A Christian Ending

Pascha reminds us most particularly of Death and Resurrection. It should call to mind not only the Death and Resurrection of the Lord, but also of His children, and of the Orthodox understanding in theory and practice of the end of life in this world. Therefore, a welcome addition to contemporary Orthodox works in English is: “A Christian Ending: A Handbook for Burial in the Ancient Christian Tradition”, J. Mark and Elizabeth J. Barna [Divine Ascent Press; 1st edition, 2011]
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“A handbook for burial in the ancient Christian tradition. While aimed at Orthodox Christians, this book would be a very helpful guide to anyone who is interested in preparing for a funeral within the context of community, without the use of corporate funeral homes, and using green and sustainable methods. From the foreword: “How should Christian people prepare for death, their own and that of loved ones? No question can be more important than this, since death is the final reality of our earthly life. Yet particularly in the United States, we tend to avoid the question as much as we can. We consider death to be brutal and tragic, whatever its circumstances and causes. It marks an end to our ambitions, while it underscores the ephemeral nature of our existence. Therefore we treat it like a “last enemy” from which there is no escape, no salvation. Death appears as a spectre, a menacing evil, that evokes a reaction of dread. Written in a genial, conversational style, this book offers the Christian reader a solid foundation in both the theology and the psychology of death: its place within God’s creative and saving work, and the personal impact it makes on those facing death and those who grieve for them. It also clarifies a great many misconceptions held by most people concerning professional funeral practices, making clear that a truly “Christian ending” to our life can mean beauty and utter simplicity both in the rituals that surround it and in the burial itself. Many readers will be surprised to learn that it is not at all necessary, legally or practically, to use the services of a funeral home. There is indeed “another way,” one more in keeping with the Gospel imperative to honor the physical body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. This work includes a section on the actual preparation of the body of the deceased, together with prescribed readings of psalms and prayers, all of which can be accomplished with or without the participation of clergy. Finally, an extensive bibliography is followed by a list of items needed for preparation, as well as various post-mortem forms the reader will find indispensable.” -Fr. John Breck
“An Orthodox Christian Life ends with the act of Christian burial. The body of a Christian, which was immersed in the sacred waters of Baptism, anointed with Holy Chrism, and nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, has become the sanctified dwelling-place of God, even in death remaining worthy of profound reverence. By undertaking the solemn task of preparing the body and celebrating the traditional funeral rites, not only does a Christian community show proper respect for the body of the departed, but all involved also receive tremendous spiritual blessing and nourishment. This book provides a detailed description of the many facets involved in this great act of love. May it be a blessing for all who heed the advice it offers, and may it help all our communities to enter more deeply into the awesome mystery we must all face: death, and the preparation for our resurrection!” – Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America
orthodox funeral
“Written in a genial, conversational style, this book offers the Christian reader a solid foundation in both the theology and the psychology of death: its place within God’s creative and saving work, and the personal impact it makes on those facing death and those who grieve for them. It also clarifies a great many misconceptions held by most people concerning professional funeral practices, making clear that a truly “Christian ending” to our life can mean beauty and utter simplicity both in the rituals that surround it and in the burial itself.” – Fr. John Breck

On Ancient Faith Radio: “A Christian Ending Rediscovering Ancient Christian Burial Customs for the Modern World” Start date: July 2013 9 episodes
christianending radio
“How should Christian people prepare for death—their own and that of loved ones? No question can be more important than this, since death is the final reality of our earthly life. Deacon Mark Barna, the co-author of “A Christian Ending: A Handbook for Burial in the Ancient Christian Tradition”, has been preparing Orthodox Christians for burial without a professional funeral director for nearly ten years. He and his wife and co-author Elizabeth cared for three of their parents in their home for nearly seven years. In this podcast, they share their knowledge and experience of end-of-life issues, as well as how to organize and prepare for a parish-directed funeral with or without the help of a professional funeral director.”
http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/christianending

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