As Orthodox Christians, we take seriously the sanctity of the soul and body – both have been redeemed in Christ’s death and resurrection – it is important for us to understand that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Some are called to the next life “unexpectedly” in an accident or crisis event, and we are thus called to assure that we are in a right relationship with our Lord, friends, loved-ones and even “enemies.”
For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them. (Ecclesiastes 9:12)
Most of us fortunately have some warning before death – a failing heart, a terminal diagnosis or some other indication that our earthly lives are coming to an end. Nonetheless, most people (Christians included) are afraid to deal practically with end-of-life issues. Avoiding the inevitable by refusing to confront our mortality has become the norm, but this is a deviation from our responsibility as Christians.
In our modern age, with extraordinary life-extending technologies prevailing (and a fear of lawsuits on the part of healthcare providers), people are being kept alive long after their bodies are ready to yield the spirit into the hands of its creator. It is important to clearly understand end-of-life issues, and what our options are while we are still mentally sharp and capable of making such difficult decisions about the extent of life support we are willing to tolerate, etc.
To this end, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and St. Basil Church specifically, are committed to educating our members about these important issues, and to facilitating the preparation of a “living will” and advanced directives. We will hold periodic workshops, with a notary present, where these documents can be prepared. In preparation for these workshops, we are providing a link to the OCA’s standard end of life directives (available for printing) called A Gift for My Loved Ones [DOWNLOAD].