The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

Lecture 1: The Remembrance of Death

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This is part one of a remarkably interesting seven-lecture series titled "A Christian Ending to Our Lives." These lectures examine far-reaching subjects associated with the Christian process of death and burial. The lectures are devoted to the remembrance of death, the significance of aging, the meaning of the funeral service and burial, the tradition of Christian cemeteries and memorial customs, and the ancient and universal practice of praying for the repose of the departed. Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

Ancient faith. Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah trennum. The lecture you're about to hear is the introductory lecture in a seven part lecture series entitled a Christian ending to our lives. patristic nectar publications invites all who are spiritually thirsty to come and be nourished by the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. For the remaining lectures, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. And now here's father Josiah trennum. I want to welcome you to this first lecture in our new class in the St John Chrysostom catechetical school, which is in its the end of its fourteenth year about to start its fifteenth year. This new chorus we've entitled the Christian ending to our lives, and you will recognize that language, no doubt most of you, because it's taken from the frequent litany petition in the services in which we pray for a Christian ending to our lives, painless, blameless and peaceful, and for a good defense before the fearful judgment seat of Christ. Over the course of the next several months, with God's help, we will examine the origin and the meaning of death, the triumph of Jesus Christ, our Savior, over death, the meaning and purpose of aging or progressively moving towards death, the Christian aspiration for a good death and the contours of what constitute such the significance of the funeral service, the burial rights and customs of Traditional Christianity, the meaning of memorials, the place of the Christian cemetery in the life of believers, the historic practice of praying for the departed and the logic that's behind it, and how we can keep our love for the departed alive until we are reunited in the Kingdom of God. Those subjects will form the core of this class. That's why we're having this class and at the conclusion of the lectures, I hope to offer you several practica that will be presented by various representatives from our burial society, are St Andrew Burial Society, who will demonstrate the process of preparing the departed for burial. And in a final session I'm hoping we'll be able to host in tending to host a session on the practical legal steps necessary to prepare a living will, a laughed will and testament and funeral instructions, so that we can do our loved ones the really great favor of having this kind of stuff fleshed out. I commend you all for gathering this evening and being willing to stare death in the face. I commend you because this is not a common practice in our land today to meditate deeply on the subject of death. Though it is traditional and wise to do so, it's become quite rare in these postmodern and secular days. The advance of secularism in our nation and in the weft in general has brought tremendous consequences in the area of the historic Christian means of death and burial and really affected the public and private discourse about the subject. Americans used to...

...be much more comfortable with the reality and the process of death. It's a simple fact that most Americans throughout our nation's history confronted death as a family affair in their own living rooms. Burial was certainly a family matter. Today, the dying are hidden away from the face of society and hospitals and old folks homes, and burial is relegated to the funeral and mortuary industries. Many parents today foolishly think that their children should not even look upon a dead person, let alone touch them or, God forbid, kiss them, as all Orthodox Christians do at funerals. And at the same time, growing next to this bizarre aversion to the reality of death, our children are exposed to digital death, to fantasy dying through the media, constantly furthering the disorientation from what death really is. We have become a nation comfortably at home with death spectacles. We love to watch people die, very much like the Romans. We used to love to go to the COLISSEANS and watch people die, but we like to watch them die on television and in the media, comforted that they're not really dead, they're actors playing dead. At the same time, we're horribly uncomfortable with the real thing, with death as it really is and as it inevitably comes into our lives. In tandem with the extreme disconnect, we Americans living in this postmodern, post Christian Age, have this great depression causing fear of death on the rise and with it a whole host of American death novelties like a popular cremation rights, which are very novel in our nation's history. Popular Cremation Rites the scattering of ashes on mountain tops and taking people, bits of people here and there and making some sort of rejoicing at scattering some dust of a person here and there. Celebration Services is what many funerals have become, and the growth of the mortuary and funeral industries to a degree that is unheard of in our nation's history. The fear of death has grown because the secular outlook, which so forcefully is pressing on us in our country, has no answer for death. The presumed, the preferred pedagogy of secularism is not to talk about death. Studied silence, studied silence. This is the preferred approach by the elites, and this silence is a hideous reality, since it promotes the illusion that we won't die. If we don't look at it and we don't talk about it, be it won't happen. But there has a been a single case in which that's proven true. This studied silence of secularism in the face of death also harms us because we don't therefore study and prepare for death in our families and with our friends in the way that's that we used to, and so death catches far too many Americans ill prepared. They get sick, they start to have a really nagging feeling that they need to talk about this, they need to think about this, they're going to die and before they ever get to it, they're morepheined out and they never return.

