Prayers for the Dead: Pannikhida

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Prayers for the Dead: Pannikhida

By Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
Translated by Nikolai and Natalie Semianko /Fr. Herman Ciuba

The fate of man after death

Death is the inevitable end of all organic life on earth, including human life. But from the Christian point of view, the death of a person is not a normal or necessary phenomenon. On the contrary, human death is the result of the disobedience of our first parents. God warned Adam about the fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). From Adam death was passed on to his descendants.

A man's death, however, is not the annihilation of his identity, but only the destruction of his physical shell. The words: "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:19) refer to the human body. The soul of a person, as that which carries within itself the image and likeness of the Creator, is eternal: "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (Eccl. 12:7). After its separation from the body, the soul continues to think, feel and act, but in another world, one unlike our material world.

What, then, happens to a man's soul after its separation from the body? Man is given life in order to learn how to believe, to do good, and to develop his talents. All of these things make up his spiritual riches, or, in the words of the Saviour, his "treasure in heaven." Death sums up the life of a person, and his soul must then come before God for an accounting, to receive its reward or punishment. But the judgment which follows soon after death is not yet the final judgment, because only the soul is being judged, without the body. About the existence of this preliminary judgment the Apostle Paul wrote: "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27). At the end of the world, after the universal resurrection of the dead, there will be the universal Last Judgment, at which God will judge all people simultaneously. Then each person will receive either eternal reward or eternal punishment with his or her resurrected body.

Concerning the particular (i.e., individual) judgment, the Orthodox Church teaches:

"We believe that the souls of the dead enjoy blessedness or suffer torment according to their deeds. Upon being separated from their bodies, they immediately pass over either into happiness or into sorrow and grief; however, they do not experience complete bliss or complete torture. For each one will receive perfect happiness or complete torture after the general resurrection, when the soul will be joined to the body in which it lived, whether virtuously or sinfully" (Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs concerning the Orthodox faith, article 18).

Thus, there exist two states after death: one for the souls of the righteous, in paradise; the other for the souls of sinners, in hell. (The Orthodox Church does not accept the Roman Catholic teaching about an intermediate state in Purgatory. The church fathers usually attribute the word "Gehenna" to the state after the Last Judgment, when both death and hell will be cast into a fiery lake, cf. Rev. 20:15).

While a person lives, God gives him the chance to repent and correct his shortcomings. After death, the possibility of repentance is removed. Still, if a person dies and is not deserving of paradise, this does not mean that he is doomed to eternal torment. Until the Last Judgment, the torments of sinners in hell are temporary and can be relieved or even removed by the prayers of believing people and the Church (Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs, article 18). Prayers for the dead always benefit them. If they were not deemed worthy of heaven, these prayers alleviate their fate beyond the grave, and if they are in paradise, these prayers give them joy and an increase of light. We will now explain why prayers for the dead have such power.

 


The necessity of praying for the dead

In order to appreciate the power of prayers for the dead, it must be understood that death interrupts only the physical contact among people; spiritual contact continues. This contact is realized through prayer. The Gospel teaches us that prayer, coupled with faith, has great power. In the words of our Lord, it can even move mountains. The Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles taught Christians to pray for one another.

The Gospels and the other books of the New Testament contain numerous examples of how the prayers of some helped others. Thus, according to the faith of the nobleman, the Lord healed his son (John 4:46-53); by the faith of the Canaanite woman her possessed daughter was healed (Mt. 15:21-28); by the faith of a father his possessed son, who was deaf and mute, was healed (Mk. 9:17-27); at the request of friends the Lord forgave and healed the paralytic, whom they lowered from the roof with ropes (Mk. 2:2-12); and by the faith of the Roman centurion his servant was healed (Mt. 8:5-13). Furthermore, the Lord performed most of these miraculous healings at a distance, in absentia. The Holy Evangelist John the Theologian urges us to turn to God in prayer, with faith that God will fulfill our request. As he says, "And this is the confidence that we have in Him [the Son of God], that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us" (1 John 5:14).

