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February 13, 2015

Elder Thaddeus on the Souls of the Dead

Q. Fr. Thaddeus, what can you tell us about the souls of the dead?

A. We should not mourn the dead but instead pray fervently for our departed loved ones that God may grant them to dwell with the angels. This is what He wants from us. Mourning will get us nowhere. By mourning we not only can destroy our own health but can also harm the peace that the souls of the deceased have received from the Lord. We must pray for our loved ones. We must not be sorrowful and depressed. Excessive sorrow for our loved ones who have left this world is not a Christian act, but an act of godlessness. We prepare ourselves in this life for eternal life. We must be thankful for everything and thank God for taking the souls of our departed loved ones to Himself.

If they have departed this world without having repented, we must pray for them that God might forgive their sins. We must perform acts of mercy in their name and in their memory for the peace of their souls, and God will accept such acts of love.

Only the Lord can free a soul from meshes of thought in which it became entangled while in this life, and which still bind it in eternity. Only God can free such a soul. Therefore we must pray for our loved ones who are deceased. It is the most we can do: to pray that God grant rest to their souls and to give their baptismal names to priests and hieromonks who serve the Holy Liturgy every day so that they may pray for their souls.

Someone once approached Bishop Nikolai [Velimirovich] and asked him, "Will the souls of unrepentant sinners be saved?" He answered, "They will, if there is someone who will pray for them. It is most beneficial for departed souls if Forty Liturgies are served for them and if, after that, someone gives a donation to the church to continue commemorating them at the Holy Liturgy."

The Liturgy is, as we know, a Golgothan sacrifice. This means that the Lord Himself is sacrificed at the Holy Liturgy. When a priest takes out the particles from the prosphora for the repose of the departed and after receives Holy Communion, he says, "O Lord, by Thy most pure Blood forgive the sins of all those commemorated today!"

As you see, this is the most perfect prayer and the greatest sacrifice that we can offer up for our loved ones who have departed to God.

From Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, pp. 180-181.