Life after Death | Orthodox | 12

Afterlife’s test of good

According to the Church tradition, after the 3 days stay in the coffin the soul of the dead gazes the paradise abodes, then on the 40-th day it is shown tortures of the hell.

How could we understand these earthy images, “earthy things”?

The soul being the inhabitant of that world by nature, having freed itself from the plump body, becomes capable of seeing that world in the proper way.

There everything is open to a soul.

And if, as the apostle Paul writes, under earthy conditions we see but a poor reflection, guessing, and then we shall see face to face ( 1 Corinthians 13, 12) – that is how it is in reality.

This vision and cognition, as differed from the earthy cognition, having basically the external objective character, acquire the implicated nature after the death of the body.

The complicity in the given case means the unity of the person who is coming to know with the knowable.

The soul enters into the direct contact, contact with the world of ghosts as it is the same sort of ghost.

But with what kind of spirits is the soul united?
With those with whom it is similar in its spiritual status.

We may believe that each virtue has its own spirit, its angel – in the same way as each passion has its spirit, its demon. But we’ll speak about it later.

How could we understand everything happening with the world within the period from the 3rd through to the 9th days? Somehow people think that the soul is tested at the trying experience.

However, there is no doubt, that the soul is being exposed not only in the temptation by evil, passions, but when it turns out to be in front of good.

The difference is only in the fact, that the first thing is linked with the vision of demons, their threats and that is why with sufferings, and the second, on the contrary, enraptures the soul by showing the beauty of angels and saints virtues, of their love.

But in this case also the soul “takes exams”.

What do they comprise? They expose what good qualities the soul has acquired during its earthy life, what elevated and pure things it strived at, what ideals it served.

So, after 3 days these so-called tests of the person of good begin.

The soul passes in front of all virtues;

(according to the apostle, this is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, and etc. – Galatians, 5, 22).

For example, it turns out to be in front of mercy.

Will it perceive it as that spiritual treasure, to which it has been striving at, though it could not perform it completely under the conditions of earthy life,

or on the contrary, the acquired brutality will push the soul away from that virtue, as from something alien and unacceptable? Will it unite with the spirit of mercy or reject it?

So during the 6 earthy days the test of the soul for its response to good, love, chastity occurs… As a result of this ‘exam’ it will see all its real good, not sham, not through rose-coloured spectacles, it will see the genuine face of its virtues and good deeds.

This will have a tremendous influence for its further self-determination.

One thing is obvious, that the soul, striving for the truth, justice, love in its earthy life and having seen here their entire heavenly beauty, of course, will seek towards them with all its might and become single with them to the measure of its spiritual purity.

And that is why it will not be subjected to trying experience, as is witnessed by Lord Himself (I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to lifeJohn 5, 24), and the example of saint people, who have directly crossed to heavenly abodes.

From here it becomes clear, why the souls of the departed come to know paradise first, but not the hell;

why must the soul, having shown the aspiration for God and capable to receive the Kingdom of God, experience the contact with the evil, with the disgusting outrage, with demons?

The most wonderful example is the reasonable criminal:

He was the first, who entered the paradise without crossing the trying experience, though, according to all earthy notions of justice he had to be subjected to them to the utmost measure.

This fact testifies to the great significance of Christ’s sacrifice, freeing everyone, who has sincerely humbled and repented from the power of demon’s tortures both in the earthy and posthumous life.

That is why we may believe firmly, that Christians, living according to the Gospel conscience, inherit eternal life on the 9th day, having avoided all the sufferings after their death.