When Jesus wants to make me happy, He fills my heart with that spirit which is all fire, and speaks to me about His delights; but when He wants to be consoled, He speaks to me about His pains, and invites me in a manner that is both a request and a command, to offer my body to alleviate His sufferings. If God wills to prolong our trials, do not let us lament or try to find out the reason.
We have to see God through the fire of thorns, and to do this we must go barefoot and renounce our own will and affection and accept the will of God wholeheartedly. Whenever you are seized by melancholy, let your thoughts dwell on that fateful night on which the Son of God began the work of redemption in the solitude of Gethsemane and offer your own sufferings to the Divine Father, along with the sufferings of Jesus.
I beg You, O my God, to be my life, my ship, my haven. You have made me ascend the cross of Your Son and I struggle to accept it as best I can. I am sure that I shall never come down from it. As regards mortification of the flesh, St. As the days pass, I see ever more clearly the greatness of God, and in this light, which grows brighter and brighter, my soul burns with the desire to be united to Him by indissoluble bonds.
Let us continue to trust, for the God who humiliates us and makes us suffer at present is the God who is still speaking to us, and the God who still speaks to us. As long as you receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament every morning, you must consider yourself extremely fortunate. This spiritual reading is as necessary to you as the air you breathe. Lord God of my heart, You alone know and see all my troubles.
You alone are aware that all my distress springs from my fear of losing You, of offending You, from my fear of not loving You as much as I should love and desire to love You. If You, to whom everything is present and who alone can see the future, know that it is for Your greater glory and for my salvation that I should remain in this state, then let it be so. Give me the strength to fight and to obtain the prize given to strong souls. In order that we may willingly accept the tribulations lavished on us by the Divine mercy, let us keep our gaze fixed on the heavenly home reserved for us.
Let us withdraw our gaze, moreover, from those good things which are visible to our eyes, by which I mean worldly goods, the sight of which fascinates the heart. Worldly goods prevent us from keeping our eyes fixed on our heavenly home. Let us keep before our minds that which makes up real holiness. Holiness means getting above ourselves; it means perfect mastery of all our passions. It means having real and continual contempt for ourselves and for the things of the world to the point of preferring poverty rather than wealth, humiliation rather than glory, suffering rather than pleasure.
Holiness means loving our neighbor as ourself for love of God. In this connection holiness means loving those who curse us, who hate and persecute us and even doing good to them. Take care of your spirit, flee idleness and all immoral conversation. Bless Him in all that He makes you suffer on this earth and rejoice in it, for each victory gained has a corresponding crown in paradise. Jesus permits the spiritual combat as a purification, not as a punishment.
The trial is not unto death but unto salvation. How many time I have entrusted to this Mother the Virgin Mary the painful anxieties of my heart. And how many times she has consoled me….. With what great attention she accompanied me to the altar this morning. It seemed to me that she had nothing else to think about but me, filling my heart with holy sentiments. I felt a mysterious fire in my heart, which I could not understand. I felt the need to put ice on in in order to extinguish the fire that was consuming me. Renew your faith by attending Holy Mass.
Keep your mind focused on the mystery that is unfolding before your eyes. There are moments when I think of the severity of Jesus and I start to worry; then I begin to think of His tenderness and I am consoled. It would be impossible for me not to abandon myself to this sweetness, this happiness.
God commands us to love Him, not as much as He deserves, because He knows our capabilities and therefore He does not ask us to do what we cannot do. But He asks us to love Him according to our strength, with all our soul, all our mind, and all our heart. One day when we are able to see the full midday light, we will know what value and what treasures our earthly sufferings have been that have made us gain our everlasting Homeland. I feel a great desire to abandon myself with greater trust to the Divine Mercy and to place my hope in God alone.
Let us always bear in mind that if the Lord were to judge us according to strict justice, none of us, perhaps, would be saved. So let us make righteousness and peace exchange a kiss, which we shall obtain if we always tend towards mercy rather than justice, in imitation of our Heavenly Father. But let us take heart. Let us glance at the Divine Master who prayed in the Garden and we will discover the true ladder which unites the earth to Heaven.
We will discover that humility, contrition and prayer make the distance between man and God disappear, and act in such a way that God descends to man, and man ascends to God, so that they end up understanding, loving and possessing one another. It is now God Himself who acts and operates directly in the depths of my soul, without the ministry of the senses, either interior or exterior. All I can say of this present state is that my soul has no concern for anything but God. May the Lord confirm with His blessings, these wishes of mine, for your happiness is very close to my heart and I work and pray continuously for this end.
In darkness, at times of tribulation and distress of the spirit, Jesus is with you. You see yourself forsaken and I assure you that Jesus is holding you tighter than ever to His divine Heart. Pray for the reestablishment of the kingdom of God, for the spread of faith, for the praise and triumph of our holy mother Church. Pray for the unfaithful and for heretics and for the conversion of sinners. As long as there remains a drop of blood in our body, there will be a struggle between right and wrong.
Every Holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we ourselves, do not know. Jesus, our dear Mother, my little angel, St. Joseph, and our father, St. Francis, are almost always with me. Live in such a way that your Heavenly Father may be proud of you, as he is proud of so many other chosen souls. O Jesus, how many generous souls. How many hearts in the course of the centuries have responded generously to Thy invitation. May this multitude of souls, then, in this supreme hour, be a comfort to Thee, who, better than the disciples, share with Thee the distress of Thy heart, and cooperate with Thee for their own salvation and that of others.
And grant that I also may be of their number, that I also may offer Thee some relief. This is my only comfort, that of being associated with Jesus in the Divine Sacrifice and in the redemption of souls. If you considered what one soul alone costs Jesus, you would never complain. Never let us put aside the thought of our ultimate aim. And what is this ultimate aim? To know God, principally, is why he conceived our days, our years. Therefore, let us try never to forget this ultimate aim, for everything depends on it.
And for what reason? To serve him with faith, with love, and with constancy. Let us try to excel in all of this, then. Since God created us for love, he takes care of us for love, and for love he has promised us the prize. Let us remember that the Heart of Jesus has called us not only for our own sanctification, but also for that of other souls. He wants to be helped in the salvation of souls. When disturbed by passions and misfortunes, may the sweet hope of His inexhaustible mercy sustain us. Let us hasten confidently to the tribunal of penance where He awaits us at every instant with the anxiety of a father; and even though we are aware of our inability to repay Him, let us have no doubts about the solemn pardon pronounced over our errors.
Let us place a tombstone over them, just as the Lord has done. We are the administrators of our money. We will have to give God an account of the use we make of it up to the last cent. What does a child in the arms of such a Father have to fear? Be as children, who hardly ever think about their future as they have someone to think for them. They are sufficiently strong just by being with their father.
My only regret is that I have no adequate means with which to thank the Blessed Virgin Mary, through whose intercession I have undoubtedly received so much strength from the Lord, to bear with sincere resignation the many humiliations to which I am subjected day after day. And I do not believe this strength comes to me from the world. Contrary to our every merit, we are on the steps of Tabor, by having a firm determination to love and serve His divine goodness well.
