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#311289 - 02/01/09 03:41 AM Re: Cremation and Orthodoxy [Re: lcanthony]
stormshadow Offline
Member

Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 429
Loc: ct
I confess that I never really understood this either. I've had a lot of forensic science during my college years, and yeah, that's pretty much what would happen. I understand it's about respecting the body you were gifted by God with, but really, what if there's nothing to leave behind anyway? Be it natural decomposition or whatever.

What does our church have to say about modern day burial techniques?

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#311326 - 02/01/09 03:38 PM Re: Cremation and Orthodoxy [Re: lcanthony]
theophan Offline
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Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 5817
Loc: Hollidaysburg, PA
Quote:
These bodies come out pickled in cancer causing chemicals. Add in sealer caskets that do not allow gas to escape and you have bodies literally blowing up due to all that pressure. Talk about abuse of a body!


lcanthony:

I don't know where to begin. Having been a funeral director and worked in funeral service for over 42 years, I have to wonder about the source material you have for these outrageous statements. You certainly know little about organic chemistry or the series of chemical equations that relate the breakdown or proteins. Formadelhyde enters this series to bridge the gap in the series where the gas and putrifaction occurs.

Gasketed caskets? Have witnessed many being disinterred after a few and some after many years. Nothing remotely like what yu describe has taken place.

I'd suggest you check your facts against the Mitford-style propaganda you've posted here.

In Christ,

BOB

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#311334 - 02/01/09 06:45 PM Re: Cremation and Orthodoxy [Re: theophan]
lcanthony Offline
Member

Registered: 08/29/05
Posts: 49
Loc: Erie PA
My sources are very well documented and can be easily verified, as documented in lawsuits on behalf of familes who purchased sealer caskets and the horror stories in above ground burials.
The western funeral industry seems to be very territorial in protecting its' turf.
Do you handle embalming chemicals with out protection to yourself?
There is no argument that this stuff is toxic. And so to justify embalming while demonizing cremation seems at polar opposites of the argument.
And as a funeral director may i ask what your position of cremation is within the context of this thread? The thrust of this thread is anti cremation and the thrust of my argument is our cultural treatment of bodies is just as abusive as cremation.
Both are equally offensive but one offense is sanctioned by our culture and church.

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#311342 - 02/01/09 08:07 PM Re: Cremation and Orthodoxy [Re: lcanthony]
theophan Offline
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Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 5817
Loc: Hollidaysburg, PA
lcanthony:

First of all, I no longer handle any chemicals on the orders of my physician. Some years ago I was diagnosed as having 98 of 100 symptoms of acute formaldehyde poisoning after working many years in situations without adequate ventilation. I have some permanent damage to my body as a result, though I have been able to recover from many of them.

I myself have no professional position for or against cremation. It is legal in my jurisdiction, I help families who wish to have this as part of the final disposition of their loved ones, I don't utilize it for my own family members--but this is irrelevant and I never mention it to my client families--and take great care in serving families of all stripes, all beliefs, and all ideas of making final disposition of their dead.

I've read the literature about the lawsuits and have seen firsthand the horrors you speak of in relation to mausoleum burials. Let me take the time to explain why some of these things happen.

A mausoleum is designed to provide mummification of a human remains over time. Air passes from outside, throughout the inner parts of the mausoleum, and back to the outside. The whole design is meant to have the air pass over the body and dry it out over time. The problem becomes what it is in the stories you've read when mausoleum providers don't spell out what type of casket is needed for use with a crypt. Gasketed units are not supposed to be used since they inhibit the airflow over the remains. It also comes about when they don't specify that only embalmed bodies are to placed into the crypts. The theory is that the chemicals are supposed to inhibit the portion of decomposition that includes gas and other byproducts. I was at a mausoleum entombment a few years ago where a section had had to be cordoned off due to the nastiness coming from the top crypt and literally flowing down over the marble plates underneath. The whole thing was horrible. And how to explain this to my client family? I plead ignorance of what could possibly be the cause--which was true; there could have been any number and combination of variables.

