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Eastern Orthodox/Memorials and non-Orthodox family members


Good morning,

I have a question on the rules of who qualifies to have a memorial said for them at church - several of our families are married to people that converted to Orthodoxy so the important family members in the converted partner's background are ones that a memorial can not be said.  I followed that rule all my years of growing up without question but, of course, it was easy as there were not that many people in the church that weren't "cradle Orthodox".  I assumed that the rules had been relaxed as more non-Orthodox people married Orthodox.  Some of the converts were married to Orthodox who were born in Greece and just assumed that the respect for their elders could be displayed in the same manner as the Orthodox spouse's had been over the years but gets a little tense if you have to ask are all your names that of Orthodox people.  It has become a point of "Don't ask, don't tell" and therefore different answers are given to the same question of "can I have a memorial for my mother or father, etc that were not Orthodox but were definately Servants of God"?

In trying to shorten up this question, some people have been tolerated, maybe for the sake of being politcally correct, and allowed to have memorials for non-Orthodox family members while others, who have asked the question, have not been allowed to do so - is the rule still that strict?  I imagine that if it is, I can't even have a memorial for Orthodox family members who were cremated or otherwise not buried in the church and that saddens me to not get to do that for people that I love and honor - thank you for trying to decipher this post

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Dear-in-Christ Thanos,

While our prayers and memorials certainly provide comfort to those who have fallen asleep, they generally provide more comfort to the living who must carry on the "good fight", that they may be encouraged and strengthened. Of course the tradition and teaching of the Church is that the mysteries of the Church are for the members of the Church. For those outside the blessed harbor of the Church, such things are between them and a just and loving God, who desires that all might know Him in spirit and in Truth.

We must always remember in our prayers, the bishops and priests who must use wisdom and discernment to guide their flocks in these wicked and complicated times. They bear an awesome responsibility as ones who must give an account to God for many. Often priests must "choose their battles" in deciding how best to apply economia in any particular spiritual situation. The "rules" of Orthodoxy are not legalistic, but rather theraputic. Different shepherds will often come up with different courses of action based on their own experiences, abilities, and of course the circumstances of the flock. Our pastors are human too and can also make mistakes and may not always be consisent either. They will answer to God regardless.

Of course, we can ALWAYS remember our loved ones in our private prayers, whether or not they are Orthodox. We can continue to love and honor them in our prayers and in our hearts and by our actions as we live our own lives in the shadow of their memory.

Your servant in Christ our Lord, God and Savior,

Eastern Orthodox

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