Taken from “After Death”, by Archimandrite Vasilios Bakogiannis -
“We are not willing to be crucified for our own salvation, how much less for that of our neighbor. God was crucified for our salvation! And that means that He desires our salvation more than we ourselves do. As the Holy Gospel says, Christ healed the sick, He healed the body. Will He not then have mercy on the soul, which is higher than the body? He heeded the entreaty of the demons, who requested that they not be cast into Hell. Will He then not heed a similar entreaty from Christians?
And there is something even more noteworthy: prayers we make for the dead are even more powerful that those we make for the living. Living people have “free will”. They decide for themselves what to do. Whether they go to Paradise or not. Nobody forces them, nobody puts them under pressure. Not even God. God simply shows them the ways and means to repentance. And they choose.
But the dead no longer have free will. They are no longer masters of theirs souls. So it is easier for God to have mercy on a soul. This is why whatever we do for souls is heeded by God! What precisely can our prayers achieve for souls? Two things: the first is that at the exact moment when we pray the soul receives mercy; the second is that the soul can even get out of Hell. And go to Paradise! The first is certain, the second uncertain, but not impossible. “Almsgiving, liturgies and remembrances serves are of great benefit for the soul: they are even able to release it from Hell” (Revelation of the Angel to Saint Makarios).
The fact that a soul is able to get out of Hell is apparent from the following words of the Lord: “whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:32). That is:
In the next life, only blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (according to the fathers this is unbelief or heresy) is unforgivable. People do not go to Hell only for this sin, but only this one remains unforgivable. It follows, then, that all other sins, however serious they are, perhaps can be pardoned. And then the soul will get out of Hell. Why else do we say the “Thrice-holies” and the Remembrance Services?