Following is an excerpt from a bulletin letter by Fr. Paul Schmidt:

Catholic funeral practices reflect our faith that death is not the end, but that it is the beginning of eternal life. A full Catholic funeral includes a Vigil Service, at which Sacred Scripture is read, prayers are said, which may include the Rosary, and memories are often shared. At the Mass of Christian Burial prayers are said for the deceased and for the mourners. Celebrating the death and resurrection of the Lord reminds us that Jesus conquered death by dying, and rose to give us eternal life. Prayers at the burial place repeat our faith in the risen Lord. Because the body of a baptized Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit, it is treated with reverence and buried in holy ground. The Church now allows cremation but prescribes that cremated remains should also be placed in a holy place.

Reverence for life has lessened in our time. Respect for the deceased has also waned. It is sad when a practicing Catholic is deprived of a full Christian burial because family have lost the faith or do not want to be bothered. It is also sad when the remains of a Catholic wind up on a mantel-piece or in a closet instead of in holy ground. I advise Catholics to arrange their funeral services themselves in writing before death, if they want to assure that they will be carried out after they are gone.

For more information about advanced planning for funeral services, or to make funeral arrangements, please contact the parish office: 510-741-4900. The parish staff will direct you to persons who will assist in planning the funeral services and burial or cremation. Families are encouraged to participate in funeral celebrations.

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