A dear, almost lifelong friend of mine passed from earthly life last night, on the feast of St. Brendan the Navigator. I found comfort in praying for him the Akathist to Jesus Christ for a Loved One Who has Fallen Asleep. Every phrase of the prayer is full of meaning, but something about the following section made me want to share it.
It makes reference to the “soul stripped bare.” This image follows from the fact that the soul and the body are aspects of a whole person, made in God’s image and designed to be a unity; and when you think about how the soul and the body have never had to be fully separated before death, it seems natural that the soul, no matter how pure, should grieve at this loss.
We don’t think of the body as a shell from which our soul ultimately emerges — our bodies are us, and they are temples of God at the same time, in which we worship. If at the end of our lives our Lord takes our spirits from our bodies, it is not because they aren’t precious. They will be resurrected at the end of time.
O Thou Who wast crucified for us and Who for us wast tormented: Stretch forth Thy hand from Thy Cross and with the drops of Thy poured-forth blood wipe away his sins without a trace; and with Thy beautiful nakedness warm his soul, now stripped bare and orphaned:
Jesus, Thou didst know his life from birth and didst love him.
Jesus, Thou didst see him from afar from the height of Thy Cross.
Jesus, suffering painfully on the Cross, Thou didst stretch forth to embrace him as he came from afar.
Jesus, Thou didst cry out for his forgiveness on blood-stained Golgotha.
Jesus, Thou didst in grievous torments meekly die for him.
Jesus, Who didst suffer to be laid in the tomb, sanctify his repose in the grave.
Jesus, Risen, raise up to the Father his soul which was embittered by the world and saved by Thee.
Jesus, All-merciful Judge, vouchsafe Thy servant the sweetness of Paradise.
–From The Akathist to Jesus Christ for a Loved One who has Fallen Asleep