Together we worship! – Day 1 (A series on the Orthodox concept of praying for the departed ones and seeking the intercession of saints).

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The trio of Blessy, Mariam and Riya have invited Uncle John to their parish for witnessing the evening prayer. They have arrived an hour early.

Blessy: Hey Uncle John! So a big welcome to you in our parish. We are an hour early so that does give us a lot of time to talk about our faith or umm…Uncle John, if you wish to meditate inside the chapel, please feel free to do so.

Uncle John: Thank you so much Blessy! Ah! I see that you have rolled a red carpet welcome for me (looking at the red carpet rolled in the centre of the main hall where the congregation stands).

Riya: Ha ha Uncle John! You getting a red carpet welcome- You are a celebrity!

Mariam: Uncle John, the red carpet laid here signifies the presence of the departed souls in the worship.

Uncle John: oh, okay! I have also read that the Orthodox Church teaches to pray for the departed ones and seek intercession of saints.

Blessy: Yes Uncle John, after all St Paul taught us thus – “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men,” (1 Timothy 2:1)

Uncle John: But isn’t this Holy Scripture verse for those who haven’t yet departed from this earthly life- nowhere it says that the supplications be made for departed ones.

Quickly Riya responds;
“But Uncle John, nowhere does it say that the prayers and supplications be solely made for those who are ‘living’ (i.e. those who haven’t yet departed from this earthly life). And if we take this verse literally then no prayers and supplications should be made for women and children- then verse only states ‘men’”!

Uncle John: That’s bizarre! Of course St. Paul would have meant everyone- I believe St Paul would have used the term ‘men’ as a generic/common term for the entire humanity!

Mariam: Very true Uncle John! And we if we think that the departure from the earthly life is the end, then we should reflect on St Paul’s admonition:

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable” (I Corinthians 15:19).
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Blessy: Yes Uncle John, if our Christian faith compels us to reason that it’s only in this earthly life that we can rely on God’s mercy, and not in the life beyond then St Paul calls this situation pitiable!

(To be continued..)

(Image: An interior view of an Indian Orthodox Church- St Thomas Cathedral Dubai, taken fromstthomascathedraldubai.com. The architecture of the Orthodox Church is a beautiful array of symbolic features. One can see a partition (red carpet) in the center which signifies the communion of the departed ones in the worship together with the living ones)

To Read The Next Part, Part II Click Here

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