For most of its history, the Catholic Church only permitted burial, arguing that it best expressed the Christian belief in resurrection. But in 1963, the Vatican allowed cremation as long as it did not suggest a denial of the Catholic faith.
The new document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith repeats that burial remains preferred, but lays out guidelines for conserving ashes for those Catholics who choose cremation. Its purpose is to correct ideas contrary to our faith that had emerged since 1963. To set things straight, the Congregation reminded the faithful that ashes and bone fragments cannot be kept at home. Rather, they must be buried in a cemetery or in a mausoleum.
In addition, cremated remains cannot be divided among family members or put in lockets or other mementoes. Nor can the ashes be scattered in the air, land or sea since doing so would give the appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism.
The U.S. bishops have published a document titled “Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization.” According to it, every Catholic has a role in the Church, and every Catholic is called to spread the Gospel, but in order to evangelize, a person must first be evangelized. This is really the heart of the New Evangelization. The document links to a wide variety of resources that includes Church documents, the Catechism, explanations about the sacraments and various Church teachings.
St. Josemaria Escriva, priest and founder of Opus Dei, believed that “those who are called to the married state will, with the grace of God, and within their state everything they need to be holy, to identify themselves each day more with Jesus Christ, and to lead those with whom they live to God.”
The Novena for a Happy and Faithful Marriage is inspired by Escriva’s desire to help all married couples, and those preparing for marriage, to find meaning and encouragement in their vocation through a commitment to daily prayer and friendship with God, especially when facing inevitable difficulties and times of trial.