Our Practices

Core Teachings

Before we get into the details of our practices, it is important to establish the teachings that those practices are based on. These teachings are simple in expression, but not so simple in practice (as if the teachings of any faith ever are).

No one should ever die alone.
Kelemvor desires that every person have someone at his or her side at the time of death, so that the passage into the afterlife is eased by the comfort that a human presence brings. If possible, it should be one of our priests, but if that is not possible, any caring human presence is enough.
Death is but a part of life. It is not an ending, but a beginning; not a punishment, but a necessity.
Death is a necessary part of the cycle of life. In order for one thing to live, another must die. In order for there to be room for the next generation, the previous must pass on. Even speaking individually, one's life can only last so long before existence itself becomes a burden that can only be relieved by laying it down. If anything, death is the opening of a doorway to the next stage in existence: a wonderful journey to the realms of our gods, where we join them according to the faith we had during our lives.
Death is an orderly process, without deceit, concealment, and randomness.
It is up to use to help others understand this simple truth. Each one of us will die, in our time, and when death comes to us, it will be unmistakable in its presence and effects. The randomness that some see in death is because of their emotional involvement.
Help others die with dignity at their appointed time, and no sooner.
Each one of us has an appointed time to die, and when that time comes, facing it with dignity will help ease the transition, both for those around the one passing on and for the one who is passing. When someone is unable to die without help, it is our duty to help them, in whatever way we can. We know that, in some places, this will inevitably bring us into conflict with civil laws. If it is possible to help the dying without breaking those laws, we will. But if it is not, our duty to give mercy to the suffering is as high a calling as the Confessional is to those of the Catholic faith.
At the same time, it is our duty to do whatever is within our power to ensure that death does not come before its time, whether that is by volunteering on an ambulance crew, working in a university that is researching new medicines to fight life-threatening diseases, or simply offering a sandwich to a hungry beggar. Each act serves, in its own way, to help keep death from coming before its proper time, and so serves Kelemvor.
Do not artificially prolong life past its natural limits.
How many people are imprisoned in bodies that are dead, but kept from decay by the use of respirators, heart/lung machines, or tube feeding? It is up to use to speak out against this torment to those whose souls are yearning to be free, but are trapped in this world by the bonds of technology, and it is up to us to ensure that we do not contribute to this horror with our own actions.
Honor the dead, for it is their lives and deeds that gave us the world we live in today. Forgetting them is to forget where we are now, and why.
This means more than just protecting their graves from desecration, although it certainly means that. It also means hearing their stories, learning what they did with their lives, and accepting with gratitude the wisdom they accumulated in their lifetimes.
"Death is but part of life: fear it not, evade it not, and view it not as evil. To fear death delivers you into the hands of those who can bring death down upon you. Die with dignity, neither raging nor seeking to embrace undeath. Do honor to the dead, for their strivings in life brought Faerûn to where it is now, and to forget them is to forget also where we are now, and why."
The Charge of Kelemvor*

With that charge, directed at his novitiates, Kelemvor sets the standard for all who follow him. Given the difference between Faerûn and Earth, there are obviously some changes in application (artificially prolonging life by machines, rather than undeath, for instance), but the standard is there for us all to measure ourselves against. Those practices by which we attempt to live up to the Charge will be described below, and in pages linked from those below.

Ritual Practice

Our rituals are designed to keep us ever mindful of life and death, and our responsibility to both. Whether it is our morning prayers, asking Kelemvor's help in carrying our words to our departed, our evening prayers of praise and reliance on Kelemvor, or the rites with which we commemorate and aid in the transition of our fallen, every part of our practice is intended to keep us mindful of the union of life and death, and our duty to ease the transition between them.

Personal Practice

While not everyone can be a priest, mortician, pathologist, gravedigger, or hospice worker, everyone can devote a few minutes out of their day to prayer and meditation. Priests pray twice a day, but that's not required of those who are not. Morning prayers are usually only said by those who wish to remember someone in particular: a parent, lover, or close friend, for instance. Evening prayers, on the other hand, are said by anyone who is devoted to Kelemvor. In either case, the exact words are not as important as the intent behind them. Still, to make it easier for those who wish to begin their practice, instructions for both morning and evening prayers are offered here, in printer friendly format.


October 23, 2009
The Church of Kelemvor's home on the web is now live.