Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

prayer_for_the_dead

14 Entries

Anyone who wishes to show his love for the deceased and to give them real help can best do this through prayer for them, especially in commemorating them at the Liturgy, when the particles removed [from the prosphora during the proskomedia – ed.] for the living and the dead are placed into the Blood of Christ with the words “Remit, O Lord, the sins of those commemorated here through Thy Precious Blood and the prayers of Thy saints.” We can do nothing better or greater for the reposed than to pray for them, commemorating them at the Liturgy. This is always essential for them, especially throughout the forty days in which the soul of the reposed is on its way to its eternal home. The body then feels nothing. It does not see those gathered together around it, does not smell the flowers, does not hear the speeches made at the coffin. But the soul feels the prayers offered for it, and is spiritually close to them.

O relatives and friends of the reposed! Do for them that which they need and that which is in your power to do. Spend your money not on external decorations for the coffin and grave, but instead on what will help those in need, in memory of your deceased relatives; on the church, where prayers are offered up for them. Be merciful to those fallen asleep; care for their souls. That same path lies before you, and how we will then want others to remember us in prayer! Let us, ourselves, be merciful to those who have reposed. Holy Hierarch St. John Maximovitch



Between Hades and Paradise there does exist a great chasm indeed, as our Lord has told us. Yet, this chasm does not have the power to impede the mercy of our great God, who hears our prayers for the reposed.

We say that only for those who sinned very severely and did not confess their sin is the passage from Hades to Paradise impossible. For those who sinned more lightly this pathway is not definitely closed, given that in the future judgment each one's place, either in heaven or in hell, will be decided definitively ...

The prayers of the Church are able to help some souls to be saved after their death — but before the resurrection of the body — for the torments sinners suffer after death are provisionally and not definitively existent, unlike those that will exist after the Last Judgment. Thus, the opportunity is given to the faithful of the Church, in love to strengthen the reposed by their prayers. Alone the dead cannot be helped, however, with the love of others all things are possible. Father Cleopa Ilie (1912-1998)



Bring bread, and wine, and love to the sanctuary, That the priest might enter with thy commemoration before the divine Majesty. On the stones of the ephod Moses engraved the names of the tribes, So that the priest should bring the remembrances of them into the Holy of holies. And thou, inscribe on the loaf the commemoration of thee and of thy departed, And give it to the priest to offer up before God. Make a banquet and call thy dead to come to the altar, For it is the haven and place of repose for all spirits. O friend of the dead, show thy love for him in this, And not by making great lamentation that profits him nothing. Mar Jacob of Serugh, Homily on the Commemoration of the Reposed.

For the whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prayers for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them on their behalf. Blessed Augustine, Sermons 172,2, circa 400 A.D.

If our beloved depart 'in sin,' let us attempt to help them as much as it is possible for us, with prayers and petitions to God, with charity and offerings to the poor. These things are done so that the departed may receive some consolation. John Chrysostom

O ye faithful, remembering today by name all the dead from all the ages who have lived in piety and faith, let us sing praises to the Lord and Saviour, asking Him fervently to give them in the hour of judgement a good defense before our God Who judges all the earth. May they receive a place at His right hand in joy; may they dwell in glory with the righteous and the saints, and be counted worthy of His heavenly Kingdom. Stichera from Vespers of The Saturday of the Souls, The Lenten Triodion

Our fellow men, who have passed away, long for our prayers, just as prisoners long for the visits of their relatives. Elder Passios of the Holy Mountain (+ July 12, 1994)

Since we know that Thou, O Christ, by Thy divine sovereign power rulest o'er the living and art Master of the dead, we beseech of Thee: With all of Thine elect, where there is refreshment, in the brilliant splendor of the Saints, grant rest, O Friend of man to Thy faithful servants that have reposed and have departed unto Thee, Who alone art our Benefactor, Lord. For Thou will save those Thou has formed in Thine own image, O only Lord Who art greatly merciful. Aposticha of the Praises of Matins, Saturday of the Souls, from ThePentecostarion

Since we know that Thou, O Christ, by Thy divine sovereign power rulest of Thine elect, where there is refreshment, in the brilliant splendor of the Saints, grant rest, O Friend of man to Thy faithful servants that have reposed and have departed unto Thee, Who alone art our Benefactor, Lord. For Thou will save those Thou has formed in Thine own image, O only Lord Who art greatly merciful. Aposticha of the Praises of Matins, Saturday of the Souls, from The Pentecostarion

O Father of all, take into thy keeping Irene, Zoe and Marcellus whom thou didst make; thine be the glory in Christ. Cemetery of Priscilla, first to third century., DOCUMENTS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, 2nd edn., ed. Henry Bettenson

To dear Cyriacus, our sweetest son. Mayest thou live in the Holy Spirit. Cemetery of Callistus, third or fourth century, DOCUMENTS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, 2nd edn., ed. Henry Bettenson

"At the Lord's table we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps" St. Augustine of Hippo, Homilies on John 84 [A.D. 416]

"There is an ecclesiastical discipline, as the faithful know, when the names of the martyrs are read aloud in that place at the altar of God, where prayer is not offered for them. Prayer, however, is offered for the dead who are remembered. For it is wrong to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought ourselves be commended" St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermons 159:1 [A.D. 411]

"It is true that Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them, and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers. But we build altars not to any martyr, but to the God of martyrs, although it is to the memory of the martyrs. No one officiating at the altar in the saint's burying place ever says, we bring an offering to thee O Peter!, or O Paul!, or O Cyprian! The offering is made to God, who gave the crown of martyrdom, while it is in memory of those thus crowned." St. Augustine of Hippo, Reply to Faustus the Manichaen bk. 20 ch. 21, NPNF I 4:262





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