This is a culpable silence, promoting ignorance about something that all of us are going to encounter. When secularists do speak, which is not often. When secularists do speak, it is usually an attempt to posit that we human beings are simply animals and that death is simply the falling into non existence. That is supposed to be the teaching of science. This ridiculous assertion neglects the fact that human beings, unique amongst all the animals, have always philosophized about death and uniquely memorialized it. Every culture, every land, every age has made a big stink about death. Squirrels don't do that, horses don't do that, humans do that. There is no religion in the history of mankind that has not attributed great significance to death. I'm not suggesting that they all agree on its significance, but they agree that it's significant. There's no comfort in being told by an atheist or a secularist that at death one is annihilated and will never again exist. And as a pastor I have been contacted not infrequently by spouses of recently departed atheists or secularist who cannot live with the consequences of atheism or secularism. It just doesn't provide what's necessary in the face of death. In the atheist Worldview, death becomes the ultimate end of all of life's ambitions, a menacing evil that threatens at all time to evacuate one's life of all meaning, in all substance. It becomes the reaper who comes to denude all ones relationships of any continuing meeting. I want you to feel the weight of this thought, of the message of secularism in the face of death. I want you to think about the weight of this and what it would mean, if they're true, if they're right, if the atheists are right, if the seculars are right, what it means for the people you love to fall out of existence. It is the ultimate black hole. They will never be seen again, they will never be heard from again. There is no them, no wonder. It cannot be faced in any meaningful way by those who deny religion, our death, denying civilization, driven by this pseudo science, diverts its energies that historically were given to facing and philosophizing about death into a vain effort to elongate biological life. Instead of facing up to death and understanding it and preparing for it so that we can pass through it successfully, we turn instead our efforts to try to donate our bodies to science so that someone can figure out how we don't have to die, at least not so soon. But no one can hide from death, not the richest person in the world who wants to keep their body on ice for centuries until the scientists figure out how to get rid of death. No one can hide from death. And the words of our father among the saints, John Chrisostom, death is the unflatterable executioner. You can't flatter him, you can't buy him...

...off. All the riches in the world, all the smarts you might possess, you're not going to reason death from out of coming for you. You're not going to be able to buy him off. One second, because death bears witness to the truth that life as we know it is temporary, transient and fleeting. Let me talk to you now about the origin of death. Where did this come from? Death is not natural, death is not created by God, but is the fruit of sin. Listen to Saint Paul. This is in Romans Chapter Five. He says, therefore, just as through one man, sin entered into the world and death through sin, so death spread to all men because all sinned. Here is the origin of death. God created Adam and e free of death and on the boundary between mortality and immortality. God's intention, his command were for Adam and Eve to use their freedom to choose the good and to receive as a reward for this choice in mortality and eternal life. God warned Adam that if he chose the evil, if he chose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, on the day that he did this sin, he would surely die. And Death entered into human existence as the fruit of that perversion of freedom, that sinful choice. It entered with violence through the temptation and lies of the devil, who had the gum Shin to assert to eve these words you shall surely not die, and for this our Lord calls him a liar and a murderer. From the beginning, this is where it started. When Adam and Eve sinned, they committed cosmic treason. They led the first open rebellion against God on the Earth and as a consequence, their souls died and they suffered immediate alienation from the Lord God, who was the source of their life. As soon as they began to discourse with the devil, Adam and Eve experienced a profound interchange. They abandoned their love for God, their hearts became hard and cold for the very first time, the passions erupted within them into a state of disorder. They began to rot from the inside out, and their bodies followed their souls by beginning the process of decline and disintegration that would certainly lead to biological death. When we say death, we usually mean the separation of the body and the soul, but this is biological or physical death, and it follows the death of the soul, which is the separation of the soul from its soul, God. The soul is the life of the body and God is the life of the soul, and death entered first into the soul of man by driving away the spirit of God from him, and the soul of his soul departed, and so man soul died, and that led to the death of the body. This is spiritual death and it precedes physical death, just as the spiritual resurrection which takes place in Holy Baptism precedes the physical resurrection which takes place at the end of time. These are the words of seeing Isador a pellucium in Adam. Death was not the separation of the soul from the body, but the flight of the Holy Spirit from the immortal soul. This is spiritual death and our Lord Jesus spoke about spiritual death in his teaching many times. Remember when some disciples were listening to his word and heard his call to follow and they came and they asked him just for a...

