The Catholic Cemetery Tradition & Revitalizing St. Joseph Cemetery

from The Catholic Parish Cemetery & Randy Tiller

Catholic cemeteries trace their roots back to the Jewish practice of providing separate burial grounds for community members. The early Christians continued this practice, both because it was a familiar tradition, and also because it was a statement of faith about the dignity of the human body in death and the reality of Jesus’ resurrection.

At death we focus on Baptism and the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, nourished at the Eucharistic table. Rooted in that recognition, we remember our beloved and give thanks for the life we shared. When we visit the burial sites of our loved ones, we experience the same Eucharistic dynamic. Oftentimes we recognize the need for reconciliation with our beloved dead and prayer

at the cemetery is an effective approach toward healing.

Catholic cemeteries manifest the “now/not yet” status of the Kingdom of God. We are now a people of history, a people redeemed but still in pain and sorrow. This is why we pray as Jesus did, “Thy Kingdom come … ”

We are a people who visit our cemeteries to be reminded of our history, our Catholic beliefs and practices, and our parish community/ family. We, as a community, profess our beliefs and value system … even in the silence of the grave.

In the Catholic parish cemetery, our deceased relatives and friends are laid to rest among members of the same faith community who preceded them into eternal life, and professed the same sure conviction that one day the body will be reunited with the soul in glory to be with the Risen Lord. Then the kingdom of God will be fully realized.

Painful as it might be, family and friends are encouraged to return to the burial places to find there, in the presence of those mortal remains, people joined with the Communion of Saints. The church invites you to unite in prayer for their eternal rest. In the stillness of the cemetery, may you connect with that great prayer of the early Church, “Marana tha!”

“Lord Jesus, come!” •

Article originally published in The Catholic Parish Cemetery,
Vol. 1, Issue 3. Reprinted with permission.


Revitalizing St. Joseph Cemetery

by Randy Tiller

Having celebrated Lent and the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I cannot help but reflect on my life and turn my thoughts to my death, salvation and resurrection. Burials and cemeteries are an inherent part of our passing through this life. Thus we are all called upon to not only consider our days in the tomb, but those loved ones, those faithful and those communion of saints who have gone before us.

There is a commitment to revitalizing St. Joseph Cemetery and we need your help. Whether or not you one day will be laid to rest there, whether you have laid to rest family members, or friends; or whether you are just one of those people that find peace and consolation at the cemetery as I do, it is our responsibility to care for the dead, to respect the dead and to pray for the repose of their souls.

Please help us continue the work with your prayers, your talents and your treasure.

Msgr. Earl V. Provenza will be offering Mass at St. Joseph Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 27, 2019, at 10:30 am. If there is inclement weather, we will have Mass in the chapel Mausoleum. We look forward to celebrating with you.  •

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