Coverage Areas:  National |  South Carolina |  Aiken |  Beaufort |  Charleston |  Columbia |  Greenville |  Myrtle Beach |  Rock Hill
Menu

Handling cremation

Q: I wish to be cremated. How is this handled? Since I won’t have a casket to be blessed, do you bring the urn with the ashes to Mass? (Summerville, SC)

A: The Mass of Christian Burial, the “Funeral Mass,” is a very important part of the Church’s intercession for the deceased person. The Mass is offered for the person and its merits are applied towards the repose of the person’s soul. In praying for the dead, the Church has always preferred burial but allows for cremation.

If a person is going to be cremated, it’s requested that the cremation happen after the Mass so the body can be present.

The Church realizes that many times this is not possible for financial or logistical reasons, and in such cases, it allows just the urn with the ashes to be brought to the church for the funeral Mass. Oftentimes, in such scenarios, the urn is placed near the altar during the liturgy.

While talking about cremation, it should be stressed that a person’s ashes, the “cremains,” must be buried or placed in a columbarium. Keeping ashes in one’s private home, or sprinkling ashes over water or in some other location, or using the ashes for jewelry is strongly prohibited since the remains of a person must be respected and therefore placed together on blessed ground.

 

Q: I’ve wondered whether people who have mental disabilities, like children who are severely handicapped and unaware of their surroundings, could go to purgatory? (Clemson, SC)

A: We know that purgatory is a state after death in which the Lord purifies souls of venial sins and temporal punishment and prepares them for heaven. Many souls benefit from this purgation as they pass from this life to the next.

In terms of people with mental disabilities, the answer to your question is determined by how capable they are of sinning. In order for an act to be sinful, a person has to willingly choose to do it.

If someone is not mentally able to give consent to an action, then they bear no guilt for it. If someone does not carry sin or its guilt, then purgatory would not be necessary.

Incidentally, it is precisely this line of thought that led several of our spiritual traditions to associate mental disability with a closeness to God. Since people with mental disabilities could not carry the guilt of sin, it was considered a gift and a special intimacy with God.

This honoring of people with mental disabilities is something our contemporary age should remember. Such an approach could guide Western culture, which is sometimes overly willing to dismiss people with mental disabilities or wage ware against them in terms of their dignity, care, and place in society.

Father Jeffrey Kirby is administrator of St. Joseph Church in Chester and Our Lady of Grace Church in Lancaster. Email him your questions at askfrkirby@gmail.com.




  • Diocesan Events Calendar
    View All Events
    Jul 1All Day Convocation of Catholic Leaders - Orlando
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    USCCB National Convocation of Catholic Leaders
    From the Calendar of Ethnic Ministries
    Daniel Rudd Fund Application open
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Jul 2 Vietnamese Women's Club
    From the Calendar of Vietnamese Ministry
    Jul 37:00 pm Mariologia #4
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Jul 5 African American and African Young Adult Gathering in Orlando FL
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Jul 6 National Black Catholic Congress XII
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Jul 8 Vietnamese Men's Club
    From the Calendar of Vietnamese Ministry
    Jul 96:00 pm Bishop to say Mass at St. John the Baptist - Charleston
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Jul 10 High School CLI
    From the Calendar of Youth Ministry
    Jul 1112:05 pm Bishop to say Mass at St. John the Baptist - Charleston
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    2:00 pm Loaves and Fishes Stewardship Webcast
    From the Calendar of Office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement
    Jul 158:30 am Diaconate Formation Class
    From the Calendar of Diaconate
    Diocese of Charleston St. Kateri Tekakwitha Feast Day Celebration
    From the Calendar of Native American Ministry
    Jul 168:30 am Diaconate Formation Class
    From the Calendar of Diaconate
    Jul 19 Tekakwitha Conference
    From the Calendar of Native American Ministry
    7:00 pm Junta de Vicaria (Charleston)
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Aug 1 New Youth Minister Boot Camp
    From the Calendar of Youth Ministry
    7:00 pm Doctrina Social #1
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Aug 27:00 pm Doctrina Social #1
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil