Tag Archives: Remembering Death

St. Ambrose of Optina: . . . you should care about the main thing . . .

“You must not be greatly troubled about many things, but you should care for the main thing — preparing yourself for death.”

+ St. Ambrose of Optina, quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . what selfishness can there be in a man’s caring for the dead . . .

Icon of St. Nikodemus of Mt. AthosMan is sublime when he cares for the living; man is more than sublime when he cares for the dead.

A man often cares for the living out of selfishness. But what selfishness can there be in a man’s caring for the dead? Can the dead pay him, or express their gratitude?

Some animals bury their dead; giving them to the grave, they give them over to forgetfulness. But when a living man buries a dead one, he buries a part of himself with the dead man and returns home carrying a part of the dead man in his soul. This is especially clear – terribly clear – when a kinsman buries a kinsman, and a friend a friend.

O gravediggers, in how many graves have you already been buried, and how many corpses live in you!Book St Nikolai Homilies

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “22. The Second Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Myrhh-Bearing Women,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Four Stichera at the Praises, Matins, Saturday before Meatfare: Come, brethren, before the end, and let us all look upon our clay . . .

Icon Adam Created 3Come, brethren, before the end, and let us all look upon our clay, upon the infirmity and meanness of our nature. Let us behold our end, and the organs of the vessel of our flesh. Let us see that man is dust, food for worms, and corruption; that our bones grow dry, and have no breath of life within them. Let us gaze on the tombs. Where is man’s glory? Where his outward beauty? Where is the eloquent tongue? Where the noble brow, and where the eye? All is dust and shadow. Therefore, Saviour, spare us all.

Why does man deceive himself and boast? Why does he trouble himself in vain? For he is earth, and soon to the earth he will return. Why does the dust not reflect that it is formed from clay, and cast out as rottenness and corruption? Yet though we men are clay, why do we cling so closely to the earth? For if we are Christ’s kindred, should we not run to him, leaving all this mortal and fleeting life, And seeking the life incorruptible, Which is Christ himself, the illumination of our souls?

Thou hast formed Adam with thine hand, O Saviour, and set him on the border between incorruption and mortality; thou hast made him share in life through grace, freeing him from corruption and translating him to the life that he enjoyed at first. Give rest, O Master, to thy servants thou hast taken from us; may they dwell with the righteous in the choir of thine elect; write their names in the book of life; raise them with the sound of the Archangel’s trump, and count them worthy of thy heavenly Kingdom.

Christ is risen, releasing from bondage Adam the first-formed man and destroying the power of hell. Be of good courage, all ye dead, for death is slain and hell despoiled; the crucified and risen Christ is King. He has given incorruption to our flesh; he raises us and grants us resurrection, and He counts worthy of his joy and glory all who, with a faith that wavers not, have trusted fervently in him.

— Four Stichera at the Praises, Matins, Saturday before Meatfare, Lenten Triodion, p. 139

St. Dorotheos: A man obtains the fear of God if he has . . .

Icon of St. Dorotheos of Gaza“A man obtains the fear of God if he has the remembrance of his unavoidable death and of the eternal torments that await sinners; If he tests himself every evening as to how he has spent the day, and every morning as to how he has spent the night, and if he is not sharp in his relations with others.”

+ St. Dorotheos, Soul-Profiting Teachings, 4

St. Peter of Damaskos: . . . We are not in the least interested in examining our life . . .

Icon of St. Peter of Damascus“As St John of Damaskos says, without attentiveness and watchfulness of the intellect we cannot be saved and rescued from the devil, who walks about ‘like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Pet. 5:8). For this reason the Lord often said to His disciples, ‘Watch and pray; for you do not know at what hour your Lord is coming’ (Matt. 26:41, 24:42). Through them He was giving a warning to us all about the remembrance of death, so that we should be prepared to offer a defense, grounded in works and attentiveness, that will be acceptable to God. For the demons, as St Hilarion has said, are immaterial and sleepless, concerned only to fight against us and to destroy our souls through word, act and thought. We lack a similar persistence, and concern ourselves now with our comfort and with ephemeral opinion, now with worldly matters, now with a thousand and one other things. We are not in the least interested in examining our life, so that our intellect may develop the habit of so doing and  may give attention to itself unremittingly.”

+ St. Peter of Damaskos, “Book I: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge,” The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)