A very practical question, I believe, that needs addressing. The law of the Church (canon 1171) indicates that blessed objects and those used for worship should not be put to inappropriate use, even if privately owned. These objects should be transferred to the diocesan offices where they may be given to another parish or otherwise properly disposed of./p>
But that would refer mostly to chalices, crosses, etc. which become unusable or when a church closes.
I have consulted the archdiocese about other types of objects such as yours and, although there is no definite policy, the archivist gave me some suggestions for more appropriate disposal. These correspond to my own observations.
BURY JEWISH TORAH
I have also consulted some Jewish people. Torah scrolls become unusable when the India ink with which they are written is no longer repairable or if they are badly damaged. They treat these with the respect accorded to deceased human beings by placing them in a crypt-like structure or burying them in a special place in their cemetery.
This, they also do with prayer books, papers with God's name and other sacred items. I think that is a beautiful way to treat these sacred texts.
The very old items you have, especially books, might be useful for research in educational institutions such as university libraries, museums, etc. where someone understanding and/or studying German may be able to use them in research.
Our local telephone directory lists a German consul, a German Canadian Cultural Association, as well as German churches.
Some of these may be interested, so contacting these could be your first step. However, you may believe that it would be inappropriate to give them to these types of institutions or no one may want them.
In times past, burning them would have been our first choice and you may be able to still do that in a fire pit when there is no ban on burning. Because of environmental issues, I realize that this option may be less viable today.
For a small number of items, burning them in a fireplace might still be a good solution. The resultant ash does need not be disposed of in any special way.
Burial might be a good solution, if you have suitable yard/garden space but I think that would work only for a small amount. There, eventually, they will disintegrate and, as you say, return to the earth.
Personally, I would prefer shredding and recycling, especially for larger quantities. You could find a number of these companies in the Yellow Pages but they do charge a fee.
The material is shredded in your presence. Once shredded, this paper is converted to pulp and reused for paper. Our local AMA brings in shredding trucks once or twice a year at no cost to the customers.
I agree with you that it is not a respectful solution just to throw them in the trash. Whether you put them in blue bags yourself for recycling or in the garbage, you could tear or break up the objects so they are no longer recognizable.
Even for things that have been blest, once they lose their form, they lose their blessing and would no longer be the religious object they once were.
I hope some of these suggestions will help us learn to treat our Christian religious and sacred objects with the respect due to them whether they are in regular use or being disposed of.
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