Dear Parishioners of St. James:
Praised be Jesus Christ!
The Church turns our attention to the faithful departed in this month of November. When we were baptized, we died with Christ and rose to new life. For those who keep faith and die in the state of grace (free of mortal sin) we Christians call it “falling asleep” because we already died in Baptism. Therefore, we reverence the bodies of the dead as made holy by Baptism who now rest before being “awakened” on the last day when the Lord will return to judge the living and the dead.
The Church requires the burial of the dead. There is a disturbing trend of late where Christians are cremating the bodies of their loved ones and never burying them. This practice has no place in our religion. We bury the dead because Jesus was buried. Christians imitate Our Lord in life, death and (hopefully) resurrection. Our funeral rites should reflect what we believe about Jesus Christ and our own share in Him.
The Church teaches that the body, full and intact, should be buried after death. We lay our dead to rest in the hope of their rising again. Burial of the body captures the symbolism of the Death and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. While cremation is permitted it must not be chosen as a rejection of our belief in the resurrection of the body on the last day. Even if cremation is performed the remains must be buried in blessed ground in order for the departed to receive the graces the living can win for them by our pious visit to them in the cemetery.
Pope Francis has extended the reception of a plenary indulgence to the entire month of November this year because of the pandemic. When you visit the departed at a cemetery and pray for their eternal rest (with prayers for the Holy Father and Sacramental Confession and Communion within 2 weeks of the visit) you can receive up to a plenary (full) remission of temporal punishment due to sin. The indulgence can be received for oneself or offered for the faithful departed.
Please remember to pray for the deceased this month and always. The souls in Purgatory are completely dependent on our prayers and sacrifices for them. Following the funeral rites of the Church ensure that our departed loved ones receive all the graces necessary to enter Heaven from the treasury of the Church. Do not deprive the souls of their necessary indulgence. May all of the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
God bless you,