Hello, my siblings in Christ. I’m Bojan and welcome to hell. I will be your guide. If you think this doesn’t look like hell, well, I suppose you never checked out the YouTube comment section. You must never go there. The subject of today’s video is a specific aspect of prayer for the departed, that being their salvation. Christians have always prayed for their dead. And we’ve considered some of the dead so holy that we needed their prayers much more than they needed ours. We call these people Saints. The others require our prayer, for they can do nothing on their own to help themselves. Say someone you really loved met a sorry, sinful end. Is there a way to help such a person? There is a glimmer of hope even for such people. As Poe said, “Even in the grave, all is not lost.” And don’t think for a second that our Lord is less merciful than Edgar Allen Poe. First of all, can we truly know who has repented and who has not? There is a story about the great parish priest of Ars, John Vianney. He was serving a requiem mass for a man who had ended his life by jumping off a bridge. His wife, devastated, was crying throughout the service. After the mass he approached her, and receiving enlightenment from up high, he uttered that he is saved. She inquires, “How can that be as he has ended his life by suicide?” And he says, “Between the parapet of the bridge and the water he uttered an act of contrition.” Okay, let us assume the worst – your loved one ends up in a bad place. I’ll share a famous story from the life of St. Macarius, the great Egyptian ascetic. He happened to stumble upon a skull in a desert. He poked it with his stick because that is what you do when you find a skull. And the skull spoke, saying that it belonged to a pagan high priest The high priest was consigned to hell, engulfed by flames. The people there, he said, can see each other as their backs face one another. However, when Christians pray for the dead, they can see each other’s faces and feel some comfort. St. Macarius prayed for the dead man and buried the skull. That story was a bit dark, but I’ll save the two best stories for last. First is the story of St. Gregory the Great. He heard how Roman Emperor Trajan punished some loan sharks that dragged a certain widow into debt. Moved by this story, he started praying fervently for him during the liturgy. The Lord Himself appeared to the Pope saying that He saved Trajan from the torments. In the Middle Ages in the west, Thomas Aquinas claimed that salvation is completely impossible without baptism and the story was changed. In that version, St. Gregory resurrects Trajan, baptizes him, and then Trajan dies, finally saved. Some um…some impeccable logic there, Thomas. The story of St. Cleopatra is even more fascinating. St. Cleopatra lived between the third and fourth century. She witnessed the martyrdom of St. Varus. She took his body and buried him. Later on her son, a pagan centurion, died suddenly. She went to the relic of the saint and begged him to return her son. That night she dreamt St. Varus accompanied by her child. The son asked her mother not to pray for his resurrection as he was accompanied by the holy martyr to the heavenly kingdom. This is a powerful story. In fact, after the Church was restored in Russia after Soviet repression, – – there arose a custom for the priests to serve the supplicatory canon of St. Varus for the repose of the departed who weren’t baptized. The church hierarchy saw this as serving a memorial service for the unbaptized, which is prohibited. But there is nothing wrong in praying the canon on your own. *wink* You can find the link to the canon in the description What is the point of all these stories? It is simple. Love is salvific. The Lord wants us to participate in the salvation of one another. During our life we are surrounded by people, angels, and saints praying for us and that does not change once we are gone. I’d even make a bold statement: If you feel an urge to pray for someone whose end wasn’t exactly exemplary, it is the Holy Spirit Himself sighing for the soul of that person. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham tells the rich man that the damned cannot pass the chasm separating paradise from Hades. That is true – the dead cannot help themselves. However, we may still aid them by our own prayers. After all, we serve the Lord who ascended into air, who passed through the sepulchral stone, and who walked over the waters as if it were dry land. He is almighty and passing the chasm to hell isn’t an obstacle. Remember to pray for the dead. It can be as simple as “Lord, have mercy on all of Your departed servants.” If you want a longer prayer you can read the akathist for the repose of all the departed, – – which is one of my favorite prayers and possibly one of the most beautiful prayers ever written. As with the canon, you can find the link to the akathist in the description. And once you die, try not to be surprised at all the souls of the dead who will thank you for your aid.