Monday, March 4, 2013

“Let us at least die like Christians!”

From the Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church's website, a rather stirring story on Christian death from the book Everyday Saints. I can recommend this book as I know many people have read it and not one has had anything less than glowing things to say about it. On a related note, the best talk I've heard on "a Christian ending to our life: painless, blameless, peaceful, and unashamed, and for a good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ" was done by Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr. at the 2011 NTOM conference “From Conception to Dying: Orthodox Christian Views in Today’s World.” Please remember the good doctor as he has fallen ill and needs your prayers.

In the book “Everyday Saints” there is a section about a monastery in Russia which had fallen into moral decay. This was not long ago, by the way. It all happened only a century ago. These monks, not unlike the Prodigal son, had taken the divine inheritance from their heavenly Father, and spent it on self-gratifying, passionate and worldly things. The monastery had earned a very bad reputation in the surrounding area.

It was said that its monks were all idlers and drunkards. During the Civil War [in Russia] the Bolsheviks arrived in the town that was closest to the monastery. They gathered together its inhabitants in the market square, and then they dragged the monastery’s monks out in a convoy.

The commissar loudly yelled at the people as he pointed to those men in black:

“Citizens! Townsfolk! You know these drunkards, gluttons, and idlers better than I do! Now their power has come to an end. But so that you will understand more fully how these vagabonds have fooled the workers and peasants for centuries, we will throw their cross and their Scriptures into the dust before them. Now, before your very eyes, you will see how each of them will stamp upon these tools of deceit and enslavement of the people! And then we will let them go, and let the four winds scatter them!”

The crowd roared. And as the people cheered, up walked the monastery’s Abbot, a stout man with a meaty face and a nose all red from drinking. And he said as he turned to his fellow monks: “Well, my brothers, we have lived like pigs, but let us at least die like Christians!”

And not a single one of those monks budged. That very day all their heads were chopped off by the sabers of the Bolsheviks.

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