Why does the Church like to remind us twice a year that we are all going to die? It’s such a downer.
(Where’s the sarcasm font?)
In reality, I think it’s very important to be reminded that we are all going to die one day and that this life was meant to be temporary. It helps us remember to stop sweating the small stuff, look at the big picture, forgive and repent.
For the procrastinator in all of us, the Church Calendar has two Saturdays named “Saturday of Souls” where we remember the dead: the Saturday before Meatfare Sunday and the Saturday before Pentecost… the beginning and end of the movable festal calendar. The other Saturday of Souls services in the beginning of Lent are associated with the ascetics who didn’t have descendants to remember them in prayer and St. Theodore concerning the Miracle of the Koliva*.
On these memorial Saturdays we offer boiled wheat, a.k.a. Koliva, and ask the priest and those present to pray for our departed family members and loved ones. I have a friend who pays extra attention to pray for his loved ones and friends who didn’t have children (like the ascetics) and who will probably be forgotten through the generations to come. As it is, each of us depending on the if we taught our children this sacred tradition or if our names are on a building or invention of some sort, will probably only be remembered for a short time after our death (in comparison to eternity.)
Holy and Great Lent is less than two weeks away and today we are preparing the ingredients for the first Saturday of Souls, February 10, 2018. Do you prepare Koliva? Do you offer a list of names of the dead? How far back do you go?
May their memory be eternal.
- In 361, Julian the Apostate was doing his utmost to restore pagan customs. Knowing that the Christians were accustomed to sanctify the first week of Lent by fasting and prayer, the wily tyrant told the Prefect of Constantinople to have all of the food set out for sale in the markets sprinkled with the blood of animals sacrificed to the gods, so that no one in the city would escape the contagion of idolatry. However, the Lord did not abandon His chosen people, but sent His servant Theodore to outwit the tyrant. Appearing in a vision to Patriarch Eudoxius (360-364), the holy Martyr informed him of what was happening and told him to instruct the Christians not to buy food from the markets but instead to eat kolyva made from grains of boiled wheat. Thus, thanks to the intervention of the holy Martyr Theodore, the Christian people were preserved from the stain of idolatry. The Church has commemorated this miracle ever since on the first Saturday of Great Lent, in order to remind the faithful that fasting and temperance have the power to cleanse all the stains of sin.