Concerning Prayer for the Departed
Death separates us only bodily from our loved ones, not spiritually. Because of this and the immutable bonds of faith and love, Orthodox Christians pray fervently for the departed, especially on the third, ninth, and fortieth days after days, and at other appointed times. We pray for the departed on the third day, for the sake of Christ's third-day Resurrection. According to St. Macarius the Great, from the third to the ninth day, after worshipping God, the soul is shown the abodes of Paradise, and is in sorrow for having deprived itself of this blessedness by sin; therefore, on the ninth day, as the soul is brought to the judgment, it is fitting for us to pray. From the ninth to the fortieth day the soul is shown the torments of Hell, and is terrified that such a fate must befall it; on the fortieth day the soul appears for the last time before the Lord, Who assigns it to a place until the day of His second coming. As Christ ascended forty days after his Resurrection, likewise the soul is assigned its place.
The fortieth day after death is considered to be the the most important day of commemoration. Orthodox Christians zealous to keep the memory of the departed faithfully keep these twelve times of commemoration:
- the 3rd day
- the 9th day
- the 40th day
- the half-year anniversary
- the annual anniversary
- Meat-fare Week. (Panikhidas for our ancestors during the week, with a Universal Panikhida on the Saturday of the Departed)
- 2nd Saturday of the Great Fast.
- 3rd Saturday of the Great Fast.
- 4th Saturday of the Great Fast.
- Radonitsa (Tuesday of the 2nd week of Pascha)
- The week before Pentecost/Trinity Sunday.
- The week before the commemoration of St. Demetrius (26 Oct/8 Nov.)