The Catholic Cemetery: Is your final resting place based on convenience or Catholicism?

20130527-IMG_0515Nobody gets out of here alive…so, one needs to make plans on a final resting place before you go meet the One who created you in the first place. How does one go about selecting that “final resting place”? Does one go to the neighborhood, secular cemetery, where it is so convenient to get to? If one happens to be Catholic, does he or she consider being buried in a Catholic Cemetery or is your family OK with a secular cemetery? How strong does one’s faith come into play in selecting that cemetery in which one will be buried in? What if that person served our country in the military? Does he or she elect to be buried in that Veteran’s cemetery because it reflects that this person served in our armed forces? Does that person elect to be buried in that same cemetery because it is free of cost? How does one put a price tag on eternal life?

This is a critical topic that can truly create some serious heated discussion because not many people (especially when they are young and healthy), give it much thought as so many of us almost feel like we are immortal. After all, who likes to talk about their death? Who is ever in the mood to talk about his own funeral arrangements? Specially when you are 56 years old and full of life and energy. But, it is a reality – a part of life that every single person has to deal with, sooner or later. And, it is a very important decision – a life-long decision, an eternal decision. Only one person in the history of the world has ever risen from the dead, and because of that incredible feat on Easter Sunday 2,000 years ago, Christians believe in the Resurrection, life everlasting…And, because of what Jesus did three days after His death, Christians – specifically Catholics – place tremendous importance on that final resting place…or, at least they should. Hold on to that thought. Don’t change the channel. Don’t change your major…major?

20130527-IMG_8267A Catholic Cemetery is more than a place for the burial of the dead. It represents the continuation, even in death of the harmony and spiritual alliance which makes the Catholic members of one great family, thereby constituting it an actual family plot. A Catholic Cemetery exists because of our belief in the resurrection of the body at the end of time here on earth. It is truly sacred ground and hold the bodies, once temples of the Holy Spirit, until the Lord comes again in glory. It serves as a symbol of the extended community of believers – a community broken by death. Catholic Cemeteries serve as a constant reminder that death is just a part of the journey that leads to new life. By dying, Jesus destroyed our death. By rising, He restored our life…

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will never die” – John 11:25-26

Christians are citizens of two cities: Heaven and Earth. The Catholic Cemetery helps to illuminate the path from Earth to Heaven. The Catholic Cemetery, as a tangible witness to faith in the resurrection, provides a visible reminder that our loved ones are at rest in the peace of Christ. Our faith tells us that those who have gone before us in death are “asleep”, awaiting the final resurrection when all will be joined together – body and soul. The Catholic Cemetery marks the place where those who have worshiped together in life in this world await life with Christ in the next. They remind us that life is not ended, but changed. By burying the remains of our loved ones in Catholic Cemeteries, and by continued prayer for them, we fulfill both, a Spiritual and Corporal Work of Mercy.

There are only two places in the Catholic Faith that are consecrated – The Church and the Cemetery.

With all this being said, and knowing that Catholic Cemeteries are unique and are considered “consecrated” ground – why is it that the majority of Catholics in this country still end up being buried in the neighborhood, secular cemetery? If a “cradle” Catholic was baptized in a Catholic Church; was confirmed in a Catholic Church; and was married in a Catholic Church – why “on earth” (pardon the pun), would he or she not elect to be buried in a Catholic Cemetery, representing the Catholic Church?

Friends: Acknowledging the fact that secular and Catholic Cemeteries are about the same in price, it comes down to the focus of this much argued debate: “Convenience vs. Catholicism”

Being buried in a convenient, secular cemetery that has not been consecrated
Being buried in a Catholic Cemetery that has been consecrated

and is in tune with what the Holy Catholic Church teaches.

20130527-IMG_8311Knowing that a cemetery will be your final resting place – for eternity – and knowing that you are 4th generation Catholic (baptized, confirmed, married in a Catholic Church, just like everybody in your family for decades) – what would behoove that serious “cradle” Catholic to change his major right at the end of life – just before he was to be awarded his degree in “Catholicism”? The key to the Kingdom. A place of eternal rest with his Heavenly Father.

I view life on earth as if we were all going through college for an entire lifetime. We are constantly studying, always learning, always growing. There are no semesters off. When a Catholic picks his “major” for life – Catholicism – he or she should stay focused on that major throughout his or her entire life. He or she should take courses that are in line with that degree – being baptized, confirmed and married in a Catholic Church; attending Mass a few times per week (every Sunday, without fail); going to confession a few times per year; visiting the sick at hospitals; ministering to the poor and the homeless; being involved with “Pro-Life” events & protecting the unborn 24/7; going on mission trips to Third World countries; protecting the Catholic Church from any and every intrinsic evil that attacks her; attending church events such as priest & diaconate ordinations, fundraising events for the church and the other countless events and activities that take place in all our parishes throughout the year. You get the point. These are the “courses” that all Catholics need to take – the “Requirements” they need to pass in order to receive that diploma at the end of life – a P.H.D. in Catholicism, where P.H.D. stands for: Praising His Divinity.

If this “dedicated” Catholic who has taken all of these courses and requirements throughout his entire lifetime in order to get that P.H.D. in Catholicism and has passed all of these courses with flying colors – decides to change his major at the very last moment – what do you think is going to happen? Will he receive his degree and enter into the Kingdom with his Heavenly Father as a Catholic in good standing? In other words – after going through his entire life as a devout, practicing Catholic – he decides to change course at the last minute and elects to be buried in the neighborhood, secular cemetery as opposed to the Catholic Cemetery (which is part of his requirements in order to receive his P.H.D. in his major, Catholicism) – what do you think will happen? The better question is:

Why in GOD’S name would a Catholic in good standing for all of his life on earth even think of being buried in a “non-Catholic” Cemetery when he has fulfilled every single requirement he needed for his P.H.D. in Catholicism to enter into the Kingdom – by changing his major at the last moment – opening up the risk of not entering the Kingdom because he did not fulfill his requirements as a good and faithful Catholic servant? Why would a Catholic even chance it and challenge GOD by disobeying Him and not following His Way, Truth & Life all the way through until death due us part?

20130527-IMG_8279Only our Creator knows the answer to those questions and I, for one, would never even want to question GOD Almighty when it comes to my salvation. It’s all about Faith and believing in our Heavenly Father. In a nutshell, I would rather live my entire life believing that there is a GOD and finding out at the end of my life that there is no GOD – as opposed to living my entire life believing that there is no GOD and at the end of my life find out that there is a GOD…Read that 3 times and just let that statement sink in for one moment.

GOD is watching it all, folks. Stick with your major. See you at Queen of Peace Catholic Cemetery.