Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

death

38 Entries

...death, properly speaking, is this: for the soul to be unharnessed from divine grace and to be yoked to sin ... Let us cast away, let us reject all things, bid farewell to all things: to all relationships, actions and intentions that drag us downward, separate us from God and produce such a death. He who is frightened of this death and has preserved himself from it will not be alarmed by the oncoming death of the body, for in him the true life dwells, and bodily death, so far from taking true life away, renders it inalienable. St. Gregory Palamas (To the Most Reverend Nun Xenia, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pgs. 296-297)



...true contemplation begins the moment we become aware of sin in us...To apprehend sin in oneself is a spiritual act, impossible without grace, without the drawing near to us of Divine Light. The initial effect of the approach of this mysterious Light is that we see where we stand 'spiritually' at the particular moment. The first manifestations of this Uncreated Light do not allow us to experience it as light. It shines in a secret way, illuminating the black darkness of our inner world to disclose a spectacle that is far from joyous for us in our normal state of fallen being...This is the beginning of real contemplation - which has nothing in common with intellectual or philosophical contemplation. We become acutely conscious of sin as a sundering from the ontological source of our being...we see ourselves as prisoners of death. With death waiting at the end, another thousand years of life would seem but a deceptive flash. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 5; SVS Press pg.41)

A monk asked another elder, who was over one hundred years old, "Now that you will depart from this temporary life, what do you feel?" "I feel such happiness and tranquillity, as if I am going to a wedding," he replied. An Athonite Gerontikon

After death, it will be impossible for anyone through thoughts of God to heal the sickness brought on by sin, for confession has power on earth, but not in hell. Holy Hierarch Gregory of Nyssa

After our forefather's transgression in paradise through the tree, we suffered the death of our soul - which is the separation of the soul from God - prior to our bodily death; yet although we cast away our divine likeness, we did not lose our divine image. Thus when the soul renounces its attachment to inferior things and cleaves through love to God and submits itself to Him through acts and modes of virtue, it is illuminated and made beautiful by God and is raised to a higher level, obeying His counsels and exhortations; and by these means it regains the truly eternal life. Through this life it makes the body conjoined to it immortal, so that in due time the body attains the promised resurrection and participates in eternal glory. St. Gregory Palamas (Topics of Natural and Theological Science no. 39, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 363

As the separation of the soul from the body is the death of the body, so the separation of God from the soul is the death of the soul. And this death of the soul is the true death. This is made clear by the commandment given in paradise, when God said to Adam, 'On whatever day you eat from the forbidden tree you will certainly die' (cf. Gen. 2:17). St. Gregory Palamas, To the most Rev. Nun Xenia.

Chastise your soul with the thought of death, and through remembrance of Jesus Christ concentrate your scattered intellect. St. Joseph of Volokalamsk

Death in the true sense is separation from God, and 'the sting of death is sin' (I Cor. 15:56). Adam, who received the sting, became at the same time an exile from the tree of life, from paradise and from God (cf. Gen. 3); and this was necessarily followed by the body's death. Life, in the true sense, is He who said, 'I am the Life' (John 11:25), and who, having entered into death, led back to life him who had died. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 93)

Death's awful mystery comes upon us suddenly, and soul and body are violently severed, divorced from their natural union by the will of God. What shall we do at that hour if we have not thought of it beforehand, if we have not been instructed concerning this eventuality and find ourselves unprepared? Holy New Hieromartyr Barlaam

Die daily, that you might live eternally, for one who fears God will live forever. St. Anthony the Great

Even here I rest in Christ and with Christ; how, then, can I do otherwise than to believe that eternal rest in Him awaits me after death, and after the struggle against earthly enemies? Here without Christ I feel oppressed and in pain; how can I do otherwise than believe that it will be still more grievous to be without Christ there, when He will finally cast me away from before His face? Thus the present state of our souls foreshadows the future. The future will be a continuation of the present inward condition, only in a modified form as to its degree: for the righteous it will be turned into the fullness of eternal glory; for sinners, into the fullness of everlasting torment." St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 51)

Hieromonk Methodios lived in the desolate kellion of St. Neilos (on Mt. Athos). He was charitable to the utmost. No one ever left empty-handed after having visited him. He would have given alms of his very self if he could. He went to sleep in the Lord like a little bird, ethereal. While his accompanying monks were reading the evening prayers and they were reading the prayer to the Guardian Angel, the very pious elder asked, "Read it again, Father Neilos: `Holy Angel, the protector of my soul...'" And as he was sitting down he gave up his spirit with three quiet breaths. The end of a righteous man! An Athonite Gerontikon

Human life is 'the shadow of death.' If then anyone is with God and God is with him, clearly such a man can say: 'for though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for Thou art with me.' St. Maximus the Confessor, Four Centuries on Charity (Love)

I fear three things: when I will die, how I will die, and where I will find myself. Glinsk elder Schema-hieromonk Andronicus Lukasha (1889-1974) (From the book Glinsk Mosaic: Pilgrims’ Recollections of the Glinsk Hermitage, 1942-1961, Pilgrim Publishers, Moscow, 1997.)