There are those of my colleagues who do not use the chemicals they buy according to the manufacturer's instructions. Sometimes this causes failures. A gentleman who has written the last four editions of the latest embalming textbook--and who instructed me in school--lists many other reasons why failures of this type occur. Usually, too, the lawsuits include statements made by the funeral director that make claims that any prudent professional would not make. I continue to be amazed by these in light of the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule of 1984 that specifically prohibits misrepresentations of the long term effect of embalming.

The type of embalming funeral directors do is meant to slow the process of decomposition so that the funeral experience is less traumatic. I say this because I compared notes with a priest whose father had died in Italy, whose body had not been treated, and whose remains provided a nasty experience in their August mourning period. But even the best technician, with the best chemicals, and with the best treatment cannot guarantee a positive result. And I've seen my share of the worst that can happen.

The title of the thread is "Cremation and Orthodoxy." The Orthodox Church has generally frowned on the practice of cremation, as did the Catholic Church until just a few years ago. (In fact, it has been since I began work in this field that the restriction for Catholics has been lifted.) In my professional practice it is, therefore, my duty to counsel an Orthodox family about the teachings of their Church. That done, I then ask them what they wish me to do. I am not the Church's enforcer. I've told many Catholic clergy that same thing, prefacing my remarks by saying that I have two duties: one to explain the practice of the particular religious body and then to do exactly what the family tells me to do (unless it's illegal or immoral).

In Christ,

BOB

PS: For the record, I don't personally believe in above-ground mausolea, for any number of reasons, including the devastation brought about by Hurrican Katrina and the problems mentioned above and in the literature. But there is a market-driven demand and so we have them.


Edited by theophan (02/02/09 04:55 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling

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#311343 - 02/01/09 08:14 PM Re: Cremation and Orthodoxy [Re: stormshadow]
theophan Offline
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Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 5817
Loc: Hollidaysburg, PA
stormshadow:

I've served Orthodox families. We've taken the casketed body into church, opened it for the funeral, and then gone to the cemetery after closing the casket in church.

In Pennsylvania, if we keep a human remains over 24 hours, we have three choices: embalm, place into a sealed container that will not allow odors or byproducts to leak out, or keep under refrigeration and bury within 5 hours of taking the remains out fo the refrigeration unit. (PA Rules and Regulations 13.201 6 (i) )

So to have an Orthodox funeral--unless we get it done in the first 24 hours or the priest allows us to bring a sealed unit into church--we're required to embalm the remains if the casket is to be opened in church. The part of the Funeral Service that includes the sealing with oil would probably have to omitted if the casket were sealed.

BOB


Edited by theophan (02/01/09 08:37 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling

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#311345 - 02/01/09 08:35 PM Re: Cremation and Orthodoxy [Re: theophan]
stormshadow Offline
Member

Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 429
Loc: ct
Gotcha. Thank you for the clarification.

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#311494 - 02/03/09 01:34 AM Re: Cremation and the Orthodox position [Re: stormshadow]
lcanthony Offline
Member

Registered: 08/29/05
Posts: 49
Loc: Erie PA
I guess the question I am trying to drill down on is why is cremation frowned upon while chemical embalming is seen in the eyes of the church as being okay? The current version of bodily embalming is a recent invention but why are the churches okay with this within the context of our bodies being sacred vessels of the Holy Spirit?

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#311507 - 02/03/09 05:07 AM Re: Cremation and the Orthodox position [Re: lcanthony]
Etnick Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/02
Posts: 1178
Loc: West of Johnstown
Originally Posted By: lcanthony
I guess the question I am trying to drill down on is why is cremation frowned upon while chemical embalming is seen in the eyes of the church as being okay? The current version of bodily embalming is a recent invention but why are the churches okay with this within the context of our bodies being sacred vessels of the Holy Spirit?


Cremation destroys the body. A buried body embalmed or not, is just that, a buried intact body. We didn't come into the world as ashes and morph into a body, so why reduce what was not ashes in the first place into ashes? You come into the world whole, you leave the world whole.

