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Life and Death

“When a seed dies, it produces fruit. Life comes by death. This principle is not only true in nature, but it is also true spiritually.” (Foundation Study Bible, John 12:24)

“Every year we have autumn and winter when things begin to die and then die, and spring and summer when things begin to come back to life and then come back to life fully. What we see in physical nature is part of spiritual nature too. Often something about our lives and ourselves must begin to die and then completely die so that something better can fully live. The biggest death internal to us is that of the self or ego. The irony is that it is not truly the self or who we are. It is the false self that we cling to but we don’t see it that way until something jolts us, such as suffering, which God often permits so we can wake up. Once we die to that self and literally invite God into us, we become who we are meant to be, our true self. Sadly, many of us regress and go back to the old self. But God does not abandon us when we do that and continues to wait for us to choose Him again.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“The worst definition of salvation is a “reward after death.” It does almost no justice to the teaching of Scripture and trivializes the work of Christ. Our salvation has an eternal aspect – which is more a description of quality than quantity. Salvation is an existence that transcends time and is united to the timelessness of the Uncreated. As such, this same quality continues to manifest itself within and around us, despite our best efforts to destroy and damn ourselves. This quality is the resurrection of Christ. It is present in His Pascha, trampling down death by death. It is life coming forth from the total emptiness of Hades. It is present even in the words at the beginning: “Let there be light!” For the words of creation’s beginning are spoken through Him and by Him and for Him. The act of creation is itself an icon and foreshadowing of His great and holy Pascha. Creation is existence from non-existence even as Pascha is life from death.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth is a declaration of God’s primordial purpose. He had always known that our creation would also be followed with our treachery and our turning away from Him. As well, He had always known that He would come for our salvation and that our rescue from the power of death would involve His own entrance into death, the sacrifice of the Lamb. This revelation – that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the earth – is also a revelation of Who God Is. The God Who Created Us is also the God Who is Slain for Us. Just as He is the God who enters into death in order to rescue His creatures, so is He the God Who creates out of nothing. Life from death is not simply a rescue operation – but an act of making those things are not to be as though they were.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Christ did not merely buy back our life from death as a ransom, leaving us free until we sin again. Rather, Christ gave His life as a ransom for many, utterly overcoming death once and for all….Because death has been overcome, this means that it can never again exercise any claim over us. Likewise, without the power of death, without the destruction and condemnation that come from sin, sin can no longer truly ensnare us if we have come to follow Christ, and have received the same Spirit through whose power He arose from the dead. This does not, of course, mean that we are now free to sin without consequences. Rather, we as Christians have finally truly been set free to be able to serve God in our lives in this world, and spend eternity with Him in the world to come. Through Christ's death we have received the remission of sins, and through repentance we are now set free to do good for the first time, always remembering that we are not our own, but that we have been bought with a price, in order that God might be glorified in our lives.” (Father Stephen De Young)

"Death is a certainty in this world and indeed a great mystery. All creation is filled with life and beauty, and yet strangely everything eventually falls into decay and death." (Archimandrite Sergius)

"The remembrance of death is closely linked to repentance... repentance is the purpose of our life. Death brings repentance to an end. What follows death is the fulfillment and consummation of our relationship with God here and now. So in Christian spirituality, the remembrance of death is, above all else, the remembrance of the Judgment." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“…coming near death physically may be a gift from God to wake us to the threat of eternal, spiritual death. Perhaps we are sensitive to the assaults by physical pain and death; but the Lord reminds us to “seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness” (Mt 6:33), and to fear “Him [God] who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt 10:28)…Outside of God nothing is durable. We exchange life for death, health for sickness, honor for shame, riches for poverty. All things change and pass away…being saved in this present life has its limits. Like Lazarus, we will eventually die, for reprieve is only temporary. Universal death is merely forestalled by earthly saviors, for they too are mortal. The birth of Christ the Savior, however, illumines our greatest salvation.” (Dynamis 10/20/2012, St. Catherine of Siena, Dynamis 12/24/2014)

“...the remembrance of death does not mean giving up on life, but living life the way we ought to…Grappling with the reality of death allows its truth to permeate the heart, exposes the ultimate ruin of every worldly fancy, and invites us to “rejoice in the presence of God” (Ps 67:3).” (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou, OCPM 10/11/2016)

“Death is only meaningful if life is sacred, and its imminent presence makes the power and beauty of life stand out the clearer…Death is the great despoiler of life; but there is the even greater truth that death is powerless over life if love is received and love is returned.” (Amy Amendt-Raduege, Vigen Guroian)

“What happens to our bodies if we do not prepare to eat to sustain our physical well-being? We become tired, sluggish and almost lifeless. Could we survive on eating food only two to three times per year? Of course not!! One must eat daily to maintain a healthy body. When we deprive ourselves of Holy Communion, the spiritual nourishment for maintaining a healthy soul, it has the same effect. We become tired and sluggish in going to Church. We drift further and further from God. Our souls become lifeless!” (Fr. Nicholas Rafael)

“He who embodies spiritual knowledge in his practice of the virtues and animates this practice with spiritual knowledge has found the perfect method of accomplishing the divine work. He in whom spiritual knowledge and ascetic practice are not united either makes the first an unsubstantial illusion or turns the second into a lifeless idol. For spiritual knowledge not put into practice does not differ in any way from illusion, lacking such practice to give it real substance; and practice uninformed by intelligence is like an idol, since it has no knowledge to animate it.” (St. Maximos the Confessor)

“You can be alive but dead. That is why Jesus said to the man He asked to follow Him who requested he first be allowed to bury his father, “Let the dead bury their own dead” (Luke 9:60); and “He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live”(John 11:25). The physical life we see does not necessarily mean we have spiritual life, that is, or His Life in us. The latter is a matter of choice followed by faith followed by union.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

“The true issues of life center in Christ…” (Orthodox Study Bible, Proverbs 8:34)

“One of the primary features of the new life that we have in Christ is that it is an eternal or everlasting life. This truth completely changes how we look at our present lives and at the future. It needs to be seen as something we possess even now. We have entered into a new, personal relationship with God that gives us a spiritual vitality and fullness of life that we lacked before. It will be completely fulfilled in the future when we are bodily redeemed.” (Foundation Study Bible, John 5:24)

"Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (1975) puts forth the idea that religion can be defined "as man's search for ultimate meaning." This implies a spiritual vision of the universe. A science without God would posit that the cosmos is nothing but something that exists in space or space-time…such a position ‘offers no constructive explanation to deal with existence.” To put it ‘another way, it begins and ends with the question: Is this all there is? Spiritual perception, however, would begin the search for meaning by looking at the universe and seeing that the meaning of life permeates, from within, the cosmos that we inhabit. In the words of the Psalmist: "The heavens shew forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands." (Ps 18: 2).” (Fr. George Morelli, Paul Evdokimov)

“I was not an atheist by conviction (one is not an atheist at the age of 7 and 10, and 12, and 15) but I was an atheist in the truer sense of the word - there was no God in my experience, no God in my life. And therefore there was no ultimate meaning in my life, all the meaning of life could be summed up in the necessity of survival. There was no common roof for my parents and me, there was food when it happened to be there and there was a great deal of violence and hardship around. So that all my vision of life was that of a struggle and all my understanding of people around me was that of a jungle peopled by prospective enemies. And then one day I happened to read the Gospel…” (Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh)

“When we reject God, we sever our relationship with Him. The result is the spiritual death of our heart. Such a rejection can take many forms, including a preoccupation with worldly things to the exclusion of God. Likewise, we can allow our fears and delusions, or our enslavement to wrongdoing – lust, despair, hatred – to permeate our activities and separate us from Christ.” (Dynamis 1/31/2015) “God turns us away from the world’s invitation to abandon the truth and, at the same time, He fills us with life…nothing dead is to stand between God and man, for He is the God of the living…Die before you die. There is no chance after.” (OCPM 1/24/2016, Ambrose of Milan, C.S. Lewis)

“Christ says, ‘“He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). If we do believe this, and live our lives centered on Christ, then we have spiritual life that will transcend physical death meaning that yes, death is defeated but not yet destroyed so we know we will die, but we also know that we will live. Christ promises this and the Bible ends with Him destroying death. So we can have the best of both worlds now – the fullness of Christ in this life, with all of its ups and downs and joys and sorrows, and the fullness to come that will be our joy complete.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

