They stare at me from faded photographs,
and in their eyes I see a reflection of my own soul.
I follow in the shadow of their footsteps,
down rocky, winding paths.
The aroma of blooming lilies fills my nostrils,
the sweet taste of koliva in my mouth.
They wore adversity on their sleeve,
and Romiosini in their hearts.
A gentle breeze caresses my face,
as if whispering a secret welcome.
Our child, we miss you and kiss your eyes.
The flame in the oil lamp flickers for a moment,
Remember and pray for us,
as we pray for you.
The bearded priest chants and his words,
like the incense, rise up slowly to the heavens:
"The choir of Saints has found the fountain of life and the door to Paradise."
Love transcends even death.
"May they abide in a place of light, in a place of repose, in a place of refreshment,
where there is no pain, sorrow, or suffering."
Unto life everlasting.
Why Do We Pray For The Dead?
From an unidentified Orthodox Christian:
Christianity is a religion of love. Praying for the dead is an expression of that love. We ask God to remember our departed because we love them. Love relationships survive death and even transcend it. There is an inner need for a relationship with a loved one to continue to be expressed even after a loved one has died. Often even more so after a loved one has died since physical communication is no longer possible. The Orthodox Church encourages us to express our love for our departed brethren through Memorial Services and prayers.
The anniversary of the death of a loved one is very painful. The Orthodox Church helps us to cope with this pain by encouraging us to have memorial prayers offered in Church for departed loved ones on the anniversaries of their death, i.e. forty days after the death, six months, a year, etc. This gives us the opportunity to do something for our loved one. It helps express and resolve our grief.
Death may take loved ones out of sight but it certainly does not take them out of mind, or out of heart. We continue to love them and think of them as we believe they continue to love us and think of us. How can a mother forget a child who has passed over to the life beyond? The same love which led her to pray for that child when they lived will guide her to pray for them now. For in Christ all are living. The same love makes her wish to communicate with her child. Yet, all communication must take place in Christ and through Christ. No other communication with the dead is possible or lawful for the Christian. God is a God of the living. Our dear ones live in Him. Only through Him is it possible for us to communicate with them. Every liturgy in the Orthodox Church contains prayers for the dead, such as the following: "Be mindful also of all those who slumber in the hope of resurrection to everlasting life. Give them rest, O God, where the light of Thy countenance shineth."
Just as we pray for the deceased, so we believe they continue to love us, remember us, and pray for us now that they are closer to God. We cannot forget the example of the rich man in Hades asking Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers lest they, too, go to that place of torment. Though he had left this life, he did not cease to be concerned for his brothers still on earth.
The Orthodox Church prays for the dead to express her faith that all who have fallen asleep in the Lord, live in the Lord; their lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3.3). Whether on earth or in heaven, the Church is a single family, one Body in Christ. Death changes the location but it cannot sever the bond of love.