...little bit of time. They said, let me go bury my parents, and the Lord said to him, allow the dead to bury their own dead, but you follow me. He was talking about those who were dead in soul, bearing those who had died in body. Or think of the beautiful teaching of the Prodigal Son, when the father received the Prodigal back and he slew the fatted calf and he put on the beautiful garment in the ring, in the shoes and they had their party and he said, my son, who was dead, lives again. This is spiritual death and since the time of the fall, this dead life is all that parents have been able to pass on to their children and, apart from the life giving grace of God, will inevitably lead to the worst possible reality, which is eternal death. This is the condition of the World Postfal without the grace of God, without the salvation of our Savior, the passing on of dead life with a certain end of biological death and eternal death. The first human being to actually die in a body, to have bodily death, was able the son of Adam and Eve. He died at the hands of his tratricidal brother Kine and was the first to descend into hades and to become its active since that time, death and Hadi's have written through human history in every time in place, gathering their captives. The revelation of St John Describes Death and had says, riding on a Horse Pale and Ashen, swallowing up its victims. The all consuming mouth of Hades follows this horse, according to revelation six, and gathers the dead that are its victims. You see this great, insatiable mouth on some of our icons, icons of the last judgment, icons of the ladder of divine ascent, where you see the gaping mouth of death swallowing those who were falling into the hands of the demons. Adam was the first parent to witness the demise of his child, and God allowed this so that Adam would know how grievous an unbearable sin and death are. God's allowing able to die and his parents to outlive their son was designed to help Adam and eve making an appropriate evaluation about the misery of sin and death. Death was known to man throughout history as a miserable and strangement. At best, it was a joining of one's ancestors in the subterranean region us. You might meet them in the Elysian fields, but then you're going to end up in Hadis, in darkness where you're just a portion of your true self the shades. It's an ambiguous oblivion, sometimes conceived as a house or a walled city with gates. Hadis, in the place of death, is considered a void or an empty space, dusty, a deep silence, a shadowy darkness. She'll in the Old Testament was portrayed as having these gaping jaws and insatiable throat. It was the nether world. And so this present world is a mortal world. Everywhere you look it's a place of progressive dying, and the father's described this earthly life as an extended death or a myriad of consecutive deaths which succeed each other until...

...we reach the one and final death that will last for a very long time and for very many years. Saint Gregory Paulamos in the Philocalia, when someone who we love crosses the bridge to the next life, immediately the bridge that they crossed if torched. There's no going back and forth on it and there's no US following them or them coming back, and we're left with many questions, and this class is designed to look at the mystery of death and answer some of those questions, those questions that God's given us answers too. So there's the origin of death. You see, the origin of death is in sin and not God's will. In fact, God has taken death and changed what was a punishment into a blessing. Death is a therapy. Let me explain that to you. God could have immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, he could have immediately judged them, he could have immediately allowed them to fall into hell if that's what he wanted. But he does not delight in such things, nor does he will them for any person. He loved his fallen children and he thought their benefit. He cursed the serpent, but he gave Adam and eve only corrective chastisement. He took the punishment of death and he turned it into a blessing for Adam and eve. It says, though, the Almighty grabbed death by the neck and he made it bow and serve his purposes. For his children. HADES had to bow low first. He let them live. They died in their souls, but physical death and falling into eternal death did not happen. It only began to happen then. He planned to them just outside of Paradise, so that they could remember from where they had fallen, so that they could see their true destiny and know that fallen life is not normative. For them. It was a place to transcend, a place to walk through a wilderness, to get through to get into the Promised Land, back the placement of God after they fell about them, and the very important, as a matter of fact, brothers and sisters, forgetting that thinking that fallen life, life in the grip of death, if normal to humans, is a very common mistake and it colors one's entire outlook on life. God turned death, for the blessing of man, into the expenditure of mortality, the consumption of corruption. These are the words of St John Chrysostom. That's what death has become with the help of God. It has become the end of mortality and the consumption of corruption. He made it the end of sin, the terminus, so that we, in our fallenness, might not continue to sin eternally. He made it a provision so that man would not remain forever in the condition of sin. Listen to Saint Gregory of NICEA. He says that the inherent evil in us be not eternal, analized. The body is dissolved temporarily through the greater providence of death and, having thus removed evil, human nature is reformulated to be once again separated from evil and restored to its pristine life. Elsewhere, he calls death this is a beautiful phrase. He calls death the Catharsis of evil, not the Catharsis of man. The Catharsis of evil because in death, evil in its power in...

