For the first Christians, the resurrection after death was a strong reality. They did everything they could to be able to bury the bodies of their dead. When we visit the catacombs in Rome, we are struck by the care and the faith with which the dead were buried. They are laid out as if they were sleeping.
«I expect/look for the Resurrection of the body/dead and life everlasting.» (The Creed) Such is the faith of Christians who believe that, just as Christ rose from the tomb with his body, so we too will rise with our body.
- This is why cremation had been considered for a long time as a refusal to believe in the Resurrection. Today the Church no longer forbids a funeral ceremony if one chooses cremation for a good reason. In certain countries, it is sometimes a necessity, and also under certain circumstances. The same respect ought to be given to the ashes as is given to the body of the deceased. They should be deposited in an established and respectable place. But the relationship between faith and practice leads us to prefer burying the body whenever possible. This signifies more clearly the respect of the body of each person who has become a temple of the Holy Spirit through baptism and who is called to the resurrection on the last day. Nourished by the Eucharist – the Body of Christ – our mortal bodies are given the promise of immortality. Burying the dead, as the first Christians did, signifies the expectation of the Resurrection.
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