My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
THE PARTICULAR JUDGMENT
THE FATE OF MAN AFTER DEATH
UNTIL THE GENERAL JUDGMENT
Death is the common lot of men. But for man, it is not annihilation, but only the separation of the soul from the body. The truth of the immortality of the human soul is one of the fundamental truths of Christianity. "God is not a God of the dead but of the living for all live unto Him" (Matthew 22:32; Luke 20:38). In the New Testament Sacred Scripture, death is called "the decease (departure) of the soul" ("I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance" (2 Peter 1:15). It is called the deliverance of the soul from prison (2 Corinthians 5:1-4); the putting off of the body ("knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle" 2 Peter 1:14); a departure ("having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is for better", Phil. 1:23; "the time of my departure is at hand," 2 Timothy 4:6); a sleep (David "fell asleep," Acts 13:36).
The state of the soul after death, according to the clear testimony of the word of God, IS NOT UNCONSCIOUS BUT CONSCIOUS (for example, according to the Parable of the rich man and Lazaros, Luke 16:19-31). After death man is subjected to a judgment which is called "PARTICULAR" to distinguish it from the General Last Judgment. It is easy in the sight of the Lord to reward a man "ON THE DAY OF DEATH ACCORDING TO HIS CONDUCT," says the most wise son of Sirach (11:26). The same thought is expressed by the holy Apostle Paul: "It is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). The Apostle presents the judgment as something which follows immediately after the death of a man, and evidently, he understands this not as the General Judgment, but AS THE PARTICULAR JUDGMENT, as the Holy Fathers of the Church have interpreted this passage. "Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43), the Lord uttered to the repentant thief.
In Holy Scripture, it is not given us to know how the Particular Judgment occurs after a man’s death. We can judge of this only in part from separate expressions which are found in the word of God. Thus, it is natural to think that in the Particular Judgment also a large part in the fate of a man after death is taken both by good and by evil angels: the former are implements of God’s mercy, and the latter–by God’s allowance–are implements of God justice.
Concerning the state of the soul after the Particular Judgment, the Orthodox Church teaches thus: "We believe that the souls of the dead are ARE IN A STATE OF BLESSEDNESS OR TORMENT ACCORDING TO THEIR DEEDS. After being separated from the body, they immediately pass over either into joy or into sorrow and grief; however, THEY DO NOT FEEL EITHER COMPLETE BLESSEDNESS OR COMPLETE TORMENT. For complete blessedness or complete torment, each one receives after the General Resurrection WHEN THE SOUL IS REUNITED WITH THE BODY IN WHICH IT LIVED IN VIRTUE OR IN VICE" ("Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith," par. 18). Thus the Orthodox Church distinguishes two different conditions after the Particular Judgment: ONE FOR THE RIGHTEOUS, AND ANOTHER FOR SINNERS; IN OTHER WORDS, Paradise or Hell. The Church does not recognize the Roman Catholic teaching of three conditions: (1) blessedness, (2) purgatory, and (3) Gehenna (hell). The very name "Gehenna" the Holy Fathers of the Church usually refer to the condition AFTER the Last Judgment, when both death and hell will be cast into the "lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14-15). The Holy Fathers of the Church, basing themselves on the word of God, suppose that the torments of sinners before the Last Judgment have A PREPARATORY CHARACTER. These torments can be eased and even taken away by the prayers of the Church ("Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs," par. 18). Likewise, the fallen spirits are "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness" (in hell) until the judgment of the great day" (Jude, v. 6; 2 Peter 2:4). [Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky)
"Glor Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostom
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George