From Our Pastor

From Our Pastor

Dear Folks,

Here in the Easter Season it struck me as a good time to address a question that I often receive about cremation. Is it permissible? In a simple word yes, with a caveat that it must not be chosen as a sign of denial of the Resurrection. The recent history of cremation is that in the 1917 code of canon law, it was expressly forbidden. However, as interest in cremation grew in the western world, a concession was granted in 1963 which was incorporated into the 1983 (and still current) code of canon law. [Canon Law = Catholic Church law]. Canon 1176 reads:

“The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burying the bodies of the deceased be observed; nevertheless, the Church does not prohibit cremation unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine.”

Because we firmly believe that our bodies will one day share in the resurrection of Our Lord, we must treat them with respect, reverence, and due care. Yes, at the final resurrection, God will resurrect the bodies of everyone who has ever lived and died, whether they were cremated or not, whether any mortal remains still exist or even if every trace of their remains has disappeared.

One very important element is that cremated remains deserve the same respect, reverence, and due care as bodies which are not cremated. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes, the manner

in which they are carried, appropriate placement and transport, and given final disposition in a earthen tomb, mausoleum, columbarium or common grave in a cemetery. It is important to bury such a vessel as soon as possible, no longer than a year after death,

in order to complete the Corporal Work of Mercy, of burying our loved ones. “The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on
the ground, or in keeping cremated remains in the home of a friend or relative of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires.” (Liturgical Norms on Cremation, 417).

The Church does express a strong preference for the burial of the body rather than cremation. It most clearly brings to mind the life and death of the beloved one, and clearly expresses the loss experienced by every friend, relative, and loved one of the deceased. While Holy Mother Church expresses this strong preference she also wishes to assist her children who chose the option of cremation for a variety of reasons.

Hence the insistence on reverent treatment and burialof cremated remains. All of the faithful benefit from the witness to our faith in the resurrection and the beautiful ability to visit the graves of our loved ones.

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in King George and St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Colonial Beach have created a Catholic section within the existing Historyland Memorial Park in King George. The Catholic section will include an altar facing east with a large wrought iron gate bearing the Latin inscription “Coemeterium Sanctae Elisabeth et Sancti Antonii” (Cemetery of St. Elizabeth &
St. Anthony). Plots are being sold now. If you are interested in this option or have questions, contact Shelley Buckles at or 540-848-4785.

May each of us, immersed in the Paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of the Lord, take great hope that this too is our future!


Fr. Mosimann

May 16, 2021
The Feast of the Ascension
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