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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Together Forever

Since it's Lent and we're not supposed to run around doing the happy dance, I thought this is as good a time as any to talk about what we do with our ashes when they become ashes and our dust is dust again.

Recently my husband and I were discussing the topic of non Catholics being buried in Catholic cemeteries.Is it allowed? I am a convert to the Catholic Church and our children are Catholic. My husband is a non practicing Protestant who comes to church with us occasionally (Christmas and Easter). I want to all be buried together ...after the Lord calls us home....in a Catholic cemetery, which hubby has no objection to if it is allowed.

Which brings up a few other questions about the end.

Yes, the rest of your family can stay with you, almost no matter what was going on with them. Unless one of your daughters or sons is a famous heretic, they can join you. Technically, even if they weren't famous and they were a heretic, they couldn't come along. I'm just imagining that unless they were famous for being a heretic, how would anyone really know they were a heretic? How can we account for someone's private heretical thoughts? We can't. 

I digress.

Catholic cemeteries are sacred ground, blessed by the Bishop. There are cases that have to be approved by the Bishop, but generally, we like to keep families together.

So while we're on the subject let's talk about a couple of other things that tend to come up.

1. You can be cremated. But your ashes have to be buried, not scattered. Or interred. They have to go in an above ground mausoleum or a below ground in a grave. Your choice. But you can't be in a pendant around someone's neck, flung out to sea, shot into space, or sitting on top of the TV with the St. Clare statue.

2. Once you are a corpse your dead remains have to be treated with respect. They have to be  buried or interred, cremated or not.  They can't be stuffed and perched on your favorite horse who is also stuffed, as Dale Evans once threatened to do with Roy Rogers. (In the end, Trigger was stuffed, but Roy was not.) Or kept in the basement to scare ladies that stay at your motel.

3. It's a great idea to be buried in a Catholic cemetery. The ground is blessed, the other people visiting the grave sites are all on the same page. We're all family here. Canon law dictates that we always preserve the respect for the dead.

4. And finally, people who commit suicide can be buried in a Catholic cemetery. We don't know what is in someone's heart so we can't judge someone who has taken their own life. Unless the person was also a heretic. 

I hope that covers everything. It's important that your mortal remains are respected and left undisturbed. Unless you are a saint, ironically. If you're up for canonization, we're going to dig you up to make sure it's really you.

Either way, we'll bring flowers.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of the dead, what do you recommend we do when our house is haunted? The house has been blessed. I've asked the ghosts to leave in a stern voice. Nothing. In fact, it made them more active. There are at least 3 of them in the house. They haven't done anything to hurt us but they are scary. You can't 'prepare' for it so I'm always caught off guard. They can be seen, heard, smelled (one smokes something that looks like a cigarette but smells like cigar). They make noise. Once, I was on the couch and it sounded like every pot & pan, every dish, everything I owned had crashed in the kitchen. When I ran to the room, nothing was out of place. The person I bought the home from sold it because she was afraid to live there. I thought she was crazy. It's a beautiful home. Too bright and sunny to be haunted. And when you die, you go to hell, purgatory or heaven. There is no 4th choice of hanging around and haunting a house. So what is going on? It doesn't seem evil or demonic but I don't engage with them-except the time I told them all to leave. And one time, I screamed at a woman who was in my room (and she did leave). What is the church teaching and how do I get rid of them? I don't want to involve ghost hunters because I don't really want to know what they find.

If I could, I'd sell the house and move but the market is terrible in my area with lots of foreclosures

Unknown said...

I'm pretty sure "Bury the dead" is one of the corporal works of mercy, which presumes in a Catholic cemetary.

There's a Muslim baby buried in the cemetary where my brother and sister are. I think it's the very epitome of Christian charity.

JP said...

@ Anonymous

Have you used holy water or blessed salt to sprinkle through and around your home? We had some odd goings on for a while (after going the usual routes like calling an electrician) which stopped completely after I brought some blessed salt home and sprinkled it through the house. It was at that point that a priest friend came and did a formal blessing.

Unknown said...

Okay, as long as you bring flowers.

Arkanabar said...

@Haunted House Inhabitant: you are right to say that there are only three places where the dearly departed go: Heaven, Purgatory (Heaven's real waiting room), and Hell. That leaves the supernatural to angels and demons. Unless, of course, it's due to powerful electromagnetic fields interfering with your nervous system. Ghost hunters used to regard high EMF as debunking evidence, but now they say it's ghost food. Either way, it can be mitigated. Ghost hunters will perhaps also be able to suggest other natural things which might lead one to think one is haunted.

Lily said...

I think the Church is agnostic on ghosts, Anonymous. Who knows, maybe the poor fellows are doing their purgatory in the house were they used to live? You might try offering some indulgences for them, praying for their souls, and so on.

