Saturday of Souls
The first universal, ancestral Saturday is on Meatfare Saturday (Saturday of Souls). It falls during Meatfare Week and before the last day on which one may eat meat before the Great Fast begins. The following day, Sunday, commemorates the Dread judgment of Christ, and the Church prays for all that have departed in faith and hope of resurrection, beseeching the righteous judge to show forth His mercy upon them on the very day of impartial retribution at the universal judgment. The establishment of this Saturday dates from the first years of Christianity. Among the prayers during the divine services on this Saturday, we hear one for all “that from Adam until today have reposed in piety and correct faith,” of every calling and every age; “for all that have drowned, that battle hath mown down, that earthquake hath swallowed up, that have been slain by murderers, that fire hath consumed, that have been food for the wild beasts, birds and serpents, that have been struck by lightning and have perished in freezing cold, that have fallen by the sword, that the horse hath trampled, the rock struck or the earth covered up, that have been slain by deadly potion or poison, or have choked on bones … “, i.e. all that have met untimely deaths and have been left without a proper funeral. Thus does the Church care for all our fathers, brethren and relatives.
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: www.pravoslavie.ru/english/52103.htm).
It is our tradition to remember specific loved ones on the anniversary of their falling asleep in the Lord, and in addition, the Faithful are invited to express their love for those who have departed this life by having all of them remembered by name in the Divine Liturgy on the Saturdays of the Souls. We remember them, and we ask that in God their Memories be Eternal!