December 18 - Daily Thoughts from St. Theophan, One of Russia's Favorite 19th Century Writers

"Your death is your final exam. It counts your grand total. Whatever shows up on the bottom line will remain your only possession through all eternity.  Be it good, your fate will be good. Be it evil, your fate will be just like that. . ."

Originally appeared at: Global Orthodox

Editor's Note: Saint Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) was one of the most prolific and beloved spiritual writers of 19th-century Russia. His works comprise over twenty volumes. Although he lived the last twenty-eight years of his life as a hermit, his impact on his homeland was immense. His articles appeared in the popular spiritual journals of his time, his books were in great demand, and he personally replied to an average of thirty letters daily. We will be publishing excerpts from Thoughts for Each Day of the Year (Amazon). In it, St. Theophan takes us through the yearly cycle of Gospel and Epistle readings, humbly and reverently offering us brief but powerful daily meditations on the word of God. He also addresses the problems of his day: lack of faith, coldness of heart, trust in the rational mind rather than in the revealed Truth of God - which are problems of our day as well.


Saturday, 26th week after Pentecost
Epistle reading: Galatians 5:22-6:2
Gospel reading: Luke 12:32-40

The Time of His Coming

“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning” [Luke 12:35]. One has to be ready at any hour. Who knows when the Lord will come? He might come either for the Last Judgment, or to take you from this life, but for you these two options are the same.

Your death is your final exam. It counts your grand total. Whatever shows up on the bottom line will remain your only possession through all eternity.  Be it good, your fate will be good. Be it evil, your fate will be just like that. This is as clear and simple as your own existence. It might happen at any time, even at this moment, while you are reading these lines, and your life comes to a halt. Your fate will be sealed, with no chance to unseal it…

A lot to ponder on! But in fact, amazingly few ever care to think about it. There is a kind of mystery in our attitude towards death. We know that we will face it, that there is no way to avoid it, and nonetheless we hardly give ourselves any trouble to think about death, even occasionally. Even on the deathbed, people often do not believe that the end has come. Let psychologists take it on as a scientific puzzle. Morally, though, it is a clear symptom of self-deception. The only way to avoid it is to master the art of self-examination.

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