Why should cremation be done after a funeral Mass, not before?

The Church celebrates a different funeral rite depending on whether the full body or cremated remains are present.

If cremation is necessary, the Church prefers the celebration of the funeral Mass first, then the cremation. Disposition of the cremains takes place several days later.

“If one were to choose cremation, the Church’s preference is to have the body present for the funeral Mass and have the cremation after that.”

The presence of a body at the funeral Mass holds symbolic importance. The white pall covering the casket recalls the white garment worn at baptism. Baptism marks an individual's adoption into God’s family and the beginning of life in the Church. The funeral Mass honors the end of earthly life and offers intercession for complete union with God.