In the few years I have been Orthodox, I have seen, mostly through stories told, how God seems to provide special treatment for certain individuals at the time of their repose. I don’t pretend to understand why, but the people involved are always special in some way.
Today I was privileged to witness one of these events. A beloved member of our parish, whose children (in particular her son-in-law) have been dedicated tireless workers in our parish, reposed. She was expected to pass away several months ago and miraculously recovered after receiving the mysteries from one of our priests. She had always been one of the few people to show up for Sunday morning Orthros, and after her recovery, she returned. The Orthros service is a very important service, containing a significant amount of teaching, but it is sorely under-attended. As one of the chanters who too frequently finds himself chanting to a church empty of anyone among the living (of course I know that the angels and saints are present), I really appreciate those few who do show up.
The Orthros service begins with the recitation of the “six psalms”, that is Psalms 3, 37, 62, 87, 102, and 142 in the Orthodox numbering. This morning, our priest, who had been planning on visiting this parishioner (who lives across the parking lot in the apartments owned by the parish) after Liturgy, had to leave suddenly to be with her as her time of passing had apparently arrived. He left to anoint her before her departure. What was particularly appropriate is that these psalms are read every Sunday because they are the psalms that are to be read over us at the last judgement. This parishioner reposed at some point during the divine services, with the whole community in prayer. There is no more appropriate time for one to depart this life, and I thank God that I was able to participate in some small way in the departure of this beloved member of our community to be with our Lord.