...a humans life come to a shocking end. You're done, evil no more. Death becomes a repose and to Calm Harbor. Here's the reality. In the patristic logic, sin begets death and by the mercy of God, Death Kills Sin. Death, in the final analysis, becomes with the grace of God and advantage. It serves as a blessing by putting us on the Selvific Road of humility and self knowledge. And all of this is possible because the son of God, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, has faced death down and crushed it and killed it. Let me explain that to you. The conquering of death by Jesus Christ, our Savior. There is only one conqueror of death, only one man who has ever died and then dissolved the power of corruption. The Entire Economy of the Gospel, from the beginning of the incarnation of the son of God in the womb of the most pure, Theotokos, through our saviors life of obedience his struggle with tears and moans and groans, as Saint Paul and Hebrews describes. His earthly life, his suffering, his crucifixion, his descent into Hades, his resurrection on the third day, his glorious ascension into heaven, his sending of the Holy Spirit and his reign at the right hand of the father. Now has its goal the destruction of Sin, evil, Hades and death. This is what's behind every saving act that our savior has accomplished. This is behind the great mystery, the unfolding of the plan of redemption of the Holy Trinity. For us, our savior became a human being in order to heal human nature by uniting it to his divinity. He assumed a body so that he could freely die in the flesh, so that he could assume our curse and misery, so he could bear our infirmities and heal our diseases by his wounds. He lived the life of obedience and spiritual travail and fulfilled the call of human beings, offsetting Adam's disobedience and defeating the devil and temptation. By his suffering and Crucifixion, he justified rebellious mankind by his descent into hell. He emptied Hades of its captives, he broke its iron bars and he filled the nether world with light. And I want to emphasize especially this act of Christ, his descent into hell. Brothers and sisters, the descent of our Savior into hell is a fundamental component of the Gospel that we preach. It is one of the significant ways that Jesus has saved our life. You would really care if you had lived before the incarnation, when you were in the place of death and Hades that I was describing earlier, until a light appeared, a light you had never seen. A light appeared, and then a man came who spoke to death in a way no man could speak. We were all whispers before that light shone, and then Christ appeared and spoke words that death could not resist, just like you did when Lazarus, his friend, was in the tomb and he said, Lazarus, come forth, and death could do nothing. His voice penetrated the stone, it penetrated the earth, it went into the nether world. The devil hurt it and he could do nothing and the soul of Lazarus left captivity, re entered his body and came forth. Some of the holy fathers asked the question and then answer it. They say why did in Jesus say it twice or three times? Why did he just say once,...

