Death alters but does not destroy the bond of love and faith which exists among all the members of the Church. Orthodoxy believes that through our prayers, those "who have fallen asleep in the faith and the hope of the Resurrection" continue to have opportunity to grow closer to God. Therefore, the Church prays constantly for her members who have died in Christ. We place our trust in the love of God and the power of mutual love and forgiveness. We pray that God will forgive the sins of the faithful departed, and that He will receive them into the company of Saints in the heavenly Kingdom.
When the Memorial service is offered, it is customary for the family of the deceased to bring a dish of boiled wheat to the church and place it on a table in the center of the nave during the service. The wheat is a symbol of the resurrection. When speaking of the resurrection, our Lord said: "Unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit." (John 12:24). If you are not familiar with the preparation of the boiled wheat (known as kolyva), there is a lady in our community who can prepare it for you. Her name is Dea Papadopoulos and she can be reached at (267) 357-1085. The boiled wheat is shared with the community at fellowship hour.
On the day of the Memorial, please arrive at the church at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy at 9:30am. There will be a few pews reserved for you and your family; please identify yourselves to our parish council members-ushers who will assist you. If you wish Fr. John to visit the cemetery and offer graveside prayer (Trisagion), please let us know when you make the Memorial arrangements. There will also be a few tables reserved for your family and friends during our Fellowship Hour (Kalosorisma) in our Cultural Center. Coffee and refreshments are served each Sunday by our various ministries. Please let us know if you wish to sponsor the Fellowship Hour in memory of your departed relative. Please do not hesitate to contact the parish office (215) 635-0316 for further assistance.
Guidelines for Memorials
We encourage all faithful who would like to offer a memorial service for a loved one to follow these simple guidelines:
- Memorial services are offered at the forty-day mark and the one-year mark after the death of a person. You may choose:
a. To contact the church at least two weeks in advance and arrange with Fr. John to meet at the cemetery on the forty-day mark, or the one-year mark, to offer the graveside prayers (Trisagion) there, or
b. To arrange to have the memorial service at the church on the Sunday closest to the forty-day or one-year anniversary.
- Memorial services are not offered from the Saturday of Lazarus through the Sunday of Thomas, or on any Feastday of the Lord or any Feastday of the Theotokos.
- Our Orthodox Church has set aside the three Saturdays before the Great Lent, and the Saturday before Pentecost as Saturdays of the Souls (Ψυχοσάββατα). The hymns and readings of the Matins & Liturgy of those days are specific about the repose of the souls of our departed loved ones. We strongly encourage all to bring the names of your loved ones who have fallen asleep to these liturgies to be lifted up in prayer. Please know that these Saturdays of Souls are the proper church services to remember your loved ones beyond the 40-day and the one-year anniversary.
- It is also a custom of many to hold memorial services annually on the anniversary of the repose in the faith of their loved one. Please know that these requests will be honored, and will be accommodated at the discretion of Fr. John based on the liturgical calendar, and the Sunday schedule of activities.