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PRAY | The Catholic cemetery is a sacred place

The Catholic cemetery is a consecrated place where we pray for the dead, reflect on hope in the Resurrection and eternal life

Resurrection Cemetery in St. Louis
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston
Catholic cemeteries aren’t just burial grounds — they’re an extraordinary reminder of our hope in the Resurrection and eternal life.

Our Christian belief regarding death offers the Church an opportunity to carry out her responsibilities toward the dead. The Catholic cemetery is a place where we are able to reflect on death as the gateway to eternal life, a reminder of the Resurrection and the second coming of our Lord.

A Catholic cemetery is consecrated, meaning that it is a holy ground that has been blessed. These sacred grounds are an extension of our Church, and place not only for burying the dead, but as a place of prayer. Indeed, the cemetery is a place where we reflect on the lives of the dead who are buried there, and to pray for their souls.

When we visit our loved ones at a cemetery, we also carry out one of the Corporal Works of Mercy, to bury the dead, which includes the upkeep of a grave.

A Catholic cemetery also is considered a sacramental, which the Church defines as “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1667).

“Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” — 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

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