Are We Really Ready for Cremation?

Manila Bulletin, October 24, 2004 | Go to article overview

Are We Really Ready for Cremation?


Byline: JC BELLO RUIZ

That thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return.

One harsh reality in life man must accept is that he will eventually meet his end and be laid to eternal rest, whether it is by the usual practice of inhumation or by cremation. Here in our country, more and more Filipinos though have preferred the latter in recent years. The late famous television host and actress Ms. Rio Diaz-Cojuangco who died of Cancer recently, for one, chose cremation over inhumation. But in a country mostly of Christian faith, are we really ready to embrace cremation?

What is Cremation?

Cremation is a process of reducing corpses to bone fragments using high heat and flame. La Funeraria Paz, Inc. Funeral Director Jun Marin related that it usually takes two and a half hours to reduce a regular-sized human body to approximately five pounds of ashes and bone fragments.

Cremation process usually starts with the transportation of the dead body to the cremation facility by licensed and trained funeral staff.

"At the time of cremation, the deceased is placed in a cremation container and then into the cremation chamber for two to three hours. Once the process is complete, the cremated remains are removed from the chamber. Any foreign material, such as metal from clothing, bridgework or prosthetic devices are removed and discarded, said Marin.

"The cremated remains are then processed to a consistent size and shape and placed into the selected urn by the family of the departed. The cremated remains are then either returned to the family," he added.

Through history

In the November 2003 of "Documentation Service published by Theological Centrum entitled "On Cremation," it states that the custom of burning the bodies of the dead dates back to very early times.

"The Pre-Caanites practiced it until the introduction of the inhumation among them along with the civilization of the Semitic people about 2,500 B.C. Jews are also known to practice incineration except during war and pestilence.

The Greeks and Romans varied in their practice according to their views of the afterlife; those who believed in afterlife buried their dead. On the other hand, others held the opinion that on the decay of the body, life was continued in the shade or image, and practiced cremation, the more expeditiously to speed the dead to the land of shadows.

As for the Christians, they never burned their dead during the early times but followed from earliest days the practice of the Semitic race and the personal example of their Divine Founder. It is recorded that in times of persecution, many risked their lives to recover the bodies of martyrs for the holy rites of Christian burial.

The pagans, to destroy faith in the resurrection of the body, often cast corpses into flames, fondly believing thus to render impossible the resurrection of the body. …

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