“When the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened to their actions, they experienced what God never intended: death. Death is more than the cessation of a human heartbeat. It is the reorientation of our human vision and activities away from the life of God. There are infinite variations of this broken and distorted human experience, but it always has the same end—the fragmentation and delusion of the human person…Spiritual death . . . fills the entire life with ‘dying,’ and, being separation from God, makes man’s life solitude and suffering, fear and illusion, enslavement to sin and enmity, meaninglessness, lust and emptiness. It is this spiritual death that makes man’s physical death truly death” (Kevin Scherer, Father Alexander Schmemann)

"Here St. Peter [Acts 2:22-24], filled with the Holy Spirit, is “making sense” of Christ’s death and resurrection. He offers me the simplest and clearest “explanation” of our Lord’s rising up from the dead, –“because it was not possible for Him to be held” by death. Divinity, the Source of Life, could not be held by death. Humanity, on the other hand, “could” be held by death, and was, indeed, “held” by it, –before humanity’s unique union with divinity in the Person of Jesus Christ. When death came up against the God-Man, Who took it on willfully, “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,” it was irreparably damaged, losing its “sting” and its “hold” on all who willfully choose to live and die in Christ. "We still die a physical death, but we die differently, just like we live differently, in Christ. The meaning of “death” and “life” is forever changed through Christ’s salvific journey through our "life and our death. It is now His kind of death, and His kind of life, that we receive, if we willfully walk the cross-carrying journey with Him." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“Christ frees all of humanity from death's grip. His death reconciles mankind to God, not by satisfying the Father's need for blood-justice as some might teach, but by causing every aspect of our corrupt human nature to be transformed, for whatever divinity touches is healed.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 23:46) “

Christianity is not a “historical” faith: it is the on-going participation in the Kingdom of God that has entered into history. The very heart of the faith is found in our present moment participation in the Kingdom. In this participation, we are “fulfilled.” Our lives become bearers of the Kingdom, no longer bound to this world. This is the inner reality that yields the fruit of a new life. The new life in Christ is not an improved version of our historical existence. St. Paul describes it as a “new creation.” It is a revealing of a new reality. The resurrection is not the improvement of a corpse: it represents the marriage of heaven and earth.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“True life looks crazy to a world gripped by the fear of death and existential angst. In this upside-down world, those who cooperate with the Spirit in an attempt to turn it right-side-up again look insane.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

"The gift of new life requires the reception and cooperation of the believer through faith and obedience to God. We are His children (Romans 8 v. 14) as He leads us by the power of the Spirit. In this new life, the body becomes the follower, not the leader. In choosing the way of the Holy Spirit, we put to death sinful passions expressed through our thoughts, words, and deeds.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Romans 8:13)

“…the Christian Faith expresses and points to the gracious and mysterious relationship between God and humanity. God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, not to institute a new philosophy or code of conduct, but primarily to bestow upon us "new life" in the Holy Trinity. This reality, which is manifest in the Church, cannot be wholly captured in language, formulas, or definitions. The content of the Faith is not opposed to reason, but is often beyond the bounds of reason, as are many of the important realities of life.” (Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald)

“The joy of the cross is the gift of a new life - the ability to live in peace and to become likened to God. This is referred to in Scripture as becoming a new creation. Healing through the cross brings clarity to our lives and reveals the wonder of the life to come. It replaces fear and bitterness with light and peace; it quenches our earthly thirst with the sweetness of Living Water.” (Sarah Byrne-Martelli)

“To be in Christ is to be in ministry and to be in ministry is to communicate to people the joy and power of the new life in Christ.” (Lloyd John Ogilvie)

“The church is primarily the community of the resurrection, a community in which we can live the new life of the Spirit.” (Josh and Sean McDowell)

“With Christ, life on earth can reach much higher quality, and then in heaven it will be complete and perfect.” (Foundation Study Bible, John 10:10)

“…one of the beauties of our Christian faith is the promise of what is the come, which is eternal life in and with Christ, and the ability to experience a foretaste of that eventuality now. Christ offers us an abundant life here and the peace that comes with it now. But we can miss out on the abundant life that Christ promises (John 10:10) if we are not in union with Him.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

