A Review by Very Rev. John Breck
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 specter, 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.
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