved ones never indulgenced mortifications toward their end.

ad Iesu per Mariam.

Is this the position of the Church? If not, when did it change and why?

Apparently, sometime in the seventies or eighties, the Catholic Church began to allow cremation provided; 1) it was not a “statement” of non-belief in the resurrection of the body, and 2) cremated ashes were buried in the ground or enshrined in a mausoleum that had been consecrated for the purpose. What’s not acceptable is scattering, or taking the urn home and displaying it on your piano, for example. The ashes have to be entombed the same as an actual body in a casket would be. The reason is probably because traditional in ground burial is considerably more expensive, and when you stop to think about it, unless the body belonged to an incorruptible saint, after a couple of decades even if the body had been embalmed, there usually isn’t much of anything left except some bones. Since God can resurrect everyone, including those whose deaths came about by total destruction of their bodies (think, for example, of those incinerated in a nuclear strike,) it really didn’t make much sense in insisting on a traditional burial that might have been out of the budgets of those of modest means. Also, the Church has always permitted cremation in the event of grave public health reasons (such as a mass disaster or a severely contagious epidemic.) It just was never permitted as a matter of course in non-disaster, non-epidemic deaths.

It’s really a great mercy to not insist on an expensive funeral for example, in the case of a widow who might need the greater portion of her late husband’s life insurance policy just to meet daily expenses and keep a roof over her head. Nowadays, inground burial can easily run in the neighborhood of $20,000 in the US (I live there, and don’t know about elsewhere.) The funeral industry has, in the past, and even nowadays, exploited the emotional sensibilities of the survivors to get the last nickel out of them, and that’s decidedly not a good thing. The Church recognized this and also recognized that there are a lot of surviving families who need that money to stay alive themselves. In all of the Catholic cemeteries in my diocese, there are provisions for suitably interring human cremains, and a secular cemetery can be used as well: The priest consecrates the ground the grave has been dug in, or the niche in the mausoleum, before the remains are committed, if it is not a Catholic cemetery.

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