Since prayer possesses the power of grace, it knows no boundaries and does not grow weaker with distance. It is the result of love, and, like a ray of light, it penetrates men's souls, uniting those who pray with God and with one another. An ancient story teaches a good lesson. Once St. Macarius of Egypt found a human skull while walking in the desert. When Abba Macarius touched the skull with a palm branch, a voice came from the skull. When the elder asked, "Who are you?," the skull answered, "I was a pagan priest and lived in this place. Abba Macarius, have pity on us who are in eternal torment, and pray for us, for your prayer brings us comfort." The elder asked, "What comfort comes to you from my prayers?" The skull answered, "When you pray for us, light appears, and we begin to see one another."

Thus, prayer joins our world with another world, where the angels, the saints and our departed relatives and friends dwell. Since the moment of the resurrection of Christ death has lost its former fatality; instead, it has become the beginning of a new life. Now, as St. Paul teaches: "Neither death, nor life...nor height, nor depth...shall be able to separate us from the love of God... For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living" (Rom. 8:38-39; Rom. 14:8-9). For this reason it is not only possible, but even necessary, to pray for the dead as well as for the living; for, according to the words of the Saviour, to God all are alive (cf. Lk. 20:38).

Christians who have departed from this world do not sever their ties to the Church to which they belonged during their life. If they are righteous, they have the freedom to pray for us at the throne of God; if imperfect, they require our prayers. The Apostle Paul compared the Church to a high mountain, whose base rests on the earth while its peak reaches the sky. "But ye come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant" (Heb. 12:22-24). In other words, according to the apostle, between the earthly and the heavenly Church there exists a living and close relationship. Faith in this unity and in the power of prayer serves as the basis for a practice which goes back to the apostolic age: to maintain ties with the dead, to turn to the holy martyrs and the saints with prayers for help, and also to remember the dead at the Proskomedia and in prayers for their repose.


Christian comfort for the sorrowing

When a person near and dear to us departs from us, how can we not sorrow? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself sorrowed and even shed tears when His friend Lazarus died. Yet a natural sorrow at someone's death should not cast a Christian into despondency or cause him to murmur against God. Death is not the destruction of a person, but only the temporary separation of the soul from the body. Since it is a temporary condition, the New Testament Holy Scriptures and the early Christian writings refer to death as "sleep" (Acts 13:36) or "dormition (falling asleep)," as in the name of the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. Death is called sleep in relation to the body; the soul of the dead person continues its conscious life. Its mental and other spiritual faculties do not weaken after death; on the contrary, they receive greater lightness and mobility, not being constricted by the body.

In order not to sorrow excessively over the loss of a loved one, we should consider that physical death also has a positive aspect. It brings man relief from his daily labors and from all the sorrows, illnesses and fears which fill our earthly existence. It is a passage to a better world, where eternal light shines, where the truth of God reigns, where there is no grief, and where the souls of the faithful find everlasting joy and peace.

The main source of comfort for a Christian should be that all of us will rise from the dead, meet those dear to us and live eternally. The Son of God came to earth to restore to the human race the immortal life which it had lost because of sin. The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning of our resurrection. We celebrate the feast of Pascha (Easter) with such joy because "we celebrate the annihilation of death, the destruction of Hell, the beginning of another life, which is eternal" (from the Paschal Canon).

The Apostle Paul comforts Christians who have lost their loved ones in these words: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him" (1 Thes. 4:13-14). The Apostle further explains that we who remain among the living will not receive our reward before those who have died, because the fullness of the reward will come to all the righteous at the same time: "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [i.e., go before] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:15-18).

Elsewhere, the Apostle sets forth the Christian view of life and death in these words: "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:1-8).

These and similar thoughts will be our comfort when we lose people dear to us. Their transfer to another world reminds us that our own end is approaching. Therefore, in praying for them let us pray for ourselves as well, that we may be counted worthy of a Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless and peaceful, and that we may receive a favorable verdict at the dread judgment seat of Christ.

