Skip to comments.Imitation of Christ: 1, 23, Thoughts on Death [Devotional]
Posted on 09/28/2007 4:28:11 PM PDT by Salvation
Thoughts on Death
VERY soon your life here will end; consider, then, what may be in store for you elsewhere. Today we live; tomorrow we die and are quickly forgotten. Oh, the dullness and hardness of a heart which looks only to the present instead of preparing for that which is to come!
Therefore, in every deed and every thought, act as though you were to die this very day. If you had a good conscience you would not fear death very much. It is better to avoid sin than to fear death. If you are not prepared today, how will you be prepared tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day; how do you know you will have a tomorrow?
What good is it to live a long life when we amend that life so little? Indeed, a long life does not always benefit us, but on the contrary, frequently adds to our guilt. Would that in this world we had lived well throughout one single day. Many count up the years they have spent in religion but find their lives made little holier. If it is so terrifying to die, it is nevertheless possible that to live longer is more dangerous. Blessed is he who keeps the moment of death ever before his eyes and prepares for it every day.
If you have ever seen a man die, remember that you, too, must go the same way. In the morning consider that you may not live till evening, and when evening comes do not dare to promise yourself the dawn. Be always ready, therefore, and so live that death will never take you unprepared. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly, for in the unexpected hour the Son of God will come. When that last moment arrives you will begin to have a quite different opinion of the life that is now entirely past and you will regret very much that you were so careless and remiss.
How happy and prudent is he who tries now in life to be what he wants to be found in death. Perfect contempt of the world, a lively desire to advance in virtue, a love for discipline, the works of penance, readiness to obey, self-denial, and the endurance of every hardship for the love of Jesus Christ, these will give a man great expectations of a happy death.
You can do many good works when in good health; what can you do when you are ill? Few are made better by sickness. Likewise they who undertake many pilgrimages seldom become holy.
Do not put your trust in friends and relatives, and do not put off the care of your soul till later, for men will forget you more quickly than you think. It is better to provide now, in time, and send some good account ahead of you than to rely on the help of others. If you do not care for your own welfare now, who will care when you are gone?
The present is very precious; these are the days of salvation; now is the acceptable time. How sad that you do not spend the time in which you might purchase everlasting life in a better way. The time will come when you will want just one day, just one hour in which to make amends, and do you know whether you will obtain it?
See, then, dearly beloved, the great danger from which you can free yourself and the great fear from which you can be saved, if only you will always be wary and mindful of death. Try to live now in such a manner that at the moment of death you may be glad rather than fearful. Learn to die to the world now, that then you may begin to live with Jesus Christ. Learn to spurn all things now, that then you may freely go to Him. Chastise your body in penance now, that then you may have the confidence born of certainty.
Ah, foolish man, why do you plan to live long when you are not sure of living even a day? How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched away! How often have you heard of persons being killed by drownings, by fatal falls from high places, of persons dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the sword, in pestilence, or at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of everyone and the life of man quickly passes away like a shadow.
Who will remember you when you are dead? Who will pray for you? Do now, beloved, what you can, because you do not know when you will die, nor what your fate will be after death. Gather for yourself the riches of immortality while you have time. Think of nothing but your salvation. Care only for the things of God. Make friends for yourself now by honoring the saints of God, by imitating their actions, so that when you depart this life they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
Keep yourself as a stranger here on earth, a pilgrim whom its affairs do not concern at all. Keep your heart free and raise it up to God, for you have not here a lasting home. To Him direct your daily prayers, your sighs and tears, that your soul may merit after death to pass in happiness to the Lord.
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THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
A very powerful spiritual guidance for the soul who seeks to imitate Jesus Christ.
Learn from me, because I am meek and humble of heart. Mat. 11:29
I just couldn’t get this posted this morning. My apologies.
I just wanted you to know how powerful these posting have been to me. I find myself searching for your ping in my list. Each day they cause me to think, pray and refocus everything back to Christ.
Your tireless work is truly a blessing to us all.