“…it is normal to have highs and lows and we should not get addicted to the highs or depressed about the lows. God would not permit them if they did not have the potential to be for our own Good. The highs should get our attention as glimpses or foretastes of the peace and joy we can look forward to experiencing when we leave this world; and the lows are an opportunity to stay focused on God despite how we may feel. In the meantime, both are an opportunity for spiritual growth and maturity as we learn to navigate through feelings and become more spiritually steadfast and resolute.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

“Life, for the faithful, is not limited to life after death: we may embrace it now. We move out of our former manner of living – a state called death – into a mode of spiritual existence called life.” (Dynamis 4/30/2014)

“This life was not given to us by God for pleasure and the acquisition of things, but as a time for us to draw closer to the Creator God, who loves us and desires that we commune with Him for all eternity.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“ in Christ is not merely legal, nor instantaneous, but living and dynamic.” (Orthodox Study

Bible, Ephesians 1:7-8)

“If our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, then they are God’s possessions and not ours. Therefore, spiritual life, or rather, “Spirit-bearing” life, means a sacrifice of the self.”

(Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“We need not be afraid of eternal life because of the unknowns, however. Instead of wondering what God’s coming Kingdom will be like, we should concentrate on our relationship with Christ right now..." (Life Application Study Bible, Mark 12:24)

“The rich and the poor have one similarity: When they die, they leave all they own here on earth.” (Life Application Study Bible, Psalm 49:10-14)

“…everything in life – possessions, accomplishments, people – will eventually fade away and disappear.” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Peter 1:24, 25)

“Consider the following. It is an empirical fact that we know we will die. Further, we know when we die, we leave behind all of our material goods – homes, cars, clothes, computers, and other objects. As the Bible states: ‘For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.’ This begs the question, what then should be our primary focus?” (1Timothy 6:7) (Sacramental Living)

“Our bodies either go into the ground, are cremated or our subject to other death rituals. Eventually even our bodies disintegrate over time or are destroyed. That brings us to a few possibilities of which I will simplify into two basic ones. One is that the death of the body is the end of life – period. We live, we die and we cease to exist. But another possibility is that something of us lives which would be our soul that contains our spirit and our character.” (Sacramental Living)

"God is the source and Creator of life, for there is no life apart from God, here or hereafter. The life in us is a gift from Him…Life is a gift of God…All life is precious, but human life is uniquely created by God in the"image and likeness of God.” (Life Application Study Bible, John 5:26, Rev. Dr. Stanley S. Harakas)

"Our lives and worth, therefore, come from God’s Spirit. Many boast of their achievements and abilities as though they were the originator of their own strengths. Others feel worthless because their abilities do not stand out. In reality, our worth comes not from our achievements but from the God of the universe, who chooses to give us the mysterious and miraculous gift of life." (Life Application Study Bible, Genesis 2:7)

“We exist out of His [God’s] love. Our understanding of God is that He had no inherent need to create. He is perfect within Himself. He simply gave us existence out of love…we should also understand that our lives are not something we own. Our lives are His gift too us…Our purpose in life is to do with this gift what God wills for us which is to, as Christ tells us, to love God and love each other by becoming Christ-like in all that we say and do – Christ-like in our relationships, marriage, as parents, in our various vocations throughout our lives.” (Sacramental Living Podcast)

“There is a big difference in your outlook on life if you think you own your life versus if you think it is a gift from God…We are stewards of our lives, not owners; and as stewards, we affirm that every aspect of our lives comes as a gift from Him. (Sacramental Living II, Fr. Joseph Irvin, Stewardship Ministries)

“This life allows us to delight in God and for God to delight in us. This life allows us to discover the uniqueness and beauty of everyone and everything that God created; even when that which is created may be temporarily in disorder or dirtied up.” (Bishop John)

“He [Jesus] didn’t see death as a roadblock to our relationship with God. Jesus emphasized life and its fulfillment. His own death was overcome by his victorious resurrection. Jesus didn’t say much about what happened to people after they died, but He promised everlasting life to all who believed in Him.” (Philip W. Williams)

"Jesus did not come to make bad men good; He came to make dead men live.” (Fr Stephen Freeman)

“I hunted all through the four Gospels trying to find one of Christ’s funeral sermons, but I couldn’t find any. I found He broke up every funeral He ever attended! Death couldn’t exist where He was." (D. L. Moody)

