Of caskets

Have you thought today yet about the fact that you are going to die?

Here, let me help.

I was recently told about a maker of caskets in the USA: Marian Caskets.

They are inspired by Pope John Paul II’s casket.

One day delivery in the Seattle area.
Two day delivery available throughout most of the U.S.

Pre-need purchasing available.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mike cliffson says:

    look, forget prebuying, there’s no room in the flat, even with only seven of my eleven still resident.
    I buy your casket when you go,and you buy mine when I do, and viceversa.

  2. Darren says:


    Might make a good conversation piece. Although I can already hear my one aunt saying how “morbid” I am. I think she says that about how I take photographs of gravestones of deceased family members, before she posed with my father by my grandparents’ grave ;)

    Might put it in a room with a gravestone… but I still don’t yet know if I’ll end up married so I might not get get the right stone. (and, if I do, she might not like having our gravestone int he living room)


  3. kallman says:


  4. Christine says:

    My husband and I have thought of this. We have decided that we want green burials. There is a monastery near by us that does this and it’s a beautiful place. The best part is that its a fraction of the cost of a regular funeral and we will be helping the monks. Here is the site: http://www.trappist.net/commerce/burial_ground.htm

  5. Bryan Boyle says:

    Simple, beautiful. Not to mention the profits go to supporting efforts at the beginning of life’s spectrum rather than lining the coffers of Service International’s grief vacuum at the end.

    What’s not to like?

    Memento mori.

  6. Skeinster says:

    Dorothy Day’s daughter used hers (Dorothy’s) as a blanket chest. I made my own shroud, which you can keep in the top of the closet without inviting comment. I’m looking at kits, which would be a good option if you’re handy with tools, but not able to build the whole thing from scratch. It can be kept packed flat until needed- taking up less space than an already built casket.

  7. Pete says:

    I’ve long been a fan of something similar–a coffin rathern than a casket:


    Also, I highly recommend this book on Christian burial:


  8. Andrew says:

    Why does it cost thousands of dollars for the funeral services? I already own the grave, so why can’t somebody just put the body in a box and deliver it to the cemetery for – say – $250? Why does it have to be $5,000?
    I suspect that somebody out there is overcharging for burials and that’s why Catholics are panicking and having themselves cremated.

  9. Bryan Boyle says:

    Andrew: because we have been conditioned to think that ‘respect’ = amount of $$$ that we spend with the undertaker to give whomever a ‘proper send-off’. You should see their training material…it all tugs on the heartstrings, and subtle manipulation to maximize profit.

    We’ll be already where we are going to spend eternity (or some portion of it until our final destination). Funerals are for those left behind. While it is proper to show respect for the reality of the person who was in our life…would it not be more proper to have perpetual Masses said for the repose of their soul and an outpouring of God’s mercy, and a simple Requiem Mass and committal?

    You have to give credit to the industry…they’ve conditioned us to think that it costs thousands of dollars. And, in a time of grief, displacement, sorrow…they take advantage of it for most people, who willingly sign on the dotted line because we don’t want to be seen as less than loving or appreciative of the person’s existence.

    Preplanning is the way. Even though I’m only in my 50s…I have documented ‘this is what to do if..’ outside of my will. Down to the Mass readings (they’ve been pre-cleared with priests I trust…), absolutely forbidding ‘On Eagle’s Wings’ or any other such saccharine drek, and providing for a sequence of Gregorian Masses either for my soul, or that of someone more deserving than I.

    You have to admit, though…like you, I have my plot already, in my home town (Fall River MA) in the cemetery where my ancestors are in repose. It is a bit jarring, at least the first time, seeing YOUR headstone with the birth year already engraved…just waiting for the second date…ummmm…waiting?

  10. Austin Catholics says:

    Trappist Caskets in Iowa http://www.trappistcaskets.com/
    makes wooden caskets.

    A non-profit! The way to go.

  11. I second Austin Catholics’ link. I have known many buried in those caskets, and have plans for the same, if I do not get around to building my own.

  12. Southern Baron says:

    Don’t forget the monks at St Joseph Abbey in Louisiana, who went to court to defend their right to make and sell boxes.

  13. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    The Benedictine monks in southern Louisiana near New Orleans make great caskets with great prices…and have even fought the LA Govt to sell them! Check them out: http://saintjosephabbey.com/woodworks-faqs.php

  14. Gretchen says:

    I’m with Austin and Timothy. I just recently received the brochure from the Trappists. Will also check out the links others have provided.

    Simple is the way to go.

  15. APX says:

    $5000 for an entire funeral sounds pretty reasonable to me given that I’ve overheard conversations from my parents and relatives about funeral costs and, even with our family friend’s no-frills funeral home, it’s still expensive. There’s no doubt that there’s a mark-up, and we can’t forget that they are a business and need to make a profit.

