Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

remembrance_of_death

10 Entries

And I cannot be silent about the story of Hesychius the Horebite. He passed his life in complete negligence, without paying the least attention to his soul. Then he became extremely ill, and for an hour he expired. And when he came to himself, he begged us all to leave him immediately. And he built up the door of his cell, and he stayed in it for twelve years without ever uttering a word to anyone, and without eating anything but bread and water. And, always remaining motionless, he was so rapt in spirit at what he had seen in his ecstasy, that he never changed this manner of life but was always as if out of his mind, and silently shed hot tears. But when he was about to die, we broke open the door and went in, and after many questions, this alone was all we heard from him: “Forgive me! No one who has acquired the remembrance of death will ever be able to sin.” We were amazed to see that one who had before been so negligent was so suddenly transfigured by this blessed change and transformation. We reverently buried him in the cemetery near the fort, and after some days we looked for his holy relics, but did not find them. So by Hesychius’s true and praiseworthy repentance, the Lord showed us that He accepts those who desire to amend, even after long negligence. St John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", Step 6: On Remembrance of Death (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978)



Every word is preceded by thought. And the remembrance of death and sins precedes weeping and mourning. St John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", Step 6: On Remembrance of Death (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978)

Go to the tombs and see that the assurance of men is nothing. Why then does man who is dust indulge in vainglory? Why does he who is all stench exalt himself? Let us therefore weep for ourselves while we have time, lest, at the hour of our departure, we be found asking God for extra time to repent. St Pachomius, Armand Veilleux, trans., "Pachomian Koinonia -- Volume II," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1981), pp. 41 - 44

Let the soul then, brothers, teach wisdom to this thick body every day when we come to our bed at evening, and say to each member of the body, "O feet, while you have power to stand and to move before you are laid out and become motionless, stand eagerly for your Lord." To the hands, let it say, "The hour comes when you will be loosened and motionless, bound to each other and having no motion whatever; then, before you fall into that hour, do not cease stretching yourselves out to the Lord." And to the whole body let the soul say, "O body, before we are separated and removed far away from each other, and before I am taken down to Hades to receive everlasting fetters under darkness, and you are changed into primal matter and dissolved into the earth, consumed in stench and corruption, stand boldly, worship the Lord. Make my perception made known by tears; make known to the Master your good service. Bear me as I eagerly confess God, before you are borne by others; do not condemn me to eternal punishment in your desire to sleep and to take your rest. For there will be a time when that most heavy sleep is going to overtake you. If you listen to me, we shall together enjoy the blessed inheritance. If you do not listen to me, then woe to me that you have been bound to me; because of you I also, wretched as I am, am condemned."

If you train yourselves daily in this manner, truly you will be a true temple of God. And since God is dwelling in you, what satanic wile is able to deceive you? For instead of having a myriad of teachers, the word of God is dwelling in you, teaching you more and making you yet wiser by his own knowledge. And whatever human speech cannot say, the all-holy Spirit teaches. For as it is said, we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself expresses our plea for us with groanings that cannot be put into words. St Pachomius, Armand Veilleux, trans., "Pachomian Koinonia -- Volume II," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1981), pp. 41 - 44



Not every desire for death is good. Some, constantly sinning from force of habit, pray for death with humility. And some, who do not want to repent, invoke death out of despair. And some, out of self-esteem consider themselves dispassionate, and for a while have no fear of death. And some (if such can now be found), through the action of the Holy Spirit, ask for their departure. St John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", Step 6: On Remembrance of Death (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978)

Q: How can one be saved in the present times?

A: In every time, if a man can cut off his own will in everything, and have a humble heart, and death always before his eyes – he can be saved, by God’s grace; and wherever he might be, fear does not take possession of him, for such a one “forgetteth the things that are behind, and stretcheth forth to those that are before (Philemon 3:13). Act thus, and you will be saved by God without sorrow. “Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life,” trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)



Some inquire and wonder: “Why, when the remembrance of death is so beneficial to us, has God hidden from us the knowledge of the hour of death?” – not knowing that in this way God wonderfully accomplishes our salvation. For no one who foreknew his death would at once proceed to baptism or the monastic life; but everyone would spend all his days in iniquities, and only on the day of his death, would he approach baptism and repentance. From long habit, he would become confirmed in vice, and would remain utterly incorrigible. St John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", Step 6: On Remembrance of Death (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978)

Therefore, brothers, let us strive with all our heart, bearing death before our eyes every hour, and every moment imagining the fearful punishment. But these things the mind comes to perception and the soul is weighed down weeping, but it is also made contemplative and prepared to be turned toward God, undistracted by earthly things. And not only this, but once humility is worked out by these, the soul is persuaded to become compassionate and without vainglory, lowly and made a stranger to all worldly mentality. St Pachomius, Armand Veilleux, trans., "Pachomian Koinonia -- Volume II," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1981), pp. 41 - 44.

The saints always look to the other life. It is the grace of the remembrance of death. Elder Amphilochios Makris - http://agrino.org/cyberdesert/makris.htm

38. If you are listless when you pray or afflicted by various forms of evil, call to mind your death and the torments of hell. But it is better to cleave to God through hope and prayer than to think about external things, even though such thoughts may be helpful. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779





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