Therefore we must have great hope. Let us, step by step, draw away from earthly affections; let us strip ourselves of the old man and put on the new man, aspiring to the happiness that awaits us. I know that your spirit is always wrapped in the darkness of trials, but it is enough for you to know that Jesus is with you and in you.
Let us always strive more and more to love the Lord. He commands us to do so, and the commandment is full of love. It is he who instills it into our hearts. It is he who gives us the means to be able to love him. But that which is more surprising, he has also promised us the prize. It is as eternal as he is eternal; it is as immense as he is immense; it is as lasting as he is lasting. And God lasts forever, for all eternity. Let the Holy Spirit act within you. Give yourself up to all His transports and have no fear.
He is so wise and gentle and discreet that He never brings about anything but good. How good this Holy Spirit, this Comforter, is to all, but how supremely good He is to those who seek Him. How many times has He not given us proof of this? How many victories have you not gained over your very powerful enemies and over yourself, through the Divine assistance without which you would inevitably have been crushed?.
If it was left to ourselves, my dear, to remain on our feet, we should never be able to do it. The Lord is a Father, the most tender and best of fathers. He cannot fail to be moved when His children appeal to Him. Jesus is well aware that my entire life, my whole heart is consecrated to Him and to His sufferings. I confess in the first place that for me it is a great misfortune to be unable to express and pour out this ever-active volcano which burns me up and which Jesus has placed in this very small heart of mine.
It can all be summed up as follows — I am consumed by love for God and love for my neighbor. Do you know what religion is? It is a school in which every soul must be trained, smoothed and polished by the Holy Spirit, who acts as a physician to our souls until, well smoothed and polished, they can be united and joined to the will of God. Religion is an infirmary for the spiritually sick, who wish to be cured and must therefore undergo the pains of surgery. We must humble ourselves on seeing how little self-control we have and how much we love comfort and rest.
Always keep Jesus before your gaze; He did not come to rest nor to be comfortable either in spiritual or temporal matters, but to fight, to mortify Himself and to die. My daughters, in Latin, abjection is called humility, and humility — abjection. This is what I have urged you to do. Let us be especially grateful to God for the gift of faith, a gift which is mainly instilled in us with Baptism.
We must remember that faith is the greatest gift that God has made to man on this earth, because from earthly man he becomes a citizen of Heaven. But let us guard this great gift jealously. Woe to he who forgets himself, who forgets Heaven, whose faith grows weak, and worse still, may God preserve us all, who denies his faith.
This is the greatest affront that man can make to God. Attention, then. Let us pray to God to preserve in us this gift as the most precious thing he has granted us. The pain caused by this wound which He inflicts on me and the sweetness which accompanies it are so intense that I cannot even begin to describe it. I have never trusted in myself; I can state before my conscience that I never took a step without the advice of another, and as for the steps already taken I always reconsidered, always asked for new insight from as many people as I happened upon.
We must keep the eye of faith fixed on Jesus Christ who climbs the hill of Calvary loaded with his Cross, and as he toils painfully up the steep slope of Golgotha we should see him followed by an immense throng of souls carrying their own crosses and treading the same path. Oh, what a beautiful sight this is. Let us fix our mental gaze firmly on it.
We see close behind Jesus our most holy Mother, who follows him perfectly, loaded with her own cross. Jesus himself, despite all our unworthiness, has associated us with this beautiful company. We must make every effort to merge ourselves increasingly in these ranks and hasten with them along the road to Calvary.
We should look to the end of the journey and not separate ourselves from this fine company; we must refuse to follow any other way than the one they tread. My usual manner of praying is this: I no sooner begin to pray than my soul becomes enveloped in a peace and tranquility that words cannot describe.
All I can say about this prayer is that my soul seems to be completely lost in God and that in those moments it gains more than it could in many years of intensive spiritual exercises. Serene in our faith and tranquil in our soul, let us pray and continue to pray, because intense and fervent prayer pierces the heavens and is backed up by a Divine guarantee. The Lord only allows me to recall those persons and things He wants me to remember. On several occasions, our merciful Lord has suggested to me people whom I have never known or even heard of, for the sole purpose of having me present them to Him and intercede for them, whereupon He never fails to answer my poor, feeble prayers.
My daughter, we should never forget that our self love is the last to die. This virtue of detachment is so excellent that the old man in us, the man of sin, nor the senses, nor human nature with its natural faculties were ever capable of possessing it. Not even the Son of God, who as a Son of Adam, although without any stain of sin, was completely free. He too confessed to His apostles that His soul was full of sadness; He too sought consolation; He too did not wish to die.
However, He preserved His detachment, and we too must try to preserve it in imitation of Him, in times of trial and suffering, in the faculties possessed by grace. We must never separate the cross from Jesus; otherwise, it would become a weight which in our weakness, we could not carry. I do not know what will happen to me; I only know one thing for certain, that the Lord will never fall short of His promises. In order to attract us the Lord gives us many graces and we imagine we are almost in Heaven.
We do not know, however, that to grow we need hard bread — crosses, humiliations, trials and contradictions. The little vessel which is your soul always possesses the strong anchor of trust in the Divine Goodness. This mystical vessel will always have Jesus as helmsman and Mary as its beacon. Hence there is no room for fear.
This kind of love belongs to those who are still spiritually immature.
Suggestions for Study and Teaching
On the other hand, the love of those who have left this spiritual infancy behind them is a love which experiences neither taste nor delight in what is called the sensitive part of the soul. Thy kingdom come. In the first place, let our prayers be directed towards disarming Divine wrath with regard to our own country. This land also has many accounts to settle with God. May she learn at least from the misfortunes of others, especially from those of her sister country, France, how harmful it is for the nation to draw away from God, and let her intone in due course the Miserere.
Protected, or rather covered and defended by the uniform of this most dear Lord, let us come into His presence and pray to Him with the humility of creatures and the freedom of sons. And because He finds His delight with the children of men, let nothing in the world prevent us from delighting in Him, contemplating His greatness and His infinite titles, for which He has the right to our praise and love. Have great confidence in His mercy for He will never abandon you. You must remember that you have in Heaven, not only a Father but also a Mother…If our wretchedness saddens us, if our ingratitude for God terrorizes us, if the memory of our faults hinders us from presenting ourselves to God, our Father, let us then have recourse to Mary, our Mother.
She is all sweetness, mercy, goodness and love for us because she is our Mother. Reflect upon and keep before your mental gaze the great humility of the Mother of God, our Mother. In this life Jesus does not ask you to carry the heavy cross with Him, but a small piece of His cross, a piece that consists of human suffering. You are never without my prayers which you ask for, because you have cost me such sacrifices that I can never forget you. I gave birth to you in the extreme pain of my heart.
Jesus did not measure his blood for the salvation of men, and is He likely to measure my sins to allow me to be lost? I do not think so. Tell Jesus too that I will keep my promise not to offend Him anymore and that I will in fact make every effort to love Him always. He is not present where there is no desire to love Him. As long as we remain in this world we shall always feel a natural aversion for suffering. This is a chain that will accompany us everywhere. Pray, pray to the Lord with me, because the whole world needs prayer. And every day, when your heart especially feels the loneliness of life, pray.
