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Catholic cemeteries often provide for the poor and forgotten

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Catholic News Service

 

It is not as if anyone has organized a parade or a public relations campaign to say so, but Catholic cemeteries around the country have, do and will bury the indigent and those whose bodies have gone unclaimed.

“It’s a way to help those in need. A program to help the poor,” said Stephen Bittner of the Cincinnati Catholic Cemetery Society and president of the Catholic Cemetery Conference, the Illinois-based nationwide association for diocesan Catholic cemetery organizations. Read more »

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Viewpoint: God, who knows each sparrow, is with us through all things

July 9th, 2017 Posted in Death & Resurrection

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A violent windstorm ripped through my town the other night, the kind that leaves you mesmerized yet humbled at your own powerlessness. Nearby, a tornado wreaked damage, with 76,000 homes left without power, and 80-mph winds were the norm.

We were lucky at my house. Some bushes were partially uprooted, but we were able to sink them back into the soil and they’re doing well. Read more »

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40 years of changing customs in burial of the dead

May 29th, 2017 Posted in Death & Resurrection

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Executive director of Catholic Cemeteries considers the evolving American ways of mourning

 

It seems hard to believe that later this year I will have been an employee of Catholic Cemeteries for 40 years. It’s been an honor to serve the local community for so many years.

When starting my career in September 1977, nearly all the scheduled burials in our cemeteries took place after a viewing held at the funeral home on the evening before the funeral and a Mass of Christian Burial at the deceased’s parish church on the same morning as the burial. Most Masses were scheduled for early morning at 9 to mid-morning at 10:30. Almost every funeral arrived at the cemetery before noon. After the committal at the cemetery most families gathered for a post-funeral brunch or lunch. At most there may have been 10 burials of cremated bodies during an entire year. Read more »

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Cemeteries: ‘Thin spaces’ that evoke communion of the saints

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One summer, my husband and I did something we didn’t do when we lived in Alaska: we took road trips throughout 48 states. And in some of those places we visited cemeteries.

Since we both love Abraham Lincoln, we stopped at the Gettysburg battlefield and the cemetery where Lincoln delivered his famous address. We also visited Springfield, Ill., where Lincoln lies buried in an impressive monument. We visited the street near the state capitol that has been preserved just as it was when Lincoln lived there and was an attorney in the city. Read more »

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Commentary: The conversation you need to have with loved ones

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After nearly 40 years of ministry to those who have lost loved ones, I am struck by how many individuals have never discussed their own deaths and end-of-life wishes. As a society, we ignore the reality of death until a medical crisis occurs and we see those we love experience pain, fear and confusion.

Studies have shown that a majority of us do not want aggressive end-of-life hospital-based treatments. Most of us prefer to die at home as comfortably as possible surrounded by family and friends. Why, then, are 60 percent of Americans dying in hospitals? Read more »

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Viewpoint: The communion of saints

November 1st, 2015 Posted in Death & Resurrection, Opinion Tags: , ,

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November is an appropriate time for remembering in prayer those who have gone before us

 

In November we celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday when we gather as a family to thank God for all that he has given to us in our lives.

It is also the time of year that our church urges us to remember and pray for those departed loved ones who have been a part of our lives and to especially remember those faithful who may have no one on earth left to pray for them. Far from being a sad practice, the tradition of praying for the dead reminds us of the greatest mystery of the church, the communion of saints.

As Catholics we believe that the primary purpose of our life on earth is to know, love and serve God in this life so we can be happy with him in heaven. In other words, we are all called to be saints. God’s plan of salvation is for everyone to be reunited and happy together forever. Read more »

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Remembering the little ones: Annual celebration helps parents cope with the loss of their babies

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Catholic News Service

 

QUEBEC CITY — Cars continued to arrive in the parking lot of St. Cecilia Church, an unusual sight on a chilly and gray Saturday morning. A bit hesitant, the occupants slowly gathered in the church.

The crowd was mostly men and women in their 30s and 40s. Some were accompanied by children. Despite polite smiles and warm welcomes, the atmosphere was heavy.

They all had something in common: mourning the loss of a baby. Read more »

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Commentary: Looking back at the blessing of hospice care for the whole family

November 1st, 2015 Posted in Death & Resurrection

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Looking back more than three years, I would call them angels of mercy. At the time, as they sat at our dining room table, I probably thought of them more as messengers of death. The two women weren’t any sort of messengers, in fact. They had simply answered my wife’s request.

Earlier in the week, my wife had told her oncologist she wouldn’t be having a second round of chemotherapy to attack the cancer that had now metastasized to her lungs. The very likely complications, the horrid and debilitating side effects, weren’t worth the very slim chance of extending her life only a few months. Read more »

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Viewpoint: Catholic funeral rites are corporal and spiritual works of mercy

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In recent years, the church leaders have wisely expressed deep concern over the growing lack of respect surrounding funerals and the proper care for the earthly remains of the faithful departed.

Our religion has always been countercultural and will remain so. At the core of Roman Catholic practices surrounding the departed is the reality that prayer for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy and burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy.

It’s good to remember that the glory of Christ’s resurrection was first revealed to those on a mission of mercy to the tomb to wash and anoint Jesus’ body in accordance with Jewish burial customs. Read more »

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Viewpoint: Accompanying others in their time of grief

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In late 2012, when we knew my wife, Monica, had only a short time to live because of uterine cancer, people began asking me if I planned on writing a book about widowhood and grief after she passed away.

I told them no, explaining that I didn’t know enough about those topics. It was about a year after her death that I realized I had been through a crash introductory course on the subjects. I still had a lot to learn, but I did know a thing or two. Read more »

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