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Tue Aug 3, 2021, 02:34 AM

☦ Eastern Orthodox Church: A prayer of lament

Attribution: Ancient Faith Ministries~


Many people are staggered the first time they attend an Orthodox funeral. The frankness with which death is addressed and acknowledged disturbs our modern sensibilities. Some of the ancient hymns that are traditionally sung by the choir are laments sung from the point-of-view of the departed:

As you see me set before you mute and without breath, weep for me, my brethren, family, and all who know me, for I spoke with you only yesterday, and suddenly the fearful hour of death came upon me. Come, all those who love me and give me the last kiss, for never again shall I journey or talk with you until the end of time. For I go to a Judge Who is impartial, where servant and master stand side by side. King and soldier, rich and poor, are held in equal esteem. For each will be glorified by his own deeds, or will be put to shame. But I ask and implore you all to pray without ceasing for me to Christ our God, that I may not be put into the place of torment because of my sins, but that He may appoint me to a place where there is the light of life. now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

In all of these things, the reality of our eternal participation in one another and together in the life of God is foremost. All of these customs face an uphill battle in the dead-and-gone emptiness of the modern world. We have forgotten our ancestors and can only expect to be forgotten ourselves. Christ gives us a greater hope:

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. (Wisdom 3:1-7)

May their memory be eternal!

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