My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord and God,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
THE DANGER OF LOSING YOUR SOUL (Part II)
Saint Gregory the Theologian says, "Just as the body, which was originally formed IN US OF DUST, became subsequently the current of human bodies as has not been cut off from the first-formed root, in one man including others-so also soul, being unbreathed by God, from that time comes together into the formed composition of man, being born anew, and from the original seed (Saint Gregory evidently means here A SPIRITUAL SEED) BEING IMPARTED TO MANY AND ALWAYS PRESERVING A CONSTANT FORM IN MORTAL MEMBERS… Just as the breath in a musical pipe, so also THE SOUL, APPEARING POWERLESS IN AN INFIRM BODY, BECOMES MANIFEST AS THE BODY IS STRENGTHENED AND REVEALS THEN ALL ITS INTELLIGENCE" (Homily, 7 "On the Soul"). Saint Gregory of Nyssa has the same view.
In his diary, Saint John of Kronstadt has this observation: "What are human souls? They are all one and the same soul, one and the same breathing of God, which God breathed into Adam, which from Adam until now is disseminated to the whole human race. Therefore, all men are the same as one man, or ONE TREE OF HUMANITY. From this, there follows the most natural commandment, founded upon THE UNITY OF OUR NATURE. "Thou shall love Lord thy God" (Thy Prototype, thy Father) "with all thy heart, AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, and with all your mind, and with all thy strength; and thy neighbor" (for who is closer to me than a man who is like me and of the same blood with me?) "as thyself" (Saint Luke 10:27). There is a natural need to fulfill these commandments" (My Life in Christ).
THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL
FAITH in the IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL IS INSEPARABLE FROM RELIGION IN GENERAL, and all the more, comprises one of the fundamental objects of the Christian Faith…
"… One must emphasize the fact that the idea OF IMMORTALITY IS PRESENT WITHOUT ANY DOUBT IN the Old Testament, because there exists an opinion that denies that the Jews had faith in the immortality of the soul… Patriarch Jacob, having received news that his son had been torn to pieces by beasts, says, "I will go down into hades unto my son, mourning" (Genesis 37:35). "Hades" here clearly means not the tomb, but THE PLACE WHERE THE SOUL DWELLS…"
"… The Lord Jesus Christ often POINTED TO THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL AS THE FOUNDATION OF PIOUS LIFE, and He accused the Sadducees, who denied immortality. In His farewell conversation with His disciples, the Lord told them that He was going TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR THEM SO THAT THEY MIGHT BE WHERE HE HIMSELF WOULD BE (Saint John 13:2-3). And to the thief He said: "Verily I say unto thee, TODAY THOU SHALT THOU BE WITH ME IN PARADISE" (St. Luke 23:43).
In the New Testament, generally speaking, the truth of the immortality of the soul is the object OF A MORE COMPLETE REVELATION, making up one of the FUNDAMENTAL PARTS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH ITSELF. This Truth inspires a Christian, filling his soul with THE JOYFUL HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE IN THE KINGDOM OF THE SON OF GOD. Saint Paul writes: "For to me to die is gain…having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ" (Philippians 1:21, 23). "For we know that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, WE HAVE A BUILDING OF GOD, A HOUSE NOT MADE WITH HANDS, ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS. FOR IN THIS, WE GROAN, EARNESTLY DESIRING TO BE CLOTHED UPON WITH OUR HOUSE WHICH IS FROM HEAVEN" (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).
It goes without saying that the Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church HAVE UNANIMOUSLY PREACHED THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL, WTH THIS DISTINCTION ONLY, THAT SOME ACKNOWLEDGE THE SOUL AS BEING IMMORTAL BY NATURE, WHILE OTHERS–THE MAJORITY–SAY THAT IT IS IMMORTAL BY THE GRACE OF God. "God wishes that the soul might live" (Saint Justin Martyr); "The soul is immortal by the Grace of God Who makes it immortal" (Saint Cyril of Jerusalem and others).
"…Observation shows that faith to the immortality of the soul has always been inwardly inseparable from faith in God… the more lively is one’s faith in God, the more firm and undoubting is his faith in the immortality of the soul. And, in contrast the weaker and more lifeless is one’s belief in God, the greater the wavering and doubt one brings to the truth of the immortality of the soul. One who completely loses or stifles faith in God within himself usually ceases to believe in the immortaliity of the soul or the future life at all. And this is truly understandable. A man receives the POWER OF FAITH from the very Source of Life, and if he cuts off his tie with this Source, HE LOSES THIS STREAM OF LIVING POWER, AND THEN NO RATIONAL PROOFS OR PERSUASION WILL BE ABLE TO PUT THE POWER OF FAITH INTO HIM.
"…The spirit of the Church typicon, the content of the Divine services and separate prayers, all support and animate in the faithful this awareness, this belief IN A LFE BEYOND THE GRAVE FOR THE SOULS OF OUR CLOSE ONES WHO HAVE DIED, AS WELL AS A BELIEF IN OUR OWN PERSONAL IMMORTALITY. This belief sheds a bright ray on the whole life’s work of an Orthodox Christian.
SOUL AND SPIRIT
The spiritual principle in man which is opposed to the body is designated in Holy Scripture be TWO TERMS which are almost equal in significance "SPIRIT" and "SOUL" The use of the word "spirit" in place of "soul," or both terms used in exactly the same meaning, is encountered especially in the holy Apostle Paul. This is made evident, for example, by placing the two following texts side by side: "Glorify God in your body and in your soul, which are God’s" (1 Corinthians 6:20); and "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit" (2 Corinthians 7:1)
"…a significant majority of the holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church directly acknowledge that man’s nature HAS TWO PARTS: THE BODY AND SOUL…The Holy Scripture acknowledge ONLY ONE SOUL, NOT TWO, and this is clearly indicated by the hiostory of the creation of the first man. God, having formed the body from the dust and breathed A SOUL INTO IT, showed in this wise that there ARE TWO NATURES IN MAN, AND NOT THREE. (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Life-Giving Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George