Saying the last goodbye to a beloved person is challenging for everyone. But the task has to be done, and it has to be in the best way possible. Once you have decided to carry out this Orthodox funeral, there will be several points to note that will help to carry out the procedure in the right manner.
Orthodox funeral in Sydney involves several practices, customs, and traditions, and everyone carrying this type of funeral needs to follow the customs and practices appropriately. You can go ahead with the steps in the procedure to pay your tribute to the one you loved so much.
Here are some tips and procedural guidelines you may follow to plan the Orthodox funeral in Sydney adequately. Here it is:
Eligibility for an orthodox funeral
There are particular criteria depending upon which one can organize an orthodox funeral for his or her beloved. It can be any parishioner with good standing with the Orthodox Church. That person will be entitled to the orthodox funeral service. Also, those Orthodox Christians who expressed in their wills their desire for cremation may not have this funeral in the Church.
So this is the basic tip/guideline to let you understand who is eligible for an Orthodox funeral in Sydney.
The Trisagion service or Thrice-Holy service
When a person dies, you need to notify or call a priest immediately. Trisagion’s service occurs after the death and right on the night before the funeral at the wake. Prayers are to entreat God for granting rest to the departed soul. It is also to ask God to have mercy on the soul.
The term or title Trisagion refers to the repetition of the opening phrase of the service three times. This is, ‘Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us.’ This way, you complete the Thrice-Holy service.
This Trisagion can also be at the gravesite after the service, as well as more memorial days as set by the Church.
The funeral service
Before we get on to the procedure, here are some tips for you for an Orthodox funeral in Sydney:
- The orthodox service does not emphasize the use of funeral music. There can be hymns, and the Trisagion may occur during the closing of the church service.
- White flowers, as we know, are common for funeral services. Friends may send plants or bouquets. Flowers are also often passed out during prayer service at the gravesite.
- At the end of the service, every person generally bows down and places her or his flower on the casket.
- During the funeral service, none other than the priest has permission to speak.
- The casket remains open unless the family requests the opposite.
- Regarding the etiquettes, attendees dress in modest clothing. Men may wear suits with ties, and women wear dresses.
- The best meeting time to greet the family is after the burial. It can also be at the luncheon after burial. Greeting the family is considered very important.
- It is common here to bow down and kiss the cross on the casket. This is when the people approach to say their final goodbyes.
Following are the points of consideration for this funeral service:
- The Orthodox funeral service talks of the reality of death, the new life of the deceased. It is a positive service and involves some prayers meant for forgiveness and the departed soul’s repose. Here, the priests wear white as they wish to symbolize the joy of resurrection.
- The funeral will take place within the Church. The funeral is allowed only at a cemetery or a mortuary chapel. That too requires special permission.
- Next is the arrival of the deceased and the family at the Church. Here, the priest begins with the funeral service. He meets the family, friends as well as the casket at the front door of that Church.
- Then, the priest keeps chanting and simultaneously leads them all into the sanctuary for service. Guests who were waiting outside the Church would now enter the Church and also sign the guest book in the narthex. The family of the deceased will sit in the front row, while there will be the icon of Christ in the iconostasis in front of them.
- Some arrangements are then made with the open casket so that the eyes of the deceased look east toward the altar. This is the direction in which Christ will again rise. After this, the priest will lead the bereaved hymns and scripture, readings, and prayers, while asking God for rest for the departed soul. Then he will invite visitors to come and pay their respects.
Finally, the priest pours oil and dirt on the body in a cross form. The casket closes, and service ends.
Talking about the last practices in Orthodox funerals in Sydney, there is the transportation of the body to the cemetery along with the immediate family. Trisagion service occurs for the last time. The family can stay and witness the lowering of the casket if they wish to. Finally, there is Makaria or the mercy meal.