|Death is Swallowed Up in Victory|
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The loss to us on earth of our beloved Metropolitan Laurus is difficult to encompass. At the same time, we are spiritually strengthened by the profoundly peaceful way in which his life of total service came to its close. As was his wont as an exemplary monastic, he spent – quite literally poured out – what was to be the last week of his life in prayer. He pressed through all the rigors of the first weekdays of Lent without stint, taking a leading part in all the services until weakness overtook him on Saturday. His faithful proto-deacon Father Victor found him in his customary sleeping position when he brought lunch to him after Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.
All the elements in the perpetual petition for our own good death were contained in his: A Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful, and a good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ. The Metropolitan’s death is an absolute illustration of Christian fulfillment. All who had any contact with him testify of the way the Metropolitan radiated humility, grace and peace. And could there be a better defense before the dread throne than healing a rift within the Body of Christ?
While we are saddened because there is one less person like him among us, we are strengthened in our faith by his example. His leaving us forces us to focus on the glory of a Christian life, perfectly completed. We recall that no type of standard “funeral-home” style preparation is done for a bishop. What is notable in Metropolitan Laurus’ case is that his remains manifested no signs of smell or any corruption on the day of his funeral, the sixth day after his death, as testified to by those in attendance. The published color photographs show that his skin tone appeared normal.
At the end of this month, we recount the culminating events in the making of our salvation: our Lord’s death and resurrection. Through His death he destroys the power of death and sin; through His rising, He brings us all to the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, if we would but show our acceptance of this in our ever-more-perfect following of Him. How do we do this? We don’t have to look far. Follow the example of our ever-memorable hierarch, Metropolitan Laurus.