Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meatfare Saturday

Today is Meatfare Saturday, also known as the Saturday of the Dead. Here is S. V. Bulgakov's explanation of today's commemoration:
On Meatfare Saturday, before the commemoration (on Meatfare Sunday) of the Last Judgment, the Holy Church prays for the departed, so that together with us they also stand at the right hand of the Judge, and especially prays for those who have died, who, as the Synaxarion says, were stolen suddenly by death in a foreign country, on the sea and on impassable mountains, on cliffs, from starvation, from plagues and hunger, in war, in fires, from cold, and have undergone all kinds of other generic types of death, and also about poor and needy, and in general for all who "have not received commemoration in the legitimate psalms and hymns". On a Saturday, instead of another day, before Meatfare Sunday it is necessary to pray for the repose of souls because the Sabbath Day is the day of rest, according to its innate meaning. It is the most important day for prayer for those who repose with the Saints. Besides this, the present prayer for the departed who repose the Holy Church reminds us about our inevitable end and our standing for trial before the incorruptible Judge, that, fearing these things to better prepare us for the spiritual struggle which are to come in the saving fast.
For the full entry, which includes liturgical rubrics, click here. A selection from the hymnography for today's service can be read here. The website Orthodoxy and the World has two useful entries about today's commemoration here and here. Another very good thing to read today is St Ephraim the Syrian's Sermon on the Fathers Who Have Completed Their Course. For the lives of the saints commemorated today, click here. Aaron Taylor has a post up on one of today's saints, St Sava II of Serbia, here.

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