Funerals and Memorials
God’s mercy is infinite and His goodness is beyond measure. This is what our Holy Church has always maintained, and thus believes and hopes that the loving Lord will be merciful even to the deceased. For this reason the hymnographers of the Orthodox Church have composed a most moving Funeral Service that is virtually a treasure-house of profound spiritual thoughts From the earliest Christian times, psalms and hymns were sung to our lifegiving God when a believer died.
The basic parts of the Funeral Service in use today can be traced mainly to the fifth century. With the passage of time the Service has been enriched with psalms and hymns so that it has become one of the most versatile, dramatic and impassionate services of our Church.
The Funeral Service of the Orthodox Church is an example of how Orthodox theology influences the formation of a healthy understanding of the true nature of life and death. The Service accomplishes the following: a)utilizes the occasion of death to help us develop a more profound understanding of the meaning and purpose of life; b)helps us to deal with the emotions we have at the time of death and as time passes after the death; c)emphasizes the fact that death for the Christian is not the end, and affirms our hope in salvation and eternal life; d)recognizes the existence of the emotions of grief caused by the separation from a loved one, and encourages their expression. In the readings, prayers, and hymns of the Funeral Service a dramatic dialogue takes place between the faithful and God and the deceased and God. The Service acknowledges the reality of human existence—the frailty of life and the vanity of worldly things—and directs our minds and hearts to contemplate the incomparable value of the eternal blessings of God’s kingdom. At the same time with a contrite spirit, the priests and people invoke the infinite mercy of the Almighty God for the departed.
The service is not only an opportunity to express our love for our loved one who has fallen asleep; it is also a sacred time, a marvelous opportunity for reflection and inner meditation on our own relationship with God and on the orientation of our lives. When we reflect on these things, our souls become contrite, our hearts are softened, and we pray fervently for the forgiveness and the repose of the person who has been transferred to the life beyond the grave. Also, we who are still alive are beckoned to live the rest of our lives in repentance and in full dedication to Christ. Saint John Chrysostom beautifully observes:
“With the spirits of the righteous made perfect, give rest to the soul of Your servant, O Savior, and preserve it in that life of blessedness which is with You, O You Who loves mankind.” ~Troparion for the Departed
MAKING FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS AT KIMISIS
When possible, funeral arrangements should be made in advance with the priests and the funeral home of your choice. When your loved one passes away, the church should be informed immediately (a reminder that there are no “last rites” in the Orthodox Church). A preliminary funeral date and time may be made with the priest.
GUIDELINES CONCERNING ORTHODOX FUNERALS
Funeral services are conducted for Orthodox Christians in Canonical and Spiritual standing with the Church. In other words, only those people who have been Baptized and Chrismated in the Orthodox Church and have had their marriage blessed in the Orthodox Church are eligible for an Orthodox Christian Funeral.
In the event of death, the following steps should be taken:
- If death occurs at home, immediately notify the proper medical personnel (emergency services, family doctor, medical examiner, etc.)
- Call Father Jason.
- Call the funeral director of your choice.
Making Funeral Arrangements:
- Arrangements for funeral services must be made with the priest in conjunction with the funeral director. Only Father Jason can set appointments for Church services that take place at Kimisis.
- The funeral must take place at the Orthodox Church with an open casket. Please remember that the casket must remain open and is necessary for the funeral service to take place. Slight modifications may only be allowed at the discretion of Father Jason with the permission of the Archdiocese.
- Funerals are not permitted on Sunday, the day of the Resurrection of our Lord.
- The priest will conduct a Trisagion at the funeral home on the evening before the funeral.
- No lay person is permitted to deliver a funeral oration (i.e. eulogy) in the Church. The Archdiocese explicitly prohibits lay people speaking in Church unless they are lay preachers designated by the Archdiocese. Words of reflection may be given during the makaria reception.
- Funeral services conducted by civic or military organizations may be held prior to the Trisagion services on the evening of the wake (i.e. AHEPA) or after Trisagion services take place at the cemetery internment (i.e. military honors).
A Funeral Service May Not Be Held in Cases of:
Suicide– Our lives are given to us by God. We may not choose to end them prematurely. Only when a doctor certifies that such a person had lost his/her sanity and when permission of the Bishop is given can a Church funeral be held.
Cremation– Cremation is not allowed by the Church as being blasphemous to mankind which is made in the image of God, and is the temple of the Holy Spirit. A Church funeral is denied to anyone who has been or will be cremated.
Families may wish for Memorial Donations in addition to, or in lieu of flowers. Mention should be made to the funeral director so that notification can be placed in the Obituary. Acknowledgments to the donors will be made by the Church Office and a list sent to the family.
Makaria – Funeral Luncheon
The Makaria meal following the funeral service serves as a means of comforting the bereaved family and expressing thanks to those who attended the services or assisted the bereaved family in their hour of grief.
If you desire to have a Memorial Service for a departed loved one you must make arrangements with the church office at least two weeks prior to the day desired. Please contact the Church office to make these arrangements at least two weeks in advance.
Memorial Services are usually held on the:
- 40th day after death
- Sixth month
- First year
- Third year
- Saturday of the Souls set aside throughout the Church Year
Memorial Services are not held on:
- All Holy Days of our Lord (i.e. Christmas, Epiphany, Pascha, Transfiguration, etc.)
- From the Saturday of Lazarus to and including St. Thomas Sunday
- Pentecost Sunday
- August 15th
What you should bring:
- Koliva (Call the church office if you would like someone to make the koliva)
- Prosphora (prosfora/prosforon), if desired
- List of names to be commemorated (print first names only)