The Saturday Before Meatfare Sunday is the First Saturday of Souls

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My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

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THE SATURDAY BEFORE MEAT-FARE SUNDAY - THE FIRST SATURDAY OF SOULS  

Through the Apostolic Constitutions (Book VIII, ch. 42), the Church of Christ has received the tradition to make commemorations for the departed on the third, ninth, and fortieth days after their repose. Since many throughout the ages, because of untimely death in a faraway place, or other adverse circumstances, have died without being deemed worthy of the appointed memorial services, the divine Fathers, being so moved in their love for man, have decreed that a common memorial be made this day for all pious Orthodox Christians who have reposed from all ages past, so that those who did not have particular memorial services may be included in this common one for all. Also, the Church of Christ teaches us that alms (charity) should be given to the poor by the departed one's kinsmen as a memorial for him.

Besides this, since we make commemoration the following say of the Second Coming of Christ, and since the reposed have neither been judged, nor have received their complete recompense (Acts 17:31; II Peter 2:9; Hebrews 11:39-40), the Church rightly commemorates the souls today, and trusting in the boundless mercy of God, she prays Him to have mercy on sinners. Furthermore, since the commemoration is for all the reposed together, it reminds each of us of his own death and arouses us to repentance. (Source: The Great Horologion)

In addition to the Divine Liturgy, kollyva (boiled wheat) is blessed in church on these Saturdays. The kollyva reminds us of the Lord's words, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (St. John 12:24). The kollyva symbolizes the future resurrection of all the dead. As Saint Simeon of Thessaloniki (+ September 15th) says, man is also a seed which is planted in the ground after death and will be raised up again by God's power. Saint Paul also speaks of this (1 Corinthians 15:35-49).

The Holy Fathers also testify to the benefit of offering prayers, memorial services, liturgies, and alms for the dead (Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint John of Damascus, etc.). Although both the righteous and those who have not repented and corrected themselves may receive benefit and consolation from the Church's prayer, it has not been revealed to what extent the unrighteous can receive this solace. It is not possible, however, for the Church's prayer to transfer a soul from a state of evil and condemnation to a state of holiness and blessedness. Saint Basil the Great points out that the time for repentance and forgiveness of sins is during the present life, while the future life is a time for righteous judgment and retribution" (Moralia 1). Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and other Patristic writers concur with Saint Basil's statement.

By praying for others, we bring benefit to them, and also to ourselves, because "God is not so unjust as to forget your work and the love which you showed for His sake in serving the saints...." (Hebrews 6:10).

History

The origins of kollyva predate Christianity. The word kollyva itself stems from the Ancient Greek word κόλλυβος, which originally meant "a small coin" and later in the neuter plural form "small pies made of boiled wheat". In the ancient Greek panspermia, a mixture of cooked seeds and nuts were offered during the pagan festival of the Anthesteria. For this reason, in Greece kollyva is also called sperma, i.e., seed (s).

In the 5th century, Kollyva in sense of boiled wheat constituted along with raw vegetable the diet of monks who refused to eat bread. The 12th-century canonist Theodore Balsamon maintained that kollyva as a ritual food practice was originated by Athanasius of Alexandria during the reign of the Emperor Julian the Apostate.

Saint Theodore Saturday

The tradition states that the Emperor Julian the Apostate knew that the Christians would be hungry after the first week of strict fasting, and would go to the market places of Constantinople on Saturday to buy food. So he ordered that blood from pagan sacrifices be sprinkled over all the food that was sold there. This made the food unsuitable as Lenten fare (since Christian could not eat meat products during Lent), and in general as food for Christians, who are forbidden to eat food from pagan sacrifices to idols. However, Saint Theodore Tyro appeared in the dream to Archbishop Evdoxius and advised him that the Christians should not eat food bought at the marketplace that day, but only boiled wheat mixed with honey. As a result, this first Saturday of Great Lent has come to be known as Theodore Saturday.

Submitting Names of Your Loved Ones

It is very important for all Orthodox Christians to attend the Divine Liturgy on Saturday of Souls and to give the names of their loved ones to your priest to include them in the memorial service. Please make sure that the names given are the Baptismal names of Orthodox Christians. Last names are not given. The names do not have to be in Greek but you must not give his/her secular names.

The names will be kept for the first three Saturdays of Soul and for the final Fourth, the Saturday before Pentecost. This does not mean, however, that you ignore to attend the Divine Liturgy and memorial service unless you are unable because of health reasons or incapacitated. 

In Christ's service,

+Father George