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#117933 - 02/18/02 05:21 PM Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
OrthoMan Offline
Member

Registered: 11/03/01
Posts: 662
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I have been asked many times by Orthodox and non Orthodox alike why we have the Parastas (Panikhida) services for the departed on the 3rd, 9th, and 40th day. I thought by posting this maybe we could have a least one discussion on something we share instead of something we disagree on.

Orthoman

==================================================

St Marcarius of Alexandra once asked the Angel who accompanied him for an explanation of the Church's custom to celebrate the 3rd, 9th, and 40th days after a death by religious services. The Angel told him:

"When the body is brought to the Church on the 3rd day, the Soul of the dead person receives from his Guardian Angel relief from the grief which he felt at the parting of his body. He received this because of the oblation and praise which are offered for him in God's Church which brings blessed hope. During the past two days his soul was permitted to wander wherever it wished and the Angels accompanied it. Since the soul loved it's body, it sometimes hovered around the house in which it parted from the body; sometimes around the coffin where the body had been placed. It passed those two days like a bird which seeks a nesting place. But the soul of one who did good wandered through those places where it had performed deeds of righteousness.
On the 3rd day He who rose from the dead commanded that every Soul should be brought to heaven (in imitation of His own ressurection) that it may do reverence to God. Therefore, the church has the custom of celebrating oblation prayers on the 3rd day for the Soul.
After the Soul has shown reverence to God, He ordered that it should be shown the different and fair homes of the Saints and the beauty of Paradise. The Soul sees all these things for six days, marveling and glorifying God, the Creator of all. When the Soul has seen all these things, it is changed and it forgets all the sorrow which it felt in the body. However, if it is guilty of sins, it begins to wail at the view of the delights of the Saints and it reproaches itself, saying: 'Woe is me! How foolishly did I pass my time when I was in the world! Engrossed in satisfying my own desires, I passed the greater part of my life carelessly and did not obey God as I should have so that I could have been given these same glories and graces that I have seen these past days. Woe is me poor wretch!' After having seen the joys of the Just for the space of six days, the Angels lead the Soul again to God to do reverence. Therefore, the Church does well, in that she celebrates service and oblation for the Soul on the 9th day.
After this, the Master of all commands that the Soul be conducted to Hell, and there it shall be shown the places of torment and the different divisions of Hell. It shall also see the differnt types of torments of the ungodly, which cause the Souls of these sinners to groan continually and to gnash their teeth. The Soul is taken to these various places of torment for thirty days, trembling for fear that it shall be imprisioned here.
On the 40th day the Soul is again taken to do reverence to God; it is then that the judge determines where the Soul shall be sent according to its deeds (partial judgement). Therefore, the Church does right in making mention of the baptised dead on the 40th day."
It is also customary to have the Parastas (Panikhida) [Memorial Service] celebrated on the birthday, name-day, and death day of the departed.

==================================================

How does this tie in with current Byzantine Catholic practice? Do you still have the 3rd, 9th, and 40th days services? And, if you do, how do you correlate the Orthodox belief of the 'partial judgement' (40th day) and the 'final judgement' at the second coming with the RC dogma of 'purgatory'?

Orthoman

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#117934 - 02/18/02 05:34 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
Orthodox Catholic Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/01
Posts: 23741
Loc: Canada
Dear Orthoman,

An excellent post and question!

Yes, we do have services on the 3rd, 9th and 40th days following the repose of a loved one, although the 9th day isn't always observed - something I've noticed myself. The 40th day is certainly observed with the Divine Liturgy for the reposed, as is the six month anniversary and then the yearly anniversary of the repose afterwards.

The quote you give is the explanation for why the Orthodox Church organizes its services in this way and I've certainly read this out at a number of our family funerals to remind everyone of the rationale for the services.

I think that more and more of us (Byzantine Catholics) leave the RC doctrine of purgatory in the lurch, so to speak.

We know that we are enjoined by our (common) tradition to pray for the dead and we do so during the 12 times enunciated by the rules of the Church.

Some perhaps feel that the 40 day period following the separation of the soul from the body is, in and of itself, a kind of "purgatory" or preparation for the partial judgement.

Others may feel that purgatory-as-purification could be extended for a longer period, as nothing impure may ascend to God, although there is sinfulness that does not earn eternal hell.

Otherwise purgatory is understood as God's partial judgement (on the 40th day, so be it) on a soul not worthy to be joined to Him yet, but which is also not worthy to be damned.

