And upon those in the Tombs, Bestowing Life

GraveBlessings19APR15 02aChrist is risen! After a few weeks of celebrating the resurrection, it now takes a little more effort to retain the enthusiasm we had on Pascha night in exchanging this greeting. But the truth of the Risen Christ is something that affects us throughout our lives, and of course, beyond this life.

On Sunday, our faithful usher Dan Hoodhood came up to me with a bouquet of flowers, given by a Russian family. This is the week that many Russians visit the graves of their loved ones, often singing hymns of the resurrection over them. As these people could not take the flowers to the graves located halfway across the world, they brought them to the Church and wanted to offer them here.

The various historically Orthodox countries have different customs where the faithful share the joy the resurrection at the graves of their departed. In our country, there is a civil remembrance which began by honoring those who gave their lives for our country, and now extends to remembering all of our departed, on the holiday of Memorial Day. While to most people, this is just the unofficial start to summer (or in the old days, when it was once again fashionable to wear white!) it remains a day of remembrance of our departed. Just as we offer hymns of Thanksgiving to our God on the American “feast” of Thanksgiving, many Orthodox churches throughout our land visit the graves of their beloved on Memorial Day, to pray for them and to bless their graves. We will meet at a central meeting spot of the main cemeteries used by our parishioners, pray some prayers together, then proceed to the graves of those who are gathered to sing Paschal hymns and bless their graves.

Information is in this email and will be in the bulletin this Sunday on the schedule for those who would like to have the graves of their loved ones blessed on Memorial Day. I encourage all of you that are able to take advantage of this opportunity to sing our Lord’s resurrection at the place where our love ones will first see the Risen Christ on the day of his Great and Second Coming.

May God grant their souls eternal rest and unending joy in the presence of the resurrected Lord!

Christ is risen!