According to Orthodox theology, death can be described in general terms, but it cannot be accurately defined in its details, because it is more of an unknown mystery than any biological event. And when it comes, we welcome death, as it introduces us to a higher state of life. Therefore, we do not examine the event of death with boldness or excessive curiosity, based on our knowledge, but we stand before this unknown mystery with reservation, respect, and holy fear.
This is the reason why those who attempt to interpret death based on their own intellectual comprehension often fail, and instead of expressing the truth of God, they preach false assertions and erroneous teachings. Thus, it is of imminent importance to clarify the Orthodox truth from the various fallacies—something which is not easy to do. The initiative taken by St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Arizona is a wise one, and the load of the undertaken task quite heavy. The entire work is indeed praiseworthy.
The citations in The Departure of the Soul—free of arbitrary criticism and risky interpretations—taken from the God-inspired books of the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, the references to the Decrees of the Holy Synods and the writings of the holy Fathers of the Church, the presentation of rich liturgical texts that have been used for generations in the services of the Orthodox Church and have spiritually nurtured millions of faithful throughout the centuries, the excerpts from the lives of our saints, their wondrous experiences and divine revelations, the rich iconographic illustrations inspired by the spirit of Church Tradition and life, constitute a priceless treasure which we can all learn from and resort to so as to be enlightened and strengthen our faith.
Death is a given fact of human life; when we approach it as a mystery, it becomes the best window through which to see life.
(From His Eminence’s foreword.)