Sunday, December 10, 2017

Fr Touma (Bitar) on Saint Nicholas

Arabic original here.

From the Manger to Holiness

Brothers, who is a poor person? A poor person, for us, is someone who hardly possesses anything. And who is a rich person? He is the one who possesses much. This is according to people, but according to God, poverty and wealth have a different meaning. According to the Lord God, the rich person is someone who only loves himself and the poor person is prepared to give everything he has, whether he possesses a little or a lot. The rich person is someone who loves himself and so whether he possesses a little or a lot, he is rich in what he possesses. But the poor person, who is prepared to give everything, is the one to whom the Lord God gives the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, in the Gospel of Matthew, for example, it says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The poor in spirit are like the widow whom the Lord saw giving everything she had into the offering box in the temple. There were many people putting different amounts of money in it. The Lord God doesn't look at the amount that we place in the offering box. It is certain that many people put more than this widow that the Lord Jesus pointed out. The Lord Jesus noticed. Suddenly, He looked to His disciples and said, "Truly I say to you, this widow put more than everyone in the box." Why? Did she have a great amount of money? No, never! She was a poor woman. But she put everything she had with her in the box: two small coins! Then the Lord Jesus added, "These have all contributed from their surplus, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her livelihood." These two mites, for her, were the price of a loaf of bread that she needed in order to eat. Despite this, she offered to the donation box in the temple of her own accord. And so, in the eyes of the Lord God, she contributed more than everyone. Therefore, the result is that she received the kingdom, because He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." At that moment, the Lord Jesus gave her the kingdom. And so, brothers, for the Lord, the poor person is the one who is prepared to give everything. He is the one who is generous in giving. According to the Psalms, "he scattered"-- not spent. That is, he gave without reckoning: "He scattered and gave to the poor, for His righteousness endures forever." This is the person who is poor in the Spirit. Perhaps the person who is poor in the Spirit may possess much and he may possess little. Usually, he possesses little because if he possesses much, then he is subject to the temptation to keep the greater part of what he has for himself. Then, he gives to the poor-- if he gives-- from his surplus. And this is a temptation!

Of course, there are poor people who give everything and there are also wealthy people who give everything. But the latter are extremely few. This is something that is only possible for God. So if we want to know if a person is poor before God, then his poverty is truly evident in his unlimited giving. The one who gives without reckoning, without limit, is the one who is poor before God and so is the one to whom God gives everything. He does not only give him the kingdom, but also everything he needs on earth. For this reason, there is no greater virtue than poverty in the Spirit. This is the greatest virtue. In truth, all virtues come from poverty in spirit. If the Bible said, "The love of money is the root of all evils," then it is possible for one to say in good conscience, "The love of poverty in spirit is the root of all good things and blessings." God came to us as a poor person and not as a rich person. God became incarnate and dwelt in this world as a poor person because He is rich. For this reason, He was born in a cave; He was born in a manger for livestock. He had no place among the wealthy people of this world. When one of them said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go," the Lord Jesus said to him clearly, "The Son of Man has no place to lay His head." Of course, at the beginning He lived in Nazareth and then moved to Capernaum. And of course He had a place to spend the night. But this was like nothing for Him: "The Son of Man has no place to lay His head." This means in practice that He is completely poor. He only finds rest for Himself in completing the work of the Heavenly Father, on account of which the Father sent Him. Therefore the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, "My food is to do the will of the Father who sent Me." This is My food and this is My work and this is My rest. The Lord Jesus has no food, no drink in this world to fill His existential void. Of course He ate and drank because He was human. Of course He slept. When He was in the boat, He was sleeping. When the storm raged, He was sleeping. But the storm did not affect Him because He abided in the bosom of the Heavenly Father and so was at perfect rest. It was not only that the storm in this world that did not affect Him, but also that He had authority over everything in this world that could be called a "storm". When they told the Lord Jesus that they were at the point of perishing, He got up and rebuked them for their lack of faith and said to the wind, "Be quiet." And there was great calm. The Lord gives such authority to all those who are willingly poor in the Spirit, those who learn day by day to not seek anything apart from the face of God.

