On the occasion of the Feast of “All Saints’ Day” and “All Souls’ Day”, the question that is usually asked whether Cremation is acceptable to the Universal Catholic Church. The answer thereto has been given again and again – and again! But up to these times, for one reason or another, the question is still heard here and there, in this or that occasion. It is wherefore neither really futile nor irrelevant to give the official answer to the query - taking good note of the following ethical and moral realities:
First, the Good Book itself as above quoted already forwarded the undeniable truth that the human body – a composite of dust itself – when left behind by the human spirit that gives thereto, has but one standard eventual way to go, viz., back to dust. So it is usually considered an enigma if not a downright miracle when a dead human body does not undergo decomposition, does not go back to dust without any artificial means adopted precisely to preserve it.
Second, on proviso that cremation is not resorted to for questionable intentions such as anger, hatred or anything the like, then it is considered ethically sound and morally right to do so – such as for any of the following reasons: It has become more and more costly to embalm a dead body, to place it in a decent coffin, to hold a vigil for it and to finally bring it to a cemetery wherein even burial has become costly.
Third, after the cremation, there are two main options for those remaining behind in conjunction with the ashes left behind by their dearly beloved. One, these are likewise buried in a cemetery. Two, these are buried in a so-called “Columbarium” built by and affiliated with this or that Parish Church. The following however are forbidden: One, keeping the ashes at home. Two, throwing the ashes to the wind and/or the sea.
There is something else that is worth remembering: As “All Saints’ Day” is time set aside to recall, celebrate, and pray to the spirit of the departed already in the heavenly Kingdom, so it is that “All Souls’ Day” is time set aside and meant for praying for the souls of the departed so that the same will eventually go to the heavenly Kingdom. The former is “Praying to”. The latter is “Prayer for”. So it is that both Days are meant for praying – although making it also a Family Day is not exactly wrong.
It is worth noting that a great number of people go to the cemeteries on “All Saints’ Day” while relatively few of them go thereto on “All Souls’ Day”. Why? This is customary. But why has such become customary? It is because most people want to think, suppose and feel that their dear departed are worth praying to whereas they are already saints (small “s”). The rest of them want to think, suppose and feel that their dear departed are still but souls in need or prayers in order to become saints (small “s”) themselves in due time.
Be what it may, “All Saints’ Day” and “All Saints’ Day” are meant for those departed – not for those still around.