The Owerri Archdiocesan Burial Law: Matters arising
Prior to the making of Owerri Archdiocesan burial law, a deceased was buried when the bereaved family and relations felt conveniently ready to do the funeral. That time, the deceased was either sterilized in his house or mortuarized in the hospital for months until the day he/she will be buried. Within this period of sterilization/mortuarization, the bereaved family and relation collect to plan, replan and re-replan for the burial and after they met the priest and pick a date for the burial. In this period and process of preparation for the burial, calculated and wilful lie (sin) was neither necessary nor perpetrated by the deceased family members when they meet with their priest to pick a date for the burial.
To my own mind, the essence of a law is to save life, maintain peace and order in the society, guarantee the dignity of man and give unalloyed justice to all, if and only if the law is spontaneously observed to the later. The bane of human hardship and suffering today is no doubt traced to man’s recalcitrance, selfishness and rapacity, seen in his readiness to flout with impunity the laws both divine and human, made to protect, preserve and help him enjoy all the good things God created for his convenience and survival. Otherwise God made the world perfect and complete provided all the desiderata for a happy, satisfied and fulfilled life for all He created.
We are giving to understand that the Owerri Archdiocesan burial law was made to help the bereaved members of the church not to run into culpable bankruptcy and its concomitant suffering and hardship after burying their dead relation as it was and still is rife today. The church however, felt that within fourteen days or so death occur, less will he spent in preparation for and burial of the dead as the cost of burial increases to the detriment of the bereaved everyday. Hence, this burial law which also forbids eating after the burial of a church member.
It is difficult for any law with a loophole to function and achieve its desired target. The church created a loophole in her burial law of not eating food at the burial of her member. This is seen in her urging that people from far places should be “given water to drink” by the chief mourners after burial. This loophole explains the reason why the law against eating at any burial to the archdiocese cannot and will never fructify. Instead, it provokes misunderstanding and unnecessary polemics between the priest and his parishioners so long as the date of burial is concerned. It also leads to some lies on the date of death by the bereaved family and even the mortuary attendant is influenced by cash or kind to lie and rewrite the date the deceased was deposited in the mortuary. All these lies are unnecessary as long as our salvation journey is concerned. This burial law has no direct relevance to the growth of our spirituality.
The Igbo man is proud by nature. He is very good in competition. Once a trail is blazed or a pace set, nothing whatsoever stops its wide spread among the Igbos. Aware that the five fingers are not equal, a very poor Igbo man will like to blaze the trail of a bastardly rich man who has nothing to do with money and after, retire to brood over his blameworthy prodigality. This is the Igbo man’s mentality and predicament.
Be that as it may, for the church to succeed in enforcing her law forbidding her members eating anything at any church burial and thus save her bereaved members from freakish burial expenditure, she should start it with her very rich members. As soon as one or two of the affluent members of the church in every parish in the Archdiocese bury their dead relation without entertainment of any sort, the poor man who is a good competitor will toll their line post haste. This experiment will work like magic in this burial law.
In the alternative, if food must be eaten at the burial of any church member as no doubt it is unavoidable, the church should decree that the sympathizers and well wishers should sponsor and come with their food. This hard idea will however reduce the burial attendees to a reasonable mournful number as those suffering from bulimia nervosa will keep away from such burial on account of no entertainment. It does not matter. The number of people at ones burial does not determine where one is going. It is how one lived one’s life that determines his destiny.
This Archdiocesan burial law, instead of edifying our spirituality, makes it vulnerable to weakness due to heavy lies told about the date the deceased died in order to get the church involved in the burial. It often injects bad blood between the parish priest who wants to enforce it religiously and his bereaved parishioners who would stick to their mendacity. Shrouded with uncertainty., the Priest demands for the tally with which the deceased was deposited in the mortuary to ascertain the actual date the death occurred. These rigorous processes just to bury the dead are very immaterial.
Worst still, it has created room for the Machiavellian entry of shameless mercenary Pentecostal pastors who quickly made themselves available in Catholic families, pretending to help them bury their dead relation, but ostensibly to woo them away into their ‘church’.
Again, properties especially lands have been auctioned away to very ready and maniacs by bereaved families during this period just to get money to bury their dead relation by the church within a given period. These and more are the encumbrances of the Owerri Archdiocesan burial law.
Considering the above obvious encumbrances, I write to suggest that the church should carefully amend the law to accommodate the desires of the bulimic.
Wrote from St. Joseph Catholic Parish Ifakala, Mbaitoli L.G.A.