I fear three things: when I will die, how I will die, and where I will find myself. Glinsk elder Schema-hieromonk Andronicus Lukasha (1889-1974) (Glinsk Mosaic: Pilgrims’ Recollections of the Glinsk Hermitage, 1942-1961, Pilgrim Publishers, Moscow, 1997.)

In considering the tomb and those in the tomb, we weep, But we should not; for we do not know whence they have come, And where they are now, and who has them. They have come from temporal life, released from its sorrows; They are at peace, waiting for the receiving of divine light. The Lover of man has them in His charge, and He has divested them of their temporal clothing In order that He may clothe them with an eternal body. Why, then, do we weep in vain? Why do we not trust Christ, as He cries: "He who believes on me shall not perish, For even if he knows corruption, after that corruption, He will be resurrected and he will rise up Saying, 'Thou art the Life and the Resurrection'"? St Romanos the Melodist - On the Raising of Lazarus I

Let me tell you of the so-called 'good things' of this life. Listen to them: sorrows and pleasures, angers and fears, hopes and desires. What is the evil then that has happened to your child who died early in life and was spared from these many and so powerful tyrants? St. Gregory of Nyssa

Let us love silence till the world is made to die in our hearts. Let us always remember death, and in this thought draw near to God in our heart -- and the pleasures of this world will have our scorn. St. Isaac of Syria

One who has an evil heart should not despair, for with God’s help, one can correct his heart. He must only remain vigilant and miss no opportunity to help his neighbors. He must open himself up before his elder, and must be as charitable as possible. This, of course cannot be accomplished all at once, but the Lord is very patient. He brings a person’s life to an end only when He sees him ready to depart into eternity or when he sees no hope for his correction. Counsels of the Venerable Elder St. Amvrossy of Optina

One who has an evil heart should not despair, for with God’s help, one can correct his heart. He must only remain vigilant and miss no opportunity to help his neighbors. He must open himself up before his elder, and must be as charitable as possible. This, of course cannot be accomplished all at once, but the Lord is very patient. He brings a person’s life to an end only when He sees him ready to depart into eternity or when he sees no hope for his correction. Elder Amvrossy of Optina

Pharaoh entreated, saying: "May God take away from me this death" (Exodus 10:17), and he was heard. Similarly, when the demons asked the Lord not to cast them into the abyss, their request was granted (Luke 8:31). How much more, then, will a Christian be heard when he prays to be delivered from spiritual death? St. John of Karpathos "The Philokalia: the Complete Text" (volume I), by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, trans. By G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and (Bishop) Kallistos Ware, (London: Faber and Faber, 1979), pp. 298 - 309

Salvific for us and deadly for sin is the remembrance of death which was born of sin. Holy Hierarch Ignaty Brianchaninov

Sin, Gehenna, and death do not exist at all with God, for they are effects, not substances. Sin is the fruit of free will. There was a time when sin did not exist, and there will be a time when it will not exist. Gehenna is the fruit of sin. At some point in time it had a beginning, but its end is not known. Death, however, is a dispensation of the wisdom of the Creator. It will rule only a short time over nature; then it will be totally abolished. Satan's name derives from voluntary turning aside from the truth; it is not an indication that he exists as such naturally. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

Sometimes in the affliction of your soul you wish to die. It is easy to die, and does not take long; but are you prepared for death? Remember that after death the judgment of your whole life will follow. You are not prepared for death, and if it were to come to you, you would shudder all over. Therefore do not waste words in vain. Do not say: 'It is better for me to die,' but say rather, 'How can I prepare for death in a Christian manner?' By means of faith, by means of good works, and by bravely bearing the miseries and sorrows that happen to you, so as to be able to meet death fearlessly, peacefully, and without shame, not as a rigorous law of nature, but as a fatherly call of the eternal, heavenly, holy, and blessed Father unto the everlasting Kingdom. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery, pg.18)