Saint Nicholas, whom we celebrate today, was an image of the poor in the Spirit before the Heavenly Father. For this reason, his gifts were without limit and were not only gifts of money. He gave without reckoning. That is, he took care of people without limit. He loved people, kept up with people, and had concern for people. For him, this was his food, his drink, and his rest. Did Saint Nicholas not eat, drink and sleep? Of course. But his true rest was in giving rest to weary people. His true food was in feeding the hungry in this world. His true drink was in giving drink to the thirsty in this world. Above all else, his joy was in bringing the flock of Christ to the true, divine pasture, to the pasture of the Gospel, to the true pasture of the Gospel.

A person's life is for the sake of becoming God's man, someone who is poor before Him. His every concern is to be enriched by the word of God, to be enriched by God's Spirit, by God's light, by God's love. Therefore, love for him is food. It is medicine. It is joy. It is the kingdom. He who does not strive to console the sorrowing, cannot taste the kingdom from this moment. He who does not feed the hungry in this world cannot be filled with the heavenly manna that the Lord Jesus has given to this world and the next.

After the Mother of God, Saint Nicholas is the most prominent saint in history. Despite all that, we only know very little about him. Information about him, if we want to sift it by the standards of historical inquiry today, is of no value. Despite that, this saint has been alive in people's souls for seventeen centuries because he has taken care of them; he had concern for them. In his life, he was bishop of Myra in Lycia and he became, with his repose, a bishop for the entire Church, throughout the world! Every May in Russia, some tens of thousands of believers hold a procession for 170km, carrying an icon of Saint Nicholas, back and forth on foot! Children, the elderly and even the handicapped in carts, walk behind the icon. Are they crazy?! Saint Nicholas is alive in the souls of these people. Why? Because love, God's love, does not die. A person may search in his life for a person who is the model of one who loves: "Teach me to do what pleases You because You are my God." What is the person searching for? Who is the person? What does the person realize? Love, only love! The person is realized through love, through giving, through sacrifice, through poverty for the sake of God. He gives everything without exception. It is certain that Saint Nicholas prayed, but he prayed for the sake of others, for the sake of people. As for himself, he asked for the mercy of his Lord. He sought nothing for himself. The poor person seeks absolutely nothing for himself. He gives everything he has. He learns. Just as someone trains to cross the English Channel, he also trains to cross the sea of poverty. The spiritual life needs boldness and violence with the soul. There is something very important that one must learn before departing this world: poverty for the sake of Christ! When one is pleased to be completely uncovered, with nothing of himself to rely on and nothing but the Lord God to rely on, he has then realized his humanity; he has become a new, complete person in every sense of the word. Then he cries out like the Lord Jesus cried out on the cross, "Into Your hands I commend my spirit!" Saint Nicholas was the model of the new person in the image of his teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ. Does anyone come across a memory of what Saint Nicholas ate or drank, where he slept, what sort of palace he had, what kind of vehicle he traveled in, what enjoyment he had in his bishop's palace? No one remembers absolutely anything of this sort because it is completely without value. Today, in the simple stories that are told about him and in the great presence he has throughout the world, the world's basic interest in Saint Nicholas is his great love for people!

For this reason, the Lord God gave him-- and gave us-- a very important sign. For more than 1600 years, the bones of Saint Nicholas have streamed what is called "myrrh". His bones have not ceased to stream it until today. And so every year on May 9, in the city of Bari where his bones are located, they take some of this stream that has come from his bones during the previous year and distribute it to the faithful and many healings and blessings occur. This is a sign that he is alive and that life abides in his bones. His is alive because the Spirit of the Lord dwells in these bones. The Spirit of the Lord who is in him and whose presence remains in his bones gives this. Do the bones give forth liquid on their own? Of course not! Rather, the Spirit of the Lord, who abides in the man's bones, grants, through this man, for his belly to stream "rivers of living water", rivers of blessing, in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Nicholas was, still is, and shall remain until the end an image of his Teacher who is poor before the Heavenly Father and also an image of the widow who, with two mites, purchased the kingdom. Saint Nicholas bought the kingdom and he has distributed it over the course of history to all those who seek it and he increases grace upon grace. For this reason, you and others come on the Feast of Saint Nicholas to share in the divine service and to lift up prayers and praises so that the Lord God may give you a blessing through Saint Nicholas. May the Lord God give you and us the grace of His presence through this great saint. Many years. Amen.

