Feb 25, 2008

Lazarus Saturday

Mr. P told me today that his Mother died in his Eastern European birthplace. It was a sad discussion, especially because her death was unexpected. Even though he had spoken with her on the phone for almost two hours the day before her death, he expressed regrets over not being able to see and talk with her one last time. I repeated several times that the end of this life was a birth into another life-- heaven, for those who die well. He seemed not to have heard the term, "die well," and we discussed what it meant.

I asked myself how this woman, whom I had met during her visits to the U.S., could ever believe in and embrace a God she had never known in her life under Communism. What a spiritual robbery it is to grow up and be schooled in a militantly atheistic society! Even though we spoke different languages, she seemed to acknowledge God when she visited our house and pointed with a smile to our little shrine with the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Only God can give the gift of Faith. Only He knows the disposition of her soul at the moment of death. I pray that she finally was given the gift of knowing God through His Son, Jesus, and then asked Him the same request of the good thief Dismas.
And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. Luke 23:39-43
I encouraged Mr. P to believe in eternal life beyond this one, but he didn't seem to respond. He did say that he had placed a picture of the Virgin Mary I had given him on the wall of his bedroom.

This evening, I searched for an Orthodox prayer for the dead to put on the back of a holy Icon card obtained from The Printery House in Conception, MO. I'll add the name and dates of birth/death of Mr. P's Mother and give him several holy cards as a remembrance of his mother and a reminder of our resurrection from the dead.

My selection for the Icon card is part of the great Hymn of St Romanos the Melodist that focuses on the raising of Lazarus when Jesus tended to the 'tears of Mary and Martha'—a moving reflection upon Christ's gift of new life to His friend and to all the faithful. Here is part of the 6th century hymn used on Lazarus Saturday--the Orthodox feast celebrated this year on April 19.
In order that He might bring an end
To the mourning of Martha,
The Savior of all spoke to her and addressed
These divine words to her:
"I exist as the Light of the world
And the resurrection of all from the dead;
It was for this end that I appeared
In order to resurrect Adam
And the descendants of Adam
And on the fourth day to resurrect Lazarus
Taking pity, as a Merciful One, on
The tears of Mary and Martha."

No comments: