Funeral Services


Significance of be Funeral Services

The burial and memorial Services for the dead are designed to convey to the participants the Orthodox Christian attitude concerning death. They include prayers readings from the Bible appropriate songs and references to man’s relationship with God: the original paradisiacal beauty, the Fall and its destructive effect on man and the consolation found in the Resurrection of our Lore Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life.

During are burial Service, we pray for the repose of the soul of the departed and thus give consolation to the relatives and friends and also confront them with the reality of death and with the hope of life everlasting.

In pagan times, lamentations and other expressions of grief were enacted around the  bier of the departed, all demonstrating the sorrow which filled tire hearts of relatives and friends. However, St. John Chrysostom says in his homilies that the faithful should not be grieved in exaggeration. Although grief is a natural and even healthy emotion in such cases, we must not forget that the soul of the deceased is going to its true homeland where it will rejoice in the presence of God. Death is a threshold, not an end. St. Paul wrote to the Thessalanians: "We want you to be quite certain about those who are falling asleep, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have fallen asleep in Jesus: God will bring them with him." (I Thessalonians 4:13-17)

Time and Place of Burial Services

The Orthodox Church has no specific rules determining the length of time between death and the burial. It varies according to the climate, civil ordinances, customs and circumstances. Normally, burial Service takes place on the third day after death.

The hour of interment is also not fixed; it may be at any time during the day to accord with cemetery regulations and needs. Funerals are not ordinarily held on Sunday or Feast days, for these are days of Christian joy on which the Holy Liturgy is celebrated. During Bright Week, between Easter Sunday and the Sunday of St. Thomas, the funeral Service consists mostly of hymns of the Resurrection, thus reflecting joy in the risen Lord.

As a rule, funeral Services are conducted m the church where the body of the deceased is laid facing the iconostas. Funeral Services may also take place in the home of the deceased or at the funeral parlor. The funeral Services are not conducted in the church for those who have committed suicide, unless they have been shown to be insane, nor for those who, although baptized in the Orthodox Church, have deliberately kept themselves away from the Holy Sacraments and parish membership.

Heterodox rituals or Services for the dead are not permitted in the church.

According to custom, the Service of the Wake Is conducted at the funeral parlor the evening preceding the day of the burial.

Symbols In the Funeral Services

CANDLES used around the coffin signify the light which Christ has brought into the world through his Gospel which will guide both the living and the dead until the end of the world.

INCENSE is used as an offering to God in behalf of the soul of the departed.

AN ICON OF OUR SAVIOR, A CROSS OR A BIBLE Is laid on the chest of the deceased as a symbol of his faith in Jesus Christ who has re­deemed his soul.

WINE AND OIL are poured over the body; the wine" symbolizes the blood which circulates in our veins and the oil, the announcement of the 'resurrection.

EARTH is scattered over the casket in the sign of the cross and • symbolizes that man is earth and will return to earth.

ASHES from the censer are emptied into the grave as a reminder that man is "earth and ashes."

BOILED WHEAT AND LOAVES OF BREAD are used in the me­morial Services because wheat symbolizes resurrection. As a grain of wheat must be buried so that it can bring forth fruit, so a man must be buried in or­der to be resurrection for eternity.



The Holy Orthodox Church teaches us to pray for the departed. She bases this teaching upon her belief in the immortality of the soul and resurrection of the body. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ emphasizes that God is not God of the dead but of the living. In Him all are alive!

According to the words of God, through death man simply passes from this life into an eternal life. Whether or not he participates in the blessedness of that eternal life depends upon the way he lived here on earth. In his new and never-ending life, he has perpetual spiritual connection with the living on earth.

St. Luke the Gospel writer, explains that the living and those departed are united in a covenant of sacred love. Death does not destroy that love, but rather enlarges it. Therefore, the living can intercede for the departed and the departed can intercede for the living. (James 6, 16; Luke 16, 27- JO; II Mak. 15, 12). This is not difficult to accept when we understand that both the living and the departed are j ust different members of one spiritual body of Christ. In Him they are united with unceasing connection.

Therefore, the Church instituted Parastos or Panikida (requiem service). In Greek Panikida means intercession, for in this service we pray, intercede, for the departed.

Why is this intercession needed? First of all, man earns his salvation only through actions of faith and repentence. Naturally, he can perform good actions only during his life on earth. After death his soul cannot perform any deeds. A man who has departed with no fruitful action, but at death repents for his sins, needs the intercession of the Church. The Church intercedes in his behalf through liturgical services, prayers and deeds of mercy to those who are in need here on earth. The pastoral letter of the Eastern patriarchs explains that the soul of a repentent sinner suffers in Hades but is not deprived of hope for relief through the immeasurable goodness of God, through the prayers of the priest and relatives, through good deeds done in his behalf, and most especially through the saving power of the Holy Eucharist, Parastos and Pomen (Litija).

Parastos, deigned by God, brings blessedness to the soul of the departed. It is performed over Koljivo, cooked wheat. The grains of wheat are the symbols Christ used to show us that the departed will resurrect just as grain when planted dies, then comes alive. Jesus provided the first example when he said, "1 must fall and die like a kernel of wheat that falls into the furrows of the earth. Unless 1 die 1 will be alone, a single seed. But my death will produce many new wheat kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives. (I Cor. 15, 26; John 12, 24).

Koljivo is sweetened with sugar or honey and symbolizes the sweetness of the Kingdom of Heaven. The faithful who departed in faith, repentance, and hope of resurrection will enjoy its blessedness.

Parastos is held before lit candles whose light represents the light of Christ’s teachings. St. Paul advises that Christians should not fall into despair at times of death as do others who have no hope. Rather we should be comforted by our faith in the blessed resurrection. (Thess. 4, 13-18).

The Church prays for the newly departed on the third, ninth, fortieth and semi-annual and annual day thereafter. This practice was partially inherited from the Old Testament. (No. 19, 11-12; 20, 29; I Kings 31, 12; Sirah 22, 11). Mainly though, such practices are due to the important events that took place on those days.

Apostolic rules mention the third day because of Christ’s resurrection on the third day after death on the ninth day due to the memory of the departed here. The fortieth day is mentioned because the Israelites mourned Moses that long. The annual day is in commemoration of the departed. Distributions to the poor in the name of the departed should also be made.

In addition, there are other reasons why memorials are held on these days. We pray for him on the ninth day that the blessed life will be deigned to him through the intercession of a guardian angel (which is given to him at baptismal time) to nine angelic ranks.

The fortieth day parastos is performed because of the reverent importance connected with this day:

The Flood lasted forty days.

Moses stayed on the Mountain forty days before the Lord gave him the Law.

Elijah spent forty days going to God's mountain of Horiv.

It takes forty days for a woman to be cleansed after birth.

Our Saviour fasted forty days in the wilderness and also stayed with the apostles forty days after His glorious resurrection teaching them and convincing them of His resurrection.

Forty days of lent are given to us by the Holy Orthodox Church that we may cleanse ourselves spiritually as well as physically.

The Church is trying to tell us that just as Mosees came close to God thru fasting, and our Saviour Jesus Christ expelled Satan’s temptation through forty days of fasting and praying, so does the Church pray on the fortieth day for the departed who did not fall into dispair even though he had not enough time to bring to fruition his acts of faith and repentence.

Annually the Church prays for the departed as a sign of his perpetual living. She prays that he will be renewed in the resurrection of the dead as the natural renewal of life occurs each year.

The Church designates other days when we may pray for the departed in general. These days are: Saturday of Meat Fare Week; the second, the third, and fourth Saturdays of the Great Lent; Monday

and Тuesday of St. Thomas Week; Saturday before Pentecost; Saturday before the 29th of September (old calendar); Saturday before St. Demetrius Day. These Saturdays are called also Ecumenical parental Saturdays because they are designated by the Ecumenical Church.

