July 25, 2023

Homilies on the Litany of Completion of the Divine Liturgy - A Christian End (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Litany of Completion of the Divine Liturgy 
A Christian End
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
The prayers we address to God during the Divine Liturgy and in the so-called "completions" refer to actions of the past for which we ask for repentance, to actions of the present for which we ask for help, and to actions of the remaining days of our lives for which we ask for divine protection. The last prayer to the Lord our God also refers to the remaining days of our life.

We ask God to give us a Christian end. We know that one day the end of our biological life will come and we have interest in that as well. We ask for this because we know from our experience that we cannot live perfectly as Christians, but at least we can, with the Grace of God, die as Christians. That is why we entreat the Lord: "For a Christian end to our life, painless, shameless, peaceful, and for a good defense before the awesome judgment seat of Christ." That is, let us ask the Lord that the end of our lives be Christian, without pain and shame, but peaceful and to give a good defense before His awesome judgment seat at the Second Coming.

A foreign scientist told me that he was baptized Orthodox, because he wanted to die a Christian. He read the lives of the holy ascetics and saw that they died peacefully and with prayer and this impressed him. Someone else told me that he became Orthodox because he felt that he could not play with eternity, which is a serious fact.

It is important that the end of our lives be Christian. This means that they must be ecclesiastical. It is important for the Christian, when the time comes for him to leave this world, to belong to the Church, that is, not to have moved away from it, to have partaken of the Body and Blood of Christ, to have received the blessing of his spiritual father and the prayers of his brethren, to live within the Church. We see this in the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos, where the body of the Panagia is surrounded by Christ, the Apostles, the Hierarchs, the Angels, i.e. the whole Church.

However, we ask God for special requests for the end of our lives. That is, we want our end to be "painless", i.e. without pain. How many people die in horrible pains, which may purify them, but may also make them lose their patience and sometimes their faith. Also, we ask God that our end be "shameless", that is, without shame. It is truly terrible to die while having fun, while sinning, while living without repentance. Also, we ask to leave this world "peaceful." How many are not killed in wars, but also in conflict with their brethren!

Beyond the way we will exit from this life, that is, the Christian end, we ask God to find us worthy to have a good defense at the awesome judgement seat of Christ. Death is not a path to nothingness, man is not led to non-existence, but it is a path to God who created him. We have received many gifts from God, and this life is a gift, so we are accountable to God for what we have done. Here in life we can easily fool people, but this will not happen with Christ at the Second Coming, who knows everything along with the inner secrets of our hearts.

The prayers of our Church have a profound meaning and may we pay attention to them, so that we adapt our lives to the spirit of the entreaties and prayers. Then a lot will change in our lives.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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