Funeral rites

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    Not sure how to proceed here…looking for advice.

    My family is Catholic–more or less lapsed. But over the years, there have been strong feelings of faith and church attendence.

    A relative died recently and the family decided, for philosophical reasons, to have him cremated. There was no obituary in the paper, no wake, no funeral, no gatherings. The funeral home came and got him, took him to the crematory, and the ashes were put in an urn and given to his wife. The philosophical reasons for this were the people in charge had a deeply held belief that newspapers and funeral homes gouged people during times of suffering and it was their goal to see them not profit off of death.

    So…I was OK with this initially as the explanation made sense and the people in charge have chosen this route for themselves when the time comes. But the relative involved…not really 100% sure this was what he wanted as funeral arrangements was not something he would talk about. Anyway….I was OK with it, but then found it was bothering me that this relative has essentially been erased from history without the usual goodbyes.

    Moving on…the erasure bothered me but I put it aside. Then over the holidays I joined and was trying to track down relatives with not much luck and had the thought of trying to see if there were church records that might help. So I was surfing the church my grandparents went to, and where this relative was married, to find someone to email and ask. While there I surfed around the site and then moved on to other things.

    The next morning like a bolt out of the blue I had this weird sense that there was something I needed to do from a church standpoint about this death. I’m agnostic these days….wasn’t really raised Catholic but dabbled in it for a few years then moved back to being agnostic. Just saying….I’m not a new agey type that believes in spirits and such.

    But I have this haunting feeling that my relatives spirit is not at rest and needs a formal Catholic funeral prayer or something of the sort. I don’t even know what….I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think anything was done at the crematory–but I could be wrong.
    As I said..I’m not normally one who thinks I’m surrounded by spirits and they are contacting me….but I can’t quite get over this sense that I need to be doing something and that the church is where it needs to get done.

    Meanwhile—am I overstepping my bounds here? Do I have any right to even pursue this. The relative’s wife is alive but she is in a nursing home. This is kind of a sensitive subject and I would not be comfortable asking her if it’s OK to contact a priest about this. I’m not OK either with asking the people involved with the cremation if a priest was on hand during the procedure. In other words…I”d like to do something, but it has to be done without the knowledge of my family.

    So…any advice. I’m really stumbling here as I don’t know the rules, don’t know what is appropriate, don’t know why I am feeling the way I am feeling…..



    Andres Ortiz

    Hi Horizon. Welcome to the website! Even if a person is cremated, a funeral should take place. The cremains in the urn would be processed in to the church during the Mass instead of a body in a casket. I don’t know that this can be done without the knowledge of the family. Typically funeral planning involves the immediate family or the ones wanting the arrange the funeral. My understanding is that you would have to have some cooperation from the family.

    As I always recommend, it would be best to contact a priest at a nearby parish to discuss the matter. He may be able to give you more specific guidance.




    Welcome. First of all the rites of the Church are not magical spells that cause sprits peace. The rites of the Church such as the Mass, offered for the repose of the souls of the departed and the other rites that usually occur are prayers and means of Grace that Jesus gave us through which we normally recieve graces.

    While a formal funeral is not something that will probably not happen without the family arranging it, you can have a Mass or Masses offered for the repose of your relative’s soul. Inform the priest of the circumstnaces. Normally a priest recieves a stipend for his time and the supplies used, succh as the candles, wine and host(s) electricity in the church etc. The church does not get a break for the electricity bill. As a priest can only accept a stipend once a day for masses offered for intentions the usual stipend of $10.00 is very reasonable. Imagine yourself working for a salary of (on average)$300 a month, and only being allowed an additional $10.00 a day from stipends. Most priests will also offer Mass without accepting a penny in stipends for those who cannot afford to offer one.

    Even though you are an agnostic, you can offer prayers for the repose of his soul too. It would be a very nice charitable act on your part, and as an agnostic, it would not hurt you or the person who you wish to remember.

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