I find some aspects to the doctrine of purgatory to be reasonable, as did the Orthodox Metropolitan St Peter Mohyla of Kyiv who included it in his "Orthodox Catechism" (that was later expunged by other Patriarchs).

Both our Churches pray for the souls of the reposed to be "losed from their sins." To be assigned to hell (or its forecourt) is to be beyond the beneficial influence of such prayer. To be assigned to heaven (or its forecourt)is to not need their effect.

The state in which we see God and know that we will be united with Him, but are purified in the suffering of the knowledge that we did not respond to His great love as we ought to have - if that is purgatory, then I believe in it.

Alex

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#117935 - 02/18/02 05:52 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
Kurt Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/01
Posts: 460
Loc: USA
Alex has expressed exactly my view of purgatory.

Understanding first, there is no time in heaven, purgatory seems quite sensible. It is that magical moment of judgement, when you are standing before perfect love and perfect justice and perfect knowledge, with all of the misjudgements of love, justice and knowledge of your past life bared before you and heaven.

And then you are invited into heaven.

What a horrible torture.

P.S. The Irish have a 'month's mind' Mass rather than 40 days. That is because the Irish sin 25% less than Byzantines.

K.

[ 02-18-2002: Message edited by: Kurt ]
_________________________
Martyered Victims of Nicholas Romanov, Pray for us!

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#117936 - 02/18/02 06:05 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
Orthodox Catholic Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/01
Posts: 23741
Loc: Canada
Dear Kurt,

Yep, you got it Pontiac. And the way you put it is similar to what the theologian, Fr. Borowski, said in his book on the afterlife.

Even though Purgatory is being reviewed today, the fact is that it is a way in which to address the question of God's mercy to the millions of souls who die in an "imperfect" condition and who require cleansing before being fully in union with Christ.

John Meyendorff (+memory eternal!) said that the Eastern Church has always believed in prayer for the dead and that this prayer helps bring the reposed closer to God.

Call that what you will, but there is a reason for prayer for the dead since these are neither in heaven or in hell.

Also, the Irish do 30 days of prayer for the dead rather than 40 in connection with a vision of Pope St Gregory I who saw the soul released from purgatory after thirty Masses were offered for it. This practice is still undertaken by our Basilian Fathers who call it a "Gregorianka."

If our Orthodox brother can shed his own tradition's insights into this, we would be more than grateful.

(Right? smile ).

Alex

[ 02-18-2002: Message edited by: Orthodox Catholic ]

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#117937 - 02/18/02 06:11 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
no one Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/01
Posts: 532
Loc: Kansas
Whenever I have been asked to explain the doctrine of "purgatory" by non-Catholics I always did it using this story. Imagine you are invited to a big, very special party after work. Everyone who is anyone will be there. Most of us aren't ready to go right from work to the party, we need to go home and shower, then put on our best clothes and get all primped up. We want to look our best. So it is with heaven. When we leave our life here, our work, most of us are a bit dirty and stained, needing to be cleansed before we can go to that special party in heaven. So God gives us a chance to perfect ourselves in some mysterious way before we pass through those pearly gates. It is all a mystery, that Latins have tried to explain it with their teachings of purgatory, but even so they admit it is theory...we are obliged to believe that there is some sort of perfecting process after we die, that it is a good and pious thing to pray for the dead...but everything else (like most things we don't understand) is better left in the hands of a very loving and capable God. I am just grateful He is the one judging me and not some people I know.

Don

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#117938 - 02/18/02 06:13 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
Orthodox Catholic Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/01
Posts: 23741
Loc: Canada
Dear Don,

That's for sure! I would rather be judged by God (as I will be smile ) than by my mother or, heaven forbid, my wife . . .

Alex

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#117939 - 02/18/02 06:16 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
no one Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/01
Posts: 532
Loc: Kansas
WOW Alex! I just realized something...today I am posting almost as much as you are. LOL! You must be a good influence on me. biggrin
Don

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#117940 - 02/18/02 07:19 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
Moose Offline


Administrator

Registered: 10/20/98
Posts: 912
Loc: Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, US...
I have not seen this account of the story of St Marcarius of Alexandra regarding our funeral customs and think it is excellent. Thanks to Orthoman for posting it.

