Deacon Milan Medakovic quoted St. Bishop Nikolai (Velimirovic) in his Vidovan homily saying that the bishop:
“… describes those that choose an earthly kingdom in the following manner: They are afraid of the kingdom of heaven because they cannot see where it begins; but they cling to the earthly kingdom, because they cannot see where it ends…..Pleasure and its abyss are arrayed in the same garments.”
In the life of St. John of Shanghai, which you can read here, it is recorded how St. John knew his death was approaching. We read:
“In May, 1966, a woman who had known Vladika for twelve years and whose testimony, according to Metropolitan Philaret, is “worthy of complete confidence” was amazed to hear him say, “I will die soon, at the end of June – not in San Francisco, but in Seattle.” Again, on the evening before his departure for Seattle, four days before his death, Vladika astonished a man for whom he had just served a moleben with the words, “You will not kiss my hand again.” And on the day of his death, at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy which he celebrated, he spent three hours in the altar praying, emerging not long before his death, which occurred on July 2, 1966. He died in his room in the parish building next to the church. He was heard to fall and, having been placed in a chair by those who ran to help him, breathed his last peacefully and with little evident pain, in the presence of the miracle-working Kursk Icon of the Sign.”
Perhaps the most fascinating part of this account is the fact that the holy Vladika still went to Seattle. That is, he went to his death. One wonders if we, knowing where death was silently waiting for us, would go and meet it?
For truly, as the holy bishop says, the pleasures of this life have been sinisterly disguised by the devil to make us believe that they too will have no end. But indeed they will. In fact, we detach ourselves from this earthly life, and the deceitful trap of the evil one, precisely by concentrating on its end. In the morning we pray, “Suddenly the Judge shall come…”, while in the evening, “…grant me tears, and remembrance of death…”; in the Creed we “…look for the resurrection of the dead…”. And during the Divine Liturgy, among our prayers for the health of our loved ones, we also always keep our focus on our own sudden end that God might grant us “A Christian ending to our life…”
For this we pray.