My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE
SATURDAY OF THE SOULS (Part III)
The Soul’s Departure from the Body
Saint Theognostos states: "When the soul leaves the body, the enemy (Satan) advances to attack it, fiercely reviling it and accusing it of its sins in a harsh and terrifying manner. The devout soul, however, even though in the past it has often been wounded by sin, is still not frightened by the enemy’s attack and threats. Strengthened by the Lord, winged by joy, filled with courage by the holy Angels that guide it, and encircled and protected by the Light of faith, it answers the enemy with great boldness: "Fugitive from heaven, wicked slave, what have I tod with thee? Thou has NO AUTHORITY OVER ME; Christ the Son of God has authority over me and over all things. Against Him have sinned, before Him shall I stand on trial, having His Precious Cross as a sure pledge of His saving love toward me. Flee from me, destroyer! Thou has nothing to do with the servants of Christ. When the soul says all this fearlessly, the devil turns his back, howling aloud and unable to withstand the name of Christ. The soul swoops down on the devil from above, attacking him like a hawk attacking a crow. After this, IT IS BROUGHT REJOICING BY THE HOLY ANGELS TO THE PLACE APPOINTED FOR IT IN ACCORDANCE WITH ITS INWARD STATE.
On Tribulation and Mortality in this Life
Afflictions have been foretold by Christ. Saint Cyprian tells his flock that neither mortality nor plague WAS TO BE FEARED, INSOFAR AS THAT IT LEADS TO IMMORTALITY, AND THAT "THEREFORE, THAT MAN IS WANTING IN FAITH WHO IS NOT EAGER FOR A BETTER WORLD. Nor it is wonderful that the evils of this life ARE COMMON TO THE CHRISTIAN WITH THE HEATHENS, since the former have to suffer more than the latter in the world, and thence, after the example of Job and Tobias, there is need OF PATIENCE WITHOUT MURMURING. For unless the struggle preceded, THE VICTORY COULD NOT ENSUE; and however diverse the diseases, they are common to the virtuous and to the vicious. Nevertheless, that death is not common to them: FOR THAT THE RIGHTEOUS ARE TAKEN TO CONSOLATION, WHILE THE UNRIGHTEOUS ARE TAKEN TO PUNISHMENT.
Preparation for Our Death
So, Saint Gregory, the Theologian eulogizes his deceased younger brother, the holy Caesarios, who practiced medicine, saying to a crowd of mourners including his parents, "Let us not then mourn Caesarios but ourselves, knowing what evils he as escaped to which we are left behind, and what treasure we shall lay up, unless, earnestly cleaving to God and outstripping transitory things, we press toward the life above, deserting the earth while we are still upon the earth, and earnestly following the spirit which bears us upward. Painful as this is to the fainthearted, it is as nothing to men of brave mind.
Continuing with Saint Gregory’s eulogy, we hear him say about his beloved Caesarios, "Yes, would that what we hope for might be according to the great kindness of our bountiful God! For God asks for little and bestows great things, both in the present and in the future, upon those who truly love Him. So we bear all things, endure all things for their love and hope of Him, giving thanks for all things favorable and unfavorable alike. As to the latter, I mean both pleasant and painful; for reason knows that even these ARE OFTEN INSTRUMENTS OF SALVATION. We, therefore, commend to Him our own souls and the souls of those who follow wayfarers who, being more ready, have gained their rest before us…
We are afraid of death because OUR HEART HAS NOT BEEN WON BY STRONG LOVE FOR THE MUCH-DESIRED KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS. We have not been wounded by the love for the Kingdom, and have not been touched by the desire for the future things. Otherwise, we would despise the things of the present world as did the blessed Saint Paul who said, "But you rather I also deem all things to be a loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I suffered the loss of all things, and deem them to be dung, that I might win Christ (Philippians 3:8). This is why Saint John Chrysostom used to say: "Give me the opportunity to live like Saint Paul lived and I shall never fear death." Saint Theognostos, in the Philokalia, therefore, writes: "If you still fear death you have not yet been intermingled with Christ through love, although you have been found worthy to sacrifice Him with you own hands and have been filled with His flesh. For, were you linked to Him in love, you would make haste to join Him, no longer concerned about this life or the flesh.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa discusses how the resurrection is not beyond probability… Saint Paul wries, "It is sown an animal body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is an animal body, and there is a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44). Saint Gregory of Sinai writes: "The body in its incorruptible state will be earthly, but it will be without material density, indescribably transmuted from an unspiritual body into a spiritual body, so that it will be in its godlike refinement and subtleness both earthly and heavenly. Its state when it is resurrected WILL BE THE SAME AS THAT IN WHICH IT WAS ORIGINALLY CREATED–ONE IN WHICH IT CONFORMS TO THE IMAGE OF THE SON OF MAN THROUGH FULL PARTICIPATION IN HIS DIVINITY."
Saint Symeon the New Theologian adds that: "AFTER THE RESURRECTION FROM TEH DEAD, A BODY IS RAISED THAT IS ALL SPIRITUAL AND IMMUTABLE, SUCH AS WAS THE BODY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AFTER THE RESURRECTION, WHEN HE BECAME THE SECOND ADAM AND THE FIRSTBORN FROM AMONG THE DEAD; AND THIS GLORIFIED BODY WAS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE BODY OF ADAM THE FIRST TO BE CREATED."
According to Saint Gregory Palamas, "While during the present condition of mankind, the spiritual soul is concealed by the thickness of the flesh, yet, in the future condition, the bodies of the saints will be so refined and spiritualized that they will be VIRTUALLY IMMATERIAL." (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint Johnn Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George