Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus (apr4ssc.htm)

Monday
April 4, 2005
vol 16, no. 94

The Resurrection and Cremation



Turning the body into indistinguishable ashes through the pagan practice of cremation is the final mutilation of anti-Christian forces bent on answering to satan. It is a direct affront to the Creed of the Resurrection of the body, and more importantly the Resurrection of Christ.

by
Father James F. Wathen

      "Our subject is the disturbing trend among modern Catholics toward cremation. We should recognize cremation as but another sign of their loss of the Faith and their drift towards paganism. It is also a sign that the modern Church is really not a religious establishment, but a secular organization, which is not interested in peopleís souls, or in what they do, so long as they give enough money for the whole thing to be closed down gradually, unnoticeably."


    I Corinthians 15: 42-45 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption: it shall rise in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour: it shall rise in glory. It is sown in weakness: it shall rise in power. It is sown a natural body: it shall rise a spiritual body. If there be a natural body, there is also a spiritual body, as it is written: The first man Adam was made into a living soul; the last Adam into a quickening spirit.

    We might have begun by quoting the entire fifteenth chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthians, and urge everyone who reads this message to read that also.

    Reading St. Paulís lines might prove more helpful than reading all that follows.

    Our subject is the disturbing trend among modern Catholics toward cremation. We should recognize cremation as but another sign of their loss of the Faith and their drift towards paganism. It is also a sign that the modern Church is really not a religious establishment, but a secular organization, which is not interested in peopleís souls, or in what they do, so long as they give enough money for the whole thing to be closed down gradually, unnoticeably.

    That the modern Church neither maintains nor instructs its members in the principles and traditions of the Catholic Faith needs no proving. That the Pope, the bishops, and priests are complacently presiding over the Churchís dissolution is clear to everyone who has one good eye.

    Our purpose here is to remind true Catholics of the traditional teaching of the Church concerning the body, which is the reason why it has always taught the faithful to bury their dead and not burn them up.

    The basic truths are these:

    1. Human beings are composed of body and soul. The human person is a single being, even though he has a composite nature. The soul can live without the body, but the soul is in an unnatural state without the body; and because the soul is immortal, the resurrection of the body is inevitable, as there would be no utility in the soulís living eternally, either in Heaven or in Hell, separated from its body.

    2. All the Sacraments are sensible signs and causes of grace, sensible, meaning that they have material component, which pertains to the physical side of the recipient: water in the case of Baptism, holy chrism and the imposition of hands in the case of Confirmation, the anointing with the oil of the sick in the case of Extreme Unction, and so on.

    3. The material element of the Sacraments was used by Christ for the Sacraments because human beings are composed of body and soul. The person receiving the Sacrament knows that he is doing so, and must believe in the interior effect of the outward sign. A Sacrament cannot be given to a deceased person, nor administered remotely. The minister must be where the recipient is, so that they are in immediate, sensible contact.

    4. Because the soul is a purer substance than the body does not mean that the body is not good; it is simply a lesser substance than the soul. The soul is not a human being, except when the person has died. Having died, he lives because the soul, being a pure spirit, cannot die. The life of the disembodied spirit cannot be thought of has a human life because it is unable to perform many human acts, namely, physical ones.

    5. Through the Incarnation, the Son of God became a man. He did not become a human being, or a human person, because He is a divine Person, and the Divine Being. As the Divine Being, this divine Person is united to the Father and the Holy Ghost in the infinite Godhead. In the Incarnation, the Second Person of the Godhead united Himself to a human nature, created by God, so that Jesus of Nazareth was both God and Man. As man he had a complete human nature, a human Soul and a human Body. Part of the marvel of the Incarnation is that it is not a temporary thing. The Second Person of the Trinity did not merely don a human nature in order to perform a mission on earth, with the intention of dispossessing Himself of it once His mission was concluded. The Incarnation will last for ever; and in the Mystery of Easter we celebrate the fact that the God Man, Christ ,reunited Himself to His Body, and transformed it into something which could never have been conceived or expected. He so reformed His Body that it is now spiritualized, being in no way subject to physical limitations.

    6, The Resurrection and the glorification of His Body is very much a part of the Redemptive Mystery and triumph. For this reason, we must see the whole biblical tradition of the reverence toward the dead, the thoughtful burial of their bodies, and the continued remembrance of their burial place as a preparation and presage of the burial of Christ. The burial of the body as an act of reverence is as much a part of the tradition of the people of God, the people of "the city of God," to use St. Augustineís expression, as the burning of the body is a part of the pagan tradition. Christís crucifixion is said to have taken place on the burial site of Adam and Eve. The children of Israel carried the bones of the patriarch, Joseph, with them out of Egypt and continued to carry them for forty years until they entered their Promised Land, the land whence their forefather, Jacob (who was also called Israel), Josephís father, departed hundreds of years earlier. (Exodus 13:19).