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#311516 - 02/03/09 01:29 PM Re: Cremation and the Orthodox position [Re: Etnick]
Michael_Thoma Offline
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Registered: 07/10/05
Posts: 2333
Loc: Chicago
Of course the counter argument is that God created Adam with the dust of the earth.

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#311530 - 02/03/09 04:28 PM Re: Cremation and the Orthodox position [Re: Michael_Thoma]
theophan Offline
Moderator
Member

Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 5817
Loc: Hollidaysburg, PA
Michael Toma:

Christ is in our midst!! He is and always will be!!

Of course you're right. Cremation does in a few hours what it takes nature much longer to do in the ground.

BOB

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#311544 - 02/03/09 07:43 PM Re: Cremation and the Orthodox position [Re: stormshadow]
Penthaetria Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 713
Loc: DC area
Originally Posted By: stormshadow
On the flip side of the coin, if they exume the body within 3 years and have another memorial, it sure does not help the family with closure issues.


Speaking from experience...

Closure is for windows, not for widows.

Grief, mourning, recovery, rebuilding ... all are ongoing, ever-changing processes. "Closure" is not part of the process.

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#311554 - 02/03/09 09:26 PM Re: Cremation and the Orthodox position [Re: Penthaetria]
Tim Offline
Greco-Kat
Member

Registered: 11/03/01
Posts: 215
Loc: VIRGINIA
Many interesting viewpoints expressed here. Is there anything in the Sacred Canons of the particular Church involved here (or in the Canons of other Orthodox or Catholic Churches) that speak directly to this issue? What do the Canons say about a funeral for which the body is not present for some other reason: buried hurriedly because of disease/infection; lost at sea; consumed in a fire or other tragedy; detained by the civil authorities for autopsy or similar purpose?

Does anyone know what prompted the good Metropolitan's letter? Were his clergy reporting many requests from the families of deceased members of this Church for funerals at which either the body would not be present (because of cremation) or at which it was proposed that the ashes/cremains themselves be brought into the church?

What explanation/pastoral advice and counsel do clergy of this Church offer to the survivors when the cremation has already taken place and the family/relatives seek either a full funeral service (Parastas) or the presence of the parish priest when the ashes are interred? Will the clergy of this Church commemorate a cremated person in a Liturgy? Will they offer prayers for the deceased? Celebrate a Prayer Service / Panakhyda?

As a matter of interest, I should report that I know of at least two instances where UGC priests in North America (definitely not "Latinized") celebrated the Parastas for a deceased parishioner who had been cremated and whose ashes were brought to the church for the service.

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#311556 - 02/03/09 09:35 PM Re: Cremation and the Orthodox position [Re: Tim]
Fr. Deacon Lance Offline
Moderator
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Registered: 08/29/98
Posts: 4148
Loc: Washington, PA
What if after cremation the bones were recovered and placed in an ossuary?
_________________________
My cromulent posts embiggen this forum.

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#311559 - 02/03/09 09:59 PM Re: Cremation and the Orthodox position [Re: Fr. Deacon Lance]
AMM Offline
Member

Registered: 04/04/05
Posts: 3393
Loc: Etc
Quote:
As a matter of interest, I should report that I know of at least two instances where UGC priests in North America (definitely not "Latinized") celebrated the Parastas for a deceased parishioner who had been cremated and whose ashes were brought to the church for the service.


I find that incredibly difficult to understand.

http://www.stcatherine.ny.goarch.org/vsI...;method=display
http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/misc/john_shahovskoy_church_cremation.htm

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#311564 - 02/03/09 10:41 PM Re: Cremation and the Orthodox position [Re: Penthaetria]
theophan Offline
Moderator
Member

Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 5817
Loc: Hollidaysburg, PA
Quote:
Grief, mourning, recovery, rebuilding ... all are ongoing, ever-changing processes. "Closure" is not part of the process.


Penthaetria:

I couldn't agree with you more. The people who have touched my life are on my list of "living," i.e., still in their pilgrimage. When they pass, they move to the other list.

They are always with me.

BOB

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