Pray to the Lord because even God needs our prayers. All our life, all our actions and all our aspirations must be directed in reparation for the offences that our ungrateful brothers continually commit. I feel crushed beneath the weight of the long exile which still remains before me. It is true that just one more step. We must believe that Jesus will invariably sustain us by His grace. We must fight like strong men, with strength of soul, and the prize will not be far off.
The Mass is infinite like Jesus. Unfortunately, I am in need of courage, but Jesus will not refuse anything. I can testify to this from long experience, so we should not stop asking Him for what we need. The Heavenly Child suffers and cries in the crib so as to make His suffering for us loveable, meritorious and sought after.
He lacked everything so that we might learn from Him to renounce earthly goods. He was pleased with humble and poor adorers so that we might love poverty and prefer the company of the little and simple ones to those of the great of the world. With His birth, He indicated our mission, namely to despise what the world loves and seeks. Where there is no obedience, there is no virtue; there is neither goodness nor love. And where there is no love, there is no God.
Without God, we cannot reach Heaven. These virtues form a ladder; if a step is missing, we fall down. Believe that Jesus, Sun of justice, is with you, loves you and always will, although He would like your consent to operate freely in you. Why did Jesus Christ sacrifice himself to the point of death? Faith answers — to expiate for our sins. Why did he rise in such splendor? To show us the meaning of our redemption.
In his death, we recall that we were dead because of sin. In his resurrection instead we have a perfect example of our resurrection in grace. Since Jesus Christ rose immortal to a life of glory, we must say with St. Paul that we too must rise immortal in the life of grace, firmly resolved to never again subject our souls to spiritual death.
Our imperfections will accompany us to the grave; we cannot walk without touching the ground. It is true that we must not lie on the ground nor turn our face to it, but neither should we attempt to fly, for in the ways of the spirit, we are like young birds that have not yet grown wings. My heart is filled with a fire of love…. It is a delicate and very gentle flame which consumes without causing any pain…. In our thoughts and in confession, we must not dwell on sins that were previously confessed.
Because of our contrition, Jesus forgave them at the tribunal of penitence. It was there that He faced us and our destitution, like a creditor standing before an insolvent debtor. With a gesture of infinite generosity, He tore up and destroyed the promissory notes which we signed with our sins, and which we would certainly not have been able to pay without the help of His Divine clemency.
Remember, our suffering is brief but our reward is eternal. You must remain calm, or at least resigned, but always convinced in the voice of authority. You must confide in it, without fearing the rages of the storm, because the vessel of your soul will never be submerged. Heaven and earth may pass away, but the Word of God, that assures the one who obeys it will find victory, will never pass away and will always remain fixed in indelible script in the Book of Life: I will exist forever.
Souls are not given as a gift; they are bought. They must be paid for with the same coin. Jesus will never abandon you. I ask you to pray hard for the efficacy of my ministry. I am afraid of displeasing the Lord in the exercise of my priestly activity. May Jesus arrange all things for His glory and our salvation. In Heaven, everything will be spring as far as beauty is concerned, autumn as far as enjoyment is concerned, summer as far as love is concerned.
There will be no winter; but here winter is necessary to exercise self-denial and a thousand other little but beautiful virtues which are exercised at times of sterility. I can only say one thing, that the one who stands at my right side is Our Lord and no one else; and even before He told me so I was firmly convinced that it was He. Jesus, who is infinitely merciful, will not fail to give you now and then a respite from the trial He has sent you. He is so good that He will never allow you to give in. The trial is a very hard one, but the Lord who is so very, very good will not fail to lighten the Cross from time to time.
Remember that our soul is the temple of God, and as such, we must keep it pure and spotless before God and His angels. Divine help will not be lacking. If You are happy, I am happy. Raise your heart always to those heavenly heights, and do all you can to attain that eternal beatitude which awaits us. The children of the world usually only confess their sins on their deathbeds, even though this present life should be lived in the light of eternal life.
The children of God, however, touch this truth with their very hands their whole lives. Let us always bear in mind that at our baptism we became temples of the living God and that every time we turn our minds to worldly things, to the devil and the flesh which we renounced at baptism, we are profaning this sacred temple of God.
Keep in good spirits, abandon yourself to the Divine Heart of Jesus, leaving all your anxieties to Him. The more the graces and favors of Jesus increase in your soul the more you must humble yourself, always keeping in mind the humility of our celestial Mother, who the instant she became the Mother of God, declared herself servant and handmaid of God. The grain of wheat does not yield anything unless it suffers and decomposes; it is the same for the soul and for nations who need trials and sufferings so as to rise up purified and renewed. There is one thing I desire from you above everything else: that your normal meditation be, if possible, around the Life, Passion and Death, and also the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Work of the Cross
You can then meditate on His birth, His flight into Egypt and His life there, His return and His hidden life in the workshop of Nazareth up to the age of thirty, His humility in His desire to be baptized by His precursor St. You can meditate on His public life, His most painful Passion and Death, the institution of the most Holy Sacrament, the very evening men were preparing the most atrocious sufferings.
Firstly, by no means are all survivors of life after death found worthy to see the Light. We have already mentioned the detailed studies of Dr. Ring in which we see that the Light graces a relatively small percentage of people that have near-death experiences. Rawlings , who personally revived many of the dying, asserts that the percent of people that see darkness and terror is equal to the percentage that see the Light.
Charles Garfield is of the same opinion. He says, "Not every man dies a pleasant and peaceful death… Among the patients questioned by me, almost as many have experienced unpleasant conditions, encounters with demon-like beings, as have experienced pleasant conditions [10, pg. There is reason to believe that many people, consciously and unconsciously, choose not to discuss their terrible postmortem experiences.
In Dr. Rawlings' opinion, some visions are so horrifying that the subconscious of people who have them reflexively erases the images from their minds. In his book, Dr. Rawlings provides us with examples of such amnesia. Psychiatrists treating people with severe childhood trauma, such as rape or abuse, know of this type of selective forgetfulness. Besides, people who have had bright and pleasant visions are much more likely to want to share them than those who had terrible ones.
After all, what a person sees there, on the other side, should reflect what he has earned here, in our world, by way of a good or a wicked life. Carl Osis testifies that while researching the question of death among Hindus it was determined that approximately one-third had at the time of death feelings of fear, depression and extreme anxiety at the appearance of the "yamdoots," the Hindu angel of death, and other terrible beings from beyond. Evidently, the Hindu religion with its pagan mysticism can contribute to the nearing of a person with the otherworldly forces of evil resulting in distressing visions at the time of death.
From the writing of the Holy Fathers, we know that the devil's beguilement — is a genuine danger. Apostle Paul warns "…For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light" 2 Cor. Notwithstanding, the devil does not have the power to beguile all, when and as he would like. God restricts his actions. If a man is proud and thirsts to see something super-natural, wonderful, something that others are not worthy to see, he is in great danger of mistaking a demon for an angel.
