Why do we remember our departed loved ones? Orthodox Christians have a deep and abiding faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. His resurrection destroyed the power that death once held. Through our baptism, Orthodox Christians participate in His death and resurrection: “all those who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Because He (“the Firstborn from the dead” ~ Colossians 1:18) is risen, we also confess our eventual resurrection from the dead at His second coming. We remember our loved ones because the Lord’s Body cannot be broken or divided: those who have passed on are not dead – they are alive in Christ. “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” “He is not God of the dead, but of the living…for all live to Him” (Matthew 22:32; Luke 20:38). At the end of the memorial service, we sing “May their memory be eternal!” Here, we are praying not only that we will remember our loved ones, but that they will especially be eternally remembered by our God, in His loving embrace.
How We Remember The Departed – Memorials (with Koliva)
- 40 days after the passing (on the closest Sunday)
- 6-month anniversary
- The First Three Yearly Anniversaries of the Departed’s Passing (on the closest Sunday)
Besides The First Three Yearly Memorials:
Saturday of Souls:
These are 4 particular days during the year when we yearly remember all of our departed loved ones – the two Saturdays preceding Great Lent; the first Saturday of Great Lent; and the Saturday before Pentecost.
Every Sunday, if you can get your list of your loved ones’ names to Fr Allan at least a day ahead of time, he will commemorate them during the next morning’s preparation of the gifts. As he prepares the offering of bread and wine for Eucharist, he prays for both the departed and the living. A commemoration card – to write the names of your loved ones – is also found in the narthex.
Scheduling A Memorial:
To arrange a memorial for a loved one at St. John, please email Fr Allan (FrAllanBoyd@gmail.com) with all the pertinent information at least two weeks in advance. It’s customary for family members to offer a dish of boiled wheat (Koliva) in remembrance of their loved one and in hope of the resurrection. As the Lord said: “truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The family must arrange in advance for the Koliva by either preparing it at home or by contacting the church office to ask for it to be made on your behalf. To learn how to make Koliva, you can go here: Step by Step to Preparing Koliva for Memorial Services.
On the day of the memorial service, family members should arrive at the Church before 10:00am for the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, and they can sit together in the front pews that will be reserved for them. Be mindful of the fact that when you fully participate with the Divine Liturgy, you are being present with your loved one in the eschaton, where, all things being fulfilled in Christ, the heavenly worship is timelessly being poured out. The memorial for your loved one will be offered towards the end of the Divine Liturgy. At the conclusion of the memorial service, the Koliva will then be brought to the kitchen and distributed to the faithful in the church hall during coffee hour.
Please Note That Memorial Services Are Not Permitted On The Following Days:
- Holy Week through Bright Week (Saturday of Lazarus through the Sunday of Thomas)
- Feast days of our Lord
- Feast days of the Theotokos