Lessons From the Fathers
on Eternal Life
LET US ALWAYS REMEMBER DEATH, for from this remembrance is born in us the putting aside of all cares and vanities, the preservation of the mind and unceasing prayer, a healthy attitude toward the body and a loathing of sin, and, if the truth be told, almost every live and active virtue flows forth from it. Therefore, let us, if possible, do this work as uninterruptedly as our breathing is uninterrupted. Venerable Hesychius.
The Saviour called the many mansions of the Father the various capacities of the mind of those dwelling in that realm, that is, the distinction and diversity of spiritual gifts which they enjoy according to the capacity of the mind. For, not according to a diversity of places, but according to the degree of gifts does he call the mansions many.
Just as each man enjoys the perceptible sun, depending on the purity and receptivity of his power of sight, and just as illumination from one lamp varies in a house, although the light is not divided into many lights, so in the future age all the righteous will abide indivisibly in one realm, but each, according to his own capacity, is illumined by one noetic Sun, and, according to his worthiness, attracts joy and gladness to himself, even though from one air, from one place, throne, sight and image. And no one sees the measure of his friend, both higher and lower, lest, if he see the superior grace of his friend and his own deprivation, this be a cause of sorrow and grief for him. There, each, according to the grace given to him, is glad inwardly in his measure. Outside them all is one sight and realm and besides these two degrees, I understand just one realm on high and another below, in the midst of them is variety in a diversity of gifts. Venerable Isaac the Syrian.
Death, for men who understand it, is immortality; while for the simple, who do not understand it, it is death. And one should not fear this death, but ought to fear the perdition of the soul, which is ignorance of God. This is what is terrible for the soul! Life is the uniting and joining of the mind (spirit), soul and body; while death is not the perdition of these joined parts, but the dissolution of their union; God preserves all this even after the dissolution. Just as a man comes forth from his mother's womb, so does a soul come forth naked from the body. Some are pure and bright, some are spotted by falls, and some are black from many transgressions. That is why the wise and Godloving soul, remembering and considering the calamities and extremities that come after death, lives piously lest it be condemned and subjected to them. But the unbelievers, the mindless in soul, do not perceive and they sin, despising what is to come. Just as on issuing forth from the womb thou dost not remember what was in the womb, so on issuing forth from the body thou dost not remember what was in the body. Just as on issuing forth from the womb thou becamest better and greater in body, so on issuing forth from the body pure and undefiled, thou wilt be better and incorrupt, abiding in the heavens.
Mortal men ought to care about themselves, knowing in advance that death awaits them. For blessed immortality is the lot of the holy soul when it is good, and death eternal meets it when it is evil. Remember that thy youth is past and thy powers exhausted, while thine infirmities have grown and already the time of thy departure is near, when thou wilt give an account of all thy deeds; and know that there, neither will brother redeem brother, nor will father deliver son. Always remember thy departure from the body, and do not let eternal condemnation out of thy thoughts; if thou wilt act thus, thou wilt not sin unto the ages. Venerable Anthony the Great.
Missionary Leaflet #
Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church
2049 Argyle Ave. Los Angeles, California 90068
Editor: Archimandrite Alexander (Mileant)