To have Parastos it is necessary to:

Inform your parish priest at least one week before the intended day and with him decide on a day.

Prepare the Koljivo, cooked wheat, so that the grains are whole not ground and so that it is not completely covered with sugar. However, it can be decorated in the sign of the cross with sugar, chocolates, or nuts.

Prepare the candles (small) for you and for the participating relatives and friends. When lit, hold them upright so the wax will not drip on the carpet or church floor, or that you may not start a fire.

Good deeds should be performed out of the material remains of the departed. Serbian tradition, custom, and ancient church practices satisfy this need simply and effectively. The family prepares refreshments for those who participated in the Parastos and usually contributes to various church funds.

This article ends with the following: According to the 169th rule of Nomokanon (Book of Church Rules) it is forbidden to hold Parastos from Christmas to Epiphany, the first week of Great Lent, during the Holy and Bright Week (prior and after Easter), on all major feasts such as Christmas, Circumcision (New Year), Epiphany, Palm Sunday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost and Transfiguration. Litije or Mali Pomen can be held always except from Good Thursday until St. Thomas Sunday.

In the light of these rules it is hoped that the informed parishoner will understand and accept with good will the priest’s inability to serve Parastos on the above mentioned holidays.



Света Православна Црква нас учи да се молимо за умрле. Она заснива то учење на вери у бесмртност душе и васкрс тела, као и на речима Господа Исуса Христа да је Бог „Бог живих а не мртвих, јер су у Њему сви живи“ (Лк. 20, 27-38). По речима самога Господа умрли само прелазе у други, вечни живот. Учешће у блаженству вечнога живота зависи од начина живота овде на земљи. Смрћу човек постаје учесник новога живота, не престајући да живи за гробом и да има духовну везу са живима на земљи. Како описује јеванђелист Лука живи чланови на земљи и они за гробом сједињени су савезом свете љубави коју смрт не уништава, него још повећава (Лк. 16, 27-30). Зато они могу да посредују један за другога, по апостолу Јакову живи за живе (Јак. 5,16), према јеванђелисту Луки и Другој Макавеја умрли за живе (Лк 16, 27-30. 2 Мак, 15, 12), и најзад живи за умрле (2 Мак. 12, 46). А зашто и неби посредовали једни за друге када су сви само различити чланови једног духовног тела Христова. У Њему су сједињени нераскидним и тајанственим везама сви, свети на небесима, живи на земљи и умрли.

Зато ПАРАСТОС или ПАНИХИДА, према грчкој речи и значи заступништво – посредништво, јер се у овој служби заступа и моли за умрлога. Зашто је потребно ово посредништво? Спасење се стиче само делима вере и покајаша. Добра дела се чине за живота на земљи. После смрти тела душа не може да чини добра дела. Зато верни који умиру без плодова вере и покајања али са кајањем својих грехова имају потребу посредовања и заступништва Цркве. Црква посредује за њих, чини добро за њих кроз бескрвне жртве, молитве и делима милосрђа према ближњима, живима на земљи. Или како је то објашњено у посланици источних патријараха о Православној вери, да душе људи који су за живота грешили (а ко у животу не греши?) и при смрти нису пали у очајање, но који су се покајали пред саму смрт а који нису имали времена да принесу никаквих гтлодова покајања као што су: молитве, сузе, клечање при молитвеним бдењима, скрушеност, утеха бедних, и делатни израз љубави према Богу и ближњима, душе таквих људи излазе у ад и трпе казне за грехе које су починили, не лишавајући се наде на олакшање од њих. А олакшање од њих добијају они по безграничној доброти Божијој молитвама свештеника и ближњих, као и добрим делима која се свршавају за умрле a нарочито силом безкрвне жртве – заупокојене свете литургије, парастоса – панихиде и литије или помена за умрле.

