Why Memorial Prayers?

Why Memorial Prayers?

Question: Why do we pray for the dead on the 3rd, 9th, and 40th day of a person’s repose, and what is the basis for the practice?

St. John Chrysostom states that the practice of praying for the dead comes from the Apostles themselves: “Not in vain did the Apostles order that remembrance should be made of the dead in the dreadful Mysteries. They know that great gain resulteth to them, great benefit; for when the whole people stands with uplifted hands, a priestly assembly, and that awful Sacrifice lies displayed, how shall we not prevail with God by our entreaties for them?” (Homily 3 on Philippians).

The Church commemorates the dead at every liturgy, and in every liturgy (that of St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. James, etc.). But there are special days of commemorating the dead, and these commemorations also go back to the Apostles.

 

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