Orthodox Church of the Mother of God

Joy of all the Sorrowful - Mays Landing, NJ (f. 1966)

Prayers for the Dead: Pannikhida

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Orthodox memorial days

From ancient times it has been an established custom to remember the dead on the third, ninth and fortieth days after their repose, and also on the anniversary of death or on the name day of the deceased. There are also certain days in the year which the Church dedicates to the commemoration of all the faithful departed; these are called the Memorial Saturdays. On Meat-fare Saturday, during the carnival [meat fare] season before Lent, in connection with the commemoration of the coming dread Judgment Day, the Church prays for all who have died throughout the ages. Then, on the second, third and fourth Saturdays of Lent, and on the Saturday before Pentecost, the Church prays particularly for all those who died unprepared or suddenly, for criminals who were condemned to death, for the homeless, for those who were deprived of Christian burial, for those who were torn apart by wild animals, for those who were swallowed up by the sea, etc., and finally for all our fathers and forefathers from ages past.

In addition, since ancient times it has been customary to submit in church books of commemoration with the names of the living and the dead. During Great Lent memorial services are offered after the regular daily services. It is also customary to visit the graves of our relatives on the second Tuesday after Pascha, the day called Radonitsa, and to offer services at the cemetery with the singing of the Paschal hymn, "Christ is risen."

In Russia there are also days set aside for the commemoration of Orthodox soldiers killed in battle: September 11, the commemoration of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist; and Saint Demetrius Saturday, the Saturday before the feast of Saint Demetrius of Thessalonica, which is observed on November 8 (N.S.) Saint Demetrius Saturday was instituted by Dimitri Donskoy after the Battle of Kulikovo Field in 1380.

Thus, the Church is constantly showing its concern for the salvation of its children. Even after they have left this physical world behind, the Church entreats God on their behalf. The saints, who have attained the state of the Church Triumphant, pray, in turn, for their younger brethren of the Church Militant. The Apostle Saint John the Theologian writes of this in the book of Revelation (cf. Rev. 8:4). Let us, then, follow the commandment of our Saviour and pray for one another, including those who have departed, with the firm belief that these prayers will bring us, and them, great benefit.

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