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Death is a mystery. It is our third birthday. I will be honest—a day does not go by when I don’t think about death. But it is impossible to fathom the depths of that word’s meaning and the experience of the event itself. I can think about how I will lie in the grave, but what the soul will experience simply doesn’t fit into my awareness. Any funeral rite—for a layperson or an infant—is simply unfathomable in its meaning. But there is a special funeral rite for monastics—it is extraordinarily profound in essence, significant for the soul and at the same time so joyful that I would compare it with the Paschal canon. If people knew how grace-filled this is, probably the whole world would want to receive the monastic tonsure if only just before death, just for the sake of this rite.
You could call the funeral of one of our monastery’s brothers, Schema-Archimandrite Stephen, a confirmation of this. He died at age twenty-five. As we were travelling back to the Lavra after my father’s burial he suddenly said, “Well who will be next after your father?” I answered, “Maybe me?” I have to add that Fr. Stephen was always very happy for people who had cancer. He would say, “What a lucky man! He can prepare himself, and give away all of his things himself.” The month of May arrived, and I could see that he was barely eating anything. I always tell the brothers, “If some one gets sick, make sure you tell me.” Illness is a natural thing, like death. We do not know God’s ways. I do not try to get into what is impossible for us to know; it is enough for me that the Lord allows me to live. His good will extends to...
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"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything." - Alexander Hamilton