        Anyone who has his body burned positively departs from the biblical and Christian tradition, and joins himself to the pagan one. It should be made clear that cremation is a pagan act; it is an unspoken rejection of the Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body, whether the individual knows it or not. The only reason a Catholic might not know it is that his priests are indifferent to all the traditions of our holy religion; they therefore can think of no reason to forbid or discourage cremation. But again, modern priests can think of no reason to forbid many sinful things.

    7. In this life, Christians used to be instructed that their service to God is a human service, given a divine dimension by the fact that at Baptism they were given a share in the divine nature through the reception of divine grace. As St. Peter wrote: "By whom [Christ] he [the Father] hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world" (II Peter: 1:4).

    8. This grace was given when we were engrafted mystically into the sacred humanity of Christ, our Savior and Redeemer (Romans 11:19). And, as he writes to the Galatians: "For you are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ" (3:26, 27).

        Through this union with Christ, our souls were eternally transformed, marked, and empowered, so that we were no longer mere human beings, but "Christians," and priests, capable of offering the Body and Blood of Christ, and ours with Him, to the eternal Father in Heaven.

    9. By Baptism, we become adopted children of God, and heirs of all that Christ gained through the triumph of His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. (Cf. Romans 8:17). By Baptism we become temples of God (I Corinthians 3:16), bearers of the Blessed Trinity, and visible members of Christ, our mystical Head. Again, to quote St. Paul: "One body and one Spirit: as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all" (Ephesians 4:4-6).

    For these reasons, Catholics learn a demeanor that is rigid and objectionable to pagans. The physical deportment of the true Christian, his clothing, his carriage, his whole manner, are supposed to be expressions of his awareness that he has renounced the illusory independence and self-sufficiency of pride, and adopted a totally different and truer view of himself. He has received an identity which is superior to that of the pagan, which is recognition that, above all things, he is a sinner, very much in need of mercy; hence he must live in a posture of humility and penitence. But, in addition, by his union with Christ, he has received a dignity which requires that his conduct be imitative of Christ, the source of all his superior stature, his spiritual wealth, and eternal hope. "Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another. Even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection" (Colossians 3:12-14).

    The result of this awareness among Christians from the time of the Apostles produced the civilization and culture of the Christian world, which is the only true culture, and the norm of human living by which all other ways and styles of life are measured.

    Protestantism not only renounced Christian truth, it also renounced true Christian culture, and as it has gradually disintegrated, its people have become less Christian in their manner of living and incapable of producing anything that resembles a true art. Through the Second Vatican Council, Catholics have done in a generation what Protestants have not done universally, namely, embrace the all-destroying World Revolution in one fell swoop. The consequence is that they have lost their Christian identity altogether and now produce nothing--except babble and ruins. What is worse, they are totally unaware that they are dispossessed, sterile, and anonymous.

    The World Revolution has as its final purpose to reduce all men to the level of soulless slaves, to render them as much like animals as possible. The reason for this is that, in the mind of their Jewish masters, they are animals, goyim, serviceable beasts, and must be reduced to their true state. They must be decivilized, therefore, and animalized, so that they live only to eat and breed. All the media of influence, which are controlled by the forces of the Revolution to a greater or lesser extent, if not in a positive way, at least negatively, such as public morality, education, the world of literature, art, architecture, music, both serious and popular, physical science, "social science" (sociology, psychology, history), clothing, and entertainment at all levels, are being employed for this decivilizing process. The current rage for tattoos and piercings and other mutilations should be seen as a part of this.

    The human race is to be reduced to its proper impotence and usefulness. The life of any one of these "animals" is worth nothing; nor are the lives of any million or ten million of them worth anything, as has been seen in the rise of Communism in Russia, Eastern Europe, and China, so say nothing of many other parts of the world. The "mythical" deaths of six million Jews is infinitely more tragic than the countless millions of deaths which have been caused by the forces of the World Revolution since 1917. One of the programs of the United Nations calls for the elimination of several billion of these useless eaters, these "resource users." Few of their antihuman programs have proved as successful as abortion, to say nothing of the countless and interminable wars.

