US Catholic Faith in Real Life

A pine box, that's all

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When we surveyed U.S. Catholic readers last March about their last wishes, a few noted that they wanted to be cremated to avoid being pumped full of chemicals.

There's another option, however: natural burial. No embalming, no fancy casket, no big concrete vault; just a shroud or pine box lowered into the ground. The body returns to the earth within months, as nature intended, according to a National Catholic Reporter article.

The only glitch is that there aren't many places to do this. NCR reports that Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Wyandotte, Michigan is the first Catholic cemetery to be certified by the Green Burial Council.

There are other Catholic green cemeteries, though, particularly on monastery grounds. Bryan says his "dream grave" is in a North Carolina monastery. Here's a Trappist monastery in Georgia that offers natural burials to people of all faiths.

An interesting part of this movement is creating green spaces--burial sites scattered throughout nature. Here's a short promo video on YouTube that shows what such a nature reserve/cemetery looks like.

Before I even knew it was possible, I've been saying that all I want is a pine box. I always thought it was weird to see the caskets of my loved ones lowered into a big vault, keeping them from returning to the earth as God intended. What are your burial wishes?