Thursday, October 22, 2009

Death - views from Metropolitan Anthony Bloom


metropolitan anthony of sourozh
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Death is the touchstone of our attitude to life. People who are afraid of death are afraid of life. It is impossible not to be afraid of life with all its complexity and dangers if one is afraid of death. This means that to solve the problem of death is not a luxury. If we are afraid of death we will never be prepared to take ultimate risks; we will spend our life in a cowardly, careful and timid manner. It is only if we can face death, make sense of it, determine its place and our place in regard to it that we will be able to live in a fearless way and to the fulness of our ability. Too often we wait until the end of our life to face death, whereas we would have lived quite differently if only we had faced death at the outset.

According to St. John Climacus, one of the essential steps in the transformation of our fallen nature and the acquisition of the virtues is "meleti thanatou", or the remembrance of death. In fact, Step 6 of his Ladder of Divine Ascent is dedicated to this very practice. On October 3rd the Church guides us to read this specific chapter from beginning to end, because at the end is the tale of the Blessed Hesychius the Horebite whom we celebrate today. St. John thought his tale to be the perfect seal on this beneficial chapter dedicated to the remembrance of death, and below I offer the ending portion of this chapter to see why:

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.

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.




[From St. John Climacus, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), p. 70.]


1 comment:

  1. I'm a bit concerned with Met Bloom's views and association with the Paris school of theology, St Sergius Institute (Sophiology), WCC, modern ecumenism heresy, alternating Orthodox and Western celebrations of the Eucharist where the liturgy was offered each day on the same altar while at Sts Alban's and Sergius, with its realization that unity in Christ need not mean uniformity in Christ, where his catholicity does not mean a rigid uniformity, and the canons, have outlived their purpose in a world where common prayer and unity as Christians are of paramount importance. These are all objectives paramount to St Alban's. So, how can his veiws and direction be trusted?

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