All Souls Saturdays-Sorokousty
A beautiful part of our Catholic tradition is praying for those who have departed from this earthly life; prayer for the dead is one of the greatest acts of charity we can perform. We pray for the repose of their souls, the forgiveness of their sins and that they may rejoice in eternal life in heaven. We pray for the souls of the departed in the daily prayers and services of the Church, as well as in our own personal prayers and by offering Liturgies for them.
Week after week, we remember our departed relatives. The Church dedicates each Saturday of the year to the souls who have gone into eternity, but have not yet entered into eternal rest in heaven. In addition, there are certain Saturdays of the Liturgical Year which are specifically dedicated to remembering and praying for the dead. These Saturdays are called All Souls Saturdays. They include Meat fare Saturday, the second, third, and fourth Saturdays of the Great Fast, and the Saturday before Pentecost Sunday. What a joy that the Church gives us days of special prayer on which we can give our full attention to our departed kinsmen that have departed from the ages!
Why these specific Saturdays? The theme of Meat fare Sunday is the Last Judgment. It is fitting that we pray the day before for all Christians who have fallen asleep, especially those for whom no one prays, so that they may stand worthily before God at the Final Judgment. The Saturdays of the Great Fast are appropriate for remembering the dead since this is a time for increased prayer, especially for the repose of those who have departed. Because the descent of the Holy Spirit is the final act in our redemption, we want those who have fallen asleep to also share in the graces of this act. Therefore, we honour their memory on the Saturday before Pentecost.
How important it is to pray for these people, for people who are our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have lived out their lives – some of them long lives, others altogether short, but who have all gone to stand before the Face of the Lord; that is, who have all traveled the path along which every one of us must sooner or later travel! They know what awaits us, which means that their prayers are beneficial for us.
So let us pray for one another: we, for the departed; and the departed, for us – and in this way we will all be saved. Let us pray that our life might be at least a little closer to God; let us ask the Lord to save the souls of our departed loved ones, friends, relatives, and enemies – everyone who needs our prayers. And let us hope that their prayers will, in just the same way, help us to better ourselves and to become more spiritualized and deified.
May the Lord help us all, both the living and the departed – everyone who stands in need of God’s mercy, which means all of humankind and, above all, all Christians, for the Apostle Paul said that the Savior came into the world to save all men, especially those who believe (cf. 1 Timothy 4:10). Let us be faithful, that the Savior might be our Redeemer from the torments of hell and the Source of joy in Himself – Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom is due all glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.