In spiritual literature this condition is called "enchantment" from the word "seduction" or "allurement". In peril of falling into such a state are many willful novices, self-satisfied ascetics, self-proclaimed prophets and healers, as well as people engaged in foolish mysticism, such as; transcendental meditation, yoga, spiritualism, occultism and so forth.
From the accounts of those who had postmortem experiences, there seems to be no indication that they engaged in such practices. In most cases, these were ordinary citizens who by way of some physical ailment died, but thanks to the efforts of their doctors and the success of modern medicine were revived. They were not expecting supernatural visions and, to all appearances, what they saw was allowed by the grace of God so that they might approach their lives with greater thoughtfulness.
It's hard to agree with the idea that the Lord allowed the devil to mislead these victims, uninitiated in the spiritual world. Moreover, in accordance with stories gathered by Dr. Morse , this same Light was seen by many children who, considering their purity and innocence, are under the protection of the Almighty. In orthodox books on life after death there are stories of the appearance of demons to the dying and of the soul going through a series of trials this is detailed below.
However, from these stories we see that the demons usually begin to intimidate the soul only after the Guardian Angel has come to escort the soul to the Throne of God. Also, in the presence of the Guardian Angel the demons are obliged to appear in their actual, odious forms. Regarding the contemporary descriptions of the Light, there exists the difficulty of accommodating them with traditional Christian accounts. In orthodox literature, the Kingdom of Light is described in relation to heavenly ascent, whereas in modern literature, people see the Light before crossing the mysterious boundary that separates the two worlds.
We think that the people who have had these experience have not yet been to the actual heaven or hell, but have only had a foretaste of them. When the angels appeared to the saints they emanated light. At Mt. Tabor the apostles saw spiritual Light although still in the physical world. God in His mercy reveals this marvelous Light as an encouragement towards a righteous way of life.
Contact with this Light invariably pours out feelings of peace and happiness. The devil's light, on the contrary, brings with it a feeling of revolting disquiet. It fills a person with a sense of superiority and promises of knowledge, but it has no love — it is a cold light. In addition, the life reviews that people underwent in their contact with the Light, during which they were forced to morally re-asses their actions, and the resulting improvements in their lives all compel us to think that their visions of the Light were good and not deceptions.
After all, "You will know them by their fruits" Matt. Does not the devil seek to turn man away from God? How could it be that he would help people strengthen their faith and increase their good deeds? Nevertheless, in a wider scope, the faithful should always be extremely careful with all visions or mystic experiments. Due to the significant increase in incidents of resuscitation after clinical death, some doctors have proposed creating a new branch of science to study the soul and life after death.
There is no doubt that it is possible to gather, compare, and organize the accounts of what the soul sees in the other world. It must be understood, however, that the role of the doctors and psychiatrists is limited to the compilation of individual incidents. Inasmuch as, we, the living, being cut off from direct contact with the spiritual world, cannot plan or control postmortem conditions as we would a laboratory experiment.
Only He determines the moment of death and the destiny of every soul on separation from the flesh. For this reason, attempts to produce experiments in this field are in conflict with the Will of God and bring the experimenter into contact with the fallen spirits of that world. As a result, the data will be inaccurate and the conclusions will be false. In regards to this, Hieromonk Seraphim Rose writes the following: "Many present day researchers acknowledge or at least sympathize with occult teachings in the realm of the out of body condition, only because it is based on an experiment, which is also at the root of science.
But, experimenting in the material world differs in essence from experiments in the realm of out of body experiences. In the material world, the objects of study and the laws of nature are morally neutral and can consequently be objectively studied and corroborated by others. On the other hand, the current objectives of study are hidden from man, not easily captured and frequently display their own will with the purpose of deceiving the observer.
This happens because the spiritual sphere closest to us is filled with demons, consciously evil beings, who are specialists in the realm of deception. They gladly partake in any experiments and give the experiments their own spin. Because of this, we must take seriously Hieromonk Seraphim's warning. And so, in our time a string of researchers, having started with authentic medical cases of clinic death, have moved on to personal examinations of out of body experiences.
Without the guidance of Christian teachings and the many centuries of knowledge and experience of the Orthodox Church, they started studying the condition of the "astral" body and fell into the labyrinths of occultism. Unfortunately, this happened to Dr. Moody, the female psychotherapist E.
Kubler-Ross, and several others. As an example, Dr. Moody, who published three valuable books full of authentic data, began to experiment in the areas of Theosophy and transcendental meditation. He recently published a book on this theme, titled "Coming Back," in which he lays out the typical Hindu gibberish regarding reincarnation. Please refer to the conclusion for an unraveling of this teaching. W hile the souls of people who died naturally experience relief and happiness, suicide victims, quite to the contrary, experience confusion and torment.
A specialist in the field of suicide summed up the fact very well: "If you leave life with a restless soul, then you will arrive into the other world with a restless soul. Here are a few contemporary accounts that illustrate the otherworldly state of suicide victims. One man, who loved his wife dearly, killed himself when she died.
He hoped to reunite with her for eternity, but things turned out quite differently. When the doctor revived him, he said: "I was in a place quite different from where she was… It was a dreadful place… and immediately I realized that I had made a huge mistake" [1, pg. Some revived suicide victims described arriving in a kind of prison or dungeon and they felt that they would have to remain there for a very long time.
They recognized that this was their punishment for violating the established law, which requires that each person must suffer his share of sorrows. Having willfully thrown off the burdens placed upon them, they must carry even more in the world to come. Another man, who survived death, tells the following: "When I arrived there, I understood that two things are absolutely forbidden — to kill oneself or to kill others. If I had decided to kill myself it would have meant throwing into the Face of God the gift he had bestowed upon me.
To kill someone is to disrupt God's plan for that person" [1, pg. The overall impression of reanimating doctors is that suicide is severely punished. Bruce Greyson, a psychiatrist at the emergency ward of Connecticut University, having studied the matter declares that no one who has experienced the transition from life to death and back again would have their life shortened by any means [3, pg.
Even though the other world is incomparably better than ours, this world has vital preparatory significance. Only God decides when a person has matured for eternity. Forty-seven-year-old Beverly tells us how happy she is to be alive. As a child, she suffered extremely at the hands of her cruel parents, who abused her daily.
Even as an adult she cannot speak of her childhood without emotion. Once, when she was seven, having been brought to despair by her parents, she threw herself headlong against the cement, dashing her head. During her clinical death, she saw playmates surround her lifeless body. Suddenly, a bright light surrounded Beverly and an unknown voice spoke to her, "You have made a mistake. Your life is not yours and you must return. Therefore, learn to care for yourself. Then warmth came from somewhere melting the snow. Immediately, leaves and ripened apples sprang from the dried-up branches.
She approached the tree and began tearing off the apples and eating them with great enjoyment. Then she realized that as in nature so in each life there are periods of winters and summers that combine to form a singular fullness in God's plan. When Beverly awoke, she treated life differently. As an adult she married a good man, had children and found happiness [7, pg.
