My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
PRAYER FOR THE DEAD
"Pray one for another" (James 5:16).
"Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s" (Romans 14:8).
"Love never faileth" (1 Corinthians 13:8).
"Whatsoever ye shell ask in My name, that will do, that the Father
may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13).
IN GOD ALL ARE ALIVE. Church life is penetrated by a living awareness and feeling that our dead ones continue to live after death, ONLY IN DIFFERENT FORM THAN ON EARTH, AND THAT THEY ARE NOT DEPRIVED OF SPIRITUAL NEARNESS TO THOSE WHO REMAIN O EARTH. Therefore, THE BOND OF PRAYER WITH THEM ON THE PART OF THE PILGRIM Church (on earth) DOES NOT CEASE. "Neither death nor life… shall be able to seperate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38). The DEPARTED NEED ONLY ONE KIND OF HELP FROM THEIR BRETHREN: PRAYER AND PETITION FOR THE REMISSION OF THEIR SINS (1 John 3:14-16).
Corresponding to this instruction of the holy Apostle, the Church PRAY FOR ALL ITS CHILDREN WHO HAVE DIED WITH TRUE REPENTANCE. Praying for them as for those who are alive, the Church follows the words of the Apostle: "Whether we live, therefore, or die, WE ARE THE LORD’S. For in this end Christ both died and rose, and revived, that He may be Lord both of the dead and the living" (Roman 14:8-9). Those, however, that have died WITH UNREPENTANT SINS, OUTSIDE THE COMMUNION OF THE CHURCH, ARE NOT EVEN VOIUCHSAFED PRAYERS, as follows from the above mentioned words of the Apostle John: "I do not say that he should pray for it", for such prayers would be without purpose.
That the remission of sins in the present for those who have sinned not naturally to be concluded from the words of the Lord Himself: Whosoever speaketh against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, IT SHALL NOTBE FORGIVEN HIM, NEITHER IN THIS WORLD, NEITHER IN THE WORLD TO COME" (Matthew 12:32). Similarly, from the word of God we know that the Lord Jesus has "the keys of hell and of death (Revelation 1:18), consequently, He has power to open the gates of hell BY THE PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH AND BY THE POWERS OF HE PROPITIATORY Bloodless Sacrifice which is offered for the dead.
Concerning the good effect of prayerful communion in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ between thosoe living on earth and the dead, Saint Ephraim the Syrian, for example, reasons thus "For the dead, the remembrance performed by the saints during their lifetime is beneficial. We see an example of this in a number of the wroks of God. For example, in a vineyard there are the ripening grapes in the field, and the wine already squeezed out into vessels, when the grapes rpen on the grapevine, then the wine which stands unmoving in the house begins to froth and be agitated, as if desiring to escape. The same things happens, it seems, with another plant, the onion for as soon as the onion which has been sown in the field begins to repen, the onion which is in the house also begins to give sprouts. And so, if even growing things have between themselves such a fellow feeling, will not the petitions of prayer be all the more felt by the dead? And when you will sensibly agree that this occurs in accordance with the nature of creatures, then just imagine that you are the first of the creatures of God."
In praying for the dead, the Church intercedes for them just as for the living, not in its own name, but in theName of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14), and by the power of His Sacrifice on the Cross, which was offered for the deliverance OF ALL. These fervent prayers help the seeds of new life whichour departed ones have taken with them–if these seeds have been unable to open up sufficiently here on earth–to gradually open up and develop under the influenceof prayers and with the mercy of God, just as a good seed is developed in the earth under the life-giving rays of the sun, wiht favorable weather. But nothing can revive rotten seeds whcih have lost the very principle of vegetative life. Similarly, POWERLESS WOULD BE PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD WHO HAVE DIED IN IMPIETY AND WITHOUT REPENTANCE, WHO HAVE QUENCHED IN THEMSELVES THE Spirit of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:19). It is precisely concerning such sinners that one must rememer the words of the Savior in the Parable of the rich man and Lazarus that THERE IS NO DELIVERANCE FOR THEM FROM THE DEEPEST PARTS OF HELL, AND NO TRANSFERENCE FOR THEM INTO THE BOSOM OF ABRAHAM (Luke 16:26). And indeed, such people usually DO NOT LEAVE BEHIND THEM ON EARTH PEOPLE WHO MIGHT PRAY SINCERELY FOR THEM TO GOD; likewise, THEY HAVE NOT ACQUIRED FOR THEMSELVES FRIENDS IN HEAVEN AMONG THE SAINTS, WHO, WHEN THEY FAIL (TAHT IS, DIE), MIGHT RECEIVE THEM INTO EVERLASTING HABITATIONS–THAT IS, MIGHT PRAY FOR THEM (Luke 16:9).
Of course, on the earth it is not known to what lot each has been subjected after his death. But THE PRAYER OF LOVE CAN NEVER BE PROFITLESS. If our dead ones who are dear to us have been vouchsafed the Kingdom of Heaven, THEY REPLY TO PRAYER FOR THEM WITH AN ANSWERING PRAYER FOR US. And if our prayerss are powerless to help the;m, in any case they are not harmful to us, according to the word of the Psalmist: "MY PRAYER SHALL RETURN TO MY BOSOM" (Psalm 34:16), and according to the word of the Savior: "LET YOUR PEACE RETURN TO YOU" (Matthew 10:13). But they are indeed PROFITABLE FOR US. Saint John Damacene remarks: "If anyone wishes to anoint a sick man with myrrh or some other sacred oil, first he becomes a partaker of the anoiinting himself and then he anoints the sick one. So also, everyone who struggles for the salvation of his neighbor, first receives benefits himself, and then offfers it to his neighbor; for God is not unjust, so as to forget the works, according to the word of the Divine Apostle." (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)
Please note: I cannot stress enough the significance of memorial services for our departed brothers and sisters in Christ. For centuries Orthodox Chrsitians have followed our Holy Tradition and practice of remembering the departed in their personal prayers as well as in the divine services throughout the Church year. We, as Orthodox Christians, believe that it brings much comfort to their souls. When we appeal to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to show mercy to them that He indeed comforts them and bestows His peace on them.
The current reality, however, is that a significant number of Orthodox Christians have forgotten how important it is to remember their loved ones in their prayers, and in the various memobiral services of the Church. Very few remember to gie the names to the local pairsh priest to include them in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays, Saturday of Souls, and the anniversary of their death. Everything , it seems today, is optional and has no meaning at all. Sadly, the true reason is that Orthodox Christians today are not familiar with the tradtions of the Church and worse, have no interest to learn either.
Not only should know the divine traditions of the Church themselves but they should be knowledgble enough to pass it on to their children and future generations. This includes visiting the graves of their loved one’s and asking their parish priest to offer the Trisagion Service. When family memebrs and priest are praying together at the grave not only it brings comfort to the soul of the departed but it also brings comfort to those present. We are also reminded that death is inevitable and one day we will be there where are our relatives and friends are. We must not fear death as Chrsitians because death is really nothing more than a birth. That is the reason our Church celebrates the memory of the Saints not on the anniversary of their earthly birth, but on the anniversry of their death, i.e., THEIR BIRTH INTO ETERNITY.
"Glory Be To GOD