The Son of God, who in His compassion became man, died so far as His body was concerned when His soul was separated from His body; but this body was not separated from His divinity, and so He raised up His body once more and took it with Him to heaven in glory. Similarly, when those who have lived here in a godly manner are separated from their bodies, they are not separated from God, and in the resurrection they will take their bodies with them to God, and in their bodies they will enter with inexpressible joy there where Jesus has preceded us (cf. Heb. 6:20) and in their bodies they will enjoy the glory that will be revealed in Christ (cf. 1 Pet. 5:1). Indeed, they will share not only in resurrection, but also in the Lord's ascension and in all divine life." St. Gregory Palamas (To the Most Reverend Nun Xenia no. 15, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 298)

The constant welcome expectation of death should be a necessary practice of silence. A man who embraces silence without this thought cannot endure what we have to bear and suffer at all costs. the Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 16g, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 187)

The hour of death will come upon us, it will come, and we shall not escape it. May the prince of this world and of the air (cf. John 14:30; Eph. 2:2) find our misdeeds few and petty when he comes, so that he will not have good grounds for convicting us. Otherwise we shall weep in vain. 'For that servant who knew his lord's will and did not do it as a servant, shall be beaten with many stripes' (cf. Luke 12:47). Apophthegmata Patrum

The infants that leave here in purity will receive salvation there in eternity. Perhaps God called them early to be near Him by intention to avoid living a very sinful life. St. Athanasios the Great

The one act which makes the God-man Christ, in particular, the most valuable of all beings is that He is the first and only to have completely and effectively resolved the age-old dilemma of life and death. He has done this by revealing in His God-man person, the incarnate one, immortality and eternal life. This is especially demonstrated by His Resurrection and Ascension to the eternal life of the divine One. The entire theantropic life of Christ both before and after His resurrection is evident proof that He is the personification of immortality and eternal life and therefore the master over death. by His resurrection He insured for human nature victory over death, and by His Ascension immortal life in the eternity of the Triune God. For this reason, he alone among the human race is justified in saying: "I am the Resurrection and the life." St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ

There is no better teacher than death.

Have death before your minds: the time when you will leave this unreal world and will go to the other one, which is eternal. Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos).Dr. Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., pp.81-94



Thou, O Lord, hast freed us from the fear of death. Thou hast made the end of this life the beginning to us of true life. Thou for a season restest our bodies in sleep and awakest them again at the last trump. Thou givest our earth, which Thou hast fashioned with Thy hands, to the earth to keep in safety. One day Thou wilt take again what Thou hast given, transfiguring with immortality and grace our mortal and unsightly remains... Prayer of St. Macrina

To teachers of wisdom, it was not accidental that death entered our life, to instruct the intellect, to tame the passions of the soul, to calm the waters, and to establish calm. Holy Hierarch John Chrysostom

True life on earth indeed begins from the Resurrection of the Savior, for it does not end in death. Without the Resurrection of Christ human life is nothing else but a gradual dying which finally inevitably ends in death. Real true life is that life which does not end in death. And such a life became possible on earth only with the Resurrection of the Lord Christ the God-man. Life is real life only in God, for it is a holy life and by virtue of this an immortal life. Father (St.) Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ

While the Bridegroom tarried, they slumbered and slept: Give ear, ye prudent, to our Lord's parable, for it is all light. All of them slept, both the foolish and the wise -- Which signifies that the good and the wicked die until the resurrection. The same sleep comes upon the ten of them, which is as much as to say, That death is the same for all creation without distinction. One was the sleep of the wise and of the foolish, For one is death, both of the righteous and of sinners. The good die, as the wise virgins slept; And the bad die, as the foolish also slept. Behold, all creation looketh for the coming of the Bridegroom, Christ, Who cometh at the end with His angels. But since He hath tarried, all generations slumber and sleep With the sleep of death, while looking for when He cometh. A Homily on the Ten Virgins by Mar Jacob, Bishop of Serugh

Why do you trouble yourself in a house that is not your own? Let the sight of a dead man be a teacher for you concerning your departure from hence. St. Isaac the Syrian

You desire to see your child? Then live with piety, and quickly you will enjoy that sacred sight ... Again, could it be that you are mourning be-cause your child will no longer return home? Reflect on the fact that the things of this life are unstable and fleeting. Think also that you, too, will die after a while and will go near him ... You also say that you did not have the chance to enjoy him and to be filled with him? You will certainly enjoy him there! John Chrysostom

The best burial supplies are faith, piety, and love of compassion. REF:Saint Basil the Great

Just as no one sells merchandise when the celebration ends, thus also in the tomb no one makes deals for the Kingdom of God. REF:Saint Basil the Great





Redeeming the Time

↑ Grab this Headline Animator





We confidently recommend our web service provider, Orthodox Internet Services: excellent personal customer service, a fast and reliable server, excellent spam filtering, and an easy to use comprehensive control panel.

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas