Saturday, 26 February 2011

Memorial Saturdays in Great Lent

Memorial Saturdays in Great Lent
Our Church Calendar provides many occasions when we are asked to face up to the fact of death, and at this time of year there are "Saturdays of the Souls". We pray for the dead especially on Saturdays because it was on the Sabbath day (Saturday) that Christ lay dead in the tomb, "resting from all His works and trampling down death by death".
Praying for the dead is an expression of love. We ask God to remember our departed loved ones because we love them. The relationship of love survives, and even transcends, death. There is an inner need to continue to express our relationship with a loved one even after death. Often even more so after a loved one has died since physical communication is no longer possible. The Church encourages us to express our love for our departed brethren through memorial services and prayers.
The Orthodox Church prays for the dead to express her faith that all who have fallen asleep in the Lord, live in the Lord; their lives are "hidden with Christ in God" (COL.3:3). Whether on earth or in heaven, the Church is one family, one body in Christ. Death changes the location but it cannot sever the bond of love.
Just as we pray for the dead, so we believe they continue to love us, remember us and pray for us now that they are closer to God. Death can only be properly understood in the light of Christ's Resurrection from the dead.