GREEK ORTHODOX FUNERAL SERVICE
Greek Orthodox Funeral Service – The passing of a loved one from this life to the next, no matter how well prepared you are brings grief and sorrow. Often, the role of the next-of-kin is to organise the funeral arrangements.
The Greek Orthodox faith is deeply rich in symbolism and tradition in and around the death of a loved one with the focus being on resurrection and new life, often describe by the Greek Orthodox Church as sorrowful joy. The strong belief around resurrection to everlasting life brings hope and peace to the grieving community.
Burial traditions are an important part of the funeral service. The Greek Orthodox Church do not practice Cremation as it is not mentioned in Scripture. Cremation is seen as disrespecting the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The meanings around the Greek Orthodox Burial Customs are as follows:
TRISAGION: Also known as the prayer to the 3-times Holy (God as Trinity) is often prayed by the priest prior to the funeral in the place where the deceased is resting. The Trisagion is a succession of prayers preceded by the exclamation of the Angels as recorded in the Book of Isaiah. The dearly departed is now being met by the Angels and guided to the resting place.
SAVANO (THE BURIAL SHROUD): In the same way that Christ was buried some in the Orthodox faith place a burial shroud over the body of the deceased. This is an option. Embroidered on the shroud can be found the icons of Christ’s Crucifixion & Resurrection.
DIRECTION OF THE COFFIN: It is traditional practice within the Orthodox faith for the deceased to face towards the east, following the belief that in the second coming Christ will appear in the east who will be the first to meet Him.
OPEN COFFIN: An open coffin is common predominantly practised within Orthodox countries. It is the choice of the family of the deceased whether or not to have an open or closed coffin. Some feel being able to view the deceased brings comfort in their time of grief.
ITEMS IN THE COFFIN: Loved ones have the opportunity to place memorial symbols into the coffin. This may be an icon of the Resurrection, a precious photo or even a written letter. This is done with deep meaning and respect.
RESSURECTION ICON: During the funeral service the icon of the Resurrection of Christ is placed either in or on the coffin .
FINAL FAREWELL: The congregation are invited to come forward and to kiss (venerate the icon) on the coffin at the conclusion of the funeral service. The hymn chanted invites all to come and bid their final farewell.
AT THE GRAVESIDE:
– The oil is poured into the grave by the priest as a sign of healing from the transition of death.
– The dirt or the sand are placed by the priest, family and friends into the grave as a symbol of the final act of love. The Greek Orthodox faith believe that from the earth we have come and to the earth we return.
– Kollyva is boiled wheat made for Memorial Services and some faithful place a bowl of Kollyva under the coffin during the service. At the graveside the bowl is broken on the coffin to commemorate Christ’s victory over death
– A white grave marker is placed on grave until the headstone is organised.
MEMORIAL SERVICES: These take place at significant times in the Greek Orthodox Church after the person has passed away, including 9 days, 3 months, 6 months and annually.
Below is a list and links to the following Greek Orthodox Communities
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