Death prayers for a family

Therefore, we see panikhidas and prayer at home for the dead are beneficial for them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose.

How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: “I thank you for laboring me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents”—and be gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria).** “How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God’s mercy?” the priest-monk asked. “Yes, that is true,” replied St. Theodosius, “but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”

death prayers for a family

 Therefore, we see panikhidas and prayer at home for the dead are beneficial for them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose. In the Church, prayers are ever offered for the repose of the dead, and on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, in the kneeling prayers at vespers, there is even a special petition “for those in hell.”

St. Gregory the Great, in answering in his Dialogues the question, “Is there anything at all that can possibly benefit souls after death?” teaches: “The Holy Sacrifice of Christ, our saving Victim, brings great benefits to souls even after death, provided their sins (are such as) can be pardoned in the life to come. For this reason the souls of the dead sometimes beg to have Liturgies offered for them … The safer course, naturally, is to do for ourselves during life what we hope others will do for us after death. It is better to make one’s exit a free man than to seek liberty after one is in chains. We should, therefore, despise this world with all our hearts as though its glory were already spent, and offer our sacrifice of tears to God each day as we immolate His sacred Flesh and Blood. This Sacrifice alone has the power of saving the soul from eternal death, for it presents to us mystically the death of the Only-begotten Son” (Dialogues IV: 57, 60, pp. 266, 272-3).

St. Gregory gives several examples of the dead appearing to the living and asking for or thanking them for the celebration of the Liturgy for their repose; once, also, a captive whom his wife believed dead and for whom she had the Liturgy celebrated on certain days, returned from captivity and told her how he had been released from his chains on some days—the very days when the Liturgy had been offered for him. (Dialogues IV: 57, 59, pp. 267, 270).

Protestant theologians find the Church’s prayer for the dead to be somehow incompatible with the necessity of finding salvation first of all in this life: “If you can be saved by the Church after death, then why bother to struggle or find faith in this Life? Let us eat, drink, and be merry…” Of course, no one holding such a philosophy has ever attained salvation by the Church’s prayers, and it is evident that such an argument is quite artificial and even hypocritical. The Church’s prayer cannot save anyone who does not wish salvation, or who never offered any struggle for it himself during his lifetime. In a sense, one might say that the prayer of the Church or of individual Christians for a dead person is but another result of that person’s life: he would not be prayed for unless he had done something during his lifetime to inspire such prayer after his death.

St. Mark of Ephesus also discusses this question of the Church’s prayer for the dead and the improvement it brings in their state, citing the example of the prayer of St. Gregory the Dialogist for the Roman Emperor Trajan—a prayer inspired by a good deed of this pagan Emperor.

**These names had been unknown before this vision. Several years after the canonization, St. Theodosius’ own Book of Commemoration was found in the monastery where he had once been Abbot, which confirmed these names and corroborated the vision. See the Life of Elder Alexis in Pravoslavny Blagovestnik, San Francisco, 1967, No. I (in Russian).

Excerpt from The Soul after Death by Fr. Seraphim Rose

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The Church prays for the dead, and this prayer says much about the reality of the Church itself. It says that the Church continues to live in the hope of eternal life. Prayer for the dead is almost a battle with the reality of death and destruction that weighs down upon the earthly existence of man. This is and remains a particular revelation of the Resurrection. In this prayer Christ himself bears witness to the life and immortality to which God calls every human being.

Gathering in the Presence of the Body

When the family first gathers around the body, before or after it is prepared for burial, all or some of the following prayers may be used. It is most fitting that family members take part in preparing the body for burial.

All make the Sign of the Cross:  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen.

Then one member of the family reads:

My brothers and sisters, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

The body may then be sprinkled with holy water.

The Lord God lives in his holy temple
yet abides in our midst.
Since in Baptism N. became God’s temple,
and the spirit of God lived in him (her),
with reverence we bless his (her) mortal body.

Then one member of the family may say:

With God there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Let us pray as Jesus taught us:  Our Father.

