November 5, 2017 – National Vocation Awareness Week

I.  National Vocation Awareness Week begins this Sunday, Nov. 5-12. We are ALL Called:  Are you single? Are you married? All of us are called by God to a particular vocation. Many young men and women are called to priesthood and religious life. We need to encourage them through prayer and support to answer “yes” to God’s call. If I give my whole life to God, what exactly does God want me to do? And if I am called to leadership in the Church, will I respond faithfully? When Pope Francis was elected, he bowed before the world and asked for prayers, showing that in the Christian life, there are different calls, but no different classes. The Father assigns differing roles, but has the same love for each of His children.  Humility is needed to answer God’s call.  One of the titles of the Pope himself is “the Servant of the Servants of God.” The Diocesan Prayer for Vocations is printed on the front of this bulletin and also, was printed on the back of the November calendar that was inserted into the bulletin last week. Pray it! Call your family together and pray this prayer! I ask each of you to prayerfully consider anyone whom you think could have a call to be a priest or religious. Please forward the name to me so I may nudge them to seriously consider this call.  This is a program in our Diocese call “Called by Name.” You may provide that name privately and anonymously.

II. Is a Catholic May I Be CREMATED? Yes. The Church’s definite preference is for burial of the body. However, since 1963 cremation has been permitted, although the cremated remains were not allowed to be present during the funeral Mass (the Mass of Christian burial). The US bishops petitioned Rome to allow the cremains to be present for the funeral Mass because of financial and stewardship (in larger cities cemetery land is diminishing) reasons. In 1997 the Vatican gave the bishops of the United States permission to allow the celebration of the funeral Mass with the cremated remains (cremains) present, provided the local bishop permits it, and Bishop Medley does.

III. Must CREMATED REMAINS be BURIED or ENTOMBED?  Yes. Respectful final disposition of cremated remains involves interment or entombment. Burial options include a family grave in a cemetery or an urn garden, a special section in a cemetery with small, pre-dug graves for urns. A common practice is the entombment of the cremated remains in a “columbarium”, which is an arrangement of niches, either in a mausoleum, a room or wall into which an urn or other worthy vessel is placed for permanent memorial. The practice of keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative/friend of the deceased is not considered the reverent disposition that the Church requires (Order of Christian Funerals, appendix II #417).

IV. MAY I SCATTER the Cremated Remains? No. The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative/friend of the deceased are not considered the “reverent disposition” that the Church requires (Order of Christian Funerals, appendix II #417). Burial at sea of cremated remains differs from scattering. An appropriate and worthy container, heavy enough to be sent to its final resting place, may be dropped into the sea (See Order of Christian Funerals, #406.4). Local government should be consulted for environmental regulations.

V. Why Does the Church Consider the BODY so Important? “This is the body once washed in Baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation. This is the body whose hands clothed the poor, fed the hungry, and embraced the sorrowing. Thus, the Church’s reverence and care for the body grows out of the reverence and concern for the person whom the Church now commends to the care of God. However, when circumstances prevent the presence of the body at the funeral liturgy…it is appropriate that the cremated remains of the body be present for the full course of the funeral rites, including the Vigil for the Deceased, the Funeral Liturgy, and the Rite of Committal. The funeral liturgy should always be celebrated in a church.”

(Reflections on the Body, Cremation, and Catholic Funeral Rites, Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy)