On Friday the Church, bishops, priests, deacons, nuns, monks and all the baptized buried
God’s faithful servant, Hieromonk Roman (Braga) at Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction.
His funeral was a Paschal light burning brightly, reflecting the Light of the World, our Lord
Jesus Christ who came into the world, took on our flesh, to heal us who are sick with sin, as He healed the paralytic today.
The first striking thing about Fr. Roman’s funeral was not the three bishops, four
deacons, over thirty priests, over twenty monks and nuns and the hundreds of people. It would have been a surprise if there weren’t that many people given his holiness and humanity. It was the timelessness and the other-worldly beauty of his funeral. I quickly gave away my book because I couldn’t balance the candle and the book at the same time without possibly setting myself or someone else on fire. (It was like Joe Goodman was looking over my shoulder). The beauty of the chant, the Psalms that were sung, amid the icons of the church with Fr. Roman’s mortal remains in our midst, bearing the marks of his illness and death. Yet there was in it joy, as Christ is risen was sung again and again, announcing anew to the world as if for the first time that death is now powerless because Christ is risen.
The service was very long. I’m glad I gave away my book because then I wouldn’t look
ahead to see where we were and how much more we had to go. Sure, our backs ached, our feet
hurt, it was warm. But those were minor inconveniences compared to what we were doing,
singing Fr. Roman away to his rest. We notice a rose flower, the thorns not so much, though we know they’re there when we are pricked by them. It is the beauty and the scent of the flower that stays with us. It is the beauty and the perfume of the prayers that we said for Fr. Roman’s repose that remain. Time was not to be reckoned as we prayed for him. We had entered the beauty of the kingdom of God.
Fr. Roman was carried to the grave and placed in the hole in the earth dug for his mortal
body. Everyone, clergy and monastics, laity, adults and children took turns shoveling dirt onto his casket until his grave was full and the cross was placed above his resting place. I sent a picture on my phone to Matushka with the words, “Until the Second Coming.” Fr. Roman’s
grave, like the graves of all our beloved dead, are temporary. They will be emptied when we
hear the Savior’s voice calling us to Himself when He comes in glory to the earth. All will be
raised up, mortal bodies and souls reunited, bodies changed in the resurrection. As Jesus tells us,
those who have lived in evil will rise to the resurrection of judgment but those who have lived in Him on this earth will rise to the resurrection of life.