Catholic Issues

I was asked a question about Catholics, cremation and the scattering of ash. Here is my brief answer:

Ancient cremation practices

The whole issue of cremation goes back to the Romans. They denied the bodily resurrection so they often burned the body and if they were rich they put the ashes in urns and put them in the necropolis which was the city of the dead. Every year on the anniversary of the death they would “visit” the dead in remembrance and pour their favorite wine into the ashes. 

Imagine the contrast in ancient times. The Romans would build a pyre and lay the body on top. The flames would take many hours to completely consume the body. The whole time the smell of burning hair and flesh would waft through the air. It was a big project and you watched the body disappear with nothing left but a heap of ashes and foul smells.

In contrast, the Christians prepared sarcophagi for their dead. Often it was decorated with biblical images related to the resurrection. Or the body was carefully wrapped in white to represent forgiveness of sins and eternal life. They were placed in the ground or the catacombs with respect for the integrity of the body which would one day be raised.

Christians forbid cremation because they wanted to stand in contrast to the pagans who cremated as a statement against the bodily resurrection. They also did not have an necropolis, the city of the dead. Rather, Christians had a cemetery which means a sleeping place. 

Christians reverently preparing body for deposit awaiting the resurrection

They did not bury the dead – they deposited them in the grave. Why deposit? Because just as you deposit money in the bank you intend to come back and withdraw the money. The body was deposited in the ground in preparation for Jesus coming back to withdraw the body at the end of time.

So cremation was a denial of the bodily resurrection and burial was an affirmation that the body was sleeping awaiting the day of, resurrection.

The Catholic Church has recently taught that cremation was OK as long as it was not a statement against the bodily resurrection. As long as one affirmed the resurrection of the body at the end of time, cremation was acceptable. However to preserve the integrity of the body the remains were to remain in one place and not scattered across an ocean or field, etc.

The Code of Canon Law says, “§3. The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burying the bodies of the deceased be observed; nevertheless, the Church does not prohibit cremation unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine.”

The Catechism states, “The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.”

The scattering of the ashes could be seen as denying the bodily resurrection because scattering the ashes everywhere can imply the person is gone — reabsorbed into the physical creation as its final end. It ceases to exist. 

That is why the Catholic Church affirms the need to keep the ashes with integrity remembering that those ashes in the urn are the very matter that will be raised up at the end of time and reconstituted into the body of the person. The new heavenly body will be reunited with the soul to live forever — either in glory or in the torments of hell separated from God for eternity.

Mom with Dad before he died

When my father died my mother had no desire to visit the grave (though she has several times since) because she said, “That is not Dad”. I explained to her that this attitude denied the bodily resurrection because God loves stuff. He made stuff, matter, the body. On the day he created Man he said, “It is very good.” He liked what he had created.

That cold dead body was still Dad and when Jesus comes back he loves that body enough to raise it from the dust and re-fashion it into a new heavenly body. God keeps his eye on those dry bones and dust every day. My mom now understands. Her’s was an understandable reaction to the body with the life gone.

At the end of time my Dad will be raised from the dead and his body will be glorified. If God loves the bodily remains inside the coffin or urn then how much more should we respect the integrity of the remains as well.

For more info.

Catechism (CCC) 1004:  In expectation of that day, the believer’s body and soul already participate in the dignity of belonging to Christ. This dignity entails the demand that he should treat with respect his own body, but also the body of every other person, especially the suffering: “The body [is meant] for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?… You are not your own; … So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:13–15, 19–20).

CCC 997 What is “rising”? In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection. 

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Catholic Enablers of Islam

by Steve Ray on May 4, 2017

Catholic Enablers of Islam

Iran President Hassan Rouhani walks with Pope Francis at the Vatican on January 26, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Andrew Medichini/Pool *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-POPE-ROUHANI, originally transmiteed on Jan. 26, 2016.

by WILLIAM KILPATRICK in Crisis Magazine

I recently wrote a piece about the civilizational struggle with Islam. In response, a reader asked for some specific practical ways that Catholics could resist Islam. I replied with a short list of steps Church leaders could take:

  1. Break off dialogue with Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups such as ISNA and ICNA. Stop lending them legitimacy.
  2. Stop backing the phony “Islamophobia”/hate crimes campaign manufactured by Islamist groups. The “Islamophobia” campaign is aimed at shutting down all legitimate examination and criticism of Islam.
  3. Develop apologetics and educational materials that will provide Catholics with a fuller understanding of Islam.
  4. Develop programs in Catholic schools, colleges, and seminaries that will better inform Catholics about Islam. Currently, most Catholic schools are acting as apologists for Islam—simply echoing the Islamic apologists.
  5. Catholic refugee resettlement programs should concentrate on resettling Christian refugees from Muslim countries. Catholic encouragement of Muslim migration to Europe has already had disastrous results and may eventually lead to the extinction of Catholicism in Europe.
  6. Catholic media need to present a more balanced picture of Islam. For the most part, the Catholic fourth estate simply seconds the Islam-positive view of the USCCB.

At that point I realized that these suggestions would not even be considered by the great majority of the Catholic leadership. They would be dismissed out of hand as both unnecessary and discriminatory. In short, Catholic leaders won’t take steps to resist Islam because they see no reason to resist it.

