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November 21, 1997     The Message
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November 21, 1997

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overnber 21, 1997 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern* Indiana 11 I Cremation and the preference for burial By FATHER JOHN DIETZEN Catholic News Service Question: I have some comments on your recent col- th - - umn concernin cremation, and e Church' u =._j. s preference for burial. If St. Paul says our ules are to be transformed, how does cremation differ from decayed bodies? , What happens to bodies which are destroyed b rnbs fir - Y , e, other disasters, and perha S are never 10cated C - P , an God pull them back together? ingsaS, trle church thought about the financial sav- nio.o ween traditional burial and cremation? Some . o= nact to. I believe the bod, should be trpated reverently. Beyond that, what dflrence does it make? (Ohio) at= LAnsw-er: You make several good points, which oaared b man help,,u ` ,,_ Y y others. Two considerations may Fst,]iummmusSme perspective. in a:_ t be well aware of the ever-expand- usrespect for human " tearh .... hfe around us today. In Rs a_,'ls anct policies, the church attem ts to ir^s that tragedy, from life before biPh to old age, bces,even . """ th u rahld:ndioeAsseY" aeka0w, - Widen that is not intended, must be eaged and addressed carefully. Very briefly, this caring is, I believe, one major factor underlying the bishops' urgings for traditional burial, particularly in countries like ours where burial has a long, meaningful religious and cultural history. That does not automatically rule out, of course, the choice for cremation, for financial or other reasons. It is one evidence of our individual-centered morality, however, that moral choices too often are made without seriously considering how they might affect other people and society as a whole. Second, it is not part of Catholic belief that our bodies after resurrection are the bodies we have had in.this life. There are numerous reasons for this. For one thing, in the ordinary physiology processes of living, our bodily make-up changes frequently, biologists generally say about every seven years, between birth and death. Which "body" is my body? They all are. All have been "me." For another, because of chemical transformations after natural or traumatic death, the cells of one's body may no longer even exist. Again, through the natural food-chain processes, bodily material of people long dead may well become, later, part of other human bodies. None of all this affects in a negative way our belief in the resurrection. As I've explained before, even after death the spiritual part of us, our "soul," is a human soul; it is not an angel. As a human soul it must have a relationship to a body, not necessarily the body of our earthly life, but some body, transformed with those characteristics of the risen body St. Paul describes, for example, in 1 Corinthians 15. Thus, the fact that the molecules and atoms of human bodies are spread throughout the earth, or the cosmos, is irrelevant to what we believe about the Father raising Jesus, and us, to new life. This, incidentally, is the reason theologians often note that even if the dead body of Jesus had been found in the tomb, it would not deny the resurrec- tion. The tomb was erupt); of course, as the Gospels attest. But Jesus was not merely resuscitated, as was Lazarus (John 11). Jesus' human nature was raised by the Father to a new, glorified, immortal existence. Thus, the belief of the early Christians, and our own belief, that the Lord of creation lives, is founded on much deeper realities, more personal experiences of faith and awareness that the risen Jesus is alive and active in our lives. A free brochure answering questions Catholics ask about Mary, the mother of Jesus, is available by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Father John Dietzen, Holy Trinity Church, 704 N. Main St., Bloomington, Ill. 61701. (Questions for this column should be sent to Father Dietzen at the same address.) lteviv-, . tho'u SCheduled at St. John the Apostle l;a,' Jhn Judie, a nationally-known evangelist .r,,tor of Mother of Good Counsel Church in D.D., and Rev. Joseph Dickmann of St. Mary's Church will preach a two-day revival at St. P-hurch, Evansville, on Monday and No,. 24 and 25. Father Judie is well-known Charismatic circles as a dynamic and minister of God. V,!v will begin at 7 p.m. on both nights. The ve Thanks! Jesus comes!" from St. Agnes Church, Evansville, ,--- direction of ;usH- C'l ments, will be the uest cho:-  .... e , Will k _. r on Monday. The St John Gosvel Choir --,mg each night. scheduled parishes hold a special collection this week- and 23; for the Campaign for Human d the past 27 years of its existence, mOuted over.S200 million to programs to end poverty and injustice in America. wa rds have gone to day Care centers in Calif., a program supporting family farm- a worker-owned sewing cooperative also been awarded to Evansville The 1997 theme is, "Hope: It's yours to give." C]airhCla es note anniversary of cloister ,,,_ U'Written annals of the Evansville Poor ' note the following entry describing an event in and 00tW- ith Quality o Save You & Money tTiiANSMISSIONS I'I*Y ndGenerl Office .o s., Jasper, IN z) 482-1041 their community life 100 years ago: "On November 27, 1897, Most. Rev. Silas Chatard, who was our Chaplain, came and established the Canonical Enclosure. Father Dickmann looked so sad as he said goodbye to us saying, 'Now sisters you are locked up, cloistered. You can't come out.' He could not realize the joy that filled our hearts to be again sheltered in our beloved enclosure .... " Michael Murray to dedicate Archabbey organ World-renowned organist Michael Murray will perform a dedicatory concert on the newly rebuilt and expanded organ in St. Meinrad Archabbey Church, Sunda]6 Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. EST. Murray has recorded more than two dozen albums, and has given solo recitals in Berlin, Milan, Beirut, Vienna, Bern, Amsterdam and Tokyo. He has appeared as a guest soloist with the Chicago Sym- phony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Sym- phony, Atlanta Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic, among many orchestras. Religious art on display in Indianapolis An exhibition; "Contemporary Santero Traditions from Northern New Mexico," will be on view at the Eiteljorg Museum from Nov. 22 through Feb. 15. The exhibition features images of saints hand-carved from wood by 13 santeros  including bultos (statues), retablos, (paintings on wood), and reredos (altar screens). Bells to ring on AIDS Day Churches in southwestern Indiana and throughout the United States are asked to ring their steeple bells on Monday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. Sister Darlene Boyd, a member of Sisters for Christian Community, at St. Mary Church, Evansville, said organizers ask that the bells be rung 17 times to signify the 17 years of the epidemic. The 1997 theme is "Give Children Hope in a World with AIDS," emphasizing action and policies to pre- vent HIV transmission and to minimize the epidem- ic's impact on children, their families and the com- munity. Catholic information available on the web Catholics interested in the work of the Catholic bishops and the United States Catholic Conference have a new source of information. The U.S. bishops have launched a web site,, to provide Internet users access to press releases, sta- tistics, statements and other information. Eighteen departments and offices regularly post materials at the site. Next week: Summary of bishops" decisions The recent meeting of the U.S. bishops in Wash- ington, D.C., featured discussion of a wide range of topics  including Friday abstinence and questions about moving Ascension Thursday to a Sunday observance. The next issue of the Message will pro- vide in-depth coverage of the bishops' annual fall meeting. m dud NlfllONaJL IW3Oi WASHINGTON-SHOALS-LOOGOOTEE I I I II I II WASHINGTON, IN 254-1430 TOLL FREE IO0-GMCCHEV I I I I ul III I |1 ] I I "Where customers send their friends!" Open nightly til 9 p.m. TOYOTA OLD US 2;31 SOUTH JASPER, IN 482-2222 1-800-937-USA1 CORRESSELL, INC. HEATING AIR CONDITIONING REFRIGERATION Com.wct - Industrial - Resident ,Alan Correasell 426-1440 I II I IIII II III IIII I II1 I I Vanderburgh Co. 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