Then this prayer is said:  Into your hands, O Lord,
we humbly entrust our brother (sister) N.
In this life you embraced him (her)
with your tender love;
deliver him (her) now from every evil
and bid him (her) enter eternal rest.
The old order has passed away:
welcome him (her), then, into paradise,
where there will be no sorrow,
no weeping or pain,
but the fullness of peace and joy
with your Son and the Holy Spirit
for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

All may sign the forehead of the deceased with the Sign of the Cross. One member of the family says:

Blessed are those who have died in the Lord;
let them rest from their labors,
for their good deeds go with them.

V. Eternal rest grant unto him (her), O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon him (her).

V. May he (she) rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. May his (her) soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

All make the Sign of the Cross as one member of the family says:

May the love of God and the peace
of the Lord Jesus Christ
bless and console us
and gently wipe every tear from our eyes:
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen.

Lord Jesus, our Redeemer,
you willingly gave yourself up to death,
so that all people might be saved
and pass from death into a new life.
Listen to our prayers;
look with love on your people
who mourn and pray for their brother (sister).

Lord Jesus, holy and compassionate,
forgive N. his (her) sins.
By dying you opened the gates of life
for those who believe in you:
do not let our brother (sister) be parted from you,
but by your glorious power
give him (her) light, joy, and peace in heaven,
where you live for ever and ever.  
R. Amen.

Prayers at the Graveside

Aside from the time of mourning, the month of November, including especially All Saints’ day and All Souls’ day, is a traditional time for visiting graves, as is the anniversary of death. Some or all of the following prayers may be used at the graveside of a family member or friend.

All make the Sign of the Cross. The leader begins:

Praise be to God our Father, who raised Jesus
Christ from the dead. Blessed be God for ever.

All respond:

Blessed be God for ever.

The following Scripture text may be read:  2 Cor 5: 1

We know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

After a time of silence, all join in prayers of intercession, or in one of the litanies or other prayers. All then join hands for the Lord’s Prayer:  Our Father.

Then the leader prays:

Lord God,
whose days are without end
and whose mercies are beyond counting,
keep us mindful that life is short and the hour of death is unknown.
Let your Spirit guide our days on earth
in the ways of holiness and justice,
that we may serve you in union with the whole Church,
sure in faith, strong in hope, perfected in love.
And when our earthly journey is ended,
lead us rejoicing into your kingdom,
where you live for ever and ever. 
R. Amen.

or:

Lord Jesus Christ,
by your own three days in the tomb,
you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you
and so made the grave a sign of hope
that promises resurrection,
even as it claims our mortal bodies.
Grant that our brother (sister) N.
may sleep here in peace
until you awaken him (her) to glory,
for you are the resurrection and the life.
Then he (she) will see you face to face
and in your light will see light
and know the splendor of God,
for you live and reign for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.

V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

All make the Sign of the Cross as the leader concludes:

May the peace of God,
which is beyond all understanding,
keep our hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God
and of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Amen.

Additional Prayers for the Dead

V. Do not remember my sins, O Lord,
R. When you come to judge the world by fire.

V. Direct my way in your sight, O Lord, my God,
R. When you come to judge the world by fire.

V. Give him (her) eternal rest, O Lord, and may your light shine on him (her) for ever,
R. When you come to judge the world by fire,

V. Lord, have mercy,
R. Christ, have mercy, Lord, have mercy.

All : Our Father . . . trespass against us.

V. And lead us not into temptation,
R. But deliver us from evil.

V. From the gates of hell,
R. Deliver his (her) soul, O Lord.

V. May he (she) rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. Lord, hear my prayer,
R. And let my cry come to you.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with you.

Let us pray. 
Lord, welcome into your presence your son (daughter) N., whom you have called from this life. Release him (her) from all his (her) sins; bless him (her) with eternal light and peace; raise him (her) up to live for ever with all your saints in the glory of the Resurrection.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

For a parent:

Let us pray.
Almighty God, you command us to honor father and mother. In your mercy forgive the sins of my (our) parents and let me (us) one day see him (her) again in the radiance of eternal joy.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

For a brother or sister:

Let us pray.
God, our Maker and Redeemer, in your mercy hear my (our) prayer. Grant forgiveness and peace to my (our) brother (sister) N. and N., who longed for your mercy.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

V. Give him (her) eternal rest, O Lord.
R. And may your light shine on him (her) for ever.

V. May he (she) rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. May his (her) soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

www.catholicnewsagency.com

Fans and NFL players have been expressing their sorrow on Twitter following the unexpected death of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tray Walker on Friday.

The 23-year-old player died from injuries sustained in a dirt bike crash in Florida on Thursday night.

The Miami-Dade Police Department said Walker’s dirt bike collided with a sport utility vehicle at an intersection in Miami at around 7:50pm ET on Thursday.

Police said he was not wearing a helmet and was riding without lights at the time of the accident.

He suffered serious head injuries and underwent extensive surgery through Thursday night, however staff at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital were not able to save him.  Walker’s agent, Ron Butler told NFL Media that Walker died at 5pm ET on Friday.

(Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

Ravens coach John Harbaugh paid tribute to Walker in a statement, describing him as a “young man with a good and kind heart”.

“He was humble and loved everything about being part of the Ravens’ team. He loved his teammates, the practice and the preparation, and that showed every day. He was coachable, did his most to improve and worked to become the best.

“I’ll never forget that smile. He always seemed to be next to me during the national anthem; then we would give each other a big hug. May he rest in the Peace of Christ Jesus forever.”

“God called u home … God bless ya soul and it was a blessing to experience ya beautiful heart homie,” his teammate Jeremy Butler tweeted.

Walker previously credited the faith of his late father to his being drafted.  He told the Baltimore Sun after the death of his father in November 2014 why he wanted to dedicate the season to his father: “This upcoming season, the whole process of right now, I dedicate that to him.  That’s all he wanted. He just wanted the best for me and prayed to God that I would get this chance, and now I’m here.”

Prior to Walker’s death, Coach Harbaugh had sent this moving letter to his team urging prayer and pleading with them to make the right choices every day.

An Open Letter to Our Team

Men,

Right now, this moment is an incredibly difficult time for our Team and our Family. One of our Brothers, Tray Walker, is fighting for his life. I know we are showering him with, and covering he and his family, with Prayer and hope.

That was the kind of phone call you never want get as a coach, as a parent, as a brother, as a friend. This shook me and all of us. Like some of you, I haven’t been able to rest since hearing the news late last night.

As I focused about Tray this morning, some thoughts came to mind that I wanted to share. What would I say to my own son, if I had a son, in a situation like this? You guys are that important to me.

This is what I would be saying to you in the team meeting room if we were together today: There is a lot going on out there and you are going to be involved in tough and difficult situations. You are making and will continue to make important choices pretty much every day. That’s okay. That’s our reality. It can even be very good to be put in different circumstances. To make it right, you are going to have to grow up fast. Probably faster than many of your friends and family.

Please remember to…

Lead in your home. Take care of Your Family and Yourself every single day. Think about who you are and where you are going, and what you stand for. Look after one another. Only then can you be your most effective on the job and in every area of your life.

Please consider your actions and choices. There are always consequences. Choose who you allow to advise you. Consider the quality of the council you take. Put yourself in positions to succeed. Turn away from unnecessary and risky behavior. Take care of your physical well-being. Live a healthy lifestyle. Pursue those things that make you better. Rest well. Eat well. Laugh with those who you love and love you. Fulfil your obligations effectively.

Be your own best friend. Do not be an enemy onto yourself. Turn away from trouble and harm. Walk away from foolish behavior. Ignore silly and unwise advice – You’ll know it when you see it.

Get to know those people in your life who manage to walk free from the weight of self-created obstacles. Get close to those who have gone where you want to go, and have accomplished what you want to accomplish. Grow Spiritually. Think about what and who you want to become.

I am asking you to consider what is at stake in your life. Consider what your thoughts, actions and choices mean to those around you. Live your life fully and with purpose. Have fun and share your happiness. Find Your Faith, and allow God to Grow Your Faith.

Let’s look out for one another. Be a great brother and friend. Inquire. Listen. Ask. Investigate. Reach out. Be There. Take a Step. Go For It.

Remember, We are Brothers in Arms. And, again, take care of each other.

John

www.christiantoday.com

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