Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Third Week of the Triodion--Saturday of Souls

On the eve of the that day (Meat-Fare Saturday), the Church invites us to a universal commemoration of all those who have "fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection and life eternal." This is indeed the Church's great day of prayer for her departed members. To understand the meaning o this connection between Lent and the prayer for the dead, one must remember that Christianity is the religion of love. Christ left with his disciples not a doctrine of individual salvation but a new commandment "that they love one another," and He added: "By this shall all know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Love is thus the foundation, the very life of the Church...We ask God to remember them because we love them. Praying for them we meet them in Christ who is Love and who, because He is Love, overcomes death which is the ultimate victory of separation and lovelessness. In Christ there is no difference between living and dead because all are alive in Him...It is truly our love in Christ that keeps them alive because it keeps them alive because it keeps them "in Christ," and how wrong, how hopelessly wrong, are those Western Christians who either reduce prayer for the dead to a judicial doctrine of "merits" and "compensations" or simply reject it as useless.--Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent, 23-4

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