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Author Topic: Why do we pray for the dead again?  (Read 755 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ninjaly Awesome
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« on: July 10, 2011, 01:39:02 AM »

Me and my wife (who is also a catachumen) were discussing the other day about praying for those who have died. It came down to her saying we pray for them so that if they're on their way to hell that our prayers can help get them to heaven and me disagreeing. But then it got me thinking, "Why exactly DO we pray for people who have died?" Will my prayers genuinely help someone who was a non-repentant sinner to be saved?
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2011, 01:00:24 PM »

We do believe that the prayers can help. 2nd Maccabees points to this in chapter 12. It talks about how they prayed for the fallen that their sin would be blotted out and it talks about how they did so correctly in the hope of the resurrection. I believe there's something in Hebrews which implies they were praying for the dead, also. I'll have to find it, though, as I can't recall exactly where.
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2011, 02:39:26 PM »

"Why exactly DO we pray for people who have died?"

Because we love them.

Quote
Will my prayers genuinely help someone who was a non-repentant sinner to be saved?
Not against their will, but then again we don't truly know the hearts and minds of others, in fact we can even be decieved about ourselves at times, so there is always hope.

It is God's will that none should perish, and anything that is asked for in accordance with God's will has already been promised to be granted to us, so discounting someone intentionally setting their will against God, our prayers must somehow have a positive affect in helping those who we pray for. There are different numbers of stripes that can be received and many mansions, to use biblical terminology, so even if one does not go from torment to mansion, their stripes can still be lessened. But we don't know the exact state of anyone's soul (even though we accept that God has revealed those canonized as saints to be on good terms with Him) , so we pray for everyone.
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2011, 07:46:38 PM »

We do believe that the prayers can help. 2nd Maccabees points to this in chapter 12.

Yes, Maccabees is an important scriptural text in this matter.

Please have a look at message 175
at
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,37255.msg592638.html#msg592638
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pasadi97
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2011, 05:32:12 PM »

Will my prayers genuinely help someone who was a non-repentant sinner to be saved?

Actually we don't know who was unrepetant sinner or not since people don't always pray aloud.
Apostles prayed for departed into Holy Liturgy written in year 60 so I believe they know better and I believe that even the destination of rich guy from lazarus may be changed if we pray for him.
We also see Apostles praying for dead people and their prayers turnd people to life so had an effect.

Many revelations showed people being taken out of Hell by prayer.
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 02:23:00 PM »

Also: God is not restricted to linear time like we are. Who is to say that God cannot hear our prayers now and that they work "in the past" on the hearts of those who are now passed? We don't judge who is the unrepentant sinner (except in very few cases of those who are formally declared heretics.)
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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 03:04:27 PM »

We pray for them because we love them. Christ commands us to love our brethren and to be merciful. St. John the Wonderworker said, "Be merciful; pray for the departed."
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« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2011, 07:57:43 PM »

Tell me if in Bible did Apostles prayers for dead people help them like bringing the departed people to life?

Apostles had written Holy Liturgy and these Holy liturgies contained prayers for departed. I believe the holy liturgy of apostle and evangelist Matthew contain prayers ofr departed. Can evangelist Matthew be right when writting Gospel and then wrong when writting Holy Liturgy with prayers for departed. Could Apostle Luke be right when writting Gospel and then wrong when painting icons?

You pray so that if they are in Hell they can either get an easier punishment or exit Hell.

FROM THE COUNSELS OF ELDER CLEOPA:
Commemoration at Forty Divine Liturgies:

I want to relate a story to you. France was Orthodox until the year
1054, as was Italy, for until that time all countries were of ONE faith.
The Roman Catholics (Papists/Vatican Religion) separated from us in
1054, in the great papal schism when our Church was torn apart because
of papal reforms.

Before that time, there was a priest in France (which was still
Orthodox) who had a brother in the military. The French were at war
with the Mauritanians. Mauritania is what we refer to as French Africa,
right on the other side of the Gibraltar, toward Liberia. At one time it
was a Kingdom. So the French were there fighting against the
Mauritanians, on the other side of Gibraltar, in Africa.

The French priest’s brother went to Mauritania with his military
regiment. At that time war wasn’t like it is now with atomic bombs and
planes , canons and guns; then they fought with Swords, like in the days
of Stephen the Great1, with swords and arrows.

The French thus went into Mauritania to fight this great battle between
the European armies and those in Africa. Even though the French won the
battle, many of their soldiers were captured by the Mauritanians,
amongst whom was the priest’s brother. The priest was from Marseilles, a
French port which is on the Mediterranean Sea.

The priest did not know that his brother had fallen prisoner, and when
the other soldiers returned to France at the end of the war, he asked
them, “Have you seen my brother?” “Father, I think he died in all the
carnage of the battle. Bodies were laying like tree stumps –The Battle
was so bad- and I think that he died, poor man.”

The priest, with a BROTHER’S LOVE, decided to serve the Divine Liturgy
for Forty days in which he specifically commemorated his Brother.
However, the priest’s brother was not dead, but rather a prisoner, and
he was bound with chains in a prison with many others who were also
chained.

The priest would be serving Divine Liturgy at about 10:00 in the
morning, and at that exact time all the chains would fall off of his
brother, leaving him completely free.

The other prisoners said, “What is happening with you? Why do those
Chains fall off of you? Are you some kind of wizard?”

