, PRAYER FOR THE

The Coptic church, which believes in one final, decisive , does not recognize the concepts of or of a particular judgment to each individual soul at its separation from the body at the time of death. This attitude is supported by Christ’s description of the second coming of of Man, and also by the intrinsic significance of His parables of the kingdom of heaven. Thus, as the souls of the departed await the of the dead for judgment, and may be offered on their behalf, both by individuals and by the church as a whole.

In the evening service of the raising of incense, the prayers for the dead, known as intercessions for the dormant, are recited by the priest, with the response from the and the congregation.

Similar intercessions are mentioned at the following significant points in the course of the celebration of Divine : the , the mystery of the Gospel, the , the prayers preceding and following the fraction, in the prayer of to .

These prayers were prescribed among other practices of the early church. The , referring to or as “dormitories,” laid down this command: “”. . . assemble in the dormitories, reading the , and singing for the which are fallen asleep, and for all the saints from the beginning of the world, and for your brethren that are asleep in the Lord, and offer the acceptable . . . both in your churches and in the dormitories.”

(c. 160-c. 220), the earliest of the fathers who mentioned the in their writings, describes their departure as the birthday into a new stage of life: “We offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries.”

Reference to these prayers was also made by (c. 315-386), in his : “After the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless service is completed, over that sacrifice of we entreat God for the common peace of the Churches, . . . we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us; . . . and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth.”

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