Author Topic: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?  (Read 16942 times)

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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« on: August 26, 2013, 12:16:04 PM »

So, what is the actual meaning behind the phrase?

Is it that the person's memory be ever before God?  Certainly, God wouldn't forget anyone, without our prompting.

Is it that the deceased family never forget them?  I would hope that would not be the case, at least for the current generation.

Is it that he made such an impact on the world, that he will be spoken of for generations to come?

This phrase could be interpreted in so many ways.

I once asked and was told it was too complicated to discuss.  Well, that's of no help to someone who is trying to understand why we say and do the things we do.

What is the true, Church, meaning behind these words?

Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
—St. Isaac of Syria

Offline Arachne

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 12:35:31 PM »
As far as I know, it is a declaration that the departed will be always remembered and prayed for. They can no longer work on their own salvation, but the prayers of others can still make a difference, and the Church keeps commemorating everyone who has gone before, even without a name.
'Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against stupid. That might actually make a difference.'~Harry Dresden

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Offline Cyrillic

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 12:38:16 PM »
It is a supplication to God to remember the deceased in the kingdom.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 12:38:33 PM by Cyrillic »

Offline IoanC

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 12:44:34 PM »
Asking God to "remember" the soul forever (in His Kingdom), as we do with that soul, as well.

Offline dhinuus

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2013, 01:24:47 PM »
Similar to EO saying Memory Eternal; in the Syriac tradition of OO we say 'dukrono tobo' which means God grant 'good remembrance'.  The following explains why...

Quote
I have always wondered why we are praying that our Lord grand "good remembrance" (dukrono tobo in Syriac) to the departed.  Are we praying that the departed souls may not have dementia and remember everything? Or are we praying that we be given good memory to remember our departed always? It is neither of these. In this hymn are we praying that our Lord may have remembrance of our departed. What does this mean?

We can best approach the meaning of this song through following the connection to the crucifixion of Christ. “What did the wise thief (as per tradition on the right side) ask for on the cross?” As we read in St. Luke’s Gospel, the thief asked: “Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom”

And in answer, in satisfaction of his wish, his wish to be remembered, the Lord witnesses: “Verily, I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”

In other words, “to be remembered” by the Lord is the same thing as “to be in Paradise.” “To be in Paradise” is to be in eternal memory and, consequently, to have eternal existence and therefore an eternal memory of God.

Source: https://sites.google.com/site/syrianorthodox/home/articles/good-remembrance
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 01:26:12 PM by dhinuus »
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2013, 03:02:02 PM »

Excellent explanation.

Thank you, all!

Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
—St. Isaac of Syria

Offline Romaios

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2013, 04:18:58 PM »
Proverbs 10:7 "The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot."

Psalm 112:6 "Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance."

Psalm 31:12 "I am forgotten as one dead from the heart. I am become as a vessel that is destroyed."

Quote from: Psalm 9
Thou hast rebuked the Gentiles, and the wicked one hath perished: thou hast blotted out their name for ever and ever.

The swords of the enemy have failed unto the end: and their cities thou hast destroyed. Their memory hath perished with a noise.

Quote from: Job 18
Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.

6 The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him. (hence the lucerna extincta/blown candles in some excommunication rituals)

(...)

16 His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.

17 His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street.

18 He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.

19 He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.


The Jewish equivalent of "memory eternal" would be zikhrono/ah li-vrakha ("may his/her memory be unto blessing"). Heretics, apostates or evil doers are never mentioned by name after they are gone. If they are referred to, a mock name is used instead (I guess that explains why some call Our Lord "Yoshke"). Also, on Purim when the Scroll of Esther is read, noise is made to blot out the name of Haman, the enemy of Israel.

With us, this happens when the Synodikon is read on Orthodoxy Sunday: people call out Memory eternal thrice to acclaim Saints and righteous Emperors and thrice Anathema for heretics and enemies of the Church.

When one really wanted to punish an enemy, they would kill everyone in his household, so that nobody would perpetrate his memory/pray for him. Tsar Ivan the Terrible, for instance, did this to some of his boyars whom he suspected of treason. Cf. 1 Samuel 25:22 "So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall."
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 04:50:19 PM by Romaios »

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2013, 05:34:42 PM »
Cf. 1 Samuel 25:22 "So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall."


Now there's an image...
Mor Ephrem is a nice guy.  Just say sorry and it will all be ok. Say I had things that were inside troubling me but I didn't know how to express appropriately. I will not behave that way again but I am seeking help.

...if you feel Mor really is in spiritual danger, pray the Jesus prayer for him.   :police:

Offline efthimios

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2014, 10:54:08 PM »
As far as I know, it is a declaration that the departed will be always remembered and prayed for. They can no longer work on their own salvation, but the prayers of others can still make a difference, and the Church keeps commemorating everyone who has gone before, even without a name.

