On the Benefit of Prayers for the Dead

St. Seraphim of Sarov 1759-1833

Two nuns, who had both been abbesses, died. The Lord revealed to me how their souls had been subjected to the aerial tests, how they had been tried and then condemned. For three days and nights I prayed, wretched as I am, entreating the Mother of God for them, and the Lord in His goodness pardoned them through the prayers of the Mother of God; they passed all the aerial tests and received forgiveness through God’s mercy. (St. Seraphim of Sarov: A Spiritual Biography by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore. Chapter XV “Amazing Wonderworker” pg. 396)



  1. I don’t see how this doctrine of the Aerial Testing is optional for Orthodox. It has such a great host of witnesses behind it, including the holy Seraphim of Sarov. Two things jump out at me in this brief little excerpt: the severity of the angelic trials that await us, and the depth of God’s mercy in responding to the prayers of the saints and of the Church.

    I need to find a pamphlet I saw recently by St. John the Wonderworker about Prayers for the Dead, so that we can also include some of its gold on this our wonderful website!

  2. It’s called “The Dead Need Our Help” with a picture of St. John Maximovitch on the front. I have it and I intend to incorporate it in. I can also mail you one, say the word. Fr. Josiah Trenham reads one of St. John’s sermons, “Life after Death”, on Patristic Nectar Publications. His aim is to guard Orthodox from the errors of Latin Purgatory and Protestant instant glorification (his words. For those interested in the sermon or Fr. Josiah’s excellent reading thereof:


  3. I really can’t even believe that this doctrine’s Patristic provenance is questioned either. The last few post-mortem posts demonstrate that the aerial tests aren’t the last word. The demons are thwarted by prayer, confession, repentance, love, and bravery according to the Fathers. These abbesses were actually condemned to Hades and they still managed to ascend to Paradise through the mercy of God.

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