cremation

Anti-Polish Bigotry in Contemporary Scotland

The most recent and internationally-reported physical and verbal assaults on Catholic clergy and churches in Glasgow has occasioned not only vehement condemnation at home and abroad, but has also rekindled controversy over the long-standing theme of anti-Catholic bigotry and discrimination in Scotland.  Within this broad context lies the sub-text of anti-Polonism, which has been brought [...]

Dust or Humus? The Advent of Human Composting

Christians have just completed Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday with the tracing of ashen crosses on foreheads and the formula “Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Lent leads to Easter, where Christians are reminded they are more than dust—their mortal shells formed from “the dust of the earth” [...]

Human Composting: The Ultimate Denial of the Soul

From time immemorial, people have buried the dead. Sometimes they even risked their lives to carry out this most basic duty. In times of persecution, for example, Christians put themselves in great danger to recover the bodies of martyrs so that they might receive the holy rites of Christian burial. The Old Testament recounts the [...]

The Vanishing Body and the Disappearing Cemetery

November is the month the Church especially dedicates to praying for the dead. To encourage this holy practice, the Church offers a daily plenary indulgence for the souls in Purgatory, under the usual conditions (right intention, confession, Communion, prayer for the intentions of the pope) to those who visit a cemetery in the period November [...]

How Do I Want to Be Dead?

The July 9 New York Times Sunday Review contained a feature by Richard Conniff. Driven by his research on English moles, he visited the grave of Kenneth Grahame, author of The Wind in the Willows. What impressed Conniff, and inspired his op-ed, was that Grahame’s grave was in both “a graveyard and a wildlife refuge. [...]

Why It Matters How We Are Buried

The Jesuit retirement home where I have lived almost four years now usually has some seventy or eighty residents, all over seventy, all having already been blessed with many days on this green earth. We have one man over a hundred, a couple of others nearing it. During the time of my residence here, some [...]

New Vatican Directive Discourages Cremation

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Instruction on the Burial of the Deceased (Ad resurgendum cum Christo), released October 25, is a welcome restatement of the Church’s preference for earth burial over cremation. It is essential to seize the “teaching moment” this document affords: rather than just focus on the “do’s” (do bury [...]

An Easter Reflection on the Plague of Cremation

As Christians prepare to celebrate the Paschal Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection, we will hear a lot about the “empty tomb.” Indeed, this year—in which the Lectionary focuses on St. Mark—will be particularly stark: the women encounter the empty tomb and the “young man” and are “utterly amazed” (Mk 16: 1-7). As we celebrate the [...]

MENU