A lthough daily convention shows us that death is the unalterable lot of every man and a law of nature, the Holy Scripture teaches us that initially death was not in God's plan for man. Death was not a rule established by God, but, rather, a parting from God's way and a terrible tragedy.
The Book of Genesis tells us that death became part of our nature as a result of the first human beings' transgression of God's Commandment. In accordance with the Bible, the purpose of the Son of God coming into the world was to return to man his forfeited eternal life. This is not referring to the soul's eternal life, which by its being is not subject to ruin, but to the immortality of the whole person, consisting of body and soul. The realization of the unity of soul and body will happen simultaneously for all people at the universal resurrection of the dead. In certain religious and philosophical systems, such as Hinduism or Stoicism , there is the thought that the most important part of man is his soul and that the body is only a temporary shell in which it develops.
When the soul reaches a certain level of maturity, the body becomes useless and must be thrown off like worn-out clothing. Freed from the body, the soul ascends to a higher step of existence. Christianity does not share this understanding of human nature. Giving precedence to the spiritual origin of man, it continues to see him basically as two essences, each complementing the other, the spiritual and the material. Purely spiritual beings also exist; such as angels and demons. Man's design and purpose are, however, different. Thanks to his body, his nature is both more complex and richer.
God's union of the soul and body is an eternal union. When the soul abandons the body at death, it finds itself in an alien environment. Indeed, it is not called to exist as a spirit and it finds it difficult to adjust to the new and unnatural condition. This is why, for the purpose of obliterating all of the destructive consequences of sin, God willed the resurrection of the people He created. This will come about at the Second Coming of Christ, when by his Almighty Word the soul of every man will return to its renewed and transfigured body.
We must emphasize that it will return not into a "new shell," but will unite, once again, with the body in which it resided, a body transfigured, incorruptible, and suited to the new order of being. Concerning the temporary state of the soul from the time of its separation from the body to the day of universal resurrection, the Holy Scripture teaches us that the soul continues to live, feel and think.
As death is a temporary separation from the body, the Holy Scripture refers to it as the departure [deceased, decessus, decedere, go away], separation, falling asleep 2 Pet , Phil. It is evident that the word repose or sleep does not refer to the soul, but to the body which after death seems to be resting from its works. The soul, having left the body, continues a conscious life as before. The truth of this assertion is seen from the Savior's parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus Luke 16t h Chapter and from the miracle at Mt.
Tabor Matt. In the first, the Gospel's rich man, being in hell, and Abraham, being in heaven, discuss the possibility of sending Lazarus to earth to the brothers of the rich man to keep them from hell. In the second, the prophets Moses and Elijah, who lived long before Christ, speak with the Lord of his coming suffering. John This passage would not make sense if Abraham's soul were in some unconscious state as is taught by some sectarians regarding the soul's existence after death. The Book of Revelation in general terms speaks of how the souls of the righteous in heaven react to the events taking place on earth Rev.
Chapters All of these passages in the Scripture teach us to believe that the soul continues to be active after its separation with the body. The scripture also teaches us that after death God appoints a place of temporary abode corresponding to that which it has earned while living in the body — heaven or hell. The appointment in one or the other place or condition is preceded by a so-called informal judgement. The informal judgement must be distinguished from the final judgement that will take place at the end of the world. Regarding the informal judgement, the Scripture teaches us: "For it is an easy thing unto the Lord in the day of death to reward a man according to his ways" Sirach And further, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment," seemingly on an individual basis Heb.
There is reason to believe that in the first stages after death the soul needs the guidance of its guardian angel. For example, in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus the soul of Lazarus is taken to heaven by angels. In accordance with the teachings of Our Savior, the angels take care of "these small ones," that is to say children, literally and figuratively.
The Orthodox Church teaches the following regarding the condition of the soul before the Last Judgment:. Having been separated from their bodies, they immediately step over either to happiness or to sorrow and mourning. Besides which they feel neither complete bliss nor complete torment since either one of these states will be conferred on each after the Universal resurrection, when the soul will unite with the body in which it resided either virtuously or dishonorably Epistles from the Eastern Patriarchs regarding the Orthodox faith, article In this manner, the Orthodox Church discerns two conditions of the soul in the other world: One for the righteous and another for the sinner — heaven and hell.
It does not accept the Roman-Catholic teaching of a middle state in purgatory inasmuch as the Holy Scripture makes no reference to a middle state. The Orthodox Church does teach that the sufferings of a sinner can be eased and even taken away through prayers and good deeds done in their memory. This is the reason for presenting a book of remembrance at Liturgy with the names of the living and the dead. The Soul. W e have already mentioned several contemporary accounts about the review that some people experience when they leave their bodies. Obviously, this stage has something to do with the informal judgment or as a preparation for it.
In the lives of the saints and in spiritual literature, there exist stories about Guardian Angels taking the soul after death and accompanying it to heaven to worship before God. Frequently, as the soul is ascending to heaven, demons, upon seeing the soul, surround it intent on scaring it and carrying it away. This is because, according to Holy Scripture, after their expulsion from heaven, the fallen angels took over the area, if it can be called that, between heaven and earth. This is why Apostle Paul calls Satan "the prince of the power of the air" and his demons, spirits of wickedness in "heavenly" places, that is to say, in the sky or heavens Eph.
These wandering spirits of the heavens upon seeing a soul led by an angel approach it from all sides reproaching it for sins committed throughout its life. Being extremely insolent, they attempt to frighten the soul, bring it to despair and thus take hold of it. During this trial the Guardian Angel bolsters the soul and defends it. This is not cause to think that the demons have some power over the soul, because they too are subject to God's Judgment. The are spurred on to brazenness by the fact that the soul in its time on earth was submissive to them in certain things.
Their logic is simple, "since you behaved as we do, then your place is with us. In church literature these meetings with demons are called "trials" from the Church Fathers, this theme is discussed by: St. Macarius the Great, St. John Chrysostom and others. The most detailed development of this idea is by St. Cyril of Alexandria in his "Word on the exodus of the soul," published in the "The Following Psalters. Further accounts can be found in the book "Eternal Mysteries from Beyond the Grave.
Uekskuell, whose story we stated above, describes a similar meeting with the wicked ethereal spirits. This is what happened after the two angels came for his soul: "We began to ascend quickly. And by the degree of our ascension, increasingly greater became the expanse of space that was revealed before my eyes. And finally it took on such terrifyingly vast proportions that I was seized with a fear from the realization of my insignificance in comparison to this desert of infinity.
Here also certain peculiarities of my vision became apparent to me. Firstly, it was dark and I saw everything clearly in the dark; consequently my vision received the capacity of seeing in the dark; secondly, I was able to include in the field of my vision such a vast expanse of space, which undoubtedly I would not have been able to do with my ordinary vision. The conception of time was absent in my mental state at this time, and I do not know how long we were moving upwards, when suddenly there was heard at first an indistinct noise.
And following this, having emerged from somewhere, with shrieks and rowdy laughter, a throng of some hideous beings began rapidly to approach us. Evil spirits! O, how much irony, how much of the most sincere kind of laughter would this have aroused in me only a few days ago. Even a few hours ago somebody's report, not only that he saw evil spirits with his own eyes, but only that he believed in their existence as in something fundamentally real, would have aroused a similar reaction!
