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Sermon of Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky, +1976) on the Saturday of Souls Before Pentecost

 

The Holy Church wishes to commune with joy over those who were risen from the dead through the Lord, Who gave us eternal life—not only the host of Holy Angels and all those who live on earth, but also the souls of all those who died from the beginning of humanity, with whom we are bound with the unseen tethers of love, belonging to the Church of Christ and the unity of our very nature. That is why, following the forty-day celebration of the Resurrection of Christ and the nine days of praising the Ascension of the Lord into the sky, the Holy Church, on this Saturday, the eve of the last great feast day, Pentecost, which concludes the Paschal cycle, established the commemoration of all of our forefathers, fathers and brethren, extending to their souls, through grace-filled love, the light of the Resurrection of Christ.

Such commemoration, as with all other commemoration in the Church, is the communion of love, witness to the fact that death is not the annihilation of being, but the departure into another sphere of life, with which the law of grace-filled love binds us. If the souls of our dear ones are, by means of their righteousness, in the eternal light of the Lord, then by our prayers for them we spiritually join in the light of this grace. If the souls are suffering for their sins, then we pour upon them the light which can draw them out of the dark of sin and enjoin with the endless light of Christ.

We here on earth, by the power of love, help one another here, support each other, encourage each other, and our life falls into disarray, suffering and destruction when this law of accord, of harmony and love is violated, for these are the foundation of all creation. This is why prayer for the dead, who are alive “over there,” in the sphere of existence yet inconceivable to us now, is so endearing, so precious: it is the expression of a mighty force which unites heaven and earth—love, for God is love.

Together with our joint prayer for all the reposed, today we also lift our earnest prayers for the parishioners of this church: Sophia, for the approaching anniversary of her death, and newly-reposed Fekla, on the fortieth day of her repose. Matushka Sophia, known to all the parishioners of this cathedral and many Russians as the “Queen Matushka,” over the course of many years and until the age of 93, served the Church of God, to which she was devoted until her last breath, and newly-reposed Fekla, wife of our cathedral’s helper Stepan Grigorievich Golovay, departed to the Lord a humble and pious woman who lived by the commandments of the Lord.

May these holy prayers of the Church be for those who have died, and for ourselves who are still on earth, rising like the fragrant incense of victory over death and life eternal.

May 1963

 


 

 
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