Anonymous said...

Can Catholics donate their bodies to science? Or their organs--can their organs be harvested?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the answers.

To JP: Yes. Our priest blessed a huge box of kosher salt. It has been sprinkled all over the house. It didn't seem to make a huge difference. Maybe I'm not using enough. I'm going to give it another go tonight.

To Arkan: I have never checked to see if we have high EMF readings. The events aren't limited to one specific area of the house. And I'm worried about bringing in a "Ghost Hunter" who could upset whatever is haunting the house (making it worse or upping the activity level). Or, showing me some kind of "evidence" which will just make it harder to live there. I have a friend who recommended leaving recorders around but I'm terrified to hear any 'ghostly' recordings. I'm afraid that engaging it will encourage it because it will know we see and hear it.

I have tried looking for other explanations for some of the things. I had an exterminator in the house. I had the vents cleaned in case the smell was due to a previous owner. But some things just can't be explained away. When you see someone glide across a room (not out of the corner of your eye but straight on), it's really scary. It didn't 'do' anything to me. The next day my younger daughter saw it.

We hear a voice say things like "Hello", "Who are you?", "What's happening?" (not all at once but over the course of several months). And the sound like a bubble popping followed by an exhale -right in front of my face while I'm reading a book at night. And being touched in the middle of the day. A hand touched my face. Not a menacing touch but it felt like the hand had been soaked in ice water for a month before it touched me. The impression of the hand could be felt for about 1/2 afterwards. It was right after I adopted my youngest child. I was holding her as she slept and the hand touched the right side of my face. It still gives me chills.
I went to counseling because I thought I had to be imagining it. I never talked about it because I didn't want to acknowledge it. But then my daughters come to me with their own experiences. I don't know if I should acknowledge it (which could hurt them) or tell them they are imagining it (which would hurt them because they think I don't believe them).

We had dark shadows. Darting shadows that made me think we had a bat in the house. (which did disappear after the house blessing along with the figure that moved across the living room). and balls of bluish white light (which still occur).

Anonymous said...

I've been to the eye doctor. It's the 'touch' and 'voices' that are hard to ignore as imagination.

I do pray often. I ask God to send His Spirit to every corner of the house. I ask Him to send His angels to stand guard. I have asked Him to drive out whatever is in the house (right around the time of the house blessing and that's when the darting shadows and figures stopped appearing).

It seems like what's left is the man who spokes the cigars that smell like cigarettes (had the vents cleaned and it didn't help), and the older woman (who's very vocal and I think the one who touched me in the living room)

Lily: The thought of them doing purgatory in the house is something I hadn't thought of. I am going to have Mass read for them and also pray for them daily. I hadn't thought of that. That would actually be more comforting that the thought of something "bad" living in the house -even though nothing ever seemed menacing.

This has actually been a quiet period. It waxes and wanes. Sometimes it will be active for a few weeks then stop for as long as 2 years. The problem is that I am always caught off guard by it when it happens. And it's terrifying even though we haven't been hurt by it. I don't want to think of the 'unseen' seeing me. I don't want to share the house with someone I can't see. And I don't want to see them. I guess I just want them to move on (or at least to a different house). There are enough empty ones around.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: I know you can donate your organs. When my son died, his heart valves and cornea were donated. I actually discussed it with the priest when we knew he was going to pass away.

If, after they are done with your body, they return the ashes to you for proper burial, it would probably be fine. However, there are really strict rules for accepting donations. You have to meet certain weight requirements and health requirements.

Cat said...

Thank you very much Sister. I did ask our Priest as well and he said as long as we were buried in his Parish he'd make sure we stayed together. However, we plan to move and have no idea exactly where we may be living when the time comes. I thank you for clearing that up for me. May God bless you always.

Mph said...

Hi Sister, who would be the best saint for this whole situation. A sick child that can't communicate where his pain is (autistic), that is having almost daily bouts of awful pain by the look of it and is generally under the weather, doctors that seem not to be taking it seriously enough or don't believe me or are next to useless for whatever reason, long delays in getting to see anyone who could possibly help, or tests done (even with private health care we are still having this problem) and a parent reaching the end of her tether and, sorry to say, almost despairing. I really need some divine help here!

Anonymous said...

Today is a feast day, not a feet day. (Non-Catholic, trying to be clever, and still get a good grade on sister's test!)

I am wondering whether those haunting the house have a message of healing to offer, and keeping on being ignored just makes it harder for them to offer it?

Logically, this is a possibility offered by process of elimination, consulting the options Sister has discussed so far: "Their purpose may be to teach or warn, or request some favor of the living." Thus, if I had the courage, I might ask what it is each remaining one wants, or to offer that is helpful.