As was proper for an "educated" man at the close of the nineteenth century, I understood this to mean foolish inclinations, passions in a human being, and that is why the very word itself had for me not the significance of a name, but a term which defined a certain abstracted conception. And suddenly this "certain abstracted conception" appeared before me as a living personification. Even up to the present time I am not able to say how and why at that time, without the slightest trace of doubt, I recognized evil spirits to be present in that ugly sight.
Undoubtedly only because such a designation of it was completely outside of the normal order of things and logic, for if a similar hideous sight appeared before me at another time, undoubtedly I would have said that it was some kind of fiction personified, an abnormal caprice of one's imagination. In short, everything else but in no way, of course, would I have called it a name by which I would have meant something which cannot be seen.
But at the time, this designation of its nature took place with such rapidity, that seemingly there was no need to think about it, as if I had seen that which already was well known to me long ago; and since, as I already have explained, at that time my mental capacities functioned with such incomprehensible intensity, I therefore comprehended just as rapidly that the ugly outward appearance of these beings was not their real exterior; that this was some kind of an abominable show which was probably conceived with the purpose of frightening me to a greater degree; and for a moment something similar to pride stirred within me.
I then felt ashamed of myself, for man in general, because in order to arouse fear in man, a being who thinks so much of himself, other forms of being have recourse to such methods which we ourselves use with respect to small children. Having surrounded us on all sides, with shrieks and rowdy sounds the evil spirits demanded that I be given over to them, they tried somehow to seize and tear me away from the Angels, but evidently did not dare to do this. In the midst of their rowdy howling, unimaginable and just as repugnant to one's hearing as their sight was for my eyes, I sometimes caught up words and whole phrases.
And here they lunged at us with such boldness that for a moment fear froze the flow of all thought in my mind. That is untrue! In some way unknown to me, I suddenly recalled such a slight, insignificant occurrence, which in addition was related to so remote a period of my youth that, it seems, I in no way could have been able to recall it to mind. I recalled how during my years of study, once having gathered at my friend's, after having spoken about school studies, we passed over to discussing various abstract and elevated topics — conversations which often were carried on by us.
Words of Hope and Consolation at the Time of Death
I am able to believe in some kind of power of nature which, let us say, has not been investigated. That is to say, I can allow for its existence, even when not seeing its clear cut, definite manifestations, because it may be very insignificant or combined in its effects with other powers, and for this reason difficult to grasp; but to believe in God, as a Being, individual and omnipotent, to believe — when I do not anywhere see clear manifestations of this Individuality — this already becomes absurd. I am told: believe. But why must I believe, when I am equally able to believe that there is no God.
Why, is it not true? Is it also not possible that He does not exist? This phrase was in the full sense of the word an "idle statement": the unreasonable talk of my friend could not have aroused within me a doubt in the existence of God. I did not particularly listen to his talking; and now it turned out that this idle statement of mine did not disappear without leaving a trace in the air, I had to justify myself, to defend myself from the accusation that was directed against me, and in such a manner the New Testament statement was verified in practice: We really shall have to give an account for all our idle words, if not by the Will of God, Who sees the secrets of man's heart, then by the anger of the enemy of salvation.
This accusation evidently was the strongest argument that the evil spirits had for my perdition. They seemed to derive new strength in this for the daring of their attacks on me, and now with furious bellowing they spun about us, preventing us from going any further. I recalled a prayer and began praying, appealing for help to those Holy Ones whose names I knew and whose names came to mind.
But this did not frighten my enemies. A sad ignorant Christian only in name, I now, it seems, almost for the first time in my life remembered Her, Who is called the Intercessor for Christians. And evidently my appeal to Her was intense. Evidently my soul was filled with terror, that hardly had I remembered and pronounced Her name, when about us there suddenly appeared a kind of white mist which soon began to enfold within itself the ugly throng of evil spirits. It concealed them from my eyes before they could withdraw from us.
Their bellowing and cackling was still heard for a long while, but according to how it gradually weakened in intensity and became more dull, I was able to judge that the terrible pursuit was gradually being left behind. The feeling of fear that I experienced took hold of me so completely that I was not even conscious of whether we had been continuing our flight during this terrible meeting or whether it stopped us for awhile. I realized that we were moving, that we were continuing to move upward only when the infinite expanse of space again spread itself before me.
Having passed through some of its distance, I saw a bright light above me, it resembled, as it seemed to me, our sunlight, but was much more intense. There, evidently, is some kind of kingdom of light. Because there was no shade with this light. And suddenly we were quickly carried into the field of this light, and it literally blinded me.
I shut my eyes, brought my hands up to my face, but this did not help since my hands did not give shade. And what did the like protection mean here anyway? But something different happened. Majestically, without wrath, but authoritatively and firmly, the words resounded from above: "Not ready! And after that thereafter an immediate stop came to our rapid flight upward — we quickly began to descend. But before we left this realm, I was endowed with the capacity to learn of one most wonderful phenomenon. Hardly had the said words resounded from above when everything in that world it seems, each particle of dust, each slightest atom, responded to these words with their accord, as though a multimillion echo repeated them in a tongue unable to be perceived by hearing, but perceived and understood by the heart and mind, expressing its unison with the decision so decreed.
And in this unity of will there was such wonderful harmony, and in this harmony so much inexpressive, exalted happiness, before which all our earthly charms and raptures appeared like a gloomy day without sunlight. This multimillion echo resounded in the form of an inimitable musical chord, and one's whole soul extended out towards it, wholly responding to it in a state devoid of any cares and in an ardent transport of zeal to be at one with this omnipresent, most wonderful harmony.
I did not understand the real sense of the words that were directed to me, that is to say, I did not understand that I had to return to earth and again live as previously. I thought that I was being carried to some other different parts, and a feeling of timid protest stirred within when before me. At first as hazily as in a morning mist, the outlines of a city were denoted before me, and following this, streets well known to me also became clearly visible.
Approaching my lifeless body the Guardian Angel said "Have you heard the decision of God? Uekskuell continues to describe his return to the flesh, which had been lying in the morgue for thirty-six hours and how the medical personnel where astonished by the miracle of his return to the living.
Soon after, K. Uekskuell went to a monastery to live out his live as a monk. T he Holy Scriptures' teachings regarding the delight of the righteous in heaven and the suffering of the sinners in hell can be found in the brochure "The end of the World and Future Life" missionary brochure of our parish, number What is heaven? Where is it? In conversation people refer to heaven as up "above" and hell as down "below.
Although, clearly, up and down are relative terms, it would be incorrect to think of heaven or hell as simply different conditions. They are two distinct places though they defy geographical description. Angels and the souls of the dead can only be in one particular place, be it heaven, hell or earth. We cannot denote the location of the spiritual world; it is not within the "coordinates" of our space-time system. That space is different and, although it has its beginnings here, it expands in new directions beyond the reaches of human mind.
