Praying for the Departed
by Fr. Rodney Torbic
The Holy Orthodox Church remembers the faithful who have departed this life in a number of different ways. In the Liturgy of Preparation, at the Divine Liturgy, Orthodox faithful departed this life are remembered on a regular basis.
In the litanies at the Vespers, Matins and Divine Liturgy, prayers are offered regularly for Orthodox Christians departed this life.
The Orthodox funeral service, the regularly held parastos and the pomens reflect the deep reverence and respect the Holy Orthodox Church has for the faithful departed this life.
Orthodox theology expresses the belief in the resurrection of the dead. This is most commonly found in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed recited at Holy Baptism and reaffirmed at each Divine Liturgy.
Our Lord Jesus Christ defeated death when He arose from the tomb. The Scripture readings during the Orthodox Funeral Service bear witness to the theology of the Church with regard to the resurrection of the dead.
Living Orthodox Christians are always encouraged to pray for the departed. Every Saturday is dedicated to the remembrance of the faithful departed this life.
The Church has four specific Memorial Saturdays at which time it is common for memorial services to be held, very often parastoses for the departed of the parish.
The Akathist Service for the Departed has very explicit references to the various ways individuals depart this life under the most extraordinary circumstances. The Akathist Service has prayers for everyone having departed this life.
The Church pays close and particular attention to the time immediately after one's death. In the book Our Mother Church by C. Zvegintzov we read: "On the third day the Church prays that our Saviour, Who rose on the third day, would raise His servant to everlasting life. On the ninth day the Church prays that he(she) may be numbered among the nine ranks of angels and saints; on the fortieth, the last day of special prayers for the newly dead, kept chiefly in memory of Christ's Ascension, we pray that the soul of the departed may also ascend "in glory" and be for ever with God, according to the words of St. Paul
Our Lord Jesus Christ broke the barrier of death and established hope for all who fall asleep in the true faith. At the parastos service, we have the memorial wheat, just as we have it at the time of our Slava. This use of wheat is founded in the Holy Scriptures(Jn. 12:24). Wheat falling to the ground produces much grain.
Hope, comfort, and consolation rests for all believers, living and departed, in the Resurrected and Ascended Christ. The Lord will come again and His Kingdom will have no end.