"The solution is to be found through the sanctification of the parents. Become saints and you will have no problems with your children." Father Porphyrios , Wounded By Love

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Graveyard Cleanup


Most American cemeteries have maintenance workers, but I've been thinking that this would make a fantastic service project. Take your kids, your teens, or your youth group and go spend the afternoon amongst the tombs!(Especially if you know where many fellow Orthodox faithful are buried)Did you know the early Christians celebrated the Divine Liturgy underground with the bodies of the reposed alongside the worshipers.(catacombs) Can you imagine that!

Prayer for those fallen asleep is an ancient tradition of the Church. Since we believe that life continues after death, we say the members of the Church that have reposed maintain spiritual communication with those of us that remain on earth. As St Paul says in Romans 14:7-8, "Whether we live or die we belong to the Lord."

* Pick a Saturday or Sunday
* Copy prayers of Memorial Service
* Pack rakes,shovels,flowers,garbage bags
* Select an area of the graveyard to tidy up
* Spend time reading the tombstones
* Read the Trisagion prayers for the person buried there
* Teach the following (taken from a text by New Skete, Mt Athos)

The one, holy, and universal Church is divided into two parts: the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant. To the Church Triumphant belong all those who ended their struggle in earthly life victoriously; they await their crown of righteousness (the Saints). To the Church Militant belong all those still struggling on earth against sin in order to attain perfection.(saints, with a lowercase "s") It is by the love of Christ, which is eternal, that we are bound to one another as His creation.

St John Chrysostom stated, "Let us help these souls as much as we can, and offer them a small assistance. We ourselves should pray and we should ask others to pray for them. We offer charitable acts together with supplications for those departed so that they may receive consolation. For, if Job's children were cleansed by their father's sacrifice, then why doubt that the dead do not gain benefit from our prayers and charity?"

Lastly, if time permits, consider discussing the significance of Kollyva, the traditional mixture of boiled wheat and fruits which dates back to the 4th century and is usually offered on 40-Day and One Year Memorials. Get your hands dirty preparing this tasty treat if you can and end the day with this quote from St Simeon of Thessaloniki,

"The kernels of wheat and fruits of the earth show that human beings are also seeds. When they are cast down on the ground they want, with the power of God, to rise up again like grain, and after they manage to sprout up, then full grown and alive, they want to be offered to Christ. For just as what is now a seed will be buried in the earth and after that will germinate and come to fruition and bear forth its ample fruit, so too a human being that is now delivered to the earth on account of death wants to rise up again."

For Christ is the resurrection, the life, and the repose of all, and to Him do we ascribe glory, together with the beginningless Father, and the all-holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

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