Cremation – A Crisis of Faith

From the Parish PriestFr. Romey Rosco

Let me begin with this statement: The Church is God’s family, worshipping Him, learning from Him, uniting with Him and living with Him, and striving to “be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.”  When we fail Him, we say we have “sinned,” and we distance ourselves from Him, His teachings and commandments.

But we know our God, that He is loving and merciful, so we seek His forgiveness as often as we sin.  Our Lord will forgive our sins when we repent and seek His forgiveness.

Now, let me make another statement: When our Lord ascended into heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to guide and protect the Church He established here on earth.  Through the Holy Spirit guiding God-fearing men and women, the Church protects the truths about Jesus Christ and His teachings as the way to our salvation.  THAT WAY TO SALVATION MUST NEVER BE TAKEN LIGHTLY, NOR REJECTED FOR THE WAYS OF THE WORLD.  The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church must have a very definite place and role in the lives of each and every one of us – from birth until death.  At birth, we are baptized and commended to face this earthly life as Christ’s Own, and at death we must be again commended to Him in the hope of resurrection and eternal life.

Cremation of the body is not acceptable in God’s family as the final rite of a Christian life.  As your priest, I make this statement with love for all of you and with no condemnation of anyone who has chosen or will choose to be cremated at death.  God will judge us according to our own acceptance or rejection of Him and His Way.  And the Church does pray for mercy on us.

But I must let you know how much it pains me to see this slowly becoming an ominous trend in this parish.  WHATEVER THE REASONS GIVEN, you are giving in to an assault on belief in the universal resurrection of all believers – an attack that has been rebuffed by the Church for centuries.  During the so-called “Enlightenment” of the 18th century, cremation was often chosen as an expression of rejection of the belief that Christ will return to earth and the bodies of the dead will be raised up to “meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17).  For us today, the pagan practice of cremation is a rejection of this same belief, as expressed in the Gospel Reading for every Orthodox funeral service.

CHRIST ROSE FROM THE DEAD TO PROVE OUR OWN RESURRECTION.  That is not something to reject; it is the BASIS for Christianity, and we must never allow our personal faith to become so shallow that we take it lightly.

Yes, God is loving and forgiving.  But at the end of your life, if you choose cremation, how will you be able to repent of your rejection of Christ’s teaching and example?  How can God forgive where there is not repentance, but only excuses?

I know that God is able to call our bodies together from the four elements as He pleases.  He has the power.  YOUR power rests in your commitment to Him – commit yourself to him body, soul and spirit.  Be firm in your Orthodox Christian Faith.  Be firm and be humble.  Let God the Holy Spirit guide you, and you will be saved.

From The Weekly Bulletin, Vol. XXXV No. 28, 20 July 2008
Sts. Peter & Paul Romanian Orthodox Church, Dearborn Heights MI

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