Whether you are planning to take your deceased loved one to a Greek Orthodox church for cremation or a Christian burial, the choice is important. There are many options, and the decision will be a difficult one for you and your family.
Christian burial vs pagan burial
Traditionally, Christians have been opposed to cremation and preferred burial. Cremation is believed to be a defiling act. It also denies the sacred tradition of holy relics. The Orthodox Church prohibits cremation.
Some Protestant Christians have endorsed cremation, but these churches generally still adhere to the traditional Christian practice of burial. Cremation has been permitted by the Roman Catholic Church since 1963. It is now the norm in Protestantism, but the Eastern Orthodox Church still prohibits it.
Early Christians viewed the body as sacred and believed that it held the image of God. The body was the temple of the Holy Spirit. Christians were buried facing the east and near an engraved stone.
In the Orthodox Church, the body is viewed as a gift from God. In addition to being a temple of the Holy Spirit, the body is also considered a vessel of the Lord. The body is believed to be resurrected at some point. The Orthodox Church looks to the early burial practices of Judaism and Christianity to understand the nature of the body.
Remorse and remorse for cremated persons
Despite the fact that many Western Christians support cremation, the Greek Orthodox Church still maintains its position against cremation. Cremation is a practice that removes sources of comfort for mourners.
The Greek Orthodox Church understands that there are circumstances in which cremation is the right choice. However, it will not condemn a person who is forced to have cremation against his will. Instead, the Church will try to ease the financial burden of the family.
Cremation was practiced among many ancient peoples, including pagan Greeks and Romans. However, the use of cremation declined in the fifth century. The practice of cremation reached its nadir when the Greeks adopted Christianity. The Orthodox Church still maintains Byzantine Canon Law that upholds the burial of the dead.
Several discussions on cremation took place over the next two centuries. In 1664, the Philosophical Discourses of the Virtuosi of France advocated cremation. In 1658, Sir Thomas Browne wrote Hydriotaphia: Urn Burial.
Several influential people were drawn from the nobility and artistic professions. The Scottish Burial Reform and Cremation Society was founded in Glasgow in 1891.
Traditional funeral service length
Traditionally, Greek Orthodox funerals follow a five-part ritual. These include a brief prayer service called Trisagion, a funeral service, a meal called pominki, a memorial service, and burial.
The funeral service is normally held at a church, and lasts for about an hour. It includes hymns, prayers, a chanting of the Evlogetaria, and a benediction. The service is led by a priest or bishop, who leads the mourners through the rituals. The service is usually accompanied by an altar server.
The funeral service usually follows a wake. It’s a practice of rituals that take place before a funeral, but it’s not required. It’s a time for family members and friends to share memories and offer condolences.
A wake may take place at a family home, or at a church hall. During the wake, a small Christian icon may be placed in the hand of the decedent. Guests at the funeral service may also be invited to offer a farewell kiss called the “Kiss of Peace and Anointing”.
A funeral service at a Greek Orthodox church typically lasts about an hour. Attendees are expected to dress in a specific way. They usually wear dark jackets and ties. They are also encouraged to sign a guestbook.