Monday, January 4, 2016

Planning my Catholic funeral, Part 1


It just occurred to me the other day, that since no one in my family is Catholic--or even religious at all--that if I want a Catholic funeral, I will need to plan, arrange and pay for it myself--and so I am just beginning to do that. I know from past performance that they would just have me cremated, and that would be it, no prayers required. I don't think having a Catholic funeral matters to God, but it would be a comfort to me to know that it will happen, and since nearly everyone who comes (assuming anybody does!) will be non-Catholic, it would be my final evangelization attempt :-)

Tomorrow I am going to my parish to purchase a gravesite in the cemetery which is next to the church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Carrollton.  The cost is $1,000, and you get to choose the location you want. They told me that it is a perpetual care cemetery, and it is actually managed by the Archdiocese of Atlanta, which I like.  

The church is also going to give me some information to help me plan, which I totally need because I don't believe I have ever actually been to a Catholic funeral myself--so I have a lot of questions. For one thing, investigating this topic online, it seems as though a Wake/Vigil is required, but I really don't want to have a funeral home visitation because I think they are macabre (been there, done that).  However, I read that the Vigil can be conducted at the church (a Rosary, I guess?).  I am sure the church staff will be able to advise me on that.

I have some favorite St. Louis Jesuits' songs that I would love to have played, but another thing I learned is that the Church forbids the playing of recorded music, which was a new one on me.  I am pretty sure that Protestants allow that, but the Catholic Church does not, because participating in playing/singing at Mass is part of worship.  Interesting, I did not ever realize that!  

Music is preeminent among the signs expressed by the participants in any liturgy. Therefore, recorded music is not to be used within the liturgy to replace the congregation, the choir, the organist, cantor, or other musicians. (Liturgical Music Today, #60)
By a stroke of serendipity, I discovered today that I could buy a casket made by monks, and that funeral homes are now required to allow that, even though they hate it, because they make so much money on caskets!  There seem to be two plausible options for me, distance-wise:  St. Joseph Abbey in Louisiana, or New Melleray Abbey in Iowa.  I think Louisiana is probably closer, and thus shipping might be less, so I am trying them first.  I know I will have a big fight with the funeral home, but I am willing because I love the idea of getting something I need made in a prayerful manner, but also supporting a monastery.  However, the biggest problem is where to store it until it's needed.  I can't keep it in my house, because the cats would have their way with it:  can you imagine how much fun they would have, working on a nice big pine box?  I have a rented storage space, but I don't know how hard it would be for the funeral home to get it from there, since I would be dead and unavailable to give them access.  If anyone reading this has any creative ideas--or you own a barn with extra space, and wouldn't mind doing me this favor, I'd love to hear from you!

More on this topic later....

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