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Rita Dominguez wrote:

Hi, guys —

My mom recently passed away; she was a devout Catholic. After she passed, we couldn't financially afford to bury her, so we had her cremated.  She was supposed to be put in a grave with her husband. Well, now my sister wants to give bits of ashes to the family that want a small portion.

My question is:

  • Will she still be accepted by God as well as the Catholic Church?

Rita D.

  { Since we couldn't afford to bury her, will our mother still be accepted by God and the Church? }

Bob replied:

Dear Rita,

Thanks for the question.

Catholics hold the remains of the faithful to be sacred, as they once were temples of the Holy Spirit, and an integral part of the human person to whom they belonged. (They are also a sign of our hope in the Resurrection of the body).  So generally, the remains are buried, or in the case of cremains, they are put into a sacred repository, which are in many cemeteries. 

While the practice of dividing relics has long been part of the Catholic tradition (generally with the approval of a Bishop from a known saint), still dividing of ashes has not.  I don't think that this practice would be in keeping with the intent to keep the remains in a sacred place of honor, because if you think about it, it wouldn't take much for some of those remains to find their way into some unfortunate place.  Ultimately, the Church would not approve of it.

I would suggest that you talk with your sister about an alternative means of giving everyone a part of her: photograph collections, heirlooms, etc. 

Keep the remains in a common place, a repository at a cemetery would be best.


Bob Kirby

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