Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia and Malawi
On the Saturday before Pentecost we commemorate all departed pious Christians, with the idea that the occasion of the coming of the Holy Spirit not only consists of the economy of the salvation of man, but that the departed also participate in this salvation. Therefore, the Holy Church, sending up prayers on Pentecost for the enlivening of all the living through the Holy Spirit, petitions for the grace of the Holy Spirit also for the departed, which they were granted while they were still living, and was the source of eternal blessedness, because «all souls are enlivened through the Holy Spirit.
Prayer for the dead is an important part of the life as Orthodox Christians. When we remember our deceased family members and friends in prayer, we act on our belief in God's promise of resurrection and eternal life for them and for us. In James 5:16 we read: "Pray for one another... The prayer of a righteous man has great power." Is this prayer only for the living? Given that death does not disrupt the unity of Christ's body, that is, those of us still struggling in this world and those who have already received their reward in the next, the answer is "No." Do we not believe that during the Divine Liturgy the entire Body of Christ participates? Orthodox Christians who are dead can be remembered during the preparation of the Gifts for the Divine Liturgy. As the priest reads their names he places small particles of the bread on the paten below the large square that represents our Lord. Confer with your parish priest regarding how to remember non-Orthodox Christians. There is a wide variance on how this is done among the different Orthodox traditions.
The prayer of the righteous can help to obtain forgiveness for a sinner, even if he is already dead. By praying for the dead we hope that God will be merciful and grant them pardon of their sins. In II Maccabees 12:44-45 we read about a sin offering made by Judas Maccabeus on behalf of his dead soldiers: "For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."
Praying for the dead instructs us, the living, reminding us of our own mortality and need to prepare for our own passage from this life to the next. It reminds us of our connection with our deceased family members. In addition those fallen asleep in the Lord continue to pray for us. We pray for one another! It can be very comforting for our children to remember their beloved grandparents in prayer, and to know that their grandparents continue to pray for them.
SATURDAY OF SOULS 2017, BUJUMBURA
Pentecost (the Descent of the Holy Spirit)
Let no-one fear death!
Death! Death! DEATH! (The Mystery and the Process of Death)An unexpected death in the Maasai
Our little birds perish singing