Ever since the Sacred Body of the crucified Savior was laid in the tomb to await the hour of its glorious Resurrection, the Church has been most solicitous to surround the burial of those who hope to rise with Christ with an atmosphere of deep Christian faith and profound reverence. In the liturgy of the Mass and burial prayers, the Church gives voice to her belief in the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body, the communion of saints and life everlasting, but as a further seal and symbol of that faith, she sets apart and solemnly blesses the place in which the bodies of her faithful departed await the day of the Resurrection.
In the very earliest days, Mother Church found it necessary to protect these sacred places and the relics laid therein. She could not and would not allow anything within the holy precincts which would desecrate them, lessen their beauty, or bring dishonor on the dead.
Ave Maria Parish cemeteries include Old Saint Mary Cemetery in Carsonville, MI; Mount Hope Cemetery in Croswell, Michigan; Saint Denis Cemetery in Lexington, MI; and New Saint Mary Cemetery in Washington Township.
Church Teaching on Cremation
The practice of cremation has grown and become more commonplace in the United States, and it is often presented as a more affordable alternative to traditional burial. What is often overlooked is the Church’s teaching regarding the respect and honor due to the human body. The Order of Christian Funerals’ Appendix on Cremation states: “Although cremation is now permitted by the Church, it does not enjoy the same value as burial of the body.
The Church clearly prefers and urges that the body of the deceased be present for the funeral rites, since the presence of the human body better expresses the values which the Church affirms in those rites” (no. 413).
Ideally, if a family chooses cremation, the cremation would take place at some time after the Funeral Mass, so that there can be an opportunity for the Vigil for the Deceased in the presence of the body (during “visitation” or “viewing” at a church or funeral home). This allows for the appropriate reverence for the sacredness of the body at the Funeral Mass: sprinkling with holy water, the placing of the pall, and honoring it with incense. The Rite of Committal then takes place after cremation (see Appendix, nos. 418-421).
The cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they come. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes, the manner in which they are carried, and the care and attention to appropriate placement and transport, and the final disposition. The cremated remains should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium. The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains on the home of a relative or friend of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires. (no. 417)
From "Cremation and the Order of Christian Funerals," USCCB: January, 2012 Newsletter of the Committee on Divine Worship