THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CEMETERY
The Elaine Cemetery is under the spiritual supervision of the St. Sava Monastery. Due to the large number of Orthodox buried there, the clergy often attend to memorial services, especially at Memorial Saturdays.
Memorial Saturdays are days when we remember our departed and we pray for their souls. Memorial Saturdays are days for the deceased. Our church has established separate days, four times a year, when we especially pray for the repose of the souls of our departed. The Saturday before Meat Fare Sunday, the Saturday before Pentecost, the Saturday before Venerable Father Cyriacus the Hermit, and the Saturday before St. Demetrius are memorial Saturdays. These days are clearly marked in the church calendar and it is on these days when we visit and tidy the graves of our beloved, memorial services are conducted, wheat is sanctified, the priest censes and pours wine on the grave, while candles are lit for the repose of souls.
Memorial Saturdays are always on a Saturday because during the entire year that is the day for remembering the departed. On the grave and in the church we bring cooked wheat- koljivo. Wheat symbolically reminds us of Christ’s words of the seed that brings forth fruit only after it dies, not in the darkness of the earth, but in the light of the sun. Wheat is the symbol of the mortal body and the immortal soul in the light of the Heavenly Kingdom.
Red wine, which the priest pours onto the wheat, represents God’s mercy with which the wounds of sin are healed.
The candle is the symbol of the light of Christ. He said: “I am the light of the world”. The candlelight should remind us of the light with which Christ illumines the souls of the deceased. The candle is a small sacrifice to God who sacrificed himself for us on the cross.
There are days in the year when memorial services cannot be performed. From Christmas to Epiphany, during the first week of Great Lent, during the Holy and Bright Week (prior and after Easter), on Ascension, Pentecost and Transfiguration, and from Great Thursday until St. Thomas Sunday. For more information on these days it is best to consult your local priest.