Парастос, као умилостивљење Бога, које умрлима доноси блажени живот у светлости Божјој, свршава се од Цркве над кутијеју – кољивом, које је кувана пшеница. Зрна пшенице означавају да he умрли једном васкрснути, јер као што семе посејано у земљу неће оживети ако не умре (1 Кор. 15,36) и да једно остане, а ако умре много плода донесе (Јн. 12,24). Кољиво се saonabyje медом или шећером. Ослада указује на иасладу којом he се наслађивати у царству Божјем верни који су умрли у вери, покајању и иади на васкрс (Јн. 5,29 и Мт. 25,46). Парастоси 'сс врше при запаљеним свећама, при светлости, која указује на светлост науке Христове о вемности блаженог живота.

Св. ап. Павле у речима којеје Црква изабрала ири мољењу за умрле, саветује хришћанима да нс очајавају за умрлима као они који немају наде, и ири ви!)ењу смрти саветује нам да се узајамно утешимо будућим свеоштим блаженим васкрсењем мртвих за вечни живот (I Сол. 4. 13-18).

За новопретстављене се Црква моли обично у трећи, девети и четрдесети дан, тако!?е у полу годишњи дан а онда сваке године у годишњи дан смрти. Овај начин помињања новопретстављеиих Православна црква чува делом по примеру Старозаветне цркве у којој су за помињаше и оплакивање мртвих били одре()ени трећи. седми и тридесети дан после њихове смрти (Број 19: 11-12, 20: 29, и 1 Цар. 31: 12 и Сирах. 22:11) а делом због важних догаБаја за хришћане у царству благодати, који су се догодили у ове дане (нпр. васкрс Спаситељев у трећи дан. четрдесетдневно пребивање Христа са апостолима по васкрсењу и др.).

Апостолске Установе пак указују на садање дане помињања и износе разлоге зашто баш у те дане: „Свршавајте и трећине у псалмима, читањима и молитвама због Васкрслог у трећи дан, деветине за спомен оних који су овде умрли, а четрдесетнине по старом обрасцу, јер је тако народ израиљски оплакивао Мојсија, и годишњицу о успомени умрлога. И нека се раздаје из његова имања ништима за спомен његов.“

Постоје још и други разлози за помињање умрлих у ове дане. Деветине свршавамо што молимо Бога да се душа претстављенога удостоји блаженог живота посредништвом анђела чувара (кога сваки добија при крштењу) код девет анђелских чинова.

Четрдесетине свршавамо због свештене важности овога дана. Јер је 40 дана трајао Потоп. 40 дана је Мојсије остао на гори пред Господом пре него је примио Закон. 40 данаје Илија ишао до rope Хорива. 40 дана се жена чисти после порођаја. 40 дана је Спаситељ у пустињи постио. 40 дана је Спаситељ остао по васкрсењу са апостолима учећи их и уверавајући о своме васкрсењу. 40 дана поста предала нам је света Црква ради очишћења од душевне нечистоте.

На тај начин Црква хоће да каже: као што се Мојсије приближио Богу четрдесетдневним постом а да би примио Закон, те како је Илија провео 40 дана идући до rope Хорива, те као што је Спаситељ победио ђабола четрдесетодневним постом, тако се и Црква моли у 40-и дан за умрле који нису пали у очајање и нису имали времена да принесу плодове вере и покајања.

У годишњи дан Црква се моли за умрлога као знак да је он вазда жив и да he се савршено обновити у васкрсењу мртвих, према примеру природног обновљења живота сваке године.

Поред ових дана за новопретстављене, има дана одређених када се Црква моли за све умрле уопште. Тако суботом се Црква у својим молитвама обраћа свима светима и сећа се свију православних хришћана, умрлих отаца и браће наше. Остали дани Црквом одређени за молитве за умрле јесу: месопусна субота, 2,3, и 4 субота Великога поста, понедељак и уторак Томине недеље, Духовске задужнице (субота пред Духове), Михољске задушнице (субота пред 29. септ. стари календар), Митровске задушнице (субота пред Митровдан). Ове суботе се још зову и васељенске родитељске јер су одређене уставом Васељенске цркве.

