Why We Pray For The Dead

Just as we love and respect our living brethren, so do we love and respect those of our brethren who have departed this life. We express our love for our departed friends and relatives through prayer. Just as we pray for the living that the Grace of God may be upon them, so do we pray for the dead that they may become worthy of the vision of God. At death no man leaves the world to appear before God free of sin, perfect, holy, so that he does not need the mercy and Grace of God. The Holy Church is composed not only of the living, earthly members but also of the faithful departed. All of us, living and dead, are members of one Church and are bound together by one Faith, by common love, and are unworthy sons of the merciful God. It is therefore our duty to ask God, each of us separately, and all together are one Church, to be merciful toward the sinful soul of our departed brother.

Death and burial cannot sever the Christian love which united the living with those once living and now deceased. We continue to love our parents even after death. We continue to express this Love for Them and it becomes real when we commemorate them in our prayers. We can communicate with the living members of the Church in both a visible, physical manner and a spiritual manner, ie we can talk to them and do things for them materially and spiritually. We can communicate with the faithful departed in a spiritual manner only through prayer, in which we ask for the forgiveness of their sins and for their establishment in God’s Heavenly mansions. We pray for them in the spirit of love, knowing that no one will be saved otherwise than by the prayer of all the Church in which Christ lives, knowing and trusting that so long as the end of time has not arrived, all the members of the Church, both living and departed, are being continually perfected by mutual prayer.

How can we but not pray for our deceased parents who brought us into this world, who cared for us in our childhood and looked after our upbringing, who fed us and clothed us? How can we not remember in our prayers our brothers and sisters and our friends, the companions of our life who have departed into eternity? How can our hearts not be possessed with the insatiable desire to pray for them as our expression of thanks, devotion and love. How else, if not by prayer, we express our feelings of unity and fellowship with our brethren in the Faith who have gone to their rest before us?

O Lord, remember the souls of Your servants, my parents (their names), and of all my kinsmen in the flesh, and of all our fathers, brethren and sisters who are fallen asleep in the hope of the Resurrection and life everlasting; pardon their transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary. Grant them Your Heavenly Kingdom, and a portion of Your eternal blessings, and the enjoyment of Your unending and blessed Life.

~ Fr David Abamtsov

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