...very simple Lazarus come forth, and they say because if he had said it twice or three times, all the underworld would have erupted, everyone would have just got up and the devil will last everything that was going to happen in a little bit later. This descent of our Savior into hell, which I'm emphasizing because sadly there are some Christians of the in the West, some brought us in Christians, and not a few who do not believe in this doctrine, who do not think that Jesus actually ever descended into hell. The descent of our savior into Haities is so fundamental, the plundering of Hell so central to the Gospel proclamation that in the services of the pentecostarian the season of pentecost, those fifty days, there are over two hundred references to the plundering of hell. In that time frame there are over fifty references to Jesus's descent into hell. In the single service of great and holy Friday, over fifty references that would appear to demonstrate that the plundering of hell is central to our saviors saving work. Think of that beautiful story about Bell and the Dragon and the longer version of the prophecy of Daniel. Hopefully many of you have read that, where Daniel finds a way to conquer the dragon and he makes these tar these Tarbiscus, I guess you could call them, and gets the dragon to eat them and then it he can't digest them and the dragons belly explodes and dies. In that way, that is a picture of the coming plundering of hell by our savior. You know when you digest something and you can't, when you swallow something and you can't digest it and you start to feel that terrible feeling like, oh, this is not going the way it's supposed to be going and I don't think this is going to come out the way it's supposed to come out. When you have that feeling and then it starts coming up and then you you know what, you don't just puke out the thing that you couldn't digest, you puke out everything, and that is exactly what happened when Jesus plundered hell. He was the thing that the evil one in haties could not digest, and when he was up chucked, everything was up chucked. A whole host of captives escaped with him. By our Savior's triumphant resurrection, he destroyed the power of death. He restored human nature to its glorious and Pristine Integrity. He elevated it to a heavenly reality. By his glorious ascension, he blaved a trail through the atmospheric heavens forty days after his resurrection, driving away the Prince of the power of the air and his minions and bringing human flesh into paradise as a forerunner for all the redeemed there in heaven. Now our savior is calling the entire human race to come to him and to reign with him, victorious over death. This is what we preach to the world. Our exile is over. By his sending forth the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he has strengthened the church his wholly and immortal death conquering body, which is what we are, and enabled her to bear his salvation to the ends of the Earth. By his reign at the right hand of the father, he is putting down the power of death. Bit By bit, person by person, he's putting the devil under the footstool...

...of his feet and when he comes again he will bury forever our enemies sin, Hades, death and the devil in the depths of Hell. This is why, at the very end of the very la asks book of the New Testament, just as the new Jerusalem is descending and this unspeakably Glorious New Heaven and New Earth is being revealed, there's a picture. There's a picture. This is in revelation. Twenty and inspired accounts of this magnificent scene of the lake of fire, and into it are throne, the devil, the beast, the false prophet, death and hades forever. This is the future. It's this victory of our savior that has radically altered our perspective on death and how we as Christians think about death. Even the greatest saints of the Old Testament, people like Moses, people like the Prophety Lias, people like the king has a Kaia, even these great people, they feared death terribly. Remember how upset Elias was when Jezebel threatened his life and he thought he might die. Hezekiah was so concerned about dying that he begged God just for a little more time, and God gave him fifteen more years. This is how scary death was, because they lived before these mighty, victorious deeds of our Savior Christ that I just recounted for you. But, brothers and sisters, we don't we have been formed and born anew by them. We live in the church his death conquering body. We know these things to be true. We celebrate them every year, all of them. We're tasting then, and for us this has altered everything. We are people who celebrate Holy Pasca. There is no such thing as an Orthodox person who does not love holy Pasca above everything else. Not a single one of us would fall into that category. For us, we know Pasca is the feast of Feast. It is what we are, and it can't even be easily explained to anyone who doesn't know about it, anyone who hasn't come and tasted it, who hasn't witnessed it. Even we who are there can't really explain it. It's far beyond our ability to put into words the celebration of our Savior's resurrection. And we don't just celebrated on Pasca we celebrated every single Sunday, which is the day, the first day of the week, the day on which our savior rose from the dead, which is why the themes of resurrection run through every Sunday Service. PASCA is the means by which we most poignantly express our view of death, the Christian view of death, and what has happened to us and what we think about death, despite all the scary, ugly, horrible things that death is and has done that I'd mentioned to you earlier. We're not making up something, making death into something pretty. We know how ugly it is, but we also know know it has been defeated, it has been crushed. The most articulate, patristic explanation of the despoiling of death is the POSCO homily of St John Krassostom that we read in its entirety every Pasca. PASCA is the one feast of the year I never preach. There's no reason there. There is no possibility for me to open my mouth after reading the Pascal Homily of St John Chrysostom. Anything else I would have to say would be like hitting as symboled. It would bother your ears, and you say father, out of place, out of place, we don't say anything after reading this beautiful homily because it says better than we could ever say what we...

