Cremation is becoming an increasingly popular choice among Catholics. Unfortunately, without a full understanding of the Church’s position on the treatment of cremated remains, the option to cremate a loved one’s body sometimes leads to disposition trends that circumvent the Rite of Committal, the final ritual movement of the Order of Christian Funerals.
One such trend is keeping the urn containing the cremated remains at home. While the final physical separation from a loved one is indeed one of life’s most difficult moments, avoiding the last goodbye leaves the rituals supporting death incomplete, and denies the mourners of the consolation of faith made present through the complete celebration of this ritual. When cremation is chosen, the entire ritual movement of the Order of Christian Funerals should still ideally be celebrated, including the Prayer Vigil, the Funeral Liturgy, and the Rite of Committal.
Preserving the threefold movement of the ritual allows for the greater expression of our Catholic Beliefs and Values, particularly the sacredness of human life, the dignity of the person and the proclamation of risen life in Christ that is now shared. The teachings of the Church instruct us to treat cremated remains with the same respect as the body, including the manner in which they are reverenced and the attention given to their transport and final placement, keeping the remains at home is not considered to be the reverent disposition that the Church envisions.