Thought of the day
Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The 5th Day in the Octave of Christmas

Entering into light at the evening of life

The sun was going down but my sister, Macrina’s, fervor did not abate. The nearer she drew to her departure, the more she hastened towards her beloved… She no longer spoke to those of us who were present but only to him on whom her eyes were constantly fastened…: “It is you, O Lord, who have taken away our fear of death. It is you who have turned the ending of life here below into the beginning of the real life. It is you who leave our bodies resting for a period of dormition and who awaken them anew ‘at the sound of the trumpet’ (I Cor 15:52) It is you who give our clay, ‘fashioned by your hands,’ (Gn 2:7) in deposit to the earth. And it is you who bring what you have given it back to life again, transforming what is mortal and deformed in us with beauty and immortality … 

“Oh eternal God, ‘to you I was committed from my mother’s womb’ (Ps 21[22]:11). You whom my soul has loved with all its strength, to whom I have consecrated my flesh and my spirit since my youth, set beside me a shining angel who will lead me by the hand to the place of refreshment where are to be found the ‘waters of repose’ (Ps 22[23]:2) in the bosom of the holy patriarchs (Lk 16:22). Oh you who restored to paradise… the man crucified with you who placed his trust in your mercy, ‘remember me also in your kingdom’ (Lk 23:42), for I, too, have been crucified with you… May I be found before your face ‘without spot or wrinkle’ (Eph 5:27); may my soul be welcomed into your hands… ‘like incense before you’ (Ps 140[141]:2)… 

After saying this, since evening had fallen, someone brought a lamp. Then Macrina opened her eyes and turned her gaze towards its light, showing her wish to say the thanksgiving prayer for the lamp. But her voice failed her…; she gave a deep sigh and ended in the same moment both her prayer and her life. * * * “Hail gladdening light, of his pure glory poured, who is the immortal Father, heavenly blest. Holiest of holies, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest, the lights of evening round us shine; we hymn the Father, Son and Holy Spirit divine. Worthiest art Thou at all times to be sung with undefiled tongue, Son of our God, giver of life, alone; therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, they own.” 

Saint Gregory of Nyssa