This sermon was given on the Feast of Saint Nicholas, December 6, 2017.

Archimandrite Touma (Bitar)
Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Silouan-- Douma, Lebanon
December 10, 2017

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Met Georges Khodr: The Power of Prayer

Arabic original here.

The Power of Prayer

The Holy Spirit who dwells within us is the one who prays, since we say at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, "O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, come and abide in us..." That is, we address Him by the power that He has sent down to us. He is the one who changes us from one state to another and lifts our soul to prayer.

You have stripped your soul of its lusts and caprices and made it a dwelling-place of God. He moves us to Himself, as though God in prayer addresses Himself. The Lord enters into you with the Holy Spirit. He strips your soul of its lusts and makes it capable of talking to Him. When you address the Holy Spirit at the beginning of every prayer, "O Heavenly King, the Comforter..." the spirit of evil flees from you and the Spirit of Christ dwells within you and raises you up. You have no more words because Christ's words come down to you and Christ addresses Himself within you and by this you become Christ Himself.

It is true that prayer is the soul's being lifted up to God, but in the sense that it is lifted up by the power of Christ Himself.

Before the Spirit of God enters into it, the soul is falling, empty, darkened, or broken. And if God's Spirit enters it, it moves by His power to the Father and becomes a soul renewed in the Spirit. It attaches itself to the Lord, joining Him with all its powers and the Holy Spirit prays in it. For this reason we say at the beginning of our prayers, "Come and abide in us and cleans us of every impurity." The meaning of this is that we cannot pray profoundly unless we call upon the Holy Spirit to come down to us and push the soul toward God, so man prays by the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer, then, from the first word, is from the Holy Spirit to the Father.

This means that prayer begins in us when we expel the evil spirits from us. That is, the idea of sin. Man's commitment to the Spirit of God within him is the condition for true prayer. So prayer from the beginning is repentance, in that through it you seek God and expel what is against God. It is possible for you to pray and to accept that sin remains in you. This is a contradiction. Prayer in its essence is repentance and it is clear that one who does not pray does not want to repent. In many cases, someone who neglects his prayer is someone who desires to not repent and someone who returns after neglecting it has decided to return to God. Prayer is the cord that binds us to God. It is to abide in God. It is the strongest proof of faith.

Prayer does not come from the mind alone. It is the power of the Holy Spirit Himself within us. It is our clear proof of our union with God.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fr Georges Massouh: Meditations on Death and the Resurrection

Arabic original here.

Meditations on Death and the Resurrection

There is an inevitable truth that death lies in wait for us at some moment of our life. So how must one deal with this eventuality? Do we surrender to it and live our life in fear of it happening sooner or later? Or should we face it with courage and live as though it could happen at any moment? Do we live this coming death in constant fear or do we regard it as something natural and go about our daily life in a normal manner?

Kallistos Ware begins his article "'Go Joyfully:' The Mystery of Death and the Resurrection", which appears in his book The Inner Kingdom as follows: "In the worship of the Russian Orthodox Church, while the prayers of preparation are being said before the start of the Eucharist, the doors in the center of the icon screen remain closed. Then comes the time for the Divine Liturgy itself to begin: the doors are opened, the sanctuary stands revealed, and the celebrant sings the initial blessing. It was precisely this moment that the religious philosopher Prince Evgeny Trubetskoy recalled as he lay dying. These were his last words: 'The royal doors are opening! The Great Liturgy is about to begin.' For him death was not the closing but the opening of the door, not an end but a beginning. Like the early Christians, he saw his death-day as his birthday."

These words remind us of what Simeon the Elder proclaimed when he held the child Jesus during His presentation in the temple. He said, "Now let your servant depart in peace, O Lord, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation" (Luke 2:29-30). Simeon saw the Savior, the awaited Messiah, and so he lacked nothing in this world, so he asked God to release him from this world to the world of salvation. Evgeny Trubetskoy also saw that his departure from this world was a departure to participation in the Divine Liturgy, which is communion between the living and the dead. He saw that death is the true beginning of new life in the eternal presence of God.

