Below is an excerpt from our cathedral parish's bulletin for this Sunday. As we approach Lent and begin the remembrance of the departed on the appointed days, I hope that we can give new life to this long term custom among our people.
Now more than ever, most people I speak to seem to concur that our departed loved ones remain very near to us after they leave the visible, material mode of existence. Some speak of experiences of those who have reposed, others feel a "nearness" or spiritual communion with the deceased. Whatever the situation, life beyond what we know remains a mystery to us. However, I feel all the more assured that our deceased loved ones and friends remain ever close by. They are not far, but on the contrary, quite near.
In the Divine Liturgy, when I commemorate the departed, I always mention those whom each worshiper calls to mind and "who pray along with us in this spiritual sacrifice," because it is precisely in the Eucharistic meal, that the spiritual and temporal worlds are united. We are then, for a time, joined again with those gone before us, as we share the unity of Christ's body.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: FROM YOUR PASTOR’S DESK: The “All Souls’ Saturdays” begin this week on our liturgical calendar. These traditional days are dedicated to remembering all of our departed family members and friends. As a way of keeping this spiritual exercise, we make lists of our deceased loved ones each year and give them to the priest. In this way, we commit ourselves to remember and think about those who have played important roles in our lives. The reading of the names of each family’s people is called the “hramoty” or “lists.”
I can remember as a child, going to the church for the Divine Liturgy and Panakhyda for every All Souls’ Saturday during the Lenten time. We NEVER missed. Although the list of names was very long in those days, it was not a burden, as we patiently waited to hear the priest read aloud our family’s list. It was an honor to stand through the service and remember our relatives.
Because I understand that the situation today is a bit different than in the past and the many of us work difficult schedules and do not live very near the church, we sometimes have to adjust the schedule, so that as many of us as possible can participate. This Saturday, at 6:00 p..m. we will celebrate a Parastas (memorial service) in the church, which will include the reading of the names of our departed loved ones. I expect you all to be present and to pray with us this beautiful service of remembrance of those who have “died and gone before us, marked with the sign of faith.”
Submit your family lists to me TODAY, if you have not already done so. I need these to remember those dear to you. And think about this: If we do not remember our dearly departed while we are alive, will they remember us when we see them again at the end of our own earthly lives? What will they say to us? - Vladyka Mykhayil -