With all due respect.. That is a terrible answer.  What is the point of what Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ dud for us dying on the cross  and trampling down on death by resurrecting if we say we can convince God to save someone that has passed away?
It's very clear in the Bible.  We are here on this planet to work out our salvation.  Either you know God through his son Jesus or he will not know you.  Between all the alms giving,  learning the word Christ spoke and living it,  and at no time ever thinking we are good enough.  We are always broken and must ask for forgiveness  constantly changing

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2014, 11:43:26 PM »
As far as I know, it is a declaration that the departed will be always remembered and prayed for. They can no longer work on their own salvation, but the prayers of others can still make a difference, and the Church keeps commemorating everyone who has gone before, even without a name.

With all due respect.. That is a terrible answer. 

No, it wasn't. 
Mor Ephrem is a nice guy.  Just say sorry and it will all be ok. Say I had things that were inside troubling me but I didn't know how to express appropriately. I will not behave that way again but I am seeking help.

...if you feel Mor really is in spiritual danger, pray the Jesus prayer for him.   :police:

Offline SolEX01

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2014, 12:05:49 AM »
As far as I know, it is a declaration that the departed will be always remembered and prayed for. They can no longer work on their own salvation, but the prayers of others can still make a difference, and the Church keeps commemorating everyone who has gone before, even without a name.

With all due respect.. That is a terrible answer.  What is the point of what Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ dud for us dying on the cross  and trampling down on death by resurrecting if we say we can convince God to save someone that has passed away?
It's very clear in the Bible.  We are here on this planet to work out our salvation.  Either you know God through his son Jesus or he will not know you.  Between all the alms giving,  learning the word Christ spoke and living it,  and at no time ever thinking we are good enough.
  We are always broken and must ask for forgiveness  constantly changing

We can't ask for forgiveness for dead people?  Once they die, they disappear from our memories forever?  From the Memorial Service:

May the Lord God grant that his (her) soul rest where the righteous repose. Let us ask for the mercies of God, the kingdom of heaven, and the forgiveness of his (her) sins from Christ our immortal king and God.

Source

Offline quietmorning

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2014, 11:14:59 AM »
Liza, my priest describes it in this way:

To remember - to have memory of in the western world is to THINK and RECALL an individual. 

To remember - to have memory of in the Eastern Church it is to RE-MEMBER - to pull that person that part of the body and RE-MEMBER - REJOIN that body part back into the Body of Christ. 

So to say, Memory Eternal is saying "May he/she FOREVER be a MEMBER - A PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST"

I find that so comforting.  I cannot tell you.  To remember on the western ideal - is to one day forget as I am human. 
To remember according to the Eastern Holy Orthodox Church?  The loved ones I bury are not gone, but still with us.  Still a part of the body.  Great comfort.
In His Mercy,
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Offline Luka

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2014, 01:57:26 PM »
In the Bible, when people pray to God that He remember someone, it carries the meaning of taking action, it's never just mental recalling: Remember o Lord Thy people and save them! Don't forget them, don't ignore them, don't dismiss them, look on their poor situation and rescue them! So when we pray "Memory eternal!", we mean: Though their earthly life ended and perhaps in few generations they won't be even remembered by the living, but may God remember them at all times, may He forgive their sins and on the last day may He grant them resurrection.

Iz 49:13-15 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

Memory eternal!

Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2014, 05:00:00 PM »
As far as I know, it is a declaration that the departed will be always remembered and prayed for. They can no longer work on their own salvation, but the prayers of others can still make a difference, and the Church keeps commemorating everyone who has gone before, even without a name.

With all due respect.. That is a terrible answer.  What is the point of what Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ dud for us dying on the cross  and trampling down on death by resurrecting if we say we can convince God to save someone that has passed away?
It's very clear in the Bible.  We are here on this planet to work out our salvation.  Either you know God through his son Jesus or he will not know you.  Between all the alms giving,  learning the word Christ spoke and living it,  and at no time ever thinking we are good enough.  We are always broken and must ask for forgiveness  constantly changing


You label yourself as Greek Orthodox but you write as if you are a Protestant. I am confused.

Offline Yurysprudentsiya

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Re: Memory Eternal - why do we say it?
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2014, 05:06:24 PM »
As far as I know, it is a declaration that the departed will be always remembered and prayed for. They can no longer work on their own salvation, but the prayers of others can still make a difference, and the Church keeps commemorating everyone who has gone before, even without a name.

With all due respect.. That is a terrible answer.  What is the point of what Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ dud for us dying on the cross  and trampling down on death by resurrecting if we say we can convince God to save someone that has passed away?
It's very clear in the Bible.  We are here on this planet to work out our salvation.  Either you know God through his son Jesus or he will not know you.  Between all the alms giving,  learning the word Christ spoke and living it,  and at no time ever thinking we are good enough.  We are always broken and must ask for forgiveness  constantly changing


Ask St. Paul.  He prayed for his departed friend Onesiphorous.

Also, ask the Maccabees.  They prayed for their departed fallen that they "may be loosed from sins."

"Eternal Memory" is a supplication to God asking the Lord to remember them forever in His Kingdom.