|St. Joseph of Arimathea, by the hand of Nicholas Papas. It can be purchase here from Come & See Icons.|
Bury the Dead.
How appropriate for this final week of the Lenten season, when on Good and Holy Friday, we bury Christ, the suffering servant, that this act of mercy should be recalled. As the noble Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:42-46, Matt 27:57-60, and John 19:38-42) with the utmost of respect (and tremendous courage) took the Lord's body and buried it, so too should we respect the bodies of our brothers and sisters and carry out this final act of love. Orthodox Christians believe that the body is not evil, but a temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) So even if the soul has departed the body, it remains a sanctified vessel. We have countless accounts in Orthodox Christianity, of both recognized saints and simple believers, whose bodily remains do not corrupt and when touched by the sick, they are healed. If you ever happen to be in San Francisco, stop by the Joy of All Who Sorrow Russian Orthodox Cathedral where one can visit the incorrupt remains of St. John of San Francisco and Shanghai. I have not yet been myself, but have heard first hand accounts of people, who have received healing and/or consolation of their sorrows. This is not un-scriptural by the way. (See the account of Elisha's death 2 Kings 13:20-21 and the subsequent healing of a man that falls on his relics)
As an FYI, I wrote a post several months ago regarding the act of the noble Joseph removing the Lord's body from the cross which can be found here. It contains a short video of a hymn that is sung at the service of the Lord's burial.
So...back to the task at hand...how do we bury the dead?
Other than the obvious, which is actually burying our loved ones, you can help people to do so. Read your local paper's obituary section and you may come across people who state that they cannot afford burial, and there is a bank account number at the bottom of the obituary as to where you can donate. I've done it, it's really easy. You just walk into the bank and tell them that you would like to make a deposit into such-and-such account, and it gets done. I don't recall them asking for ID or my name, so it can by done anonymously as well. Another option, and I see these a lot in Phoenix, is going to a memorial car wash which raises money for funeral costs. Now maybe you may not be comfortable with a bunch of kids washing your car, or you don't have the time to wait in line, but just walking/driving up to them and handing them a few bucks works too.
This will be the last post prior to Pascha (Easter). I'm going to do my best to stay off the Internet as much as possible for this final week of Great Lent. Have a blessed Holy Week and I'll see you on that bright and beautiful day of the Lord's resurrection.