Our Church calendar provides many occasions when we are asked to face up to the fact of death. Good Friday is one such occasion. So is Easter. Sunday is another. Every Sunday is a “little Easter” celebrating Christ’s victory over death. On our Church calendar, every year there are special Memorial Saturdays or “Saturdays of the Souls” which provide another opportunity for us to face up to death, i.e, the two Saturdays preceding Great Lent and the Saturday before Pentecost. On these Saturdays the Divine Liturgy is celebrated and special prayers are offered for our deceased loved ones. We pray for the dead especially on Saturdays since it was on the Sabbath day that Christ lay dead in the tomb, “resting from all His works and trampling down death by death.” Thus in the New Testament, Saturday becomes the proper day for remembering the dead and offering prayers for them.
When Orthodox Christians pray for departed loved ones, they focus not only on them but also on Christ in Whom they died: “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith….” (Hebrews 12:1). “I am the resurrection and the life,” He said, “he who believes in me though he were dead yet shall he live; and he who lives and believes in me shall have life everlasting.”
Memorial prayer services which affirm the reality of physical death and also the reality of resurrection into life eternal play a vital role in healing of grief for the Orthodox Christian.
Remembering in the Liturgy
The names of the departed are remembered in prayer at every liturgy. Names may be given to the priest weekly-if desired- not only of the dead but also of the living. The list of names should be submitted in two columns: one list marked LIVING IN THE LORD and one marked ASLEEP IN THE LORD. The list may be emailed or given to the priest before the liturgy.
On Memorial Saturdays the liturgical hymns pray universally for all the departed. However, a special litany is included to pray personally for departed loved ones whose names are submitted to the priest.
Please give to Fr Augustine (by email or on the day, before the Liturgy begins) names of deceased loved ones whom you wish to have remembered in prayer this coming Memorial Saturday.