Together we worship! – Day 2 (A series on the Orthodox concept of praying for the departed ones and seeking the intercession of saints)

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To Read Part I – Click Here

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In the chapel, Uncle John grabs the prayer book and flips through it. He sees a prayer (Malayalam: ‘Anugrahangal Niranjirikunnavane’) and reads it aloud.

Uncle John: “O Thou, full of mercy, renew Thy creation at the resurrection. O Lord, comfort and absolve our departed ones, who died with hope in Thee, and await Thy coming. O Lord, make them dwell in the bosom of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. May the living and the departed together cry out, ‘Blessed is He, who has come, and is to come, and give life to the dead.’ Amen.”

Uncle John: “Girls, this prayer is indeed beautiful but also a difficult one to comprehend- ‘O Lord, comfort and absolve our departed ones..’; how can the prayers of the living help the departed ones?”

Mariam: “Uncle John, do you see this icon (Mariam points to an icon of St Cyril of Jerusalem). This icon is of a Church father- St Cyril of Jerusalem who lived in 3rd century who has given the answer your query.”

Riya: “Wow Uncle John! Before you asked, your question was already answered 1700 years back!”
(All the four have a good laugh)

Uncle John: “Mariam, continue, what did St Cyril of Jerusalem had to say on this.”

Mariam: “Uncle John, St Cyril of Jerusalem in his work titled ‘The Catechetical Lectures’*, clarifies the concept whether a departed soul is profited, if commemorated in prayer. He gives an example thus- suppose a king banishes a person from his kingdom and let’s say the near and dear ones of the person come to king, offer him gifts, wouldn’t the king grant pardon to the person for the sake of the person’s relatives. In the same way we offer up prayers to the merciful God for us and the departed ones.”

Uncle John: “Hmm, okay, I can understand the logic but has there been a case wherein the living had prayed and the departed benefited. I am still not fully convinced!”

Blessy: “Okay Uncle John- let us take the Holy Scripture. Let us read St Matthew 9:18. “While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshipped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live”.”

Riya: “So, we have a ruler here who comes to Jesus Christ, worships Him and pleads Him about his daughter who has died.”

Blessy: “Uncle John, did the daughter plead to Lord Jesus Christ?”

Uncle John: “No, it was her father who beseeched to Lord Jesus Christ.”

Mariam: “Yes! A living beseeched the Lord for a dear departed one and our compassionate Lord accepted that prayer!. We read in verse 25 that.. “He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.”

Uncle John: “What a pattern! So you guys in your liturgical and common prayers conduct yourself exactly like the ruler- approach Him, worship Him and in that worship one doesn’t forget to plead for the departed ones.”

All the girls smile and nod in agreement.
(To be continued..)

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(*Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Volume VII, The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril; On the Mysteries. V: On the Sacred Liturgy and Communion)
Icon taken from pinterest.com

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