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Hello, and welcome to the resource page for end-of-life care, funerals, and memorials.
End of Life
The Orthodox Church has a variety of services to provide comfort for those who are approaching the end of their earthly life.
- Moleben for the Sick
- Sacrament of Confession and Communion
- Sacrament of Unction
- Canon at the Parting of the Soul from the Body
Please contact Fr Andrew to arrange for the most appropriate care.
More information, coming soon.
In Australia, generally funeral arrangements are made through a funeral director. These can be found on Google.
There are a number of arrangements that need to be made, involving the church, the priest, the funeral directors and the cemetery, as well as the family themselves.
For funerals at Holy Annunciation, the following decisions need to be made:
- There are two alternatives for the funeral service:
- The funeral service alone (approx. 1.5hrs), followed by the burial.
- The Parastas (evening vigil the night before – 2.5hrs), with Divine Liturgy followed by the funeral (3.25hrs), followed by the burial.
- What date and time will the funeral be?
- As part of the ceremony, candles are provided to all attendees. Provision will need to be made for these.
- Where will the person be buried?
- NB: Cremation is not practiced in the Orthodox Church, and is incompatible with an Orthodox Christian life and funeral.
- What will be inscribed on the gravestone or tombstone?
- If there will be a wake, where will this occur?
- NB: Holy Annunciation does not have facilities, but can recommend choosing a venue near the place of burial.
- If you wish for the priest to attend the wake, he will need to be invited before the day of the funeral.
Things to know about the funeral service
The first thing to know is that this is a set service. The casket is placed in the midst of the church, and the priest will be standing, facing the front, at the head of the casket for most of the service. The focus is on praying to God for the departed, and giving a final farewell.
Some features include:
- Open casket.
- This is open through the funeral, in accordance with historic Christian practice.
- Part of the ceremony includes ‘the last kiss’, when the congregation is invited to make physical contact with the departed.
- (Exceptions to this will only be granted in the event of compelling pastoral reasons or civil law. Please speak to Fr Andrew if you feel this applies).
- Speaking about the departed is not done at the funeral.
- The priest may choose to give a homily on theological matters; for example, the Orthodox Christian understanding of hope and eternal life in Christ.
- (Some families will arrange for personal reminiscences to take place at the wake, which Fr Andrew would encourage).
- The funeral is served in an Orthodox Christian church.
- The body is laid in the casket. It is treated reverently, as the remains of someone dear to us.
- A paper headband, or ‘crown’, is placed on the forehead by the priest. This bears the words of a prayer: ‘Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us’.
- A cross may be placed in the hands, symbolising a confession of the Christian faith.
- A shroud is placed on the body, up to the torso. At the end of the funeral, this is pulled up to cover the whole body.
- A copy of the Prayer of Absolution is placed in the hands by the priest, bearing witness to the prayer of forgiveness.
- Kutiya or Kollyva is also offered. This reminds us of Christ’s words that death brings new life.
- Focus on the departed
- The service focuses on the one who has reposed – especially on their present state and future life.
- We pray that there, the departed will find rest and everlasting life in the presence of God, that He will forgive all sins.
- Very little attention is paid to the needs of the congregation – the priest leads the congregation in prayer for the departed.
- Despite this, the prayers, hymns and readings of the funeral service do provide great consolation, farewelling the departed with the reverence and solemnity due to a servant of Jesus Christ.
Lastly, we strongly recommend that Orthodox Christians who desire to be buried according to the rites and with the prayers of the Orthodox Church make their wishes known to family and friends well in advance.
Memorial services are served at particularly appointed times, and also at any other time requested.
We pray for the forgiveness of sins of the departed person, and their acceptance into the Kingdom of Heaven. It also facilitates our grieving process.
To arrange this, please speak with your priest.
Memorials are not able to be served on:
- Sundays (as we commemorate the Resurrection on this day);
- Between Holy Thursday and Thomas Sunday (as we focus on Christ’s Passion and Resurrection at this time).
Traditional days when Memorial services are served include:
- Third Day
- Ninth Day
- Fortieth Day
- Three Months
- Six Months
- One Year
- Two Years
- Three Years
- And, on any other occasion.
Traditional days on the Church liturgical calendar when the reposed are commemorated:
- Soul Saturdays
- Meatfare Saturday
- 2nd, 3rd, 4th Saturdays of Lent
- Saturday before Pentecost
- Demetrius Saturday (nearest the feast of St Demetrius of Thessalonica)
- Paschal Memorial (Radonitsa) – the Tuesday after Thomas Sunday.
- At Holy Annunciation, we also serve memorials around ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.
More information, coming soon.
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