Tuesday, July 12, 2022

On Cremation of the Dead (St. Paisios the Athonite)

Saint Paisios the Athonite said the following about cremation: 
Someone came here, a University professor, and he told me that they are seriously considering burning the bones of the dead, because there is no room.

"Look," I said to him, "why isn't there room? Thessaloniki has so many forests! The whole of Chortiatis! Fill a cemetery, after 3-4 years, you make another one further down. Why have they filled the mountains everywhere with apartment buildings?"

He also told me that it is from a hygiene point of view! What do you mean from the point of view of hygiene, while you have polluted the whole world, you have polluted the sea in Thessaloniki and elsewhere, while the bones are washed and cleaned! Have a little respect. But they want to degrade people, to make them worth nothing, to tear them from their roots, from their ancestors, from their tradition, to leave them alone and desolate, to destroy their memory, their connection with their predecessors, with the values and life of their ancestors, in order to then do whatever they want with various theories that pull them here and there. They go to spread atheism. Someone has died? Oh well, they're gone!

They want us to not be able to go to the cemetery, to remember the dead, to pay some respect, some honor; to think seriously about life, to understand that we are passers-by in this world, that righteousness and an honorable life have value. They want to keep the human mind in this life forever, stuck in matter.

Also among these bones there are so many Saints, whom we do not know. When I had gone on a trip to Sinai, in Rhaitho, I went to the Cemetery of Saint George and found the bones of a little child that had a lot of grace. They were like holy relics, but the bulldozer had gone through and dug them up - I collected what I could. After so many years! What I felt then! What if the cemetery didn't exist? Nothing, they would be lost.

In the old days they used to have so much respect for the dead, since they didn't take anything from a dead person. Once in the war, the major told us: "Whoever has old shoes, if he wants, he can take them from the dead." Nobody took any. Now they are burning the dead in the West and they want to do the same here.

Source: From the book Father Paisios Told Me by Athanasios Rakovalis, Thessaloniki, Orthodox Kypseli. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.