Review: A Christian Ending, A Handbook for Burial in the Ancient Christian Tradition

Review: A Christian Ending, A Handbook for Burial in the Ancient Christian Tradition


A Christian ending to our lives, painless, blameless and peaceful; and a good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord. – Ancient Christian Petition

I think I’ve always been comfortable talking about death. It wasn’t the kind of thing my parents whispered about when the children entered the room. As a child, I attended funerals for our loved ones. I often watched my mother pray for the souls of our departed family when we visited their grave side or assembled the memorial wheat (koliva) on Saturday of the Souls. I think my ethnic background aided this peace about death, because my parents are from an island in Greece where they exhume the bones after the appropriate time to reuse the grave. And I believe my faith in the Christian teaching that there is life after death often gave me comfort. This life is only temporary. We were made for Paradise. So when I heard about a book that describes how to prepare for a natural burial, I was more than intrigued. I wanted a copy.

A Christian Ending, a Handbook for Burial in the Ancient Christian Tradition, by Mark and Elizabeth Barna, is more than a “How to”; it opens to you the possibility for an authentic expression of grief and love through one last opportunity to care for those you love. It reveals the industry that was created in a culture’s desire to avoid death as much as possible. It addresses the fallacy of cremation as a viable alternative to the rising cost of funerals. Most importantly, it offers practical steps to plan and prepare your loved ones for when it is your time to go with check lists, prayers, and directions for preparing the body for burial.

I understand this isn’t something everyone can stomach. But if you are able to face the reality that our life in this world is temporary and death in this life is now part of our future, then I highly recommend you find yourself a copy of this book for yourself or your church library.

A Christian Ending, a Handbook for Burial in the Ancient Christian Tradition, by Mark and Elizabeth Barna, is paperback, 169 pages.

Listen Now about what happens to your body when you die? Deacon Mark Barna was always uncomfortable with the idea of being embalmed, and this led him to learn all he could about natural burial. As an Orthodox Christian, with Orthodox beliefs about the human body, he was especially interested in finding a way to care for the body after death. In this fascinating interview, Deacon Mark and Fr. Chris talk about the spiritual, legal, and physical aspects of burial in the United States, both as it is, and as it can be.Hear Fr. Chris and Mark Barna talk about how he came to write the book.


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About author

Presvytera Vassi Haros

Presvytera Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She is the owner, designer and photographer of V’s Cardbox, In Service and Love. a greeting card company featuring cards with an Orthodox voice. She strongly feels that experiencing the Orthodox Faith through the church’s cyclical calendar of feasts and fasts is a gift that is too often overlooked.