Countless incidents from the lives of the saints show us how that spiritual space interacts with the space of our world. In such a way, the residents of Spruce Island saw the soul of Saint Herman of Alaska rising in a column of fire; the Elder Seraphim Glinsky saw the ascending soul of Saint Seraphim of Sarov; and the Prophet Elisha saw the Prophet Elijah taken to heaven in a fiery chariot.
As much as we would like to penetrate into this new world, we are prevented by its existence outside of our three-dimensional world. Most contemporary accounts of clinical death describe places close in proximity to our world, on this side of the threshold. Still, we come across accounts of places that resemble heaven and hell as described in the Holy Scriptures.
For instance, in the works of Dr. George Ritchy, Betty Malts, Maurice Rawling and others there are depictions of hell: "serpents, fiends, unbearable stench, and demons. Ritchy tells of his own experiences in when he saw depictions of hell. The bondage of the sinners to the cravings of this world was unbearable. He saw murderers that were, so to speak, chained to their victims. The murderers cried out and asked for forgiveness from their victims, but they could not be heard.
These were purposeless tears and requests. Thomas Welch tells how he, while working as a lumberjack in Portland, Oregon, slipped and fell into a creek and found himself crushed by giant logs. It took workers more than an hour to find his body and pull it out from between the logs. Not seeing any signs of life, the workers concluded that he was dead. Thomas, meanwhile, in a temporary state of death, found himself on the shores of boundless flaming ocean. He was frozen by fear of the fiery sulfur rushing towards him.
This was the fiery Gehenna that cannot be described in words. There, on the shore of the fiery Gehenna, he recognized the faces of a few people who had died before him. All of them stood in absolute horror of the rolling fiery surges. Thomas knew that there was no chance of leaving this place. He began to regret that he had previously shown so little concern for his salvation.
Oh, if only he had known what awaited him, he would have lived very differently. Then he noticed someone walking in the distance. The face of the stranger showed great strength and goodness. Thomas understood that this was the Lord and that only he could save his soul, condemned to Gehenna. A spark of hope was kindled in Thomas and he hoped the Lord might notice him. The Lord, however, was walking past him towards something in the distance. It was all that was necessary, just one look from the Lord.
In an instant, Thomas was back in his body and alive once again. He had not yet opened his eyes when he could clearly hear the prayers of the workers standing around him. Many years later Thomas could remember everything he had seen there in great detail. It was an unforgettable experience his experience is written in the booklet "Oregon's Amazing Miracle," Christ for the Nations, Inc. Pastor Kenneth E. Hagin remembers that in April of when he lived in McKinney, Texas his heart stopped beating and his soul left his body. The lower I went, the darker and hotter it became.
As we went deeper, I noticed the flickering of ominous flames, presumable hell's, on the walls of the caves. Finally, a large flame burst through and began to pull me. Many years have passed since then. To this day I can picture that hell's flame. Having reached the bottom of the chasm, I felt the presence of a spirit next to me and it began to lead me. At this moment, above the hellish dark a powerful Voice was heard.
I did not understand what was said, but I felt that it was the God's Voice. From the force of this Voice, the whole of the nether world trembled. Immediately the spirit which had been pushing me, let me go and a wind lifted me back up. Gradually the light of this world began to shine. I was, once again, in my room and I jumped into my body like a man jumping into a pair of pants. I saw my grandmother, who started telling me "Dear, I thought you had died. He wrote about his ordeal in a brochure entitled "My Witness" [4, pg. Rawlings dedicates a whole chapter of his book to stories of people who had been to hell.
In one of the stories there is a huge field where sinners battle without rest, maiming, raping and killing each other; the air full of their agonizing cries, obscenities and curses. In other stories there are places of fruitless labor, where cruel demons oppress the souls of sinners by forcing them to carry loads from one place to another [4, Chapter 7]. The unbearable torments of hell are well illustrated by the following two stories from orthodox books. An enfeebled man after suffering for many years finally prayed to the Lord for an end to his suffering.
An angel appeared to him and said: "Your sins require cleansing. The Lord offers you to exchange one year of suffering on earth for three hours of hell. Then the angel took him into the pit of hell. All around was darkness, narrowness — everywhere evil spirits, the cries of sinners, and suffering. The soul of the enfeebled began to experience indescribable fear and pain, but only echoes and the surging hellfire answered his screams. No one noticed his groans and bellows; all of the sinners were occupied with their own suffering.
The sufferer felt that centuries had passed and that the angel had forgotten him. Finally the angel appeared to him and asked, "Well, how are you brother? Here is the story of two friends. One went to a monastery and led a saintly life and the other remained in the world and lived sinfully. When the sinful friend died, his friend the monk prayed to God for knowledge of his friend's fate. Once, while the monk was in a light sleep, his friend came to him.
His friend began to tell him about the intolerable agonies he was experiencing and how a tireless worm was gnawing at him. Having said this, he lifted his clothing over his knee revealing an awful worm, which covered the length of his leg and was consuming it. The lesions on his leg exuded such an odor that the stench woke the monk.
He jumped from his cell and the stench from his cell spread through the monastery. As the stench did not decrease with time, all of the monks were forced to move to a different site. The monk who saw hell's prisoner could not rid himself of the stench which clung to him for the rest of his days from the book "Eternal Mysteries from Beyond the Grave" a publication of St.
Panteleimon Monastery, on Mount Athos. In contrast to these visions of terror, the descriptions of heaven were always bright and joyful. Such is the story of Thomas N. Fortunately, a relative noticed him and pulled him from the water and took him to the hospital. When the other relatives gathered in the hospital, the doctor told them that Thomas was dead. To everyone's surprise, Thomas awoke. At the other end of the tunnel, I saw a light that was so bright that I could touch it. There I saw God enthroned and below people or maybe angels surrounding His throne.
When I came closer to God, He told me that my time had not yet come. I wanted to remain, but I unexpectedly found myself back in my body. He wanted to become a scientist to more deeply understand the world that God created. Undoubtedly he has had great success in this endeavor. Betty Malts' book, "I Saw Eternity," released in describes how she died and then found herself on a marvelous green slope. She was surprised that even with three incisions from her operation she could stand and walk freely and without pain.
Above her, was a bright blue sky. There was no sun, but light was everywhere. Beneath her bare feet the grass was green, like no green on this planet, and each blade seemed to be alive. Although the hill was steep, her feet moved easily, effortlessly. She could see bright flowers, shrubs and trees. To her left, she saw the figure of a man in a robe. Betty thought to herself, "Could this be an angel? She felt that he was not a stranger and that he knew her.
She felt young, healthy and happy. She saw her own selfishness and was ashamed, but she felt love and concern around her. She and her companion came to a wonderful silver palace, "but it had no towers. She heard the word "Jesus. When the gates opened, for a moment, she saw a street in golden light. Even though she could not see anyone in the Light, she knew that this was "Jesus. This encounter has brought her closer to God. She now loves people.
Saint Salvianus of Albi, a hieromonk of Gaul during the 6 th century, was returned to life after being dead for the better part of a day and told his friend Gregory Tursk the following: "When my cell was shaken four days ago and you saw me dead, I was lifted by a pair of angels and taken to the heights of heaven. There, under my feet, I could see not only the insignificant earth, but also the sun, moon and stars. After this, I was taken through a gate brighter than the sun and led into a building where all the floors shined with silver and gold.
