Radonitsa is this Tuesday. I ask my flock and anyone else who reads this to send me the names of their Orthodox loved ones who have departed this life for commemoration in a panakhida tonight, at 7:30 PM. Because of work obligations, I cannot serve liturgy or visit cemeteries on Radonitsa.
Priest Seraphim .
On this day, the Tuesday of St. Thomas week, according to the order instituted by our Holy Fathers, we call to remembrance, in Paschal joy, all those who have died from the beginning of the ages in faith and in the hope of resurrection and life eternal.
Having previously celebrated the radiant feast of Christ's glorious Resurrection, the faithful commemorate the dead today with the pious intent to share the great joy of this Pascha feast with those who have departed this life in the hope of their own resurrection. This is the same blessed joy with which the dead heard our Lord announce His victory over death when He descended into Hades, thus leading forth by the hand the righteous souls of the Old Covenant into Paradise. This is the same unhoped-for joy the Holy Myrrhbearing Women experienced when discovering the empty tomb and the undisturbed grave clothes. In addition, this is the same bright joy the Holy Apostles encountered in the Upper Room where Christ appeared though the doors were closed. In short, this feast is a kindred joy, to celebrate the luminous Resurrection with our Orthodox forefathers who have fallen asleep.
There is evidence of the commemoration of the dead today in the writings of the Church Fathers. St. John Chrysostom mentions the commemoration of the dead performed on Tuesday of St. Thomas week in his "Homily on the Cemetery and the Cross."
Today, the faithful departed are remembered in Divine Liturgies, 'koliva' is prepared and blessed in the churches in memory of those who have fallen asleep, and the Orthodox graves in cemeteries are blessed by the priests and visited by the faithful. On this day alms are given to the poor. Furthermore, it should be noted that due to the great spiritual joy this jubilant commemoration bears, it is called in the Slavonic tongue, 'Radonitsa,' or Day of Rejoicing."
From the "Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and Pentecostarion" (published in 1999 by HDM Press, Rives Junction, Michigan) on "Radonitsa':
A note in the English-language edition of the Synaxarion says that the above account was written "by a monk who wished to remain anonymous." This account does not appear in the Slavonic or Greek Pentecostaria.
The development of a special commemoration of the dead during Thomas Week is undoubtedly related closely to the fact that memorial services are prohibited by the Typicon from being served from Great Thursday through Thomas Sunday. Thus, in the entry for Holy and Great Thursday, the Typicon states: "It is fitting to know: That the Litia for the reposed does not take place in the narthex until Thomas Sunday." Then, in the entry for Monday of Thomas Week, the Typicon states at the end of the instructions for Matins and the First Hour: "And the usual Litia in the narthex."
Thus, the beginning of Thomas Week presents the first opportunity to commemorate the departed (other than at the Proskomidia) since the middle of Passion Week.
It is interesting to note that in the Typicon and Pentecostarion that are currently in use in the Russian Church, there is no specific mention of a commemoration of the dead on Tuesday of Thomas Week, and the services appointed for that day do not contain any requiem elements. Nonetheless, it is quite common to serve a General Panikhida in church on that day and also to serve Requiem Litias at the graves of the departed.
Daniel Olson, with permission
There are many folk customs associated with Radonitsa. Perhaps some readers would like to share their knowledge and experience of these customs with us.
Here is some more about:
Traditional days and ways of remembrance
The fortieth day after death is considered to be the the most important day of commemoration. Orthodox Christians zealous to keep the memory of the departed faithfully keep these twelve times of commemoration:
- The 3rd day.
- The 9th day.
- The 40th day.
- The half-year anniversary.
- The annual anniversary.
- Meat-fare Week.
(Panikhidas for our ancestors during the week, with a Universal Panikhida on the Saturday of the Departed)
- 2nd Saturday of the Great Fast.
- 3rd Saturday of the Great Fast.
- 4th Saturday of the Great Fast.
- Radonitsa (Tuesday of the 2nd week of Pascha)
Kept mainly by Russian Orthodox
- The week before Pentecost/Trinity Sunday, and especially on the Saturday before Pentecost.
- The week before the commemoration of St. Demetrios
Note: The day a Christian dies is counted the first day of/after death. If a Christian dies on Sunday, the 3rd day is Tuesday (Sunday, the 1st day, then Monday, Tuesday), the 9th day is a week after the day of death, in this case, Sunday.
Traditional ways a Christian commemorates the dead are:
The submission of the names of Orthodox departed with the giving of alms (usually a monetary donation to the church) to the priest for commemoration in the Proskomedia before every Divine Liturgy.
Asking the priest to serve a Panikhida for certain of the departed. This may be served at the cemetery, or the church, on any day save Sunday. Again, one should give alms. Most priests do not accept "payment" for their service, but a priest will accept alms, and give them to the church or another worthy cause.
Prayer for the dead in one's private prayers, in the morning and/or evening.
On the days when the dead are commemorated in the church, it is traditional to bring "Kolyva", or boiled wheat, with sugar, fruit and/or nuts, as an offering. This food is blessed, and eaten by the faithful after the service.
Another pious tradition is the making of "St Phanourios bread", for the giving of alms to the poor, and prayers to the Saint. There is a tradition concerning him and his mother, who was a harlot and great sinner. His love for his mother caused him to pray for her incessantly. At the time of his martyric death by stoning, he could not even then forget his mother, and with the boldness that is peculiar to athletes of Christ, prayed: "For the sake of these my sufferings, Lord, help all those who will pray to Thee for the salvation of Phanourios' sinful mother".
- If you can believe it, there is a Facebook page about Radonitsa customs: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Radonitsa/138129766212221?sk=info
- An excellent homily about Radonitsa
- OF COURSE Wikepedia has something on Radonitsa
- Nice article from the blog "Mystagogy" about Radonitsa