...think about the resurrection. Let me read it to you. You probably have never heard it outside of POSCA night. I'll bet these are the words that every Orthodox church in every place of the whole world on eastern night reads. If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival. If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord. If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour with Thanksgiving, let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings where he shall suffer no loss. If anyone have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay, for the master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just after Him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and he cares for the first. To the one he gives and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and he praises the intention. Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord and, whether first or last, receive your reward, Oh rich and poor one, with another dance for joy. Oh You ascetics and you negligent celebrate the day. You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast rejoice today. The table is rich laden. Feast royally all of you. The calf is fatted. Let no one go forth hungry. Let all partake of the Feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness. Let no one lamentous poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one more in his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior's death has set us free. He that was taken by death has annihilated it. He descended into hades and took hades captive. He embittered it when it tasted his flesh and, anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions. It was embittered for it was abolished. It was embittered for it was mocked. It was embittered for it was purged. It was embittered for it was despoiled. It was embittered for it was bound in chains. It took a body and, face to face, met God. It took earth and encountered heaven. It took what it saw, but it crumbled beneath what it had not seen. Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh hades, where is thy victory? Christ is risen and you are overthrown. Christ is risen and the demons have fallen. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life reigns. Christ is risen and not one dead remains in the tomb, for Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first fruits of them that slept to him. Be Glory and might, unto the ages of ages amend. HMM. One can say one only, I am the resurrection and the life. One can say I am the way, I am, the truth, I am the...

...life. No one comes to the father except through me. One can say, like he said to his disciples, I am going away to prepare a mansion for you and I will come again to take you to be with me, that we might be together. One can say that one has crushed death. It's the light of Christ that can illuminate death, the grave and the next life because by his death, spiritual death, bodily death, eternal death have all been negated. They're all crushed, they're all dead to us. So let me end my lecture by articulating what is the Christian attitude now towards death, having seen how our savior destroyed it? And why is it so fundamental for us as Christians to think about death every day? Why is the remembrance of death so basic and our spiritual life? I remember one time, when I was a cate human, many moons ago, having mother Victoria at my dining room table and I was asking her questions and I asked her a question about the saints and I said, Mother Victoria, when the Saints Die, how does that work? And she looked at me. She goes what I said. When the Saints Die, like word. How does that work? And she goes the saints do not die, and I looked at my wife and thought, what in the world is she talking about? But she was absolutely right. The saints do not die, and nor do faithful Christians. They sleep, they experience something that cannot be called death. Like all human kind, have known death prior to the victory of our Savior. That has been so altered that we can't even call it what it used to be called for us, which is why the Church has invented universally its own language to describe death. And we don't say death and die. We say they have Fallen Asleep in Christ they have entered into repose, and a few other words which I'll mentioned to you in a minute. Christ saving works have changed everything for us in our relationship to death. The poison of death continued to flow in our human nature, and we do die a physical death, but the fear and the despair of death for us, brothers and sisters, is no more. Christ's triumph over death is literally ours. It's not as though he performed this great victory, is not as though he conquered death simply for himself. Remember what actually happened at the time of the crucifixion and the Resurrection, all of the alterations to the earth that took place, the rocks breaking open, the temple shaking, the curtain being torn from top to bottom and, most importantly, the alterations to the cemetery. Remember that the cemetery in Jerusalem broke, the graves broke open and many who had died, many who had fallen asleep, got up, shook off the dust and walked into Jerusalem, the first fruits of the resurrection. The father say this happened for one reason, to show to us the connection between Jesus's Resurrection, his victory over death, and ours. He didn't just do it for himself. His victory had direct concert the quences for us. He is the first fruits of many...

