On Lenten Struggle and Prayer for the Departed

February 02, 2018

On Lenten Struggle and Prayer for the Departed

The Great Fast is once more almost upon us, and soon once again the Gates of Repentance will be opened unto us. The Holy Fathers teach us that Lent is the tithe of the year which we offer to the Lord, as first fruits and as a sin offering to God. And as Abba Dorotheos exclaims: “Blessed, O brethren, is he who preserves himself well in these holy days as he should. For though it might happen that being human we sin out of infirmity or negligence, still God has given these holy days in order that, striving with heedfulness and humility, we take care of ourselves and repent for all of our sins, and we will be cleansed of the sins we committed during the whole year.”

All too often, however, we allow these holy days to pass us by, neglecting the great spiritual opportunity which God in His mercy has granted to us. And it is precisely an opportunity—not an outward or arbitrary obligation, not some sort of debt which we must grudgingly pay to God, but rather a gift that He has given to us for our own spiritual benefit and for the health and salvation of our own souls. The resurrection which we all seek in Pascha must begin even now, in the Lenten springtime of our souls. We must sow now in order that we might have something to reap, and not be as those foolish virgins who were turned away on the night of the marriage feast.

Thankfully, the Holy Church has given us many tools and aids for this task, and many weapons for the spiritual battle which we are about to wage. Fasting, prayer, the beautiful and compunctionate Church services, almsgiving and spiritual reading, all of these can soften even the heart most hardened by long and habitual sin. And in the commemoration of the departed, one of the hallmarks of the Lenten season, so many of these virtues are yoked together: prayer for our departed loved ones, almsgiving on behalf of their souls, the church services offered up for their benefit and for the comfort of those who remain behind on this earth. Added to these is a great and inestimable benefit to ourselves: the continual reminder of and meditation upon death, which is a foundation of all virtue and a bulwark against every sin. Indeed, the monk Hesychios tells us that “no one who has the memory of death can ever sin.” The more we call to remembrance those who have departed from this life, the more we dedicate our time and our struggle to their benefit, even so will we more and more realize the vanity and emptiness of all the worldly trinkets and empty pleasures which occupy so much of our attention throughout the year. Our eyes will be opened to the riches of grace which we possess so abundantly in our faith, both now in this world as well as infinitely more in the age to come.

With these things in remembrance, we invite you to please submit, for prayerful commemoration, the names of Orthodox Christians who have departed this life, along with an optional offering of alms in their remembrance and on their behalf. These names will be commemorated at every Liturgy, Pannykhida, Litya, and Matins for the Departed during Great and Holy Lent. Asking mercy for ourselves and for all who can no longer ask for themselves, may we find the great mercy of divine life this Pascha, and at the General Resurrection may we all be raised unto life eternal, finding mercy at the Last Judgment. Amen.

View the full 2018 Lenten Newsletter here →


It is customary in the Russian Orthodox Church when requesting prayers for the departed to bring an offering to God and His Church from the fruit of one’s labor. This act of almsgiving is spiritually beneficial both for the giver and for those departed ones on behalf of whom the gift is made (please be assured that we will fulfill your request for prayer regardless of whether or not you choose to make a donation). If you wish to do so, you may either donate online, or if you prefer you may send your offering to the following address:

Hermitage of the Holy Cross
Attn: Lenten Commemorations
505 Holy Cross Road
Wayne, WV 25570-5403

Thank you very much for your prayers and support!




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