The Funeral Service is not only an opportunity to express our love for the loved one who has fallen asleep; it is also a sacred time, an opportunity for reflection and inner meditation on our own relationship with God and on the orientation of our lives. When we reflect on the thoughts of the Funeral Service 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.
From the earliest Christian times, psalms and hymns were sung to our life-giving God when a believer died. The basic parts of the Funeral Service used today are traced mainly to the fifth century. It is one of the most versatile, dramatic, and moving 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.
With a contrite spirit, the priest and people invoke the infinite mercy of the Almighty God for the departed.
What to do...
When a member of our Church family falls asleep in the Lord please notify Father Chrysostomos. Family members of the deceased should then call the funeral home of their choice and ask the director to help arrange the details of the funeral with the priest.
All funeral arrangements must be made with the priest prior to their confirmation with the Funeral Home or publication in the newspaper.
A “Trisagion Service” (a brief prayer service) is read at the funeral home the night before the funeral.
In lieu of flowers, many families prefer to have contributions made to the Annunciation in memory of the deceased. If this is your desire, it should be included in the obituary and the funeral director should be made aware.
If a family intends to offer a Memorial Meal or Reception in Demas Hall, arrangements must be made through the Church Office with the caterer of your choice.
The Orthodox Church stipulates the following:
The deceased must be a baptized Orthodox Christian for the funeral rite to be offered.
Except in extreme circumstances to be determined by the parish priest, the casket must be open during the funeral service.
The Church does not grant funerals to those persons who choose to be cremated.
Only Orthodox clergy are permitted to speak in the Church during the funeral service.
The Orthodox Church does not perform funerals on Sundays or on Holy Friday. Please contact Father Chrysostomos at the Church Office for further information.