Good day to all and I hope all of you are enjoying your day,
In my journey into Orthodoxy, I am slowly learning Orthodoxy's doctrines and teachings and am trying to better understand them. Now, during my readings into this topic tonight. I came across a Coptic website that mentioned that prayers for the departed are only given to those who are within the Church and not to those who died outside of the faith. The quote here:
"Q2: Who are they whom the Church does not pray for?
A2: In accordance with the words of St. John, “There is a sin leading to death. I do not say that he should
pray about that” (1 Jn 5:16), the Church does not pray for those who died in their sins without repentance
like those who committed suicide for instance for the prayer will not benefit them anyway. Notice also that
we pray that the spirits may be reposed in Paradise not in purgatory."
(Lecture 1: On Praying for the Departed, "The Salvation that We Are Awaiting" by Fr. Shenouda Maher. Source: http://www.suscopts.org/messages/lectures/misclecture1.pdf
, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States_
So, basically, from my limited understanding of what the OO view is, the prayers for the depareted are those who have been departed, without repenting their sins. However, an EO source, indicates several stories of the Holy Fathers, indicating that those who weren't even able to repent, were brought in prayers and were forgiven by God. Take a look:
" St. Gregory the Dialogist also relates that during the lifetime of St. Benedict of Nursia 13 there lived two women who had the unfortunate habit of judging their neighbors, speaking evil and reproaching others. Learning of this, the Venerable Benedict said to them: "Curb your tongues, or I will have to excommunicate you from the Holy Mysteries." But, all the same, they did not
cease their evil habits and even said nothing in reply to the saint's paternal admonition. Several days later both women died in their virginity and were buried together in the church. When the Divine Liturgy was served and the deacon exclaimed: "Catechumens, depart!", many Christians beheld the two virgins leaving their tombs and the church, for they were unable to remain there during the Divine Liturgy. This occurred at each Divine Liturgy. When St. Benedict discovered this, he took pity on them and, taking a prosphora, he commanded them to take it to the church and to remove a particle from it for the repose of their souls. He also ordered them
commemorated during the performance of the Mysteries of Christ. After that, none of the Christians saw them leaving the church. From this, all understood that, owing to the Holy Church's prayer for the departed and the offerings, the departed virgins had received forgiveness from God. 14
The Greek Emperor Theophilus 15 lived carelessly and did not concern himself with the salvation of his soul. Death found this sovereign in the midst of his sinful life. The Empress St. Theodora, Theophilus' consort, was horrified at the heavy lot that would befall her husband in eternity. At her behest, prayers were increased in the churches, alms were distributed, good works were
performed. And what was the result? The prayers of the Church reached the Lord. Theophilus was forgiven, to the spiritual joy of his grieving spouse and to the consolation of the Church, which has so merciful and mighty a Lord, Who gives life to the dead and leads them forth from the abyss of hell, not only bodily, but spiritually. 16
"But who can number," asks St. John of Damascus, "all of the testimonies found in the biographies of holy men, in the accounts of the lives of the holy martyrs and the divine revelations, which clearly indicate that even after death tremendous benefit is rendered to the
departed by prayers, Liturgies and the distribution of alms for them. For nothing given to God perishes in return, but is rewarded by Him with the greatest interest."
St. John of Damascus relates: "A certain holy man had a disciple who was living heedlessly. And what happened? Death found him in the midst of his carelessness. The merciful Heavenly Father, roused by the tears and cries of the elder, revealed to him the youth burning in flames up to his neck, like the merciless rich man mentioned in the parable of Lazarus. And when the saint subjected his flesh to strict mortification, fervently beseeching God for the forgiveness of his disciple, he beheld him enveloped in flame up to his waist. Finally, when the holy man had increased his ascetic labors yet more, God revealed him in a vision to the elder, removed from the flame and completely free."" (Source: http://www.stvladimiraami.org/pamphlets/prayerforthedeadol.pdf
Now, please say that I am missing something...because from most of my studies on this particular subject (limited as it may be) I was always under the impression that the EO and OO views on prayers for the departed were the same and that prayers were offered to those among us, dear and beloved, who not only repented but those who didn't.....I guess I ought to be asking is: Is the practise of ONLY praying for those departed who repented a practise solely seen within the Coptic Church?....are there EO churches who share the same view.....
Please help me understand this here....If I am mistaken, then I offer my humble and sincere apologies...I come as an earnest learner so please feel free to instruct me accordingly.