“No, I don’t know anything about magic stuff.”
“Yeah right!, You don’t know magic!”
All of his chains would break and fall off every day at 10:00. The
guards would chain him again and the next day the chains would break and
fall. Another set of chains, and another set broken like dust.
“This Guy is a real Wizard! He’ll just walk out of prison when he wants,
look, the chains can’t hold him!”

No One understood what was going on, and they would ask Him,
“What kind of magic do you have? Do you have some magical amulet hidden
in your shirt or in your pants?”
Saying this, the guards would strip him of his clothes. “Tie me up
naked, if you don’t believe me!”
They did exactly that, and the next day, the chains would again fall off
of him. The guards were baffled and asked each other, “Where does he
hide his magic? If we knew how to do what he does, we could escape from
anywhere!, “Now where do you hide your magic?” He insisted, “I don’t
know magic.”

“Then what religion are you?” they asked, since they were all Moslems.

“I am a Christian. I believe in Christ. I don’t know any incantations
because I believe otherwise. My brother is a priest in my homeland of
France, and I think that he is serving the Liturgy now and removes a
particle for me at Proskomedia, thinking that I am dead. If I WERE dead
and in hell, I would be unbound even there, like I am here. I think this
is what is happening, but I don’t even know for sure.”

“How long is this going to happen to you?”
“Our practice is to serve forty Liturgies. You will see that for these
forty days, the chains fall off of me.”
“After that, what will happen?”
“I don’t know what will happen, except that I will be delivered from
your hands.”
“How? You won’t slip out of our hands!”
“I believe that God would deliver me even if I were in hell, thanks to
the forty Liturgies; and he will certainly deliver me from your hands
here.”
“You’ll see what kind of supervision we put you under then!”
The guards figured out when the Forty days would be up, and did not put
chains on the Man during that time, “It’s useless to chain him because
during these forty days they just break apart and fall off of him!”

On the Fortieth day, they were all keeping watch over him. They put
double bars on the doors, bound him in chains again, and set a guard
just for him, “Don’t take your eyes off of him. Today is the fortieth
day and he claims that he will leave here!”

As the guards were watching him, suddenly they beheld that the roof of
the prison split open and a hand descended, took the prisoner by the
hair of his head, and he was gone.

Where did he go? He was deposited on the porch of his house in
Marseilles within a moment from the time he was lifted out of prison.

The Guards were asked, “What Happened!?”
“Christ came. We saw a hand,” (They did not know that it was the angel
of the Lord, not Christ himself.) “He snatched the prisoner from us and
we fell down trembling. No one could have even grabbed him by the foot.”
“How did he get out?”
“Through the roof of the prison, and then it closed back up again.”
One of the guards said, “Do you see how powerful the Christian faith is?
Do you see the strength of their Christ? It didn’t matter how much you
guarded him, but he took him when He wanted!”
When the priest saw his brother, he said “My Brother! You have come
home!, They told me you died. Today I finished serving the fortieth
Liturgy in which I removed a particle for your soul.”
The former prisoner said, “You did the right thing, Brother, for if I
had been in hell, you would have delivered me from there. Since I was
still on Earth, you brought me out of prison. May God reward you. Listen
to what happened to me…” and he proceeded to tell his brother about the
chains.
So you see how strong those prayers are during the forty Liturgies when
one is remembered at the Proskomedia.


There is another example of a miracle in connection with the forty
Liturgies. An elderly Hieromonk who was an abbot had a disciple who was
not very obedient.
The elder frequently told him, “Be obedient my son, or you will suffer
eternal torments.”
But the disobedient disciple still did not follow the counsel of the
elder. He died before his elder, but after his death, the elder had a
vision of the disciple in hell.
The Disciple said to him, “Father, Please serve forty Liturgies for me,2
for I was disobedient and bad, upsetting you so much.”
After the elder had completed serving those forty Divine Liturgies, he
again beheld his disciple, but this time he was clothed in robes as
bright as the sun, and he said to the elder, “Through your holy prayers
and intercessions which you made for me, I have been released and
saved.”

« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 08:03:08 PM by pasadi97 » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2011, 12:03:04 AM »

Does this mean that I can still go to heaven (or achieve theosis) if people pray for me after death? What if there is no one to pray for me?
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2011, 04:19:17 AM »

During the DL everything is prayed for.
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2011, 06:06:21 AM »

During the DL everything is prayed for.

Not just the DL - the departed are also prayed for during Vespers, Matins, and Compline.
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2011, 06:22:50 AM »

Will my prayers genuinely help someone who was a non-repentant sinner to be saved?
Without getting into free will issues, God did say somewhere in the OT that He had the heart of the king in His hand. I believe God can influence and reach people in ways we can't even imagine in our feeble minds (and all this without violating their freedom).
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2011, 06:25:44 AM »

Does this mean that I can still go to heaven (or achieve theosis) if people pray for me after death? What if there is no one to pray for me?
Monks and nuns make it their business to pray for everyone. I'm sure many of them have a special heart for the otherwise forgotten.
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 08:32:49 AM »

"Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and the dead." (part of Ruth 2:20, KJV)
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 01:56:11 PM »

"Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and the dead." (part of Ruth 2:20, KJV)

Interesting! In all these discussions, I don't recall this passage being brought up before. Thanks... Smiley
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