За држање Парастоса потребно је следеће:

Обавестити свештеника најмање недељу дана раније и са истим утврдити дан одржавања Парастоса.

Припремити Кољиво тако да се пшенична зрна потпуно не покрију шећером или ичим другим, него да су видљива стим што исто може бити украшено у знаку крста и унаоколо коцкама шећера, орасима или чоколадицама.

Припремити мале свеће, које запаљене треба држати пажљиво тако да се избегне сваки могући инцидент, као и капање воска свуда по карпету или поду црквеном, или чак по клупама.

према традицији и обичајима српским a no угледу на Старозаветну цркву као и по учењу хришћанске цркве да се чини милостиња из заоставштине покојника, фамилија обично пипреми малу закуску за присутне.

На крају да завршимо опоменом кад се Парастоси никако не врше: 169 правило Номоканона забрањује држање Парастоса од Божића до Богојављења, затим прве седмице Великога поста, онда Страсне и Светле седмице, те на Христове празнике (Божић, Обрезање, Богојављење, Цвети, Ускрс, Спасовдан, Духови и Преображење). А Литије или Мали Помен може свагда осим од Великог четвртка до Томине недеље.



Forty  Days After."

Why  do Orthodox pray  for a deceased person forty  days  after  their  death?

St. Macarius of Alexandria is alleged to have  written an apocryphal homily  on the reason why Memorial  Services  or Panahidas are  customarily  celebrated on the  3rd,  9th and  40th  day  after  a death.

St. Maearius asked an angel who accom panied him the reason for services  on these days  and on the anniversaries of the name• day,  and  day  of death of a person.  This  is what  the angel  told him:

On  the  third  day   when  the  body  is brought  to  the  Church,   the  dead  person receives from his Guardian Angelrelieffrom• the grief which he may have felt at parting from his body. He receives this because of the prayers of oblation and praise  which are of• fered for him and there arises in him a bless• ed hope.  For during the  past two  days  his soul was permitted to wander over the earth with  angels  accompanying it.  Since the soul loved its body, it sometimes hovered around the place where it had parted from the body' other times it was around .the coffin where Its body had been placed, In this way, it passed those few days like a bird which looks for its nesting  place.  Some  souls  wander through those  places where at one time it did deeds of righteousness and  good.

Jesus,  who  rose  from  the  dead,  com manded that on the third day every soul shall be brought to heaven, in imitation of His own Resurrection, that it may  do reverence  to God. This is why the church has the blessed custom of celebrating oblation and prayers on the third day.

After the soul has done reverence to God, it is shown the places where the saints lived and  the  beauty of Paradise.  The  soul  sees  these  during  the 3rd to the  9th day  and  it glorifies God, the Creator. When the soul has seen all these things, it changes and it forgets all the sorrows which it felt in the body. But if it is  guilty of sin  it begins  to· wail  and reproach  itself for passing its  time on earth in  a heedless  way  and  not obeying  God  so that it could  have  these same  glories  and graces.  After  seeing the joys  of the just for these six days,  ·the Angels  lead  the soul to God again. Therefore  the  Church  does well to celebrate a service and oblation for the soul on the ninth  day.

After  this second reverence to God,  He commands  that the soul be taken to hell and shown the places  of torment, the different divisions  ofhell and the various torments of the ungodly which causes the souls of sinners to groan continually and to gnash their teeth. Various places of torment are visited for thir· ty days and the soul trembles fearing that it will be condemned  to  live there.

On the  fortieth  day,  the soul  is again taken  to do reverence to  God and then the Judge  determines  the  right place  of its in carceration according to its deeds. This is the reason why the Church does right in making mention  on the  fortieth day  of its baptized dead.

We can readi!y see that the reason for the Memorial  Service of Panahida on the third, ninth and fortieth  day  is because the souls are brought befure God on these days.  Having services on the fortieth day is especially important because the soul  is brought for judgment  at that time.


The  Oethodox  Herald