...who are coming, and those who were resurrected from the tombs went with him into the kingdom. So we have, as Christians, a mixture. We have confidence, we have freedom from fear of death. We don't have the sorrow of looking into the great abyss. We hold it in contempt. We trust our savior and his victory and we do have sorrow, but we have it with moderation. We do have grief, we do have mourning, which is blessed, but it's a morning mostly for us. It's a morning for our loss, for the separation that we experience from loved ones at the time of death. Sometimes it's a morning because we're uncertain about the faith of the person who's died and we wonder if they're having an easy or a hard time at it. It's a it's a moderate grief when we see the reminder that death is of our sins and what we created ourselves. This isn't is the prototype, for this is our savior at the tomb of Lazarus, even knowing he was about to raise him from the dead, he wept. He didn't pull his hair out, he didn't jump in the coffin and scream. He cried. He cried and then he conquered, and this is a model, the father say, for Christians. Yes, we mourn, we don't like its face, we we weep, but we try to do it as Christians, and Saint Paul's language to the Thessalonians, we do not mourn as do those who have no hope. We mourn, but not hopelessly. We more not unto depression. We Mourn unto transformation, and we remember also that death is a dore. Saint Paul said that he desired to depart. This was his language, his language, to depart an AALISES and to be with Christ, for that is very much better. This is what he wanted. Sometimes we describe death as a Chimi sees sleep, or a translation, a transfer. Death has served as a Dore, and a necessary one for the recreation of man. Saint John Krososten describes this way. He says the reason that we have to go through this process a physical death, even after our souls have been resurrected by the grace of God in Holy Baptism. We have to go through it because of what sin has done to us and to our bodies. He said, imagine the person, the person with clay, a lump of clay on the wheel and he's kicking the wheel, he's spinning the wheel and he's making his beautiful pot, and then, just as he's about to form her, a perversion takes place. He hits the pot of pulp. I don't know if any of you were ever in art class and had to do that. That's the only thing my pots ever looked like. I could never get mine to look at all like anything normal. It's in Jocker says. That says that's what sin is. That's what the fall of man was. It was a deformation in the formation of Man. And therefore what have to take place is what the claymaker does. He puts his hand on top of the clay and he smushes it back down in order to reform it. So it's not a smushing unto damnation, it's not a smushing up to any hilation. It's actually progress. We get smushed so that our bodies can be refashioned in Pristine beauty fit for our glorified souls for all eternity. This is what death is for the Christian. This is Sayn I natious, the Bishop...

...of Antioch. Listen to what he says about death. This is one of the earliest post New Testament writings, and then I'm going to quote Saint John San Francisco Go, one of the most recent, two thousand years later writing. They say the same thing. Senday, Nay, just come fire, come, Cross and grapplings with wild beasts, cuttings and manglings, wrenching of bones, hacking of limbs, crushings of my whole body come cruel tortures of the devil to assail me. None of these frighten me. One thing alone, I want and desire only be it mine to attain. Unto Jesus Christ, this is what he thought. Death was the means to get Christ and then set John of San Francisco. One of his last words, he said, tell the people, though I am dead, I am still alive. Though I am dead, I am still alive. There is a dead life and there is a living death. So this is our attitude, this is the Christian mentality about death, brothers and sisters, and we keep it in mind because keeping it in mind is the way that we ensure that we walk the narrow road to the kingdom. The remembrance of death is a basic virtue. It's like saying your prayers, it's like going to confession, it's like performing arms, doing service. It's that fundamental in the Christian life to keep in your mind the remembrance of death. SIREC says, in all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will ever sin. And Jesus many times in his teaching taught us to think about the end of our life like watch therefore he says and pray for. You do not know on what your Lord, What Day your Lord, is coming. Think about the first three days of Holy Week. You hold the bridegroom cometh at midnight. Blessed is he who is found not sleeping. Keeping this in mind is key to our spiritual life and not knowing the time of our death as a blessing. Can you imagine? I'm not looking at you, but can you imagine, in general, if you knew exactly when you were going to die? I can imagine, I'm not saying anything harsh here, I can imagine that would provide a temptation. Let's say it was in thirty years. Can you just imagine you've been fighting some big temptation and then you find out you know exactly the day of your death and it's in thirty years and you're like, Gosh, that's a lot of time to repent. If I just do this for a one year, I'll have twenty nine more years to repent. Unfortunately, if we know ourselves, we would know that that's a powerful temptation and not knowing the day of death is a great blessing for us. We know it's God has set the day, but we don't know when it is and is keeping US vigil it. It's helping us work against ourselves, and our baser, our baser fallen, is see ATHANASIO's the great he says recall your exodus, your death, every hour and keep it before your eyes on a daily basis, and remember before whom you must appear. and seeing John of the ladder and his famous ladder, in which he gives us thirty steps to Paradise, dedicates the whole sixth step to the remembrance of death and he says let the memory of death sleep and awake with you. He gives twenty four paragraphs to the description of how to cultivate the remembrance of death and he puts it just after chapters entitled on Obedience on Repentance. So if you're asking...