Historically, Islam has been an enemy of the Church. It conquered large parts of the Christian world and, on several occasions, it advanced far into Christian Europe. Moreover, these conquests and attempted conquests were motivated not only by expansionist ambitions but also and primarily for religious motives. Christians were infidels and Allah and his prophet commanded that unbelievers must be subdued.

poland12Islam still wants to conquer the Christian world and, in particular, Christian Europe. This time, however, the battle plan is different. Instead of an army of soldiers, Islam has deployed an army of migrants. This army has encountered very little resistance on its march through Europe. Indeed, for the most part, it has been welcomed by the authorities and subsidized by them.

In addition to this Trojan horse tactic, Muslims have another strategy of conquest. For a long time, the Muslim birth rate in Europe has far exceeded the native European birth rate. In this “war of the wombs,” Islam is the clear winner. “Mohammed” is the most popular name for baby boys in numerous European cities, and in some places—such as Birmingham and Vienna—there are already more Muslim than Christian children. When the recent influx of millions of Muslim refugees is added to the tens of millions of Muslims already living in Europe, it makes for a combustible critical mass. It means that Islam has been able to establish a fifth column of immense proportions inside Europe’s borders….

For the rest of this excellent article, click here. For Steve Ray’s talk Islam, What Every Infidel Should Know, click here.

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Why I Love Religion and Jesus Does Too

by Steve Ray on April 21, 2017

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Marriage in Heaven? Will We Know and Love Our Spouses in Heaven?

February 14, 2017

Happy St. Valentine’s Day. This is for my mom. My dad died almost six years ago. Mom misses Dad and was discouraged about Mark 12:25 which her paraphrased Living Bible improperly rendered “will not be married” in heaven. I wrote the following to comfort my Mom… Mom, I know it is important to you since […]

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The Maltese directive makes answering the ‘dubia’ urgent

January 15, 2017

Dr. Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer wrote two days ago about the Maltese Disaster. The excellent article on The Catholic Thing Here is his latest entitled “The Maltese Directive (allowing divorced and remarried easy access to Communion) Makes Answering the “Dubia” Urgent When highly placed Italian prelates declare that “only a blind man cannot see” that […]

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“I Was Raised Catholic, You Too?” Must Read for Catholics Who Have Left the Faith

January 10, 2017

I was raised Catholic – You too? Maybe Time to Reconsider by Mike Cousineau Christian denominations speak to knowing the Truth, and rightly so!  All Christian denominations have, at least, some truth.  For instance, every denomination is in total agreement with, “The purpose of man is to know, love & serve God.” However, with over 35,000 […]

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We Need Saints without Cassocks

January 3, 2017

By an unknown author (falsely attributed to Pope Francis) We need saints without veil or cassock. We need saints who wear jeans and sneakers. We need saints who go to the movies, listen to music and hang out with friends. We need saints who put God in first place, but who let go of their […]

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Follow up by Dr. Ed Peter’s: “The Maltese directive makes answering the ‘dubia’ urgent

January 1, 2017

The Maltese Disaster, by Canon Lawyer Dr. Edward Peters as I reported yesterday. Here is his follow up related to the dubia and the Pope. January 15, 2017 When highly placed Italian prelates declare that “only a blind man cannot see” that confusion is the ecclesiastical order of the day, and that such confusion has as its […]

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Free Offer: No FAKE NEWS! “Catholic World Report” Magazine FREE On-line! Start the Year Right!

January 1, 2017

    From my friend Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press: Friends, many of you know about Ignatius Press’ magazine Catholic World Report.  It’s completely online now. I’m writing to encourage you to sign up for the free Catholic World Report email newsletter. It’s sent out weekly to alert people to outstanding articles, interviews, and […]

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Founding Father John Adams Visits a Catholic Church

December 31, 2016

John Adams (1735-1826) was a Founding Father of the United States. He was raised in an austere Protestant movement called the Puritans who left England to flee liturgical Christianity and to find religious freedom. He was raised as a Congregationalist and later turned to Unitarianism. He was elected President of the United States in 1796. […]

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Excellent EWTN World Over interview With Cardinal Burke on the Pope’s Encyclical

December 16, 2016

Let me speak my mind clearly. I support Cardinal Burke and the others 100%. God bless them!

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A Canonical Primer on Popes and Heresy

December 16, 2016

No one in a position of ecclesial responsibility—not the Four Cardinals posing dubia, not Grisez & Finnis cautioning about misuses, and not the 45 Catholics appealing to the College, among others—has, despite the bizarre accusations made about some of them, accused Pope Francis of being a heretic or of teaching heresy. While many are concerned […]

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Rome in the Eye of a Storm

December 13, 2016

Catholic Journalist and writer for National Catholic Register summarized the situation in Rome as the Pope refuses to respond to a growing number of voices requesting an explanation of his document Amoris Laetitia. I found it worth reading, along with the two below. Msgr. Charles Pope has written  the clearest and simplest explanation I’ve read to […]

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Mass with 2 Protestants and 1 Crucifix

November 10, 2016

A while ago we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, as big as life — a CRUCIFIX with the Body of Our Lord hanging over the altar. I knew what the Protestants were thinking — I used to think the same — “CATHOLICS ARE WRONG, JESUS IS […]

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You Laity are Pretty Important and Should be Involved Reminding Priests and Bishops

October 29, 2016

We Catholics often think we should sit back and let the bishops and priests do everything. We should look to them to save our Church. But Archbishop Fulton Sheen has a word of exhortation for us: “Who is going to save our Church? Do not look to the priests. Do not look to the bishops. […]

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Sola Scriptura and the Canon of Scripture

October 12, 2016

Sola Scriptura and the Canon When non-Catholics are asked to provide biblical support or their belief that the Bible Alone is the sole rule of faith for the believer, they usually cite 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which states that “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful”. However, they somehow miss the fact that the two verses […]

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