That Light defies description. That place was full of people and stretched so far in all directions that I could not see its end. The angels cleared a path before me through the crowd and we entered the place upon which our gaze had rested when we were still afar. Above this place, hovered a bright cloud, brighter than the sun, and from it I heard a voice, like the sound of many waters.
Then I was greeted by other beings; some were in priestly clothing, others in usual dress. My guides explained that these were the Martyrs and other Saints. While I stood, I was fanned by a pleasant fragrance; it filled me in such a way that I felt no need of food or drink. Sometime thereafter, the Voice from the cloud said, "Let this man return to earth as he is needed by the Church.
I will watch over you until such time as I will return you to this place.
Southern Baptist Convention > Basic Beliefs
Another extraordinary vision of Heaven is related by St. Andrew the Christ Lover, a Slav, who was born retarded and lived in Constantinople in the 9 th century. Once, during a harsh winter Saint Andrew was lying in the street dying from the cold. All at once, he felt unusual warmth and saw a beautiful youth shining like the sun.
This youth took him to heaven, the third firmament. This is what Saint Andrew described upon his return to earth. There were many orchards full of tall trees. Their swaying tops pleased my sight and their branches emitted a delightful fragrance. The beauty of these trees could not be compared with any on earth. The orchards were filled with innumerable birds with gold, white and colored wings.
They sat on the branches of these heavenly trees and sang so that I lost myself in the singing…. Next, I saw myself standing on heavenly firmament and a youth with a face bright like the sun and dressed in royal purple walking before me. As I followed him, I saw a tall beautiful cross that looked like a rainbow and around it flame-like singers, who sang unto and praised the Lord, crucified for us on the cross. The youth, who walked ahead of me, approached the cross and kissed it.
He motioned for me to do the same…. Kissing the cross I felt untold gladness and felt the fragrance more than before. Going further, I looked down and saw below me something like the depths of the ocean. The youth turned to me and said, "Do not be afraid for we must go even higher" and he gave me his hand. When I grabbed it, we were already at the second firmament. There I saw amazing men; their happiness cannot be related in the language of mankind. And so we rose above the third firmament, where I saw and heard the numerous powers of heaven, singing and praising God.
We approached a curtain that blazed like lightning. Before it stood youths of flame… And the youth, who had guided me, said, "When the curtain opens, you will see the Lord Christ. Then bow down to the Throne of His Glory…" And so a sort of flaming hand opened the curtain, and I, like the Prophet Isaiah, saw the Lord Himself sitting upon the most high and exalted throne, and Seraphims flew about Him.
He was dressed in royal purple garments, His Face glowed and He looked upon me with love. What happiness filled me when I looked upon His Countenance, words cannot explain. Even now, remembering this vision I overflow with inexpressible joy. In trepidation I lay before my Master. Then all the heavenly forces sang a most-glorious and unutterable song, thereafter, not knowing how, I was again in heaven the third firmament. It is interesting to note that when Saint Andrew, not seeing the Virgin Mary, asked where She was, the angel explained: "Did you expect to see the Queen here?
She is not here. She has descended to the unsettled world to help the people and comfort the grieving. I would show you Her Holy Place, but there is no time. You must return. And so, according to the lives of the saints and the stories in orthodox books, we see that the soul reaches heaven only after it has left the earth and traveled the distance between the two worlds.
Many times these trips include the snares and plottings of demons. The soul is always led to heaven by angels. The soul never arrives there without guidance. Even St. John of Chrysostom wrote about this: "And then the angels led Lazarus… for the soul does not go into that world on its own for that it cannot do. Rather, they are "visions" or "foretastes" of them from a distance. Obvious signs of God's Grace always accompany direct visitation of heaven.
Sometimes through marvelous fragrance accompanied by a bolstering of man's strengths. For example, the fragrance so fed St. Sabellius that he did not need food or drink for three days and only when he spoke of it, did the fragrance disappear. The intimate experience of visiting Heaven is accompanied by a feeling of reverence before the Resplendence of God and an appreciation of one's unworthiness. Moreover, the personal experience of Heaven cannot be accurately conveyed, because the "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" and "for now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face" 1 Cor.
T he immortality of the soul, the existence of the spiritual world and life beyond the grave, these are religious themes. Christianity has always known and taught that man is more that a simple combination of chemical elements, that besides the body it has a soul which at the moment of death does not die, but continues to live and develop in a new surrounding. In its two thousand years of existence, Christianity has amassed a wealth of literature on the world beyond the grave. In some instances, the Lord allows the souls of the departed to appear to friends or relatives to forewarn them of what awaits in the world to come and thus to encourage them to live righteously.
Owing to this, religious writings have a significant number of accounts of: what the souls of the departed saw in the other world, of angels, of the devil's snares, of the joys of the righteous in heaven, and of the torments of the sinners in hell. In the last quarter-century, many accounts of people's experiences during clinical death have been documented. A significant percentage of these accounts contain a description of what the person saw near the place of their death.
In most cases these souls did not have time to visit, either heaven or hell. Although at times they observed those conditions. This existence is not passive in nature, because the personality continues to think, feel, want, etc. An understanding of this essential truth is absolutely necessary to correctly build one's life. Nevertheless, far from all of the doctors' conclusions should be taken at face value.
Sometimes they put forth opinions based on incomplete and sometimes inaccurate data. A Christian must check everything that concerns the spiritual world against the teaching of the Holy Scripture to avoid entanglement in the webs of philosophic machination or the personal opinions of authors who write about these themes. The main value in the contemporary exploration of the life after death question is that it confirms in an unbiased and scientific way the truth of the soul's existence in the world beyond.
In addition, they can help a believer to better understand and prepare for that which he will encounter immediately after his death. A s a replacement for the Christian teaching of man's salvation through Christ, more and more we see the spreading of the pernicious, occultist and theosophical teachings of reincarnation. According to the ancient Hindu version of this teaching, the soul after death temporarily goes into the astral plain from which it reincarnates into a different form of life, such as a plant, insect, animal or human being.
We should probably add microbes and viruses to this list, as the ancient Hindus were not aware of these forms of life. The selection of the body is determined by the amount of Karma, the amount of deeds, good or bad, collected by the soul in its previous life. If a person was good, his body transfers to a more developed and nobler creature.
If he was bad, than his soul is punished by a transfer to a lower class of creature. The process of reincarnation continues until such time as the soul frees itself from Karma by losing all interest in life at which time it blends with the absolute, Brahma, or according to Buddhism dissolves in Nirvana. Teachings of reincarnation pronounce that as there was a time when man did not exist, so there will come a time when he will be no more. Man began his development from the lowest orders, as a plant or a fish, and will develop into something greater than man.
Therefore, human beings are just transitory creatures. They are completely at the mercy of cosmic powers pulling them towards some unseen goal and will eventually be brought into condition that has no humanity. There are several versions of teachings on reincarnation.