Life After Death
On my commute, I often listen to the radio. One thing I am hearing more and more of are funeral homes offering an alternative to cremation called terramation or aquamation (known also as alkaline hydrolysis). It is basically composting the body, turning it into soil, then using it as nutrients for plants. There is a problem with this from our Catholic perspective. While there is nothing wrong with the natural decomposition of the body, there is a problem with re-purposing the body and using it for something else, like fertilizer.
God has made each one of us unique, adopted us through baptism, and joined us to the Body of Christ. Even in death, we give reverence to the human body for being an unique temple of the Holy Spirit while alive. We profess our belief in the resurrection of the dead, when Christ will raise our mortal bodies and make them like his own. How this happens, we do not know. That it happens, is an article of faith.
The grave for a Christian is a sign of hope that promises resurrection. Just as Christ spent time in a grave, we know that the grave is not the end of our story. The Catholic Cemetery is consecrated ground and is a holy place of prayer, gratitude, and remembrance. It is a reminder that we are part of the People of God, a Communion of Saints. Even if one chooses cremation, the cremated remains should be buried or entombed in a cemetery. Scattering or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend are not the reverent disposition that the Church suggests.
For those concerned about the environmental impact of burials, Gethsemane Catholic Cemetery in Federal Way will soon offer a natural burial area in which the body is wrapped in a shroud or placed in a completely biodegradable casket. Native grasses and wild flowers replace the traditional manicured lawn. For more information go to mycatholiccemetery.org/gethsemane/ or call 888-884-6772