The Theotokos, Joy of All Who Sorrow


The son of a friend of mine died after a long struggle with childhood leukemia.

I awoke in the middle of the night, went to my bookcase, and found a book of Akathists. I read the Akathist for the Repose of the Departed.

It includes these prayers and reflections:

Enlightened by the illumination of the All-highest, Saint Macarius heard a voice from a pagan skull: When you pray for those suffering in Hades, then there is comfort for the heathen. O wondrous power of Christian prayer, by which even the nether regions are illumined! Both believers and unbelievers receive consolation when we cry for the whole world: Alleluia!


The words of Isaac the Syrian are recalled: the heart of the merciful offers prayers with tears every hour for people and animals and all creation, that they may be preserved and purified.


We are to blame for the calamities in the world, for the sufferings of dumb creatures and for the diseases and torments of blameless children, for through the fall of man the beatitude and beauty of all creation have been marred.

O Lord of unutterable love, remember Thy servants who have fallen asleep!

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