My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
LIFE AFTER DEATH (Part II)
by Saint Paisios of the Holy Mountain
The amount of joy experienced by each person in Paradise will vary. One will have a thimble full of joy, another a glassful, and yet another, an entire reservoir. But all of them will feel complete and no one will know the other's extent of joy and delight. The Benevolent God has so ordered these matters, for if one knew that the other had more joy, then it would not be Paradise because then there would be questions like: "Why should he have more joy than me?" In other words, in Paradise, each person will see the glory of God in accordance with the purity of the eyes of his soul. The degree of visibility will not be determined by God, but will depend on each person's purity.
--Geronda[Elder], some do not believe that Hell and Paradise exist.
--They don't believe that Hell and Paradise exist? Since they are souls, how is it possible for the dead to remain in non-existence? God is immortal and man is immortal by grace. Consequently, man will be immortal even in Hell. Moreover, Paradise and Hell are experienced by the soul, to a degree, even in this life, analogous with the inner state of each person. When someone experiences the pangs of remorse in his conscience and feels fear, distress, anxiety, hopelessness, or is overcome with hatred, envy and so forth, then he experiences Hell. But when he's full of love, joy, and peace, gentleness, kindness and so forth, then he experiences paradise. The whole basis is the soul, for it is the souls that experiences both the joy and the pain. God to a dead person and tell him the most pleasant things. Tell him, for example, "You brother has come from America!" he will not understand or feel anything. If you break his arms or his legs, again, he will not feel a thing. Therefore, it is the soul that feels and understands. Don't the doubters wonder about this? Or let's say, you have a beautiful and pleasant dream; you rejoice and your heart so delights in it, that you don't want it to end. You wake up and are disappointed because you woke up. Or you may have a bad dream, wherein you fell and broke your legs, causing you much pain and suffering. Full of agony, you wake up crying; then you realize you're all right, and you say, "Thank God, it was only a dream!" In other words, it is the soul that is participating in these things. From an unpleasant dream, one can suffer more than he would in reality, just as a sick person suffers more at night than during the day. By the same token, when one dies and goes to Hell, it will be a far more painful experience. Try to imagine living through and eternal nightmare and being tormented eternally! Here, we can hardly endure a bad dream for more than a few minutes. Try to imagine enduring it eternally--God forbid--in grief and sorrow! So, it's better that we do not go to Hell. What do you think?
--Geronda[Elder], we have been struggling for such a long time not to go to Hell...are you saying that we may end up there?
--If we have no brain, that is where we will go. I pray we all go to Paradise or on one goes to Hell! Isn't this the right thing to say? It is a very grave thing, after all that God has done for us humans, to go to Hell and grieve Him. May God so protect that not only people, but also not one creature, not even a bird, go to Hell.
May the Benevolent God grant us a sincere and full repentance, so that death finds us in a good spiritual condition, and may we be established in His Heavenly Kingdom. Amen.
"Ye Sorrow Not, Even As Others Who Have No Hope" (1 Thess. 4:13).
THE DEATH OF CHILDREN
--Geronda[Elder], a mother whose child died nine years ago, is asking you to pray that she may see her child, even if it is only in her dreams and thus be consoled.
--How old was the child? Was he young? This is significant. If the child was young and the mother is in such a condition that she won't be upset should the child appear, then she will see him. The mother is the cause for the child not appearing to her.
--Geronda[Elder], is it possible that the child, instead of appearing to the mother who is seeking this consolation, may appear to someone else?
--Of course it is possible! God works things out accordingly. When I hear about some you person's death, I am saddened, but my sorrow is a human sorrow. This is because, if we examine things a little more deeply, we will see that as one matures and has more and greater struggles to attend to, one accumulates more and more sins. This is especially true in the case of a secular person, who instead of improving his spiritual condition as the years pass, makes it worse with his worldly concerns, with injustices (with injustices he may have committed...) and so forth. In this sense, it can be a gain for someone to be taken young by God.
--Geronda[Elder] why does God allow so many young people to die?
--No one has made an agreement with God as to when he will die. God takes each person at the very best time of his life, in a particular manner, in order to save his soul. If He sees that someone will improve, God will give him time to live. But if He sees that he'll become worse, God takes him in order to save him. God will bring into His presence some who lead a sinful life but who have the disposition to do good--even before they have a chance to do this good--only because He knows that they would have done this good as soon as they were given the opportunity. It is as if He were telling them, "Don't weary yourself; your good disposition has sufficed." Also, God chooses to take someone who is very good because Paradise needs more blossoms.
Naturally, parents and relatives have a hard time understanding this. You see, a young child dies and Christ takes the child into His embrace as a little Angel. Although the parents will cry and grieve, they should be joyful because they cannot know how their child would have been had he grown up. Could that child have been saved?
"...The death of a child help the parents. They should know that from that moment on they have an ambassador in Paradise. When such parents die, their children will appear with angelic wings at the gates of paradise to receive their soul. This is not a small matter! Again, to the little children who have suffered here from illnesses or from some disability Christ will say, "Come into Paradise and select the best place." And then the children will say to Him, "It is very beautiful here, beloved Savior, but we want to have our dear mother with us." And Christ will then listen and in some way save the mother also.
Of course mothers should not go to the other extreme. Some mothers fall into delusion, believing that their dead child has attained sainthood...
DEATH IS A SEPARATION FOR A FEW YEARS
We must understand that the human person in reality does not die. Death is simply a transfer from one life to the other. It is a separation for a short time. This is like, for example, when someone goes abroad for a year--his family will miss him and worry about him because he will be away from them for a year. If he should go away for ten years, they will worry all the more over his absence for ten years. This is how people should look upon death--as having separated them from their beloved family members. Let's say, for example, that someone dies and his family members are elderly. They can say, "After ten or fifteen years, we will be together again." If the family members are younger, they can say, "After fifty years, we will be together again." Naturally, one is pained by the death of a relative, but this must be faced in a spiritual way. What does Saint Paul say? "That you may not grieve as others do who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13). How many times would we have seen that relative here on earth? Once a month? Let us consider that in the next life we will see our loved one constantly. Only when the departed did not lead a good life, are we justified in worrying. And if the departed was a difficult and harsh person, then, if indeed we love him and desire to meet in the other life, then we must pray fervently for him. (Source: Family Life by Saint Paisios of Mount Athos. Spiritual Counsels, IV)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God