Category Archives: Orthodox

Russian Orthodox Church approves rite of burial for unbaptized infants

July 14, Pravmir. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has approved the rite of the burial of unbaptized infants during their meeting on July 14, 2018.

It was reported by Priest Alexander Volkov, Press Secretary of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

According to Fr. Alexander, this rite will become mandatory for all parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church.

“As you know, earlier the Church did not have the opportunity to celebrate a burial service for unbaptized infants. Sometimes infants are stillborn or die shortly after due to various circumstances that cannot be overcome by human power. Naturally, grieving parents come to a church and ask priests to officiate at least some rite for their departed children and seek their own consolation,” the RIA news service quotes the priest.

Read the rest here.

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O Death, where is your sting?

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

-except from the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom

Remembering 

Today is October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It’s been over six years since we lost Innocent and this site was started, nearly six years since we lost Andrew, over three since we lost Gabriel, and almost exactly three since we lost Demetrius. So much water under the bridge, so many tears, so many blessings. 

I know that every day people come to Lost Innocents who are losing or who have just lost one or more babies. For you, this time is probably a mixture of pain, sorrow, confusion, denial, anger, despair, and shock. The statistics say that one in four women will experience at least one loss. Something that affects a quarter of all women sounds pretty routine, pretty common. For the woman in the maelstrom of loss, it is anything but common. This is not just a pregnancy, not a bit of tissue, not a clump of cells. This is her baby, her irreplaceable child. The loss of this child is heavy enough to tip the scales even if the entire world were hung on the other side. This baby exists for all eternity and matters as much as any other soul created by God. A mother instinctively knows this.

The old saying, “time heals all wounds”, is unfortunately true. In the midst of the acute pain of loss it seems impossible that life will ever contain happiness again. I can solemnly promise you that it will. I didn’t believe it either when other experienced mothers tried to comfort me, but they were right. Joy does return.

I say “unfortunately” because however we may want to escape the grief, there is also the fear of forgetting. Most people around us will forget. There is the worry that if we don’t remember our babies every day, then they will, in a sense, cease to exist. Even if this is not a rational thought, or even a conscious thought, I guarantee you that the majority of women will have that fear. One day we will all die. Our children may remember the sibling(s) in heaven, but after that? Who will keep their memory alive?

There is One whom we can trust with our babies without reservation. The One who created them, who holds them still. As Orthodox Christians we say “memory eternal” when someone dies. Despite what you may think, this does not mean that we wish the departed to be remembered forever by other people. No, we say “memory eternal” because the soul of the departed is with (and “remembered” by) God for all eternity. Our babies will never be truly lost, never forgotten. It is safe to allow God to heal our hearts so that one day the memory of our babies is a sweet one. We do not have to cling to grief out of fear. His remembering is sufficient.

May God give you peace today and every day. 

Some Updates

 As I mentioned previously, the Assembly of Bishops was to consider our proposal of a miscarriage/stillbirth booklet for clergy when they met in mid-September. As it turns out, time was too short for it to make it to the agenda. This is disappointing, of course, but our subcommittee is considering publishing it independently. When I have any news on this, I will post it.

 Surprisingly, the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops approved a service for miscarried or stillborn babies when they met this past week for their fall meeting. I hadn’t been aware that this was on the agenda and I’m not entirely sure of the source of the service (although it is possible that the overlapping members of the Assembly’s Pastoral Practice Committee and the Holy Synod presented the service that we had worked on). In any event, the good news is there IS an approved service! It was just posted today and you can find it here. I am most grateful to the Holy Synod for approving this and making it available.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance month (along with a host of other things). In addition, today is the feast of St. Demetrius the Myrrh-Gusher and the first birthday of our youngest baby, Demetrius. He died at 5 weeks, 5 days and was born a few weeks later on October 26th. Father buried him at the foot of his older brother Gabriel’s grave. May his memory be eternal! In his honor I mailed today a package of small hats to Common Care, an organization which distributes care packages and tiny hats to bereaved parents.

Encouraging news from Russia

In Russia, Fr. Daniel Goryachev is insisting that mothers and other family members be given a chance to see their stillborn babies and bury them. At the current time they are not shown to the families and are disposed of as medical waste, regardless of gestational age.

“Even if abortions are finally outlawed, the public conscience should be prepared for it. Otherwise such laws will be ineffective. People should have a particular culture of perception of life, which is formed through religion,” related Fr. Daniel his speech during the round table, dedicated to protection of life on early stages of pregnancy, held at the Civic Chamber. “Serving in an Arkhangelsk maternity home, I come across the following situation: When a woman gives birth to a stillborn baby, she is not given her baby and cannot see it. I have proposed to amend the legislation so that bodies of stillborn babies might be given to their mothers at their request, regardless of the stage of pregnancy”.

 May Fr. Daniel’s work be blessed!!

In the news…

(Source, and additional photos)

   A subcommittee of the Committee for Pastoral Practice of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops was convened from March 12-14 in Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania for the purpose of addressing the current lack of a common service for miscarried or stillborn infants and associated pastoral guidance. In attendance were: (L-R) Mat. Elizabeth Lein (OCA), Mat. Anna Crawford (OCA), Fr. Peter J. Gillquist (AOCA), Bishop Mark (OCA), Archbishop Benjamin (OCA), Fr. Ian Pac-Urar (AOCA), Kh. Linda Ellison (AOCA) and Dr. Phillip Mamalakis (GOA). [Mat. Jenny Shroedel (OCA) was present by skype.]

   It was a very positive and productive conference. The completed work will be a booklet for Orthodox pastors to address the following topics: basic medical information including a glossary of terms, suggestions for pastoral care of grieving families, guidance on burials, etc. The second half of the booklet will consist of prayers appropriate to a variety of circumstances and a service of burial and memorial service. This will be presented to the parent committee in May, and then, if approved, to the Assembly of Bishops in the fall. In the meantime a separate booklet for women and their families will be in progress.

   Please keep the committee members in your prayers as they address this important work.