OCF 416: Remembering the Dead

When a person’s ashes are scattered at sea or in a field or on a mountain, or in some natural setting, it may be hard to discern a tangible place for a particular remembrance. Sure, the memory of the person is with us. But part of the Catholic imagination is tied up tightly with the incarnational: making a spiritual reality more concrete, more close to us with a physical, tangible object.

The Church does offer times and other places for remembering the dead. This section seems to repeat old information, but it is presented as a factor for the discernment on whether a deceased Catholic should be cremated.

416. The Catholic Church commends its deceased members to the mercy of God by means of its funeral rites. It likewise asks that the Christian faithful continue to offer prayer for deceased family members and friends. The annual observance of All Souls Day, the commemoration of the faithful departed on November 2, attests to this salutary practice. Masses celebrated for the deceased on the anniversaries of death or at other significant times continue the Church’s prayer and remembrance. For Catholic Christians, cemeteries, especially Catholic cemeteries, call to mind the resurrection of the dead. In addition, they are the focus for the Church’s remembering of the dead and offering of prayer for them.

This is why the Church insists on respect for the cremated remains of a body–to make the prayer for the dead more real, more tangible, more connected with our physical lives.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Order of Christian Funerals, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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