...yourself how important if the cultivation of the remembrance of death, just think of where he places it. It's similar to learning to obey and similar to learning to repent. That's how fundamental remembering death every day is. He elsewhere in that chapter says no day can be lived as a day should be lived unless we live it as though it were our final day, our last day. He tells a beautiful story in that chapter. Many of you who have the ladder go home and read it. Chapter six he tells the story about eacy heels, this very humble monk, and he was kind of bad ump, a lazy bum pretty much, and all of a sudden he had like what they thought was a heart attack and they thought he was dead, but he was only mostly dead and he came back. Don't tell anyone I'm quoting Princess Fried. That's that does not go with the other quotes that I've made tonight. He was mostly dead he came back, but when he came back he wouldn't speak. He prayed constantly, he stayed in his cell. His whole way of life was changed and he was asked before he died why all of this had happened, and this is his response. He said, forgive me, no one who has acquired the remembrance of death will ever be able to sin. He was so transformed at the face of death because he hadn't taken death seriously, he hadn't practiced the virtue of remembering death and preparing for it, and so he had a trivial life. He learned to be serious about his life. Death produces sobriety. The remembrance of death helps us to have a proper perspective on life and authentic valuation. One of our lecture says just given to the funeral. We're going to go through the funeral and and examine the prayers and the texts that we chant, but one of the hymns is from St John Damascus. The church says where is the rich man and the poor? Where is riches and poverty, death levels, everything, and gives you a prism through which to judge, to make an authentic valuation, what is really significant in life, what's important what's not important. Funerals are so fundamental to our spiritual life, not just as acts of love, but as reorientations for our everyday life. This is the power of the remembrance of death, to medicine for restraining the passions, to foundation for humility. It opens up the whole arena for martyrdom and allows a return of love. So that which was a disadvantage initially became a great advantage. The remembrance of death for us, brothers and sisters, is very productive, positive dynamic. It doesn't produce depression, not in the Christian. It produces immense change, hope and faith. We can encourage each other this way. We can help each other to remember death. I have we have a parishioner. She's no longer here, but she was here for a long time, God bless her. She was faithful and she and her family moved away. She used to say something to me every confession. I would hear her confession, I would read her...

...absolution and then she would turn, she'd bow to me and while she was looking down, she would say father, remembered death, and then she left. It was tremendous gift to me, a tremendous gift I always felt when she left. Who I wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you. Saint Theodore the studite, one of our great monks in Constantinople, who was the abbot of the studious monastery, great defender of the faith. He built in a practice in his monastery where at nine am, at the third hour, he would send a month around to where all the monks were working, you know, in the house where they were making incense, in the bread house where they were cooking, the chanters who were practicing for the services, those who were making transcriptions for text those who were in the garden, those who were building the buildings, every single workstation. The the monk would go on the appointment of Saint Theodore and he would stand and he would say, brothers, we are dying, we are dying, we are dying, and do not forget the heavenly kingdom. And then he will go on every single day. This was a way to help St John The merciful, the Almsgiver, the Great Patriarch of Alexandria, so famous for his care of the poor and Alexandria. He had a similar practice. When he became patriarch and Alexandria. He had his grave made halfway and then he asked one of his spiritual sons, whenever there's a big feast and you see me in my glorious Patriarchal vestments, you know, heavy and gold and radiant, he says, walk up to me and stand and say, my Lord, your tomb is incomplete. Give me instructions to go complete it in case we need it today. This is how he arranged to keep his feet on the ground and to benefit from the remembrance of death, and we have to do this for each other, brothers and sisters, because the remembrance of death, it's tremendous contribution to our spiritual life. It's a fundamental Christian virtue. I'll stop there. This is the end of our first lecture on the remembrance of death, its origin and it's destruction by Christ. Will Continue in the weeks to come to talk about the process of life as a progressive dying and a progressive resurrection. This is more commonly called aging, which is what we're going to talk Abah, which is what we're going to talk about next week. We're going to talk about the funeral service itself and we're going to talk about praying for the departed and exactly what's happening when we pray for the departed. We're going to talk about all the customs of the church, from the preparation of the body to the making of Koliva, to the making of memorials and to the chanting of Memory Eternal, so that we understand what we're really praying for and what the significance is that we're asking from God. So that's the some of the things we're doing. The lecture you have just heard is the introductory lecture in a seven part lecture series entitled a Christian ending to our lives. For the remaining lectures, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org. Until next time,.

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