Elder Paisios of Mount Athos
The defendants are dead
– Elder, when a person dies, does he immediately feel in what condition he is?
– Yes, he comes together and says “what did I do?”, But that does not help. Like a drunk, if he kills e.g. his mother, he laughs, he sings, because he does not understand what he did, and when he gets drunk, he cries and stinks and says “what did I do?”, so those who make a mess in this life are like drunk. They do not understand what they are doing, they do not feel guilty. But when they die, then this drunkenness goes away and they come together. They open the eyes of their soul and feel their guilt, because the soul, when it leaves the body, moves, sees, perceives with an unimaginable speed …
Some ask when the Second Coming will take place. For the man who dies, however, the Second Coming takes place in a way, because it is judged according to the situation in which death finds him.
– Elder, how the hell are they?
– They are convicts, prisoners, who are tortured according to the sins they committed and are waiting for the final trial, the future Judgment. There are heavy fines, there are also defendants with lighter sentences.
– Both the Saints and the robber?
– The Saints and the robber are in Paradise, but they have not received the perfect glory, just as the hypocrites are in hell, but they have not received the perfect condemnation. God, while He has said for so many centuries, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” is prolonging time because He is waiting for us to be corrected. But we, remaining in our misfortunes, wrong the Saints, because they can not receive the perfect glory, which they will receive after the coming Judgment.
The prayer, and the memorials for the deceased
– Elder, can the dead pray?
– They come to their senses and ask for help, but they can not help themselves. Those in Hell would want only one thing from Christ: to live five minutes, to repent. We who live have room for repentance, while the poor who have fallen asleep can no longer improve their situation on their own, but they expect help from us. That is why we have a duty to help them with our prayers.
The calculus tells me that only ten percent of the dead are in a demonic state and, where they are, curse God, like demons. They do not ask for help, but they do not accept help. Why, what can God do for them? Like a child who moves away from his father, he wastes all his property and curses his father from above. Well, what can his father do? But the other defendants, who have little self-respect, feel their guilt, repent and suffer for their sins. They ask for help and are helped positively with the prayers of the faithful. In other words, God gives them an opportunity, now that they are under trial, to help until the Second Coming takes place. And as in this life, if one is a friend of the king, one can intercede and help a henchman, so if one is a “friend” of God, one can intercede with God with his prayer and carry them dead prisoners from one “prison” to another better, from one “detention center” to another better. Or he can take them to a “room” or an “apartment”.
As we relieve the prisoners with soft drinks etc. to whom we go, so we comfort the dead with the prayers and alms we do for their souls. The prayers of the living for the bereaved and the memorial services are the last opportunity God gives to the bereaved to help, until the final Judgment takes place. After the trial, they will no longer be able to help.
God wants to help those who have fallen asleep, because he is in pain for their salvation, but he does not do it, because he has nobility. He does not want to give the devil the right to say: “How do you save him when he is not tired?”. But when we pray for those who have fallen asleep, we give Him the right to intervene. In fact, God is more moved when we pray for the dead than for the living.
That is why our Church has the huts, the memorials. Memorials are the best advocate for the souls of the dead. They also have the ability to take the soul out of hell. And you in every Divine Liturgy to read a hut for the sleeping. Wheat makes sense. “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption,” says the Bible. Some people in the world are bored to boil some wheat and go to church raisins, chocolate chip cookies, cookies, for the priests to read. And you see, there on Mount Athos, some old men, the poor in every Divine Liturgy, make a hut both for the sleeping ones and for the Saint who is celebrating, so that they may have his blessing.
Elder, do those who have recently died have a greater need for prayer?
– Em, when someone goes to jail, in the beginning it is not more difficult? Let us pray for those who have fallen asleep who did not please God, so that God may do something for them as well. Especially when we know that someone was cruel – I mean, he looked cruel, because we may think he was cruel, but in fact he was not – and he also had a sinful life, then we should do a lot of prayer, Divine Liturgies, Forty Liturgies for his soul and to give alms to the poor for the salvation of his soul, so that the poor may wish “to sanctify his bones”, so that God may bend down and have mercy on him. So what he did not do, we do for him. While a man who had kindness, even if his life was not good, because he was in a good mood, with a little prayer he is greatly helped.
I have in mind facts that testify to how much the sleeping people are helped by the prayer of spiritual people. Someone came to Kalyvi and said to me with tears: “Elder, I did not pray for someone I knew who was asleep and he presented himself to me in my sleep. “Twenty days, he told me, you have to help me, you forgot me and I suffer.” Indeed, he tells me, for twenty days now I had been forgotten with various worries and I did not even pray for myself “.
– When, Elder, someone dies and we are asked to pray for him, is it good to make a rosary every day until the age of forty?
– If you make a rosary for him, put other sleeping people. Why take a train to its destination with only one passenger, while it can accommodate others? How many sleepy people need the poor and ask for help and have no one to pray for them!
