What is the Recollection of Death and what does it Mean?

What is the Recollection of Death and what does it Mean?


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


The recollection of death helps us get beyond our former self, because it brings humility to the soul. When we forget death, we’re under the illusion that we’ll be on earth for ever and this increases our arrogance, our greed, our worship of the flesh and our proclivity for exploiting others. Recollection of death gives us the sense of our limitations on earth and the importance of our thoughts, words and deeds for our life after death and in eternity.

It helps us to deal seriously with this present life, in the light of eternity, so that we don’t waste our earthly life in dissipation, heedlessness and frivolity, never giving a thought to the consequences.

It was said by the ancient Greek sage, Socrates, that ‘the true philosophers are ever studying death; to them, of all men, dying is not terrible at all’ (Plato’s Phaedo 67e). And Saint John Chrysostom advises us to make frequent visits to graveyards, so that we can reflect on the futility of human affairs.

We all know that after a visit to a cemetery we’re more humble, more compassionate, less attached to material things and more open to God and other people.

The recollection of death, about which Saint John of the Ladder and other holy Fathers have written a great deal, has nothing to do with any sick, melancholic and neurotic brooding. That’s of no benefit to the soul, because it only brings despair and has to be overcome with the help of a spiritual guide.

The Godly recollection of death is a charismatic and spiritual state which brings humility, peace and joy to the soul. It’s a gift from God and He’s the One from Whom we must ask it.
How is recollection of death achieved?

The more we transcend our egocentric life and the more we love God, then the more we’ll think about God.

We think about what concerns us and what we love. The Lord Himself said as much: ‘Where your treasure is, there, too, is your heart’.

Studying the word of God in the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church, associating with spiritual people who love God, praying fervently, attending services regularly and taking Holy Communion frequently and worthily all increase the love of God within us and therefore recollection of Him.

Saint Gregory the Theologian advises: ‘Remember God more often than you breathe’.

Continuous recollection of death brings profound peace and joy to the soul, even in the most difficult circumstances of life.

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.