Life after Death | Orthodox | 15

Likeness unites with likeness.
Power of repentance

At each stage of the sufferings after death a person cognizes the degree of power of the corresponding passion over the soul.

And he who didn’t fight with his passion (passions), who submitted to it, lived with it, who gave all his efforts to it – he falls, he collapses at these sufferings.

But here, is what is interesting:

This fall (or, on the contrary, painless crossing the sufferings) is determined not by the will of the person, but by that spiritual condition, which a man has acquired during his earthy life.

The personality here is incapable to make a choice – it is determined by natural action of the spirit, prevailing over it.

Hegumen Arseniya, one of the remarkable female hermits at the turn of the 20-th century (+1905), wrote;

When a man is living through an earthy life, he cannot cognize, how far his spirit is in slavery, depending on another spirit, he cannot cognize it, because he has a will, which he uses whenever he wants in his own way.

But when after death his will is taken away from him, then his soul will see, whose power it is submitted to.

God’s Spirit carries the righteous into the eternal abodes, teaching them, enlightening them, deifying them.

The souls which had contact with devil, would fall into his possession”.

St. Ignatius wrote earlier the same thing:

The infernal prisons represent a strange and terrible demolishing of life while preserving life. There is a complete cessation of all kind of activities; there – only suffering”.

What does it mean “a will is taken away”?

If we take as an illustration the examples of many people (and a reasonable person will find himself among them, first of all), we could see that a sinful passion is capable of enslaving a person, depriving him of his will.

It occurs, alas, very easily:

When we do not fight small temptations, when we do not oppose them, by doing it we weaken our will and, finally, destroy it.

This can often be seen in the life surrounding us.