Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The End of the Day


I was having such an interesting conversation with some of my friends tonight, and the topic of death came up. I wondered if I looked like I was sprouting a second head when I suggested that we all ought to constantly be in remembrance of our own deaths.

Just thought I'd share a wee bit more of where I'm coming from on that score.

In the daily cycle of my life as an Orthodox Christian, I recall death and resurrection every time I go to sleep and then, by God's grace, am granted another day in which to live.

An evening prayer goes like this one by Saint John Damascene:

O Master, Lover of mankind, is this bed to be my coffin, or wilt Thou enlighten my wretched soul with another day? Behold, the coffin lieth before me; behold, death confronteth me. I fear, O Lord, Thy judgement and the endless torments, yet I cease not to do evil. My Lord God, I continually anger Thee, and Thy most pure Mother, and all the Heavenly Hosts, and my holy guardian angel. I know, O Lord, that I am unworthy of Thy love for mankind, bu am worthy of every condemnation and torment. But, O Lord, whether I will it or not, save me. For to save a righteous man is no great thing, and to have mercy on the pure is nothing wonderful, for they are worthy of Thy mercy. But on me, a sinner, show the wonder of Thy mercy; in this reveal Thy love for mankind, lest my weickeness prevail over Thine ineffable goodness and merciful kindness; and order my life as Thou wilt.

Enlighten mine eyes, O Christ God, lest at any time I sleep unto death, lest at any time mine enemy say: I have prevailed against him.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Be my soul's helper, O God, for I pass through the midst of many snares; deliver me out of them, and save me, O Good One, for Thou art the Lover of mankind.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.


Now, to be perfectly honest, I will say that I pray this occasionally. So far I have not built my prayer rule up to the point of including this regularly, since it comes at the very tail end of compline prayers, but I aim to, and I will. It's like building physical fitness....must build stamina one step at a time. And this is a normal part of the Orthodox evening prayer rule. Others pray better than I do.

And in the morning, for Matins, we pray Psalm 3, among others, which says: "I laid me down to sleep, I arose, for the Lord will help me."

So our sleeping and rising is a daily metaphor for our death and resurrection. A built in reminder.

Just thought I'd share.

3 comments:

H and S said...

Hi Alana, thanks for your blog. I'm wondering whether you might post your pumpkin cheesecake recipe. I read about it in a very old blog of yours... I'm in Australia and last year grew WAY too many pumpkins in my yard and this year I have a freezer full of pumpkin. I'd also love to hear, if you can be bothered, why you homeschool and how on earth you do it. Homeschoolers are considered a bit crazy here in Oz.
Selena.

elizabeth said...

i agree with the building stamina ... i am about 4 years in the church and wow am i a beginner ... it is such a struggle, but at the same time it seems wonderful that we have the opportunity to struggle...

Joyful Days said...

This is such a wonderful post. You certainly don't have two heads. Thank you for sharing this.

Julie