FUNERALS & MEMORIALS
The Orthodox Church has, since early times, adopted the custom of burying her dead (as is evidenced in the catacombs and from the graves of martyrs and the saints). Cremation, therefore, is contrary to the tradition of our Church and forbidden for Orthodox Christians.
In case of an expressed wish of the departed for a cremation, the funeral service does not take place and the priest does not officiate at the crematorium or the grave.
What you need to bring for the funeral
Koliva (a plate containing boiled wheat) & prosphoron (a loaf of bread)
A small bottle of olive oil
Comfort food for those attending the burial at the cemetery (pariorka), which usually is black olives, brandy, or cognac and if its not a fasting day (Wednesday/Friday) or a fasting period, some cheese (usually halloumi).
Praying for the Dead
The Orthodox pray for the departed. The most pressing prayer within the liturgies appointed for this purpose is for God to forgive their sins. We say, “For no one lives and does not sin, for You only are without sin….” This is easily misunderstood, but it goes to the very heart of the mystery of our relationship with God.
The Holy Memorial Service
(by John Foundoulis)
Our subject is ‘The Holy Memorial Services’, that is the supplications made by the Church on behalf of our departed brothers and sisters. Initially, we shall attempt to give a historical view of the subject, that is, a review of the tradition and practice of the Church regarding the services, from the beginning until they became established liturgical order. The reference to tradition in relation to our subject here, and in the case of all matters of worship, is not merely the result of historical curiosity but, rather, there is an important reason for pursuing it. It is in this way that we safeguard the legitimacy of our liturgical practice- in this case intercessions made by the Church for the departed: for the repose of their souls and the consolation of the living.