Death, Detachment, and Advent
All life should be a meditation on death. Socrates taught this to his disciples, and he was not alone. St. Gregory insisted that Christians think about one thing, our departure from this world. “For this departure we prepare ourselves and gather our baggage as prudent travelers.” St. John of Sinai tells us, “Let the memory of death sleep and awake with you.” The Holy Scriptures echo: “In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin" (Wisdom of Sirach
Prepare for the Coming
The city of Rome was bursting with anticipation. The streets and alleys echoed with excitement. Butchers prepared cattle for the slaughter. Wine makers filled their barrels. Years of quarreling lords had fractured Rome. At last, one emperor conquered and united them all. After the battle at Melvian Bridge, 312 A.D., Constantine the Great rode in to Rome. His arrival, the era it marked, and all the jubilation, was celebrated with one word: the adventus, the coming, the Advent.
Feelings of Resentment
“My children, let us fear coldness and enmity towards our brethren, as well as the various thoughts that accompany these attitudes” (Elder Efraim of Arizona). As we prepare for death, forgiveness must be first. This is a common theme in the writings of the fathers. They urge that we not enter into death with any trace of resentment, anger, or bitterness. We must be at peace with God, the world, and ourselves. Most of all, we must be at peace with our family and community. But
The Doing is Everything
“Never does the human nature put forth itself in such power, with such effort, with such energy as to have faith in God…It is the doing that is everything, and the doing is faith and there is no division between them.” George MacDonald preached these words, the Scottish poet and mystic. He spent his youth tilling the soil, cutting lumber, and herding sheep in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In that northern world of winds and snows, he learned early on the importance of hard work. I