On Prayers for the Dead

Apostolic Constitutions compiled 3rd-4th cent.

Let us pray for our brethren that are at rest in Christ, that God, the lover of mankind, who has received his soul, may forgive him every sin, voluntary and involuntary, and may be merciful and gracious to him, and give him his lot in the land of the pious that are sent into the bosom of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, with all those that have pleased Him and done His will from the beginning of the world, whence all sorrow, grief, and lamentation are banished. Let us arise, let us dedicate ourselves and one another to the eternal God, through that Word which was in the beginning. And let the bishop say: O You who is by nature immortal, and has no end of Your being, from whom every creature, whether immortal or mortal, is derived; who made man a rational creature, the citizen of this world, in his constitution mortal, and added the promise of a resurrection; who did not suffer Enoch and Elijah to taste of death: the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, who art the God of them, not as of dead, but as of living persons: for the souls of all men live with You, and the spirits of the righteous are in Your hand, which no torment can touch; Matthew 22:32; Wisdom 3:1 for they are all sanctified under Your hand: do Thou now also look upon this Your servant, whom You have selected and received into another state, and forgive him if voluntarily or involuntarily he has sinned, and afford him merciful angels, and place him in the bosom of the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and of all those that have pleased You from the beginning of the world, where there is no grief, sorrow, nor lamentation; but the peaceable region of the godly, and the undisturbed land of the upright, and of those that therein see, the glory of Your Christ; by whom glory, honour, and worship, thanksgiving, and adoration be to You, in the Holy Spirit, for ever. Amen. And let the deacon say: Bow down, and receive the blessing. And let the bishop give thanks for them, saying as follows: O Lord, save Your people, and bless Your inheritance, which You have purchased with the precious blood of Your Christ. Feed them under Your right hand, and cover them under Your wings, and grant that they may fight the good fight, and finish their course, and keep the faith 2 Timothy 4:7 immutably, unblameably, and unreprovably, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to You and to the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.

Let the third day of the departed be celebrated with psalms, and lessons, and prayers, on account of Him who arose within the space of three days; and let the ninth day be celebrated in remembrance of the living, and of the departed; and the fortieth day according to the ancient pattern: for so did the people lament Moses, and the anniversary day in memory of him. And let alms be given to the poor out of his goods for a memorial of him.

These things we say concerning the pious; for as to the ungodly, if you give all the world to the poor, you will not benefit him at all. For to whom the Deity was an enemy while he was alive, it is certain it will be so also when he is departed; for there is no unrighteousness with Him. For the Lord is righteous, and has loved righteousness. And, Behold the man and his work. Isaiah 62:11 (Apostolic Constitutions 8.4. 41-43)