Throughout this series we have seen how remarkably similar the devotional meditations of the Latin and Orthodox Churches are. But here we see a view of death which is distinctly Western. Interestingly, this perception is evident in many Russian Orthodox writings since, say, 1800.
Ditto. I don’t reply much here but I do read and pray.
**Keep your heart free and raise it up to God, for you have not here a lasting home. To Him direct your daily prayers, your sighs and tears, that your soul may merit after death to pass in happiness to the Lord.**
Amen to this little prayer hidden in the article.
What is the difference of which you are speaking?
And why would the Russian Orthodox accept the same view as Western theology on death where others rites of orthodox might not?
I guess I need educating. Maybe you could post a thread on the subject.
I find them a blessing too. I am in book three in my actual reading. So this is a second time through for me. Guess what? The message is entirely different!
I guess this is a little book that everyone needs to carry around and read at different times in their lives.
“What is the difference of which you are speaking?”
Well, compare for example this from Thomas a Kempis’ rough contemporary +Gregory Palamas:
“...death, properly speaking, is this: for the soul to be unharnessed from divine grace and to be yoked to sin ... Let us cast away, let us reject all things, bid farewell to all things: to all relationships, actions and intentions that drag us downward, separate us from God and produce such a death. He who is frightened of this death and has preserved himself from it will not be alarmed by the oncoming death of the body, for in him the true life dwells, and bodily death, so far from taking true life away, renders it inalienable.”
or this from an Athonite Gerontikon:
“A monk asked another elder, who was over one hundred years old, “Now that you will depart from this temporary life, what do you feel?” “I feel such happiness and tranquillity, as if I am going to a wedding,” he replied.”
Its as if physical death is quite literally of no consequence or even something to be happily anticipated. One sees this throughout Eastern Christian writing from the very beginning. I suspect that this comes from the Orthodox view of the Incarnation as expressed in my tagline in contrast to what had become, by the time the Imitations had been written, the West’s atonement theory of purpose of the Incarnation.
The Russians were very heavily influenced by Western theology, both Latin and Lutheran from the time of Peter the Great into the 19th century, so one sees this warning of the consequences of death without repentance regularly along with reminders of the uncertainty of life. Thus you see this:
“Chastise your soul with the thought of death, and through remembrance of Jesus Christ concentrate your scattered intellect.” +Joseph of Volokalamsk
Death’s awful mystery comes upon us suddenly, and soul and body are violently severed, divorced from their natural union by the will of God. What shall we do at that hour if we have not thought of it beforehand, if we have not been instructed concerning this eventuality and find ourselves unprepared?” Hieromartyr Barlaam
This is not to say that the Latin (or Russian) mindset here is wrong, just that it is different and that difference plays out throughout the Churches.
***Thoughts on Death**
This short chapter is so powerful I made a copy several months ago and keep it where I can often read it.
Looks like one is the glass half-empty and the other is the glass half-full.
Both groups must face the creator for a particular judgment at the moment of their death. At that time I wonder how much these pre-conceived notions will really apply, for God is the eternal judge.
In my mindset, we must do everything with the end of our life in mind. Dedicate our life to God. Take the pride out of our lives and live as much as we weak humans can in humility for the glory of God.
Just my thoughts.
Very powerful, but one we don’t want to think about usually.
Imitation of Christ: 1, 7, Avoiding False Hope and Pride [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 8, Shunning Over- Familiarity [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 9, Obedience and Subjection [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 10, Avoiding Idle Talk [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 11, Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 12, The Value of Adversity [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 13, Resisting Temptation [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1. 14, Avoiding Rash Judgment [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 15, Works Done in Charity [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 16, Bearing With the Faults of Others [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1. 17, Monastic Life [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 18, The Example Set Us by the Holy Fathers [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 19, The Practices of a Good Religious [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 20, The Love of Solitude and Silence [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 21, Sorrow of Heart [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 22, Thoughts on the Misery of Man [Devotional]
Imitation of Christ: 1, 23, Thoughts on Death [Devotional]
See the followup on Sin and punishment on #24 also.