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MEMORIALS

 The spiritual condition when one dies can be likened to a drunk man who kills his mother and goes on singing and laughing, but who, upon becoming sober and realising what he has done, will wail and lament and say, "What have I done?" The eyes of their soul are opened and they realise their guilt, because the soul, when separated from the body, moves, sees and perceives with an inconceivable speed.

For the person who dies, the Second Coming is, in a way, taking place, because he is judged on the basis of the state in which he is found at the time of death. The souls are indicted (to accuse of wrongdoing), imprisoned, and suffer in accordance with the sins they had committed; and they await the final trial, the future Judgement.

The souls are aware of their condition and seek help, but they cannot help themselves. Those who are in Hedes (God of the underworld) desire only one thing from Christ: to live for five minutes in order to repent. We, who live, still have time for repentance, but those unfortunate ones who have fallen asleep cannot improve their condition on their own; they await help from us. This is the reason why we have an obligation to help them with our prayer.

The prayers and the sacred memorials offered by the living for the dead are the final chance that God gives to the dead to be helped until the Final Judgment takes place. After the Judgment, there will no longer be any possibility for help. But when we pray for those who have fallen asleep, we give God the right to intervene. God is moved more by our prayers for the dead than by those for the living

A prayer is NOT in vain even when we beseech (beg) God to help someone departed who is not in need. When we say, for example, "Give rest to the soul of your servant..." and he is in a good spiritual condition (eg; a monk) in the other life, he is not offended; on the contrary, he is moved. He'll say, "Look at this. I'm in a good condition here and still, they are concerned about me and pray for me." First you pray for those who you know disappointed God with the life they led, while also praying for others who led lives with similar circumstances, and then you pray for all those who have fallen asleep. 

Saturday is the day that the dead are entitled to have their memorials. Memorials serve as the best attorney on behalf of the souls of those fallen asleep. They even have the power to bring a soul out of hell. At every Divine Liturgy, we should pray with 'koliva'1 for those who have fallen asleep. The wheat has a symbolic meaning; "It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption" according to Sacred Scripture. 

Those who have died recently are in greater need for prayer. It's like when someone goes to prison, does he not have a harder time in the beginning? We should pray for those who have fallen asleep without having pleased God, for Him to help them in some way.

A person who had some goodness -even if his life was not particularly good, but because he had a good disposition - is greatly helped with a little bit of prayer.

If you pray with a 'komboshini' (a prayer rope) for someone who has died, you should also include other people who had fallen asleep in your prayer. Why should a train travel to its destination with only one passenger, when there is so much room for more? How many unfortunate deceased have need and are seeking help but have no one to pray for them! Some people will have a memorial every so often only for some particular member of their family. But, in this way not even their own family member is helped, because their prayer is not pleasing to God. Since they are having so many memorials for the one person, they should include other people at the same time.

The dead who have no one to pray for them, are helped by the prayers of those who pray in general for all the departed. Saint Paisios; "Everytime I have a Divine Liturgy, I include a general memorial for the departed. I say at the end 'And for all those whose names have not been mentioned' If, sometimes, I do not include a prayer for the departed, some deceased persons known to me appear before me".

Of all the memorials we can do for the departed, the best is to lead a careful and vigilant spiritual life, which is the struggle to reduce our shortcomings and purify our souls. The departed ancestors experience joy when one of their descendants is close to God. 

A prayer is NOT in vain even when we beseech (beg) God to help someone departed who is not in need. When we say, for example, "Give rest to the soul of your servant..." and he is in a good spiritual condition (eg; a monk) in the other life, he is not offended; on the contrary, he is moved. He'll say, "Look at this. I'm in a good condition here and still, they are concerned about me and pray for me." First you pray for those who you know disappointed God with the life they led, while also praying for others who led lives with similar circumstances, and then you pray for all those who have fallen asleep. 

  


VOCABULARY

1 - Koliva is a dish, consisting of boiled wheat that is used liturgically in the Eastern Orthodox Church for commemorations of the dead.