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Catholic burials, like all internments, can be sophisticated, elaborate and expensive, or they can be – perhaps surprising to those used to the abundant elegance of many Catholic ceremonies – simple, dignified and inexpensive.
In fact, an entire non-profit organization known as the Catholic Burial Society exists to help those of the Catholic (or any faith for that matter) plan funerals that avoid high costs, are simple to stage, and “celebrate a life well lived instead of death and dying.” This organization is critical of many funeral home practices that result in large-expensive ceremonies that it says are often needless. “We place family and friends, the liturgy and music before needlessly expensive merchandise or meaningless rhetoric,” the group’s website says.
Ceremonies for Catholic burials are no different from those of most other religions. In general, a catholic burial ceremony features a short sermon from priest, eulogies by family members and friends, performances of the deceased’s favorite pieces of music and other typical funeral traditions. If ceremonies for Catholic burials differ from those of other religious it is usually in, simply, the types of prayers that are said. Catholic burials, for example, often feature recitations of the famous Rosary prayer and other prayers recited with the use of Rosary Beads.
An important point to make about Catholic burials is that cremations are allowed, and have been since 1963. According to a recent study by the funeral industry, a large percentage of Catholics say they and their family members do not intend to be cremated as part of their Catholic burials simply because they understand that the Catholic Church has banned cremation. This understanding, of course, is a misconception. Cremations have been officially a part of many Catholic burials for more than 30 years. They are allowed under church laws as part of official catholic burials, so long as they are not done with the belief that they will inhibit possible resurrection of the body. In other words, church officials have rules, if a person and a family is comfortable with cremation, then they are, by all means, allowable for Catholic burials.
As this change in Catholic Church policy becomes better known in the coming years, it is very likely that more and more Catholic burials will include cremation. “There are many reasons why people choose cremation ranging from cost issues to arguments of ecology and land usage. Our counselors exist to explain all of the options available to our member families. We live in a new society ever more mobile, educated and consumer savvy,” the Catholic Burial Society says on its website.
In general, a Catholic burial is no different from most any other burial of a person in the Western world. The ceremony may, occasionally be extremely elaborate and regimented (such as that done for most Popes and other Church leaders), but it can also be quite simple, and even a little fun. As the Catholic Burial Society notes the point of a burial ceremony is to celebrate the well-lived life of the deceased.