Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
Death is sure for all, for rich and poor, for nobles and slaves alike. It is the most painful thing from our life, because it puts an end to everything: to everything we asked, to everything we did, to everything we studied, to everything we gained in our life. No matter how high we’d get or how much fame we’d receive, everything ends when facing death.
Is it so? Of course it is not. This happens only with those who didn’t believe in the eternal Kingdom of God. For the man without faith even the mere thought about death means a real tragedy. But for the man who is close to God, death is only a passage from the temporal life to the hereafter. I’ll tell you the story of a rare mother who lost her child in an accident. Three years ago I met a lady whose greatness of soul and strong faith in God impressed me very much. This mother lost her elder son in an accident. But her steady faith in God was an aid in her unbearable pain. Her son was 28 y.o. One day, when he was going back from work on his usual way, he saw a car coming from the opposite side at a very high speed. The driver lost the control of his car and struck him dead, while he got seriously injured himself. You can imagine how big the pain of this mother was! She was waiting for her son to come back alive from work and they brought him dead to her. When she saw him, her heart broke in thousands of pieces, as the lifeless body of her son. Seeing him, she took him in her arms and said: “My love, my child! My pain is absolutely unbearable! But you were not my child, my son…You are His Son! He blessed me to give birth to you and to raise you. Our God is your Father, our Father! My son, my beloved son, farewell! I wish you meet our God and Father where you go.” Saying these words her eyes filled with tears. I embraced her. My emotion was big. There was this Christian woman who, despite her indescribable pain, confessed in deed and word her faith and love for God. Tears fell down from my eyes…This sweet mother continued to tell me her pain but also her joy.
“After I buried my son I didn’t receive anyone in the house for condolences. My soul was bleeding many times because of the unbearable pain that God took my child. I didn’t have the time to enjoy enough having him, to see him married and to enjoy having the grandchildren he would have given to me.”
“Do you have any other children?”
“Yes, I have another boy, younger than this one.”
“At least you have a comfort.”
“Holy mother, a mother always suffers for the child she loses, no matter how many children she would have.”
All of a sudden a question came into my mind and I dared ask it:
“Kind mother, did your heart feel any weight in your relation with God for this great sorrow?”
“No, no, never! The children are His! I don’t have any reason to complain for anything. Everything He sends me is welcome. What I pray for is to give me the strength to endure the pain. He knows better what must happen.”
“My dear, I admire you for your love for God!”
“Holy mother, in my life, above my children I have God. From that day what I’ve done was to pray continuously. I pray day and night for the salvation of his soul. I buried the boy on a Thursday. On Sunday I went as usual to pray. I asked God to keep him close to Him and to sweeten the pain from my soul. And God be praised, He gave me much patience and strength to endure.”
“I am so glad for what I hear and that despite your grief, you didn’t abandon God.”
Holy mother, how could I leave God for taking his son? I go to the church every Sunday. I never miss the sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, or the confession. Tomorrow He might take my other son or He could take me. Aren’t we His children? Will I complain to our Father? Who am I to do so?”
“When did he die?”
“Eight years ago. In a few days we’ll make funeral feast for him. Will you come?”
“Of course I’ll come.”
“You know, I have a small discontent”, she said demurely.
“And what’s that?”
“So many years have passed since he left and he hasn’t come at least once to see him. I speak to him, of course, as if he were in the house, not as if he’d be gone.”
“Listen what you have to do: when you prepare the wheat and nut sweet offering for the funeral feast ask him to make it together and he will come.”
“Ah, would it happen? I’ll do it. I haven’t thought about it”, this wonderful mother told me.
Wanting to see more of her great faith I dared ask her an indiscreet question:
“Did you go to the insurance company? Did you ask for compensation?”
“What are you saying, holy mother? Do you think that the accident happened without the permission of God? Did you think that the other man caused it? As long as he was seriously injured, but thanks God he is alive! How could we ask money for this?”
Excerpt from the book Listen to me! which is going to be released soon at Evanghelismos Publishing House