Memorial Saturday: Our love in Christ makes our departed ones alive

On Memorial Saturday just before the Meatfare week, the Holy Church is calling u sto pray for the repose of the souls of our departed relatives who fell asleep in the Lord in the hope of the Ressurection and the eternal life.

In order to understand the importance of offering our prayers for the departed ones, it is necessary to have in mind that Christianity is religion of love. Christ hasn’t left to us, his disciples some teaching about an individual salvation but he has left the commandment to love one another. Love is the foundation and the essence of the Church teaching. The sin is always a lack of love and therefore it is segregation, isolation, a war against everyone. Delivering our prayers for our departed ones means that we meet them in Christ. Christ doesn’t make difference between the dead and the living because everyone is alive in Christ. Loving Christ we do love everyone in Him, loving everyone in Him, we do love Christ. Our love in Christ makes our departed ones alive.

The Meeting of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple

Today the Church commemorates an important event in the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 2:22-40).

Forty days after His birth the God-Infant was taken to the Jerusalem Temple, the center of the nation’s religious life. According to the Law of Moses (Lev. 12:2-8), a woman who gave birth to a male child was forbidden to enter the Temple of God for forty days. At the end of this time the mother came to the Temple with the child, to offer a young lamb or pigeon to the Lord as a purification sacrifice. The Most Holy Virgin, the Mother of God, had no need of purification, since she had given birth to the Source of purity and sanctity without defilement. However, she humbly fulfilled the requirements of the Law.

Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries Cyrus and John, and those with them

Saint Cyrus was a noted physician in the city of Alexandria, where he had been born and raised. He was a Christian and he treated the sick without charge, not only curing their bodily afflictions, but also healing their spiritual infirmities. He would say, “Whoever wishes to avoid being ill should refrain from sin, for sin is often the cause of bodily illness.” Preaching the Gospel, the holy physician converted many pagans to Christ. During the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), Saint Cyrus withdrew into Arabia, where he became a monk. He continued to heal people by his prayer, having received from God the gift to heal every sickness.

In the city of Edessa at this time lived the soldier John, a pious Christian. When the persecution started, he went to Jerusalem and there he heard about Saint Cyrus. He began to search for him, going first to Alexandria and then to Arabia. When Saint John finally found Saint Cyrus, he remained with him and became his faithful follower.

Synaxis of the Three Hierarchs

Each of these saints has his own feast day: St. Basil the Great, January 1; St. Gregory the Theologian, January 25; and St. John Chrysostom, January 27. This combined feast day, January 30, was instituted in the eleventh century during the reign of Emperor Alexius Comnenus. Once, a debate arose among the people concerning who among the three was the greatest. Some extolled Basil because of his purity and courage; others extolled Gregory for his unequalled depth and lofty mind in theology; still others extolled Chrysostom because of his eloquence and clarity in expounding the Faith. Thus some were called Basilians, others Gregorians, and the third were called Johannites. This debate was settled by divine providence, to the benefit of the Church and to the even greater glory of the three saints. Bishop John of Euchaita (June 14) had a vision in a dream: At first all three of these saints appeared to him separately in great glory and indescribable beauty, and after that, all three appeared together. They said to him: “As you see, we are one in God and there is nothing contradictory in us; neither is there a first or a second among us.” The saints also advised Bishop John to write a common service for them and to order a common feast day of celebration. Following this wonderful vision, the debate was settled in this manner: January 30 would be designated as the common feast of these three hierarchs. The Greeks consider the feast not only an ecclesiastical feast, but also their greatest national and school holiday.

Venerable Ephraim the Syrian

Saint Ephraim the Syrian, a teacher of repentance, was born at the beginning of the fourth century in the city of Nisibis (Mesopotamia) into the family of impoverished toilers of the soil. His parents raised their son in piety, but from his childhood, he was known for his quick temper and impetuous character. He often had fights, acted thoughtlessly, and even doubted God’s Providence. He finally recovered his senses by the grace of God, and embarked on the path of repentance and salvation.

Once, he was unjustly accused of stealing a sheep and was thrown into prison. He heard a voice in a dream calling him to repent and correct his life. After this, he was acquitted of the charges and set free.