The third day is usually the day on which the funeral is celebrated and the body planted in the earth. The 40th day celebration is alive and well (though often celebrated with a Divine Liturgy [if it's not an aliturgical day] rather than a parastas service). The 9th day commemoration seems to either have been lost or to have moved to the closest Sunday when a panachida will be celebrated after the Sunday Divine Liturgy for the deceased (but in some places I have seen a 7th day, is this a latinization?). Orthoman, can you tell me how the 9th day is kept in the majority of Orthodox parishes?

Byzantine Catholics do not have a formal doctrine of the journey of the soul upon death as do the Latins. I think it is safe to say that the essentials of the RC doctrine of purgatory - that there is a journey of the soul after death and that it is a preparatory one for entrance into heaven - is common to both Byzantine and Latin Christians. Orthodoxy would not insist on a literal interpretation of the wonderful imagery offered by St. Marcarius. Likewise, Roman Catholics should carefully distinguish the difference between the imagery and necessary components of what constitutes dogma and what is doctrine. The theology that there is a journey is something Roman Catholics would be considerd dogma. The theologies of the imagery of fire and the theology of indulgences definitely fall into the category of doctrine.

Correlating the 'partial judgement' (40th day) and the 'final judgement' at the second coming to the essentials of the RC teaching is quite easy. At the 40th day we are partially judged in that we are sent upon a journey (with a specific roadmap and itinerary for each of us). At the final judgement we receive our just rewards.

What Byzantine Catholics do need to get away from is the latinization in which we feel a need to celebrate the Eucharist as part of the funeral. While there is nothing wrong with this custom, per say, it is certainly a departure from our tradition and moves the focal point of the parastas funeral service away from the three-way dialogue in which 1) we, the faithful, pray for and intercede for a merciful judgement, 2 ) speak on behalf of the deceased admitting to his or her sinfulness and beseeching forgivness and 3) listen to the voice of Christ the Merciful Judge.

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#117941 - 02/18/02 08:03 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
Orthodox Catholic Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/01
Posts: 23741
Loc: Canada
Dear Moose,

The Oriental Churches, especially the Ethiopian, commemorate the departed on the 7th day, rather than the 9th, following the significant Old Testament numeral.

Having the Liturgy on the first Sunday following is not so much a Latinism as a "Lazy-ism" or a "Conveniencism."

But many don't do the 9th day and in places it has completely fallen into oblivion.

For years, our religious Orders promoted the "Gregorianka" or Divine Liturgy each day for 30 days rather than 40 following the Latin custom.

As for the Eucharist, the Orthodox tradition insists that the Priest place a fragment or Chastytsia at every Liturgy for 40 days for the repose of the soul.

That is not a Latinism, but something the Eastern Church does as a necessary part of our responsibility in terms of prayer for the dead.

The Orthodox Church doesn't have a doctrine about the journey of the soul, but that doesn't make it any less serious about it.

The Eastern Church bases its belief and prayer also on the visions of such holy men like St Macarius, and others who confirm his visions. There is no question of "confirmed doctrine" here, but only insofar as the "Lex orandi" principle which carries its own dogmatic and liturgical weight.

Alex

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#117942 - 02/18/02 08:11 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
OrthoMan Offline
Member

Registered: 11/03/01
Posts: 662
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
[Call that what you will, but there is a reason for prayer for the dead since these are neither in heaven or in hell.
If our Orthodox brother can shed his own tradition's insights into this, we would be more than grateful.]

Praying for the dead is a duty imposed by the Bible. We are told,

1 Tim 2:1 - First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men,

that is to say, for both the living and the dead, because to the Lord there is no distinction - "to Him all are living" (Lk 20:38).

There are even explicit prayers for the dead found in the Bible. The bible also teaches us that it is good "to pray for the dead...that they may be delivered from sin." (2 Macc. 12:42-45).

The church has always believed that the souls of all the departed are conscious. It is because of this that we Orthodox also believe the dead are aware of our efforts to assist them. See the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:19-31), and note the martyrs in heaven, who are very aware of the impunity of their persecutors on earth - the martyrs even complaining to God about the delay in justice (Rev. 6:9-10).

orthoMan

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#117943 - 02/18/02 08:15 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
Orthodox Catholic Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/01
Posts: 23741
Loc: Canada
Dear Orthoman,

Yes, I was wondering when you were going to stop keeping us in suspense!

Prayer for the dead is indeed enjoined in scripture and in the rest of tradition.