    One should keep these facts in mind as one watches the cultural decline of the Catholic world. The increasing popularity of cremation is but another sign, but by no means an insignificant sign, of the fact that Catholics think of themselves as no more than other human beings, and not very important human beings at that. Through and since the Council, they have been told that their worth is in their being human beings, whom Christ saved through His Death on the cross. The necessity of their incorporation into His Mystical Body, and their working out their salvation "in fear and trembling" (Cf. Philippians 2:12). has been studiedly omitted. As a result, Catholics are now totally indistinguishable from all other people; rather, they resemble pagans more than they resemble other Christians. As one generation gives way to another, this fact becomes sadder and more inescapable. Cremation should be seen as the final mutilation of the subculturists, the final clenched-fist gesture of defiance of the anti-Christians.

    Cremation is the logical conclusion of these facts. In cremation, one loses his identity altogether; (he no longer retains his DNA!). His burial place is of no consequence. His ashes can be buried, thrown to the four winds, or kept on the mantle in the front room, there by the clock, the framed photos, and the other knickknacks (where it can hold the ownerís stocking at Christmas time).

    In the New Testament, Christ and the Apostles make it clear that it is not the salvation of souls, but of human beings, that is the object of the great Redemptive work of our Risen Savior.

John. 12:1-8. Jesus therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. And they made him a supper there: and Martha served. But Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said: Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor? Now he said this not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief and, having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of My burial. For the poor you have always with you: but Me you have not always.

Mark 16:1. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus.

    (God keep me from speaking improperly here.) Suppose that the Virgin Mary had taken steps, once the Sacred Body of her crucified Son was taken down from the Cross, that it be cremated, so that she might keep the ashes with her always. The thought is blasphemous. Hardly less should Catholics have their bodies burned up than that such a thing about our Crucified Savior even be thought of. But you will say: But Christ was to rise from the dead, emerge from the tomb. So are all those who have been baptized in Christ, and confirmed in His Holy Spirit, fed with His Body, anointed with the Oil of the Dying, destined to emerge from their tombs on the last day, because they are "other christs," that is, others that have been, like Christ, anointed, He anointed as Godís King, Priest, and Prophet (Word), they as "a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people: that you may declare his virtues, who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Who in times past were not a people: but are now the people of God. Who had not obtained mercy: but now have obtained mercy" (I Peter 2:9, 10).

    We bury the body of a deceased Catholic (man or woman) as a sign of reverence for the person as our beloved relation or friend, but moreso because he or she was baptized into the Blood of the Redeeming Christ. In life, he received Christ in the Sacramental rites, especially, he received Christ Himself in the Eucharist. At the time of his death, if he were so fortunate, he received Christís forgiveness of all his sins, he received Holy Viaticum, which means that Christ was with (cum) him on his way (via) to death and judgment. Then the dying man was anointed with holy oil, which St. James assures would purge away all sins, if, of course, the individual be truly repentant. (Cf. James 5:114, 15). Finally, the priest imparted a plenary indulgence to the recipient.

    During the time between the individualís death and his funeral, traditionally, Catholics gathered around his body and beseech almighty God to have mercy upon him. The mercy being asked for was that He would remit the punishments due to him for the sins of his life. It was presumed that the man, no matter how fervent he was in his religious practice, was guilty of venial sins. Since most Catholics were not fervent, the more call there was for prayers and Masses to be said for him at the time of, and long after, his death, as the Doctrine of Purgatory makes very clear.

    At the funeral of the deceased, the priest met him at the entrance of the Church and escorted him for the last time to the front of the Church, a reminicence of the time when the priests escorted him into the Church at his Baptism. The Mass was called a "Requiem Mass," because the first words of the Introit were "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord." The plea for eternal rest for the deceased was the theme of the Mass and the attendant obsequies. Again, there is no connotation of sleep or rest in the ashes of the departed one. In fact, there is no connotation of anything in the ashes, other than that the individual has been completely erased, completely terminated. That a Catholic could contemplate such an "expungement" either for himself or for another is commentary enough on the vacuity of his mind, the complete loss of Catholic awareness.

    The Epistle of the Mass read:

    I Thessalonians 4:12. And we will not have you ignorant brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you be not sorrowful, even as others who have no hope.

        Note well that St. Paul refers to death as oneís being asleep. Note also that the Great Apostle repeats the doctrine that those who are not Christian (Catholic) have no hope of salvation: they do not hope for salvation, because they do not believe in the Gospel of Christ, and thus they have no reason to hope for salvation.

    4:13. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again: even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring with Him.

        At the Second Coming, those who have gone to Heaven will form Christ the Great Judgeís entourage, as He comes to judge all men in the General Judgment.

    4:14-15 For this we say unto you in the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent [precede or go before] them who have slept. For the Lord Himself shall come down from Heaven with commandment and with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God: and the dead who are in Christ shall rise first.

