Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue — The Sharing of Eastern Orthodox Funeral

A "Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue" was held online March 17 — a total of 10 people. Before the dialogue started, Convener Michael Kerze invited Catholic priest Father Alexei Smith to share the ceremonies and meanings of Orthodox Christian funerals. Father Alexei mentioned, unlike the Catholics, Orthodox funerals don’t include an eucharist. Moreover, the casket where the body is held must remain opened to let the family members and friends view the deceased. On the day of the funeral, only the priest and family members will accompany the casket to its burial or cremation site.

Before the body is buried or cremated, the priest will put a headband—with the icon of Jesus, St. Mary and St. John— on the deceased’s forehead, and cover the body with a funeral shroud that has scriptures written upon it. During the Ukrainian War, soldiers were covered with the same kind of shroud before they were respectfully buried. These ceremonies were carried out in hopes that at the end of the temporal life of the deceased, he or she will be united with their eternal life.

At the end of the Dialogue, Convener Michael Kerze hoped to further discuss this topic in the next dialogue, and suggested that the movie Departures and the book Coffinman, can be used as materials for the next discussion on the topic of death. As the session came to a close, the air was filled with the anticipation of future insightful discussions.