Some people occasionally hold a memorial service only for someone of their own. In this way their own is not helped either, because their prayer is not so pleasing to God. Having done so many memorials for him, let them do it at the same time for foreigners.
Elder, sometimes I am concerned about my father’s salvation, because it had nothing to do with the Church.
– You do not know the judgment of God at the last moment. When do you care? Every Saturday;
– I have not attended, but why on Saturday?
– Because on this day the sleepers are entitled to it.
Elder, are the dead who have no people to pray for them helped by the prayers of those who generally pray for the dead?
– And of course they help. When I pray for all those who have fallen asleep, I see in my sleep my parents, because they rest from the prayer I make. Every time I have a Divine Liturgy, I make a general memorial service for all those who have fallen asleep and I wish for the kings, for the high priests, etc. and at the end I say “and in favor of whom the names were not mentioned”. If I never make a wish for the deceased, present the well-known deceased in front of me. A relative of mine, who had been killed in the war, I saw him in front of me after the Divine Liturgy, at the time of the memorial service, because I did not have him written in full with the names of the deceased, because he was mentioned in Proskomidi with the heroically fallen. And you in the Holy Intention not to mention only the names of patients, but also the names of the deceased, because the deceased have a greater need.
The best memorial for the bereaved
The best of all the memorials we can do for the bereaved is our careful life, the struggle we will make, to cut our flaws and to enlighten our soul. Because our freedom from material things and from mental passions, in addition to our own relief, also results in the relief of the sleeping great-grandfathers of our entire generation. The bereaved feel joy when a descendant is close to God. If we are not in a good spiritual state, then our sleeping parents, our grandfather, our great-grandfather, all generations suffer. “Look what descendants we made!”, They say and are upset. But if we are in a good spiritual state, they rejoice, because they too became accomplices to be born and God is somehow obliged to help them. That is, what will give joy to those who have fallen asleep is to strive to please God with our lives, so that we can meet them in Paradise and live together in eternal life.
Therefore, it is worthwhile to hit our old man, so that he becomes new and no longer harms himself or other people, but helps himself and others, whether they are alive or asleep.
The parsimony of the righteous towards God
Elder, in your Letter to the Beginners you write: “Although true monks understand that what they enjoy in this life is part of the joy of Paradise and that in Paradise it will be more, yet out of great love for their neighbor they want to live on earth, to help people with prayer, for God to intervene and for the world to be helped “.
– Write: “They want to live on earth, to sympathize with people and help them with prayer.”
– In the other life, Elder, will not a righteous monk again help people with his prayer?
– And in the next life he will help with his prayer, but he will not suffer, while now he sympathizes and does not pass happily here, “with a happy face and a bright look”! But the more he suffers for his neighbor, the more he is rewarded with divine consolation, and this is in a way the information that the other is being helped. This heavenly joy is the divine reward for the pain he feels for his brother.
– That is, Elder, the Saints we invoke to help us do not sympathize with us?
– There is no pain there, find my child! Do they suffer in Paradise? “There is no pain, no sorrow, no sigh,” he says.
Then the Saints have in mind the divine reward that will be received by those people who are tormented in this life and this makes them rejoice. But how can God Himself, who has so much love, so much mercy, endure this great pain of people? He endures, because he has in mind the divine reward that awaits them. In other words, the more people are tortured here, the more a heavenly salary saves them there. While we do not see these and sympathize with those who suffer. That is why when one sees a little of these and has in mind the reward they will receive, one does not suffer so much.
– When, Elder, we ask God to help a sleeping person who has no need, is this prayer lost?
– How to get lost? When we say “they rested him” and he is in a good position in the other life, he is not misunderstood, he is equally moved. “Look, he says, I’m in a good position and they are anxious”, so he is honored and helps us more, advocating to God for us. But how do you know what the other person is in? Normally you make a wish first for those you know that with their life they grieved God and you wish for other similar cases and then you wish for all those who have fallen asleep.
The Future Crisis
– Elder, how is the soul purified?
– When man works the commands of God. does work in himself and is cleansed of passions, then the mind is enlightened, reaches the height of theory, and the soul is enlightened and becomes as it was before the fall of the Protoplasts. He will be in such a state after the resurrection of the dead. But man can see the resurrection of his soul before the common resurrection, if he is completely cleansed of passions. His body will then be angelic, immaterial, and he will not care about material food.
– Elder, how will the future Judgment take place?
– In the coming Judgment, the situation of every human being will be revealed in an instant and everyone alone will pull for where he is. Everyone will see on TV their own crap and the mental state of the other. He will mirror himself to the other and bow his head and go to his place. He will not be able to e.g. to say a bride sitting in front of her mother-in-law cross-legged and her mother-in-law with a broken leg taking care of her grandson: “why, my Christ, do you put my mother-in-law in Paradise and do not you put me?”, because that scene will come before her . She will remember her mother-in-law standing up with a broken leg and taking care of her grandson and she will not have the guts to go to Paradise, but neither will she fit in Paradise. Or the monks will see what difficulties, what trials the worldly people had and how they faced them and, if they have not lived properly, they will bow their heads and pull themselves to where they will be.
The nuns, who did not please God, will see there, heroic mothers, who did not give promises, nor did they have their own blessings and opportunities, how they struggled and in what spiritual state they reached, and those, nuns, what pettiness they dealt with and they were tortured, and they will be ashamed! This is how the calculus tells me that the Crisis will take place. In other words, Christ will not say: “Come here, what did you do?” or “you will go to hell, you will go to Heaven”, but everyone will compare themselves with each other and pull for where they will be.
The future life
– Elder, I brought sweets to treat you.
– See how happy they are! In the next life we will say: “How foolishly we rejoiced! What moved us then! ” While now the heart skirmishes for them.
– Elder, how are we going to understand this from now on?
– If you understand this from now on, you will not say it the next day in the next life. However, those up there are having a good time. Do you know what craft they do there in Heaven? They continue to praise God.
– Elder, why is the body of the dead called a “relic”?
– Because it is what remains here on earth by man after death. The main man, who is the soul, leaves for Heaven. In the coming Judgment God and the body will be resurrected, so that man may be judged by this, because with this he lived and sinned. In the next life everyone will have the same body – spiritual body -, the same stature, and the short and the tall, the same age, and the young and the old and the babies, since the soul is the same. In other words, there will be an angelic age.
Elder, in the next life will those who are in Hell see those who are in Paradise?
– Look, as those who are out at night in the dark see those who are in a lighted room, so those who are in hell will see those who are in Paradise. And that will be more hell. Just as those who are in the light at night do not see those who are out in the dark, so those who are in Paradise will not see those who are in hell. Because, if they saw the damned, they would be in pain, they would be sad for their suffering, and they would not enjoy Paradise, but there “there is no pain …”. And not only will they not see them, but they will not remember if they had a brother or a father or a mother, if they are not in Paradise. “On that day all his meditations are lost,” says the Psalmist. Why, if they are remembered, what will Paradise be like? In fact, those who will be in Paradise will think that there will be no other people, nor will they remember the sins they had committed. Because, if they remember their sins, they will not be able to endure the thought of grieving God.
Again the amount of joy of everyone in Paradise will be different. Another will have a thimble of joy, another a glass, another an entire tank. But everyone will feel complete and no one will know the magnitude of the joy, the joy, the other. The Good God arranged them this way, because, if one knew that the other has more joy, then it would not be Paradise, because there would be “why should he have more joy and I less?”. That is, everyone will see in Paradise the glory of God according to the purity of the eyes of his soul. But visibility will not be determined by God, but will depend on his own purity.
Elder, some do not believe that there is hell and Heaven.
– Do not they believe that there is hell and Heaven? How is it possible for the dead to remain in non-existence, since they are souls? God is immortal and man is immortal by grace. Therefore he will be immortal in hell. After Heaven and Hell our soul lives them to a degree and from this life, depending on the situation in which it finds itself. When one has remorse of conscience and feels fear, agitation, anxiety, despair, or is possessed by hatred, envy, etc., then one lives hell. Whereas, when there is love, joy, peace, meekness, goodness, etc. in him, then he lives in Paradise. The whole basis is the soul, because it is it that feels both joy and pain. Yes, go to a dead person and tell him the most pleasant things, e.g. “Your brother came from America” etc., he will not understand anything. If you break his arms and legs, he will not understand again. Therefore the soul is where it feels. Doesn’t all this bother them? Or, let’s say, you see a beautiful, pleasant dream, you rejoice, your heart beats sweetly and you do not want it to end. You wake up and you are upset, because you woke up. Or do you see a bad dream, that you fell e.g. and you broke your legs, and you suffer, you cry. From your agony you wake up with tears in your eyes, you see that you did not suffer anything and you say: “Fortunately it was a dream!”. That is, the soul participates. One suffers from a bad dream more than in reality, just as the sick person suffers more at night than during the day. So even when man dies, if he goes to hell, it will be more painful. Imagine living an eternal nightmare and being tormented forever! Here you can not stand for a few minutes an ugly dream, but now forever -God forbid- to be in sorrow. That’s why it’s better not to go to hell. What do you say?
– For so long, Elder, we have been fighting not to go to hell, you say, to end up there?
– If we do not have a mind, we will go there. I wish either everyone in Heaven or no one in hell … Am I right? It is very heavy, after what God has done for us humans, to go to hell and feel sorry for Him. God forbid, not only man, but not a bird not to go to hell.
May the Good God give us good repentance, so that death may find us in a good spiritual state and that we may be restored to His Heavenly Kingdom. Amen.