        The "dead who are in Christ" are those who have died in the state of sanctifying grace. They shall rise at the voice of the Archangel Gabriel, so tradition has it, and the sound of his trumpet. Again, one finds it hard to imagine the ashes of the cremated "hearing" the call to resurrection. Indeed, no matter what the modern Church allows, it is hard to think of such a person having "died in Christ."

    4:16-17 Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air: and so shall we be always with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort ye one another with these words.

    When he wrote this Epistle, the first that we have, St. Paul seems to have thought that the Second Coming would be during his lifetime. He writes to encourage the Thessalonians with the idea that those who had already passed away should not be pitied, because they would have a certain advantage over those who awaited Christís Coming on earth, in that they would be the first to receive their glorified bodies.

    Throughout the traditional Mass and attendant prayers, there was no assertion that the deceased saved his soul. The prayers were for mercy upon him because he sinned. The prayers are that God will wash his sins away. One reads:

    "We implore you, do not let the verdict of your judgment go against him, whom the loyal faith is commending to your mercy. Rather, by the help of your grace, may he escape the sentence which he deserves, for during his earthly life, he was signed with the seal of the Holy Trinity."

    The Preface of the Requiem Mass read:

    "It is truly meet and just, right and salutary, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, through Christ our Lord. In Whom the hope of a blessed resurrection hath shone upon us: that those whom the certainty of dying afflicteth, the promises of future immortality may console. For the life of thy faithful, O Lord, is altered, not taken away: and when the abode of this earthly sojourn is dissolved, an eternal dwelling is prepared in Heaven."

    The funeral service having ended, the body was again escorted by the priest out of the Church. At the cemetery, the body was taken to the grave, which was first blessed--if it were not a Catholic cemetery; the entire area of a Catholic cemetery had been blessed when it was opened.

    One of the most unfortunate developments of the last thirty years or so is the erection of funeral chapels in Catholic cemeteries. The body is taken to these chapels instead of the grave. There, in climate-controlled comfort, the final prayers are said. Then the crowd is sent away. Then the casket is taken to the grave and buried without ceremony. This arrangement makes it convenient for the casket to be hauled away to the crematory and its contents incinerated.

    Traditionally, the people have gone to the graveside, in fair weather and foul, and joined the priest in the final prayers, which again were prayers for divine mercy. The survivors watched as the casket was lowered into the grave, a sobering and beneficial lesson. Later, they marked the place where their loved one lies, and were urged to return often to pray for him. On All Soulsí Day, they were especially encouraged to go and seek a plenary indulgence for the deceased. Consider the difference if what is beneath the earth at the headstone is a vase of ashes (or several, as they require very little space; Oi! Vat a savings!).

    What clearer sign does one need that the body of the Christian is holy and must be treated with all reverence. Instead of cremating it, why not save even this expense and just throw the cadaver in the dumpster? The waste disposal company will gladly haul it away at no extra charge.

    Rather, the true Christian ponders the Scriptural promise that the bodies of the saints will be raised up to incorruption. The Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body presumes that the act will be the raising of the buried. To be sure, God can raise the ashes of the cremated to life and will do so, for God can do all things. But cremation most certainly is not pleasing to Him, as it is contrary to the tradition of redemption.

    We are buried in imitation of Christ, Who is the "first fruits of them that sleep," (I Corinthians 15:20), Who rose from the grave, Whose Body was treated with the most adoring care by the Virgin Mother and His followers. Even though Christ had no fixed abode in life, He did have a new tomb for His burial. As a special sign of his burial, almighty God has bestowed upon us the wonderful and incontrovertible miracle of the Holy Shroud, the Lordís burial cloth. What further proof do we need of the importance of imitating Christ in death by being buried in blessed ground and waiting for the summons of the Archangel to rise to be reunited to our souls?

I Cor. 15:23-28 But every one in his own order: the firstfruits, Christ: then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his coming. Afterwards the end: when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father: when he shall have brought to nought all principality and power and virtue [of Satanís army]. For he must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet. And the enemy, death, shall be destroyed last: For he hath put all things under his feet. And whereas he saith: All things are put under him; undoubtedly, he is excepted, who put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then the Son also himself shall be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

__________________________

    I thank again everyone who prays for me, and beg him to continue. I regret that I can show due appreciation to everyone who remembers me, who has had Masses said for me, who has sent me greetings and gifts of money (which is put to good use). I send everyone my priestly blessing, praying that he have a happy Easter Season.

In Christ,

Father James Wathen


    For past articles of Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus, see 2005ssc.htm Archives
    April 4, 2005
    vol 16, no. 94
    Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus