A Short Overview on the Funeral Rites for Father Deacon John at Holy Transfiguration Western Rite Orthodox Church this past Friday and Saturday
Everything went as well as could be expected (which was good) at the obsequies for Fr. John. We had about 150+ people show up it seemed on Saturday morning (probably a third of that the night before); a lot overflowed outside the church doors; a lot of friends and such from the town, not necessarily members of the Church, of course.
Only about 10 or 15 people stayed the whole night from 6:30pm til 12am for all the services (50 or so people showed up for the services from 6:30 and left around 7:45 or so). There was a continuous stream of people who came to pay their respects up until services finished around 1:20 am or so, and the last 4 or 5 people came and left around 1:45 am Saturday morning. Things proceeded again at 6:50 am with the morning hours and additional services for the dead, and everyone showed back up around 9am until the Requiem Mass started around 10 am; the last Commendation of the body in the church, with the procession with the body to the cemetery, with the Inhumation, etc; everything ended around 2:30pm or so (maybe a little bit later). Communion, of course, was only taken by the clergy (though two lay people were given Communion after Confession immediately after Mass during the Sixth Hour, Thanksgiving Prayers, etc before the last Commendation).
There were no real problems with the burial in the church cemetery.
It was heartening to know the respect a lot of people held Fr. Deacon John in since so many stayed for several hours, at funeral rites most of them were not familiar with that morning. It was heartening to know that even some people stayed 4 or 5+ hours the previous night.
One of our clergy commented that there was a point in which it seemed everyone realized that the services were going to be long, and the attitude of the visitors while respectful seemed to ‘adjust’. However, people seemed to realize that the discomfort, pain, tiredness, etc, that comes with long services was not simply done for show, or no reason; ascetic services for the dead help people realize that this is a serious situation, and not something perfunctory. If someone was worth this much to us in life, we should have no problem with praying for them some hours at death, and going through these services is the least that we can do for the soul of an Orthodox Christian in rendering due homage to the Lord God Jesus Christ, with the Father and the Holy Ghost.
May his soul, and souls of all the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace.
–Fr. Hieromonk Enoch