 


Pannikhida service

 

Priest: Blessed is our God always, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen. Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us. (thrice).

Great Litany

See at the end, in the addendum.

Alleluia

Deacon: Alleluia, in the 8th tone: Blessed are they whom Thou hast chosen and taken, O Lord.

Choir: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Verse: Their memory is from generation to generation.

Choir: Alleluia ...

Verse: Their souls will dwell amid good things.

Choir: Alleluia ...

Troparion

in the 8th tone

Choir: O Thou Who with wisdom profound order all things with love, and Who gives to all what is needful, O only Creator, give rest, O Lord, to the souls of Thy servants, for on Thee they have set their hope, our Maker and Builder, and our God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

We have thee as a wall and refuge and an intercessor pleasing to God, whom thou didst bear, O Virgin Mother of God, salvation of the faithful.

 

Troparia

in the 5th tone

Refrain: Blessed art Thou, O Lord; teach me Thy rights.

Choir: The Choir of the Saints have found the Fountain of Life and the Door of Paradise. May I also find the way through repentance. I am the lost sheep. Recall me, O Savior, and save me.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord ...O Saints and Martyrs who preached the Lamb of God, and like lambs were slain, and were translated to life everlasting and unaging: fervently pray to Him to grant us forgiveness of our sins

Blessed art Thou, O Lord ...Give rest, O God, to the souls of Thy servants, and set them in Paradise, where the choirs of the Saints and the Just shine like the stars. Give rest, O Lord, to Thy departed servants, and overlook all their offenses.

Glory: Let us reverently praise the triple radiance of the one Godhead and cry: Holy art Thou, O eternal Father, co-eternal Son, and Divine Spirit! Illumine us who with faith worship Thee and snatch us from the eternal fire.

Now and ever: Rejoice, holy Virgin who for the salvation of all didst bear God in the flesh, and through whom mankind has found salvation. Through thee may we find Paradise, O pure, most blessed Mother of God.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Glory to Thee, O God (Thrice).

 

Small Litany

Deacon: Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: Again let us pray for the repose of the soul(s) of the departed servant(s) of God, and that he (they) may be pardoned all his (their) sins, voluntary and involuntary.

That the Lord God will assign his (their) soul(s) to where the Just repose.

The mercies of God, the kingdom of heaven, and the forgiveness of his (their) sins, let us ask of Christ, our immortal King and our God.

Choir: Grant this, o Lord.

Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For Thou art the resurrection, the life, and the repose of Thy departed servant(s), O Christ our God, and to Thee we send up glory, with Thy Eternal Father, and Thy all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen

Kathisma,

in the 5th tone

Choir: Give rest, O our Savior, with the Just, to Thy servants, and set them in Thy courts, as it is written. And overlook in Thy goodness their sins, voluntary and involuntary, and all they committed knowingly and unknowingly, O Lover of men.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. Christ our God, Who didst shine on the world from the Virgin, trough her making us children of light, have mercy on us.

Refrains

Refrain: Give rest, O Lord, to the soul(s) of Thy servant(s).

The Choir repeats.

Priest: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Choir: Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Ode 3

Choir: There is none so holy as thou, O Lord my God, who has exalted the horn of thy faithful, O Blessed One, and has established us upon the rock of thy confession.

Refrain: Give rest, O Lord, to the soul(s) of Thy servant(s).

The Choir repeats.

Priest: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Choir: Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Ode 6

Choir: Beholding the sea of life surging with the flood of temptations, I run to Thy calm haven, and cry to Thee: Raise up my life from corruption, O Most Merciful One.

Small Litany

The same as above

Kontakion

8th tone

Choir: With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sighing, but life everlasting.

Thou alone art immortal, who didst make and mould man. But we mortals were formed from earth, and to the earth we return, as Thou who created me did command and say to me, "Thou art earth, and to the earth shall thou return," where all we mortals are going, and for a funeral dirge we make the song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Refrain: Give rest, O Lord, to the soul(s) of Thy servant(s).