But, from the Orthodox point of view, where are the souls of those who a) have not yet been joined to God because of their sinfulness and who b) have not been consigned to hell because their sinfulness is not such that would merit (sorry about that term) them eternal damnation.

If souls are in one or the other, then prayer for them could not be enjoined.

So where are they, from the point of view of Orthodox eschatology, in the grand scheme of things if they are in neither?

Alex

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#117944 - 02/18/02 08:41 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
OrthoMan Offline
Member

Registered: 11/03/01
Posts: 662
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
[Orthoman, can you tell me how the 9th day is kept in the majority of Orthodox parishes?]

I think the practice varies depending on the circumstances the particular parish finds itself in.
When my mother died I had the 9th day Parastas right on the 9th day. Only the immediate family was present. But my home town parish is in a small town where most the the parishioners live around the church or with in walking distance to the church.
In my present parish the only one who lives within walking distance to the church is the priest and his family. Some people come as far away as 60 miles one way to go to church. Because of that, most parastas services are on Sundays following the Divine Liturgy. So those that celebrate the 9th day will usually have a Parastas on the Sunday closest to the 9th day.
The parish I belong to has Orthodox from all the various Orthodox ethnic groups. So the middle eastern people (Greeks, Albanians, etc.) will bring the Kolyva (boiled wheat) and have olives and Feta cheese for the people after the service. The Romanians & Serbs will bring in their delicious home made bread and boiled wheat to distribute. Many people will sponsor the coffee and doughnuts social hour. Some people will bring in tons of food and distribute in memory of the deceased (Usually the Ukrainians, Russians, & Bulgarians). This past Sunday we had a one year memorial for a wonderful Ukrainian man who was a devout parishioner. His wife had a little feast! Pierogi (Varenikie), Kielbasa & cabbage, sandwiches, pickled herring, Kutya, etc. Reminds me of what one of my friends said once after coming to my parish. You Orthodox. All you ever do is pray and eat, pray and eat!
Since about 90% of our parishioners take Communion on a regular basis which requires us to fast from midnight on, there is always food available after the services. And a lot of times it is sponsored by families who are having memorial services after Liturgy.
So, I guess my answer world be the practice varies from parish to parish.

OrthoMan

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#117945 - 02/18/02 08:42 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
Orthodox Catholic Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/01
Posts: 23741
Loc: Canada
Dear Don,

If I have somehow gotten you to post here more, then I am indeed an excellent influence smile !

We need your spiritual insights and advice, to be sure.

I seem to just dis people off more, without meaning to . . . sniff.

Alex

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#117946 - 02/18/02 10:55 PM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
OrthoMan Offline
Member

Registered: 11/03/01
Posts: 662
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
[So where are they, from the point of view of Orthodox eschatology, in the grand scheme of things if they are in neither?]

Ah! So now we get to the confusing part. To be honest with you, this is the question whose answer I have never been able to fully comprehend. The church teaches that when we die we are given a foretaste of what we are to experience in eternity which we have referred to as the 'partial' or 'particular' judgement. There are many statements in the Bible and tradition that speak metaphorically of a 'place'. But many believe that this language is used only as a convenient way of speaking and not as an accurate description. These writers hold that the soul is actually in a "condition" or "state" rather than a place. (isn't this what the RC's would call limbo?)

My own personal analysis (and it is just that... my personal opinion) is that the soul is in one of the heavenly realms which is a place of rest for the departed in Christ until the final judgement.

Regarding his visions, St Paul employs two terms used by Jews to describe heavenly realms: the third heaven (v 2) is the highest heaven; Paradise (v 4), where God is surrounded by the assembly of the just, is the city of God.
[Ref 2 Corinthians 12:1-6] Footnotes from the 'Orthodox Study Bible'.

Didn't Christ also tell us that in his fathers house there are many mansions? Maybe our souls reside in the first or second heaven or one of the many mansions awaiting the final judgement. I don't know.

What I do know is these are the type of things we should be discussing instead of fighting with each other. RIGHT?

OrthoMan

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#117947 - 02/19/02 12:41 AM Re: Services at the 3rd, 9th, & 40th Day
Mor Ephrem Offline
Member

Registered: 12/04/00
Posts: 1935
Loc: White Plains, New York, United...
Quote:
Originally posted by OrthoMan:
What I do know is these are the type of things we should be discussing instead of fighting with each other. RIGHT?



Very true. smile

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