Tuesday, April 18, 2017


In ancient Israel from whom Christianity is descended, cremation was a punishment for criminals and enemies.  It was a dishonor to be cremated.  Jesus had friends, not the Twelve, who made sure that he was not cremated.  The good people in the tribe were buried within 24 hours.  No elaborate funeral services or embalming.  Then stuff happened, such as six billion people, a non-expansive earth, and the expense of the funeral/church burial customs.  If you are going to bury a body, you do it soon after the death, maybe three/four days.  Friends and relatives no longer live in a small village.  People are spread out all over the globe and cannot easily get to a funeral in such a short time.  If you cremate, then you can have a funeral or a celebration of life at whatever time is convenient.  Cremation is less expensive.  No casket for instance.  Cemeteries are filling up.  Any cemetery expansion near a city would have to compete with housing and construction interests.  Cremation takes less space.  I am OK with cremation.  My Paulist community will do whatever is in my will.  What is in my will?  I forget, but it is there.  My parents and sister were all cremated.  I would like to be buried at sea.  But don't think that will fly with my community.  Maybe.  If you are buried in the ground, after two generations that follow you, who will visit the grave or even think about you?  One reason I would like my body to be buried and not cremated is so that if someday people decide that I was really holy, they might want to dig me up to see if I am incorruptible.  Spooky?  Well, pride and ego never die I guess.  I won't be that holy except in my imagination.

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