The Choir repeats.

Priest: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Choir: Now and ever . . .

Deacon: The Mother of God and Mother of Light, let us praise and magnify in song.

Choir: The spirits and souls of the righteous praise Thee, O Lord.

Ode 9

Choir: It is impossible for men to see God, upon Whom the Orders of Angels dare not gaze. But through thee, O all-pure one, did the Word incarnate appear to men; and with the Heavenly Hosts, we magnify Him and thee we call blessed.

 

The Lord's Prayer

Reader: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debs as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Priest: For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

 

Troparia

in the 4th tone

Choir: With the spirits of the righteous give rest, O Savior, to the souls of Thy departed servants and keep them in the blessed life with Thee, O Lover of man. In the place of Thy rest, O Lord, where all Thy Saints repose give rest also to the souls of Thy servants for Thou alone art the Lover of men.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: Thou art the God Who descended to hell and loosed the chains of the captives. Give rest, O Lord, to the souls of Thy servants.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen: O only pure and immaculate Virgin, who without seed didst bear God, pray to Him that their souls may be saved.

 

Litany of Fervent Supplication

Deacon: Have mercy on us, O God, according to thy great mercy, we pray Thee, hear us and have mercy.

Choir: Lord, have mercy. Three times.

Deacon: Again let us pray for the repose of the soul(s) of the departed servant(s) of God, and that he (they) may be pardoned all his (their) sins, voluntary and involuntary.

That the Lord God will assign his (their) soul(s) to where the Just repose.

The mercies of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the forgiveness of his (their) sins, let us ask of Christ, our immortal King and our God.

Choir: Grant this, o Lord.

Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who hast trampled down death, defeated the devil, and given life to Thy world. Give rest, O Lord, to the soul(s) of, in a place of light, in place of green pasture, in a place of revival, whence all pain, sorrow and sighing have fled away. Forgive every sin committed by him (them), in thought, word and deed, in Thy goodness and love for men, O God. For there is no one who lives without sinning: Thou alone art without sin, and Thy justice is eternal justice, and Thy Word in Truth.

For Thou art the Resurrection, the Life, and the Repose of Thy departed servant(s), O Christ our God, and to Thee we send up glory, with Thy Eternal Father, and Thy all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

 

Dismissal

Deacon: Wisdom!

Priest: O Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Choir: More honorable that the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, thou who in virginity didst bear God the Word; thee true Mother of God, we magnify.

Priest: Glory to Thee, O Christ, our God and our hope, glory to Thee.

Choir: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. Lord, have mercy. (Thrice). \ Father, bless.

Priest: May He Who has power over the living and the dead, Who Himself rose again from the dead, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His Most holy Mother, of the holy and God-bearing Fathers, of all the Saints, assign to the abodes of the Righteous the soul(s) of His departed servants. Give him (them) rest in Abraham's bosom, and number them among the Just, and have mercy on us, for He is good and the Lover of men.

Choir: Amen.

Memory Eternal

Deacon: Give rest eternal, O Lord, in blessed repose, to the soul(s) of Thy departed servant(s), and make their memory eternal.

Choir: MEMORY ETERNAL. (Thrice)

 

 

Addendum

Great Litany

Deacon: In peace let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: For the peace from above and the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

Deacon: For the remission of the sins of those who have departed this life in blessed memory, let us pray to the Lord.

For the ever-memorable servants of God; for their repose, tranquility and blessed memory, let us pray to the Lord.

That He will pardon him (her, them) every transgression, whether voluntary or involuntary, let us pray to the Lord.

That he (she, they) may stand uncondemned before the dread throne of the Lord of glory, let us pray to the Lord. For those in sorrow and grief who look for the comfort of Christ, let us pray to the Lord

That they may be numbered with those who are in the bosom of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, let us pray to the Lord.

That He will deliver us from all tribulation, anger, danger, and want, let us pay to the Lord. Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

Having asked for them the mercies of God, the kingdom of heaven, and remission of sins, let us entrust ourselves, and each other, and all our life to Christ our God.

Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

Priest: For Thou art the resurrection, the life, and the repose of Thy departed servant(s), O Christ our God, and to Thee we send up glory, with Thy eternal Father, and Thy all-holy, and good, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen

 


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.


Paschal memorial services on Radonitsa

After the priest's exclamation, the singers respond:

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (three times)

And then these heirmoi (irmosy) of the Paschal Canon are sung:

1. It is the day of Resurrection, let us be radiant, O ye peoples; Pascha, the Lord's Pascha; for Christ God hath brought us from death unto life, and from earth unto heaven, as we sing the triumphal hymn.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead. (after each heirmos)

3. Come, let us drink a new drink, not one marvelously brought forth from a barren rock, but the Source of incorruption, which springeth forth from the grave of Christ, in Whom we are established.

6. Thou didst descend into the depths of the earth, and didst shatter the everlasting bars that held fast those that were fettered, O Christ. And on the third day, like Jonah from the whale, Thou didst arise from the grave.

9. The Angel cried unto her that is full of grace: O pure Virgin, rejoice, and again I say, rejoice; for thy Son hath risen from the grave on the third day and hath raised up the dead. O ye people, be glad.

Shine, shine, new Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Exult now, and be glad, O Sion; and thou, pure Mother of God, rejoice in the rising of thy Child.

The priest says the litany and proclaims "Eternal memory."

 


A note about the life after death

The Sacred Scriptures do not tell us how the particular judgment is carried out after the death of a man. We may only get a partial understanding of it from certain phrases which are found in the word of God. It is natural to think that at the particular judgment the good and evil angels play a large role in deciding the fate of man after death. The good angels are the instruments of God's grace, while the evil angels, or demons, are allowed by God to be the instruments of His justice. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, it is said that Lazarus "was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22). In the parable of the rich fool, the rich man is told: "This night thy soul shall be required of thee" (Luke 12:20). According to Saint John Chrysostom, the evil powers will drag it to judgment. In the words of our Lord, the angels of "these little ones ... do always behold the face of [the] Father Which is in heaven" (Matt.18:10). At the end of the world the Lord will send forth His angels, who will separate the wicked from the just and will cast them into the furnace of fire (cf. Matt. 13: 49-50). At the same time, our adversary, the devil "as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1Peter 5:8); the very air is as if filled with the spirits of wickedness in high places, and their ruler is called "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 6:12; 2:2). Based on these indications of Sacred Scripture, the holy Fathers of the Church from ancient times have depicted the path of the soul separated from the body as a path through spiritual spaces where the powers of darkness seek to swallow up those who are spiritually weak; therefore, the soul needs for its defense the heavenly angels and the support of the prayers of the living members of the Church. Among the ancient Fathers Saints Ephrem the Syrian, Athanasius the Great, Macarius the Great, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and others all mention these things.

These ideas are developed in greater detail by Saint Cyril of Alexandria in the "Sermon on the Departure of the Soul" which is usually printed in the Service Psalter. A pictorial representation of the soul's journey is given in the Life of Saint Basil the New. Here the blessed Theodora appears after her death in a dream to Basil's disciple and tells of what she saw and experienced after the separation of her soul and body, during the ascent of her soul to the heavenly mansions. The journey of the soul after its departure from the body is usually called the way of the "tollhouses." Of the figurative nature of these narratives about the tollhouses Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow notes: "We must, however, keep firmly in mind the instruction which the angel gave to Saint Macarius of Alexandria as he began to speak to him about the tollhouses: 'Accept earthly things here as the weakest kind of depiction of heavenly things.' We must picture the toll-houses, as far as possible, in a spiritual sense, which is hidden under more or less physical and human details." (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)


 

Missionary Leaflet # 17b Copyright - 2001 Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission466 Foothill Blvd, Box 397, La Canada, Ca 91011

Editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant)


Orthodox Church of the Mother of God. Mays Landing, NJ 08330

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