“There is a relationship between sin and death. Sin causes death, and the fear of death leads one to sin and thus to bondage, Christ sets us free from this bondage of sin and death.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Hebrews 2:15)

“...through the death and resurrection of Christ God has filled the realm of death with Himself and has renewed our human nature, so that when Christ returns in glory all people will be raised from the dead and will share in God’s eternal life....It is only those who participate in Christ’s life here and now who will be able to enjoy the life of the Kingdom of God to come.” (Clark Carlton)

“…we all need encouragement to live in Christ, so that we may love one another, cope with life’s difficulties and sorrows…When grief or disaster seem to be dominating, remember that your life is in God’s hands..." (Dynamis 5/14/2015, Life Application Study Bible, Mark 14:2)

"God is grieved at our grief. The Bible is filled with cries of lament and shouts of"Why?” that God does not denounce. And yet—God is so committed to defeating evil that He is ready to help us use it for good even in our individual lives right now.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

"As we read the four Gospels, we are struck by Jesus’ deep concern for those in need, whether we are suffering from hunger, ill health, fear, poverty, sadness, death, madness, or grief. Above all, Christ our God is the Friend of man.” (Dynamis 12/15/2014)

“As terrible as death is, and the sorrow it brings when we say goodbye to a dear loved one is literally heart wrenching, in reality the sorrow in our hearts is merely an echo of what could have been had Christ not done what He did. When we see our loved ones there we should remember that death is not part of God and that Christ is life. Although we still die physically we no longer have to fear it.” (Sacramental Living)

"The Living God has turned death into life, and so in dying we follow Him to the Resurrection. Death is but a sleep from which we shall all one day awake. So let bereavement be tempered with hope, and let the fear of death be tempered with the joy of knowing that God awaits all those who love Him.” (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

"Consider the following. It is an empirical fact that we know we will die. Further, we know when we die, we leave behind all of our material goods – homes, cars, clothes, computers, and other objects. As the Bible states: ‘For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.’ This begs the question, what then should be our primary focus?” (1 Timothy 6:7) (Sacramental Living)

“Our modern world encourages us to prepare for the future through retirement accounts, good education for our children, and insurance to protect our valuables against foreseeable risks. These plans, however, are designed for"time-limited” hereafters, for they encompass a period that lies just over the horizon in terms of the days, months, and years ahead.” (Dynamis 12/11/2014)

“Planning for retirement—preparing for life before death—is wise, but neglecting life after death is disastrous.” (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 16:16-21)

“Many people work hard to prolong life and improve their physical condition. Yet people spend little time or effort on their spiritual health. How short sighted it is to work to extend this life and not take the time to prepare for eternity.” (Life Application Study Bible, Ecclesiastes 6:1-6)

“People often think of long term planning as preparing financially for that time period between retiring from work and our death. But this is really just extended short term planning. If, as Christians, we believe in the potential of eternal life through Christ after our physical death, it only makes logical sense that He should be our primary focus in this life. This logic perhaps is a good starting point to point us to Christ. Hopefully we don’t reduce Christ to simply a long-term insurance policy in our thought but a get to a place in our hearts where we simply love Him for who He is.” (Sacramental Living II)

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope." (I Thessalonians 4:13)

“Hope is not extinguished when death arrives. The righteous departed are safe in the hands of God. They have weathered the storms of life and reached safe harbor.” (Fr. Joseph Irvin)

“When a dear one dies, the unbeliever sees a cadaver, but the Christian sees a body asleep. The unbeliever says that the dead person has ‘gone’. We agree, but we remember where he has gone." (St. John Chrysostom)

“The Church teaches that life in Christ is eternal, saints and others in Christ who have died a physical death have just moved on beyond our physical senses (…. Jesus’ message in the Bible is relatively clear – death is not the end of life.” (Sacramental Living)

“Jesus dismissed the idea that accidents or human cruelties were God’s judgment on especially bad sinners. Whether a person is killed in a tragic accident or miraculously survives is not a measure of righteousness. Everyone has to die. Jesus did not explain why some live and some die tragically; instead he pointed to everyone’s need for repentance. No matter how or when it occurs, death is not the end. Jesus promises that those who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 13:1-5)

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