The ninth and fortieth days are of particular importance for the afterlife of the deceased. This is the time for the soul to stand before God. Therefore, relatives are obliged to fulfill their religious duty, preserving the memory of the deceased, especially on these days. What is the semantic meaning of commemoration at this time and what the soul has to experience - the Christian doctrine gives a clear answer to this.
The meaning of commemoration in the Orthodox tradition
When a loved one has not yet crossed the threshold of eternity, his relatives are trying in every possible way to show signs of attention, to offer their all possible help. This is the manifestation of the duty of fulfilling love for one's neighbor, which is imputed to the obligatory responsibility by the Christian doctrine. But man is not eternal. For everyone there comes a moment of death. However, this transition from one state of personality to another should not be marked by leaving the memory of the deceased. A person is alive as long as he is remembered. The religious duty of a Christian is to organize memorial dinners in memory of the departed for all who knew the latter during his lifetime.
The semantic meaning of 9 days after the death of a person
According to the Orthodox doctrine, the human soul is immortal. This thesis is confirmed by the practice of commemorating the dead in the Christian tradition. Church Tradition teaches that for the first three days after death, the soul dwells on earth in those places that were especially loved by it. Then she ascends to God. The Lord shows the soul the heavenly abodes in which the righteous are blessed.
The personal consciousness of the soul is touched, it marvels at what it sees, and the bitterness from leaving the earth is no longer so strong. This happens within six days. Then the soul ascends again by the angels to worship God. It turns out that this is the ninth day on which the soul sees its Creator for the second time. In memory of this, the Church establishes a commemoration at which it is customary to gather in a narrow family circle. Commemoration in churches is ordered, prayers are offered to God for mercy on the deceased. There is a statement that there is no one who has lived and has not sinned. Also, the semantic meaning of the number nine is the memory of the Church about the corresponding number of angelic ranks. It is the angels who accompany the soul, showing it all the beauties of paradise.
The fortieth day is the time of the private judgment of the soul
After nine days, the soul is shown the hellish abodes. She observes all the horror of incorrigible sinners, feels fear and awe of what she saw. Then, on the fortieth day, he again ascends to God for worship, only this time there is also a private judgment on the soul. This date is always considered the most important in the afterlife of the deceased. There is no tradition of transferring the commemoration, no matter what day they fall.
The soul is judged for all the deeds committed by a person during his lifetime. And after that, the place of her stay is determined until the moment of the second coming of Christ. It is especially important on these days to perform prayers and do alms in memory of a relative or acquaintance who has left this world. A person asks God for mercy, the possibility of bestowing a blessed lot on a deceased person.
The number 40 also has its own meaning. Even in the Old Testament, it was prescribed to keep the memory of the deceased for 40 days. In New Testament times, semantic analogies can be drawn with the Ascension of Christ. So, exactly on the 40th day after His resurrection, the Lord ascended to heaven. This commemoration date is also a memory that the human soul after death goes back to its Heavenly Father.
In general, holding a commemoration is an act of mercy for living people. Lunch is offered as alms in memory of the deceased, other rituals are performed, testifying to a person's faith in the immortality of the soul. This is also the hope for the salvation of each individual person.