    My understanding is that one of the most expensive parts of the funeral process is embalming. I don’t doubt that there are extra little costs that add up that we don’t think of. What I don’t understand is why funeral flowers are so flipping expensive!

  16. Gretchen says:

    I just checked out the book “A Christian Ending”, recommended by Pete. The book came about because the author, an Orthodox Christian, felt that embalming was not for him. He termed it being “pumped full of chemicals”.

    As he researched how early Christians conducted burials (much like the Jews), he ended up writing the book. Anyway, I bought it. Thanks, Pete. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. If you are interested in the book the price is fine: $17.95, plus $3 shipping.

  17. skvie5738 says:

    Another link, if people are interested, to Benedictines in Chicago who make caskets:


  18. Supertradmum says:

    I have seen the Trappist ones from Iowa, and they are nice. Several choices….

  19. Sissy says:

    The law varies from state-to-state. Some will allow green burials, including California, Florida, Georgie, South Carolina, and New Jersey ( or so I’ve been told – haven’t checked into it personally). Here in the Bahamas, the law says you have to be buried within 24 hours if no embalming takes place. We always have funerals the same day for those who die in the wee hours, early the next morning for all others. I attended the death of my close friend last years, and it was truly beautiful and moving to see her dearest friends sit vigil, attend to her, and prepare her for burial. It convinced me that’s what I want.

  20. Darren says:

    You could save money on the funeral parlor by having the body laid out in the home, as my parents say it often used to be done. You still need the mortician to embalm and all that.

    One thing that gets me is that the funeral parlor turns into more af a family reunion with everyone all over the place talking, laughing, etc… with little respect for the person who died. Everyone should be sitting and praying, rather than having a jolly ole time. I guess when everyone believes that “everyone goes straight to heaven!” this is more common. I recall comment that a cousin of mine was very upset when the priest mentioned that dreadful word “purgatory” when my one aunt died some years ago… * sigh *

  21. HighMass says:

    Eternal Rest Grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon them and us.


  22. Laura98 says:

    Oh… boy. I went through this with my parents. They passed away within a few months of each other – and thankfully had paid for most of it before hand! I’m glad they went nice and simple! Always a good idea to have our earthly affairs sorted out ahead of time – no matter our age!

    For me… I might take one of those boxes.. and put some legs on it! I need a new coffee table! LOL If it doesn’t work there, I’ll move it over to the dining room! :)

  23. Luvadoxi says:

    Thank you for these links. I live not far from the Conyers monastery and I really like the idea of a green funeral. I’ve considered the urns and caskets from the monks at New Melleray Abbey too. I’m not sure if I want cremation or burial (or interment above ground); my husband definitely wants cremation so I might choose that so our earthly remains can be side by side.

  24. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Darren — Re: jolly old time — This is one of those cultural things that really goes back further than our time. In some Catholic cultures, solemnity and sorrow is the rule. Others figure that continuous crying is for the pagans who don’t expect to see their loved ones again, whereas smiles and laughs mixing with the tears are more appropriate to a Catholic entrusted to God’s hands. Which would be a lot of the Irish attitude, for example.

    (And honestly, given how cruddy the Irish usually had it, and how much emphasis on penitence they had among the living, it’s not surprising that the Irish would tend to assume that anyone not going to Hell probably wasn’t as bad off as they were on Earth. Also, funerals were one of the two occasions legal to gather for, under the English, so the most was made of it.)

    The key is that we really should have prayer for the dead co-exist with this sort of thing, but many people have not been taught to pray for the dead. We need to remember to say things like the seven penitential psalms, “Dies Irae”, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, tons of Rosaries for the dead (here’s a period Irish one translated into English). At the old Irish wakes, there were people who looked after saying the prayers and singing devotional songs, so that people could rotate between the serious side of things and the brief vacations from sorrow.

    And of course, at a funeral there are usually tons of people who are there to show their respects, but who don’t actually know the person well enough for sorrow. They are usually there to comfort the living by their presence, which is also a worthwhile act.

    Funerals and viewings and wakes — there’s a lot going on and a lot of people under stress, and it’s often hard to tell what will happen and why unless you know the family and friends really well. And their ethnic background/s. And what the pastor of the church wants. I’ve seen some weird stuff at funerals, but other than what’s appropriate for Mass, I pretty much give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the rest.

  25. Supertradmum says:

    I have always wanted to be buried at sea, like Mrs. Moore in Passage to India, but one cannot do that in the Catholic Church unless one actually must, as in dying at sea and in a place where the body cannot be easily kept. Oh well.

  26. AnnAsher says:

    I have thought of this and discussed it with husband and kids. Im going to add though that while I don’t care who makes the simple carpenters box for my burial … I will haunt them if they buy it at Costco.

  27. Gretchen says:

    An update on the Louisiana monks and their battle to sell caskets: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18680484

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