Feb. 22, 2005
Feb. 24, 2005

Feb. 23, 2005

Today I want to talk about death. Not necessarily yours or mine, but, rather, the way people of faith talk about death.

To do that, I want to share with you some words I found in a recent issue of the Orthodox Observer (www.observer.goarch.org), a newspaper of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, although you could find other interesting words about death in the obituary page of The Kansas City Star any day of the week. In fact, try reading through all the obits some day thinking about the faith of the dead person or of the family that wrote the obit. Pretty eye-opening.

A Page 1 Orthodox Observer story reported the death on Christmas Day 2004 of Metropolitan Anthony, the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox community in San Francisco. He died at age 69 after a brief illness.

Here are the words spoken about Anthony by Archbishop Demetrios of America, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in the U.S.:

“Today, at the evening of Christmas day, a very prominent and beloved Hierarch of our Church in America, Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco, was called by Jesus Christ our Lord to leave this perishable world, and meet Him, and be forever with Him in the company of the saints and the righteous. …

“Deeply saddened by the sudden separation, we are comforted by the certainty that our beloved brother is with God. … We are sure that now the Holy Metropolis of San Francisco has a permanent, strong ambassador to God in the person of her departed Hierarch and we fervently pray for the repose of his soul among the great saints and pastors of the triumphant Church in heaven.”

This is soaring language and reflects the church’s theology. I especially like the phrase, “this perishable world.”

But I wonder whether sometimes our language about death is so full of flowers and hymns that it doesn’t accurately reflect the anguish and pain of the loss.

I won’t mind if people say things about me similar to the words the archbishop said about Anthony. But if that’s all that’s said, it will be disappointing. I hope, in addition to such words, a few people will scream at God for taking me and will break down with each other over how much they will miss me. Those are the kinds of words I’d prefer to have said about me when I go. Otherwise, why go?

To read my weekly column in the Faith section of The Kansas City Star and my other work, go to www.kansascity.com and click on “FYI” on the left side of the opening page. Then click on “Faith” or on my name.

Another place to buy my book is from The Kansas City Store. Go to: http://www.thekansascitystore.com/ProductDetail.cfm?PID=261.

Comments

Doug Worgul

Bill,

If you go before me, I promise to say to anyone who will listen, that our cubical region of The Kansas City Star "now has a permanent and strong ambassador to God in the person of its departed funny guy who thinks big thoughts."

worgul

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)