My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
THE SATURDAY OF SOULS BEFORE THE GREAT AND HOLY FEAST OF PENTECOST
"This is why prayer for the dead, who are alive "over there," in the sphere of existence yet inconceivable to us now, is so endearing, so precious: it is the expression of a mighty force which unites heaven and earth--love, for God is love (agape)." Archbishop Nikon
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone
O Thou Who by the depth of Thy wisdom dost provide all things out of love for man, and grantest unto all that which is profitable, O only Creator: Grant rest, O Lord, to the souls of Thy servants; for in Thee have they placed their hope, O our Creator and Fashioner and God.
Theotokion. Same Tone
Thee do we have as a wall and a haven, and an acceptable intercessor with God, Whom thou didst bear, O unwedded Theotokos, thou salvation of the faithful.
Kontakion Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone
Those that have departed from us and from these fleeting things, do Thou settle in the tabernacles of Thy chosen; and grant them rest with the righteous, O Immortal Savior. For though as men they have sinned on earth, yet by the mediation of the Theotokos who gave Thee birth, do Thou, since Thou art the Lord Who art free of sin, forgive them their failings, both voluntary and involuntary, that with one voice we may cry out for them: Alleluia.
Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church wishes to commune with joy over those who were risen from the dead through the Lord, Who gave us eternal life--not only the host of Holy Angels and all those who live on earth, but also the souls of all those who have died from the beginning of humanity, with whom we are bound with the unseen tethers of love, belonging to the Church of Christ and the unity of our very nature. This is why, following the forty-day celebration of the Resurrection of Christ and the nine days of praising the Holy Ascension of the Lord into the heavens, the Holy Church, on this Saturday, the eve of the last and great feast day, Pentecost, which concludes the Paschal cycle established the commemoration of all of our forefathers, fathers, and brethren, extending to their souls, through grace-filled love, the light of the Resurrection of Christ.
Such commemoration, as with all other commemorations in the Church, is the communion of love, witness to the fact that death is not the annihilation of being, but the departure into another sphere of life, with which the law of grace-filled love binds us. If the souls of our dear ones are, by means of their righteousness, in the Eternal Light of the Lord, then by our prayers for them we spiritually join in the light of this grace. If the souls are suffering for their sins, then we pour upon them the light which can draw them out of the dark of sin and enjoin with the endless Light of Christ.
We here on earth, by the power of love, help one another here, support each other, encounter each other, and our life falls into disarray, suffering and destruction when this law of accord, of harmony and love is violated, for these are the foundation of all creation. This is why prayer for the dead, who are alive "over there," in the sphere of existence yet inconceivable to us now, is so endearing, so precious: it is the expression of a mighty force which unites heaven and earth--love, for God is love.
Together with our joint prayer for all the reposed, today we also lift our earnest prayers for those souls of our fellow parishioners and brothers and sisters in Christ who have fallen asleep in the Lord.
Although I have kept the names given to me from Great Lent to commemorate them on this last Saturday of the Souls, I am confident, however, that there are many other names that should be included in this holy service. I encourage, as many of you as possible, to attend the Divine Liturgy on Saturday, and bring the Orthodox Christian names of your loved ones, so that we may include them as well.
With sincere agape in Christ,