Friday, March 4, 2016

Commemoration of the Departed

Saturday, March 5 marks the first of the four Saturdays connect with Great Lent that the Holy Church sets aside for the commemoration of those that have departed this life before us. As with all aspects of our faith, and with all actions of the Holy Church, these special days were set aside for our good – for our salvation. It of course benefits the souls of those who have departed when we pray for them, but it is also beneficial for us to do this, as it is our duty to pray for the departed, to teach our children to do so, and as a parish family to care not just for our living parish family members, but for those who have gone on to the next life before us. They live in Christ – if we ignore them we are shirking our duty as Orthodox Christians. Prayer for the departed has always been a part of the worship of God's people – from the time of Israel until now. And it always will be until the Lord comes again.

These Saturdays are not set in stone per se. It sometimes happens that Annunciation or the feast of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste, or some other feast day falls on one of these Saturdays, in which case the service for the departed is replaced. But as a rule the Saturday following the Sunday of the Prodigal Son and the second, third, and fourth Saturdays of Great Lent are set aside for the commemoration of the departed. In fact, it may be a surprise to our parishioners that almost every Saturday of the year contains special prayers for the departed. It is the UNUSUAL Saturday that does not. In fact, it is the practice of the Holy Church to commemorate the departed at almost all Divine Liturgies of the entire year. Sunday, however, is not a day of the commemoration of the departed, but rather a day of the commemoration of life – of our Lord's glorious Resurrection. Because we mostly attend the Divine Services as part of the Sunday cycle we do not “feel” this commemoration of the departed as normal – it seems very unusual to us. It is the same with prostrations at the Liturgy. Because we do not do prostrations at the Liturgy on Sundays it seems odd to us. Yet, prostrations are done at the vast majority of the Divine Liturgies served throughout the year – but never on Sundays. If you'd like to know when prostrations are done at Liturgy you can learn more here.

I would like to urge our parish family to be diligent to commemorate their departed loved ones both at the special Liturgies set aside for this purpose (there are several others throughout the year as well and with God's help we try to serve them all at St. Vladimir's), as well as at all Divine Liturgies by sending in the names of their departed loved ones with a prosphora for commemoration at the Proskomidia. Please see our Commemorations page for more information in this regard. Please also see the short note about the importance of prayer for the departed you will find there. And please let me know if you have any questions. In fact, questions are welcome here! Please do post your question, comments, and thoughts. No doubt if you have a question others will do, and you will do them good if you are bold enough to ask your question.

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