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The 3 Things...

This is letter #66 from Nikolai Velomirivic's "Missionary Letters." He highlights the three most important things in life, and the last of the three is a topic that makes most people bristle. Why? I think it's because we are afraid to face the uncomfortable reality that we are on our way to death, and we have no say about it. Why are we so uncomfortable with it? Let us examine a couple of points: 1)The Saints met their ends joyously. There was no fear because there is nothing to fear in death if we have lived a life pleasing to God. And if I can be a bit tongue-in-cheek, since most people seem to find themselves sinless, what have they to fear?

2) If your doctor told you that you had weeks to live, would anything be so important as your proximity to God? Would anything else really matter but those things which are intangible and from the heart? Well, we are going to die, and we don't know when. So - be prepared joyfully. "O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and

thou art overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and

the Angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life doth reign. Christ is risen, and there

is none dead in the tomb. For Christ is raised from the dead, and is become the first-

fruits of them that slept." We have nothing to fear.


Letter #66 - TO A CLERK JOVAN J. ABOUT THE THREE GREATEST THINGS IN LIFE


You asked me three questions:

1. Which is the greatest thought worthy of man?

2. Which is the greatest concern worthy of man?

3. Which is the greatest expectation worthy of man?


Pondering God's providence in man's life is the greatest thought worthy of man.

Caring for the salvation of the soul is the greatest concern worthy of man.

Expectation of death is the greatest expectation worthy of man.


How should one think of God's providence in man's life? As a measure, one should take God's moral law. According to that measure one should observe what happens in the lives of people whom one knows and with whom one has contact. The most important thing is to examine the moral causes of things that are happening to someone. That is not always an easy thing to do since causes can be hidden in someone's distant past, and sometimes they can be found only in the lives of the person's parents.

Christian confession is based on discovering these causes. The Psalmist says to God, "I have pondered Thy commandments and kept Thy ways...How I love Thy law! It is ever on my mind." Because the Lord's commandments are within the cause of everything that happens to the sons of Adam. And the law of the Lord is the light which illumines that which happens to us.


How should one care for the salvation of the soul? I will not count the ways; read the Gospel and ask the Church. Man has no greater treasure in this world than his soul. And that very treasure is the only thing he can save from doom and death.


Everything else which is not man but man's, what man treasures and keeps, outside of the soul, inevitably decays and dies. Man's soul is, in God's eyes, a greater treasure than the whole material world. According to the word of Christ, "What profit does a man have if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?" Therefore, there cannot be a greater care worthy of man than the care for the salvation of his soul.


How should one expect death? Like a soldier in war. Or as a student who is preparing himself, expecting the teacher to call his name at any moment. The Savior instructed us concerning the constant expectation of the hour of death in the parable of the foolish rich man who was building new barns and preparing for a long life of enjoyment on earth when it was suddenly said to him, "Thou fool, this night I will require thy soul of thee; and the things that thou hast built, whose will they be?"


Why is the thought of God's providence in the lives of men the greatest thought worthy of man? Because it brings one wisdom and blessedness.

Why is the care for the salvation of the soul the greatest care worthy of man? Because the soul is the greatest treasure on earth and, naturally, one needs to care the most for the most valuable treasure.


Why is the expectation of death the greatest expectation worthy of man? Because expectation of death cleanses the conscience and inspires man to every good deed. When a diligent and good man was asked what inspired him the most to work and do good throughout his life, he said, "death."


These three things cannot be noticed among animals. They are characteristic only of man, and a higher type of man at that. Everything else is common to man and beast.


Peace and blessing of the Lord to you.


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