In the same article, the author quotes Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, "Death is the touchstone of our attitude toward 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... 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 fullness of our ability." But he is quick to warn us not to ignore the mysterious nature of death and so we must not treat death lightly. It is, of course, an inevitable reality, but at the same time it is the great unknown.

How does the resurrection relate to all of this? Kallistos Ware responds, "For Christians, the constantly-repeated pattern of death-resurrection within our own lives is given fuller meaning by the life, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. Our own story is to be understood in light of His story-- that story which we celebrate annually during Holy Week... Christ's dying, in the words of the Liturgy of Saint Basil, is a 'life-creating death'... As we Orthodox affirm at the Paschal midnight service, in words attributed to St John Chrysostom, 'Let none fear death, for the death of the Savior has set us free. He has destroyed death by undergoing death... Christ is risen and life reigns in freedom. Christ is risen, and there is none left dead in the tomb.'"

What is our attitude? Let us pray with those who pray, asking God to answer this supplication: "Let the end of our life be peaceful, without sorrow or shame before the judgment-seat of Christ." This requires us to be prepared through living a life of constant repentance, that we may stand not with those who are disappointed, but with those who are saved.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Met Georges Khodr: The Question of Life

Arabic original here.

The Question of Life

This is the question of life: who is my neighbor? People think that the neighbor is a spouse, a child or an uncle, all those we call "relatives," and people distinguish between neighbors and strangers. A neighbor is someone with whom we share our tastes, our religion, or kinship and a stranger is someone with whom we differ and whom we find foreign.

Here the teacher of the law comes to Jesus, a theologian in Israel who had to have known the answer to the question before asking, and so the Bible says that he came to test Jesus and asked him, "How may I be saved?" Jesus replies, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself." The man knew that the Law of Moses commands love, but it distinguishes neighbor from foreigner. The Law says, "Only love the Jew." Non-Jews are called "gentiles" and Jews had nothing to do with them.

Although the Samaritans lived near the Jews in the land of Samaria, they were regarded as foreigners because they believed only in the five books of Moses and did not accept the Jews' prophets and because their blood had been mixed in marriage with foreign blood. Therefore the Jews regarded them as foreigners, had nothing to do with them and did not care for them.

When the teacher of the law asked Him, "Who is my neighbor?," Jesus told him the parable that appears in today's Gospel reading. Jesus did not answer the lawyer's question directly, but rather responded to the question with a question: who do you reckon became a neighbor to that wounded man? He said, "The one who worked mercy for him." This Samaritan, the hated, damned foreigner, became a neighbor to the injured Jew through love. The barriers between nations dissolved when Jesus came teaching mercy. The barrier between neighbor and stranger dissolved, between one neighborhood and another, between one region and another, between one village and another, between an old family and newcomers.

All of these worldly, self-interested concerns were destroyed by Christ. He said to us, "Before you is a specific person who needs you": the poor or injured or lonely, or the one who feels that no one loves him. God has designated this person as your neighbor, if you go out to him. Thus the question "who is my neighbor?" is irrelevant. Go out to the person who you see in need of you, the one whom circumstances have placed along your path of life, no matter what his nationality, his religion, or... If you go out to him and love him, you make him your neighbor.

The fathers of the Church say that the Good Samaritan is an image of Christ because he is the one one who breaks the barriers between people and goes to all people. He sent his apostles into the entire world to create love between all people. Those who love each other are the ones who became the Church of Christ in love. It is naturally supposed that those who are baptized will love each other, to be a model for people, so that the light that is in them will shine forth and go out to others by way of love. In this way the true Church spreads, the Church of those who love.

The remedy is love. This means that after we encounter each other, we care, we serve, we sacrifice, and in this way the other person gets better because we have loved him.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Fr Georges Massouh: George, Saint of Nonviolence

Arabic original here.

George, Saint of Nonviolence

Yesterday [i.e., November 3], the Orthodox Church celebrated the commemoration of the rebuilding of the church of the Holy Great-martyr George in Lydda and the transfer of his relics there. This Palestinian saint took Christ as his sole model in order to live according to His teachings and to bring his life into harmony with them, especially the cross, the distinguishing sign of true Christianity, not of just any Christianity that raises it as a slogan for sectarian mobilization.

George, the officer in the Roman army, was martyred because he refused to offer sacrifices in pagan rites, just as he refused to confess the divinity of the emperor. He willingly accepted martyrdom, abandoning his weapon and casting it aside. He did not resist with violence, but rather his resistance was non-violent, a simple declaration of his faith in Christ the Lord, Redeemer and Savior. He accepted martyrdom in order not to betray his faith and its fundamental principles or act against his firm conviction.

The majority of Christians have made George into a different person who has nothing to do with the martyr George. They have turned his icon, which is rich in symbolism, into a legendary hero and denied his martyrdom. They have made him into a warrior, when he refused to use his weapon against those who tormented him, beat him, and caused him to experience every sort of torture. This legendary icon has contributed to making many people say, as a reaction, that George never lived because he fought and felled the dragon. So if dragon is a legend, then the whole thing is a legend. But George the officer lived under the Roman Empire and was martyred during the era of persecutions (303-304).

There are two fundamental elements that we see in the icon: the dragon, which symbolizes evil, and the young woman, who symbolizes the Church. This dragon (the Evil One) demanded that the people of the city offer him a young virgin every day as a ransom for the entire city. George rejected this communal concession to evil and he endeavored to resist it. He defended the young woman (the Church) that the dragon wanted to kill and destroy. His war was not of this world. It was a war imposed upon him by his zeal for the Church, so that she would not be transformed into an institution of this world. He wanted the Church not to offer any concession, no matter how simple, to the forces of evil, but rather for her to resist them and eliminate them.

There is an essential lesson provided by this icon, which is ignored by many people who act contrary to it. The icon intends to remind the faithful that the essential less of George's martyrdom lies in that his steadfastness in faith and martyrdom and his refusal to submit to his tormentors are what made Christianity endure. The only thing that destroys Christianity is its transformation into one of the institutions of this transient world.

The distortion of George's image was increased through its use in launching wars and massacres that have nothing to do with the Christian faith or the teachings of the Church. If someone wants the great powers of the world to launch a war in the political, economic and military interest of his country, you see him taking the place of George on the back of the horse and killing the dragon. In fact, it would be more appropriate to draw a picture showing a dragon fighting another dragon, not a saint who has committed many crimes against the innocent people of the country targeted for war. But the dragons are many and there is a battle of dragons without saints or righteous ones.

Christianity does not accept any distinction between an ordinary evil and a greater evil. Evil is evil, so putting it into degrees as though that legitimizes the evil that we see as ordinary and acceptable in order to prevent a greater evil, but which others might see as a great evil, and what we see as normal they see as something great that must be eliminated. This happens because we don't agree on what is the ordinary evil and what is the greater evil. So dragons battle with a clear conscience.

Saint George is the saint of nonviolence who through nonviolence defeated the Roman Empire. The empire that wanted to put an end to Christianity was went extinct, while the Church was victorious over the great empire through nonviolence and continues to live by the grace of her Lord. Do not insult us, O dragons of this world, by using the image of Saint George or of any other saint in your wars and assaults. George is nobler than you and immeasurably superior. Leave him in peace, lest your condemnation be multiplied.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): The Shepherd

Arabic original here.

The Shepherd

The true Shepherd is Christ and so the true priest is the one who resembles Christ because he receives his priesthood from Him.

"The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).

The priest is numbered among the clergy. This word indicates ecclesiastical service. In our true reckoning, there are not classes in the church: between the patriarch, metropolitan (or bishop), priest, deacon, and layman...all of these are various vocations according to the service of each one of them. They are all equal before the Lord.

His calling is to lead his children to repentance. That is, continuous transformation into the mind of Christ. He does this through teaching and offering a model of life.

In this process, the priest always respects the freedom of the other. He wins him over with his love and dedication.

The true priest washes the feet of the faithful. We call him "father" because he points us to the fatherhood of God. He begets spiritual children by God's grace. He always strives to speak with God's words.

The prophet Ezekiel says, "'But you, son of man, hear what I say to you... open your mouth and eat what I give you.' Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it... Moreover He said to me, 'Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.' So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness." (Ezekiel 2:8, 3:1-3).

A priest does not lead anyone to himself, but rather to Christ the Savior. This is the work of every spiritual father. The prophet also says, "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves!" (Ezekiel 34:2) and adds, "I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down. I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment (Ezekiel 34:15-16). He does all of this out of his love.

Beloved, we are in dire need of such shepherds as these today in our age of materialism and selfishness. People today, especially the youth, seek to have a living model to imitate before them, to "leave everything and follow Christ." It is true that a shepherd needs much knowledge of God's word, but what attracts the person of today more than anything else is his free service in meekness and love.

+Ephrem
Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

Monday, October 30, 2017

Met Georges Khodr: Let Us Live with Christ

Arabic original here.

Let Us Live with Christ

In today's Gospel reading, there are two miracles: the first miracle is the healing of the woman with the issue of blood which came about by chance, because the intention was for the Lord to heal the daughter of Jairus, the head of the synagogue, who had died as He was on His way to her.What is important for us is to see that each one of us is represented by the woman with the issue of blood and the daughter of the head of the synagogue at the same time.

The woman had been bleeding for twelve years and has spent all her money on doctors. The Evangelist Luke places us before a desperate accident: a woman who is not healed. The Lord comes and immediately heals her when she touches the edge of his garment and He felt that someone had touched Him and that power had gone out from Him.

In our encounter with the Lord, we must first touch Him, draw near to Him like the lover draws near to the beloved. If it can be said, we must struggle with Him, as God said in the Book of Genesis (32:24), when it talks about Jacob struggling with the angel. We must struggle with Him truthfully, a struggle where we meet His power, a struggle where the Lord acquires us completely, then we are sated by His presence, we are sated by His consolations. Then we are healed. Our broken, tormented, bewildered souls are healed. Every soul, when its adversity increases or adversity strengthens around it in the world, is inevitably cast down, as though into a pit. When a person doesn't know his fate, when he neither lives for today or for tomorrow, he is despairing, his strength is drained and he needs to touch Christ. Christ alone is able to lift the nightmare from us and to place us in His sweet presence.

After death came to Jairus' daughter, the Lord took her hand-- here also we have touch-- and called out to her, "Girl, arise." The power of Christ seeps even into the germs of death. Just as the woman with the issue of blood was immediately healed, so too did the girl's spirit return immediately to her. The Evangelist Luke emphasizes the expression "immediately" because the Lord turns to us with all the power and life that is in Him.

In this regard, death does not appear to be something strange. Death was strange before the Lord came. It was our enemy, oppressing us through sin. But after the Lord died on the cross, we all became companions in His death. Therefore He constantly says to us, "Believing son, son for whom I died, arise, arise from your sin first, for this is the great resurrection."

We have trained to rise from sin. If we live with Christ, do we not also rise with Him? Those who despair along the pathways of death or those who renounce their faith when a beloved face disappears from them, they are people who do not draw near to Christ in their life and so death comes to them as a stranger, just as it came to the people of the Old Testament and pagans. We are a people who are not entranced by life until the end and are not drained by life. We are a people who know and taste that this life is passing because if we have touched Christ, nothing and no one else consoles us. If we come to be familiar with Jesus, then we are strangers to our things and to ourselves. Livelihood may go away without regret. So why does life not go away from us also without regret, if we encounter Him after it.

We give things more value than they deserve and so we are afraid at death. We are attached to people as though they are the source of our life and it is difficult for us to depart this world, as though we are torn from death or illness.

If we place ourselves in eternal life, grace persists upon us in prayer that we send to the Lord. We confide in Him and we are intimates of the other life if it is brought to us. We are companions of Christ who beckons us to His face. Therefore we do not falter when someone or something departs, no matter how dear. While this world ends and people leave, we must know where is our life and where is our goal. If we are certain that Christ is our life, then we desire to be seized away to Him in glory.