November 15, 2015

Integrating the Sacred Forty Liturgies in the Nativity Fast

By Fr. Demetrios Bokou

A rock fell and crushed many workers in a quarry. The wife of one of them, Mrs. Argyros, considering her husband now dead, gave to a priest whatever she had, to have forty liturgies done for the repose of his soul. For this purpose, she gave him daily a prosphoron, a bottle of nama wine and a candle.

When the priest arrived at twenty liturgies, the devil envied the devotion of the woman. He appeared to her and said that the priest left for some urgent work, so it made no sense to bring him a prosphoron. She would rather bring it the next day. This took place three times throughout the duration of the forty liturgies.

Meanwhile rescuers were trying to remove the soil. Many dead continuously emerged. At one point they heard deep within a voice:

"Watch out, I'm alive! Dig carefully, because there are two rocks above me! If they fall they will kill me!"

The rescuers were amazed and dug carefully from the side and found the man alive. It was the husband of Mrs. Argyros!

When asked how he lived so many days without food, he responded:

"Every day someone gave me, without me seeing them, a bread, a bottle of wine and one lit candle that shined in front of me. So I ate, except for three days when I ate nothing, nor did I see light, and I was very saddened, because I thought for my sins the hand of God stopped helping me. And although I expected to die of hunger and thirst, I saw the lighted candle, bread and wine again as previously and I glorified God, who did not abandon me to the end."

Full of amazement every glorified God.

In the month of November we begin the forty liturgies and the above incident shows us its great importance for our lives. The Divine Liturgy is the highest work we can do on earth. And it doesn't only benefit the living, but also the reposed. This is because the most benevolent Lord is conquered by His own philanthropy, says Saint John of Damascus. And He will be conquered until His final retaliation at the Second Coming, when the time of assistance has passed. Until then everyone will want to rush to the aid of their neighbor and be of mutual benefit while we are alive and also after death.

And because this exceedingly pleases the Lord, the Church offers the Divine Liturgy for the reposed always as well. If this wasn't good in God's eyes, it would have certainly been abolished. On the contrary, the God-bearing Fathers and Teachers of the Church all endorse such a thing, and they highlight the great gain souls have with the offering of the Divine Liturgy with all of our prayers and alms on their behalf.

"If you have not caught up as long as you are alive and settled everything concerning your soul," says Saint John Chrysostom, "request of your loved ones as long as you are alive, that they may send you after your death your belongings. Namely, to help you with good works: almsgiving and liturgies. Far be it for these to be omitted. Because then, at the Second Coming, we will be accused by our household, that we neglected to do what we had to on their behalf."

Here we can integrate the sacred forty liturgies, which can exceedingly help the living and the dead. Let us all do it, but the right way. Not to write a name on a piece of paper that we will give to a priest. But with our effective participation in the Divine Liturgy, that "the Lord our God remember all of us in His Kingdom." Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.