Terminology: Services / Absolution / Cremation


Where can one obtain the names of the many orthodox devotional service—I’m not speaking of the Divine Liturgy or the Hours—in parallel columns with greek terms and slavic terms co-ordinated?

parastasa, pannychis, panikhidi, panikhida
akathist (great and lesser)
paraklesis (great and lesser)
akolouthia (in its more specific sense)
and what are the names in the two traditions for the many services/commemorations of those fallen asleep (funeral, 3d, 9th, 40th days, annual, etc., and just at any time?—slava, trisagion, etc).

As one who lives far from any orthodox clergy at the moment, and have a background that includes attendance at the ROCOR, GOA, and Ukrainian Orthodox temples, I’d like to see a chart of parallel terminology. The differences in terminology are unfortunately not self-evident.

Second, since the Greek and Russian absolutions at confession are quite different, where can one get the texts? (Some Russian prayerbooks have the slavic—but none of my Greek prayerbooks has got the Greek text.)

Third, is there a common Orthodox view toward cremation? As i live in a state dotted with buddhist temples where the majority seem to accept cremation as the norm, is cremation different in different jurisdictions? Or is it a decision (in some or all jurisdictions) for a given hierarch to make for those under his aegis?


Terminology for Names of Services
Thank you for your enquiry concerning the various terms used for Orthodox liturgical services. Unfortunately, I do not know of any such comparative list. Distinguishing between these names seems to be something people acquire on an individual basis based on their need and experience.

For example in my own parish, which is made up of people of a variety of different backgrounds, I have to on occasion rely on a variety of terms for memorials or for Services of Thanksgiving. When such services are announced English terms are used instead of favoring one non-English term over another. For example, instead of announcing that a “Molieben’ will be held it is announced that a “Service of Thanksgiving’ will be held. Everyone understands that—only the Slavs, and then only some of them, recognize the word “Molieben.’

Concerning names for the services that follow death, a Funeral is simply known as a “Funeral” or the “Rite of Burial.” In Slavic it is an “Otpivaniye.” The services on the 3rd, 9th, 40th etc. days are called in Slavic “Panikhida” or “Parastasis” or in Serbian “Pomen” or in Greek “Mnemosyno”, although the shortened version of these, beginning with the Trisagion prayers and going immediately into the closing troparia, is often referred to as a “Litiya for the Dead” or a “Trisagion.” There is no exact English equivalent of these other than “Memorial” or Memorial Service.”

Your suggestion to post a parallel list of such terms is a good one, and I am sure that if someone were to take the time to draft one we could pass it on to our webmaster for posting.

Concerning absolution at confession
The texts of these are generally found in the Book of Needs. Various prayer books may or may not include this—generally they do not because many prayer books are simply compilations of various prayers and services selected at the editor’s discretion, rather than being “official” traditional service books, such as the Ochtoichos, the Triodion, the Pentecostarion, the Book of Needs, etc. The Book of Needs carries all the sacraments and other rites such as prayers at birth, for the naming of the child, at the parting of soul and body, etc.

Concerning the Russian and Greek forms of the absolution, the difference is generally in the addition in some Russian books which has the priest adding a phrase “and I an unworthy sinner remit, pardon, and absolve all your sins ...” which is a later addition to the traditional absolution in which the priest proclaims that Christ has forgiven one’s sins.

Concerning cremation
Orthodox Christians universally agree that burial is preferred unless there is some extenuating circumstance which would warrant cremation only upon obtaining a blessing from the appropriate hierarch.

While I am not completely sure, I have heard in some circles that in Japan everyone must be cremated, although I emphasize that I am not completely positive about this. There is no tradition within Orthodoxy which promotes cremation. The body, even after death, is seen to have been the temple of the Holy Spirit and as such is accorded proper respect.