What is the memory of death and what does it mean?

What is the memory of death and what does it mean?


Archimandrite Georgios Kapsanis, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou †


The memory of death (memento mori) helps us to overcome the old person because it brings humility to our soul. When we forget death, we have the illusion that we’re never going to die and this increases our arrogance, our greed, our worship of our bodies, the desire to exploit other people. The memory of death gives us a sense of our boundaries upon this earth and the importance that our actions, our words, our thoughts have for eternity and life after death.

So it helps us to confront this present life with seriousness, in the light of eternity, so we don’t waste our life on earth living in a prodigal way, carelessly, superficially and indifferent towards the consequences. That’s why it was said also by the wise ancient Greek, Socrates, that: ‘Those who philosophize correctly are actually practising to die and fear death less than people’.

St John Chrysostom advises that we visit cemeteries frequently so that we can reflect on the vanity of human matters. We all know that after a visit to a cemetery we’re more humble, more merciful, less attached to material things, more open to God and other people.

The memory of death about which St John of the Ladder and other holy Fathers have written a great deal, isn’t anything to do with some sick, melancholic or neurotic condition. That would hardly be beneficial to the soul because it would create despair, which would need to be overcome with the assistance of a spiritual guide.

God-centred memory of death is a charismatic and spiritual state which brings humility, peace and joy to the soul. It’s a gift from God and we must seek it from God.

How is the remembrance of God achieved?

The more people overcome the egocentric life and love God more, the more they think about God. People think about that which concerns them and that which they love. This is what the Lord said: ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’.

The study of the word of God in Holy Scripture and in the Fathers of the Church, our encounter with spiritual people that love God, fervent prayer, regular attendance at holy services and our frequent and worthy participation in Holy Communion, increase in us the love of God, and thus the remembrance of God.

Saint Gregory the Theologian advises us: ‘It’s more important to remember God than to breathe’. That is, we ought to think of, and remember God even more than we draw breath.

The constant remembrance of God brings a deep peace and joy to the soul, even during the most difficult situations of life.

Read the previous part here

Source: pemptousia.com




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OCN has partnered with Pemptousia. A Contemporary post-modern man does not understand what man is.  Through its presence in the internet world, Pemptousia, with its spirit of respect for beauty that characterizes it, wishes to contribute to the presentation of a better meaning of life for man, to the search for the ontological dimension of man, and to the awareness of the unfathomable mystery of man who is always in Christ in the process of becoming, of man who is in the image of divine beauty. And the beauty of man springs from the beauty of the Triune God. In the end, “beauty will save the world”.

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Pemptousia Partnership

Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.