My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord and Our Only True God Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
THE BLESSED CONDITION OF THE RIGHTEOUS IN THE FUTURE LIFE
A great reward is prepared for the righteous in the future life (St. Matthew 5:12). They will be brought to the most perfect and beautiful place, which Holy Scripture calls Paradise (St. Luke 23:43), heaven (St. Matthew 6:9), the Kingdom of God (St. Luke 13:28-29), the heavenly Father's house (St. John 14:2), and the city of the Living God and the Heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22). According to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, "no matter which of these names one apply to this place, one will not sin: only let him know that the departed righteous dwell in God's grace in the Heavenly Kingdom or, as the church hymns proclaim, in Heaven" (The Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church, pt. 1, reply to question 67).
The blessed condition of the righteous in their blessed dwelling, Paradise, is given names by Holy Scripture: eternal life (St. John 3:15), rest (Hebrews 4:9-10), an inheritance incorruptible that does not fade away (1 Peter 1:4), a joy that no one will take away, a full joy (St. John 16:22, 24), and many similar names. To sum up, the condition of the righteous in the future life may be called blessedness (St. Matthew 5:3-12).
The greatest and highest source of this blessedness will be communion with God and the possibility of seeing Him. "God is the source of our blessedness," says the blessed Augustine. "He is the goal of all our aspirations. While we are searching for Him...we aspire to Him in our love in order to reach Him and find rest. We are blessed only insofar as we Progress toward this goal. We have no other good except union with God" (Augustine, The City of God, 60, 3). The Prophet Isaiah prophesizes that the Lord Himself will be eternal light for the righteous. The Lord says, "As one whom his mother comforts, so i will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem" (Isaiah 66:13). In the New Testament, Jesus Christ Himself promises that the pure in heart will see God (St. Matthew 5:8). The holy Apostle John the Theologian says that "our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3), and that the blessed Kingdom of glory will be "the tabernacle of God...with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God" (Revelation 21:3).
We thus see on the evidence of the Holy Scripture that all who love Christ will be united with Him forever in the Eternal Kingdom of God. This union with Him will undoubtedly be the highest and most perfect degree of their blessedness. If the Saints love Him not yet having seen Him and, believing, "Rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8), how much greater will their joy be when they will see the never-setting Sun of Truth in all His beauty and greatness! Of course they will see the human nature of Christ the Savior by means of the bodily sense of vision, while His Divine Nature together with that of God the Father and the Holy Spirit will be perceived spiritually, insofar as this is possible for a limited being like man. The close communion of the saved souls with God will consist not only in their spiritual union with Him through the most intense love, but, according to the words of the holy Apostle Peter, it will also consist in partaking of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), which in this world is possible only through the most Holy Mysterion (Sacrament) of Holy Communion, while in the never-ending day of God's Kingdom such a communion will be more true and real, so that God, in the words of the holy Apostle Paul, will be "all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28). As Saint John the Theologian says, He will be the spring that gives water to the thirsty, the light that illuminates the just, and the tree of life that feeds them (Revelation 21:6, 22-23). So close a communion with God, inexpressible and unintelligible to us now, will be the highest good of all the good things that are prepared for the righteous by the endless love of our Savior and which they will enjoy in the Blessed Kingdom of glory. "What a glory, what a joy there will be," says Saint Cyprian, "for those who are found worthy of seeing God and Who, together with Christ, our Lord God...will taste the joy of salvation and Light Eternal!" (Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 4).
In having perpetual communion with God and in seeing all the time, blessed souls will find a full and unceasing source of happiness. They will be happy in a consciousness of high perfection in themselves and of close agreement between their spiritual and physical powers. By their very nature, the blessed will have a perfect intelligence, a perfect will, and perfect senses. All parts of their being will be in perfect harmony. Thus they will reach the perfect development in them of the image and likeness of God, which man had when he was created by God (Genesis 1:26-27). [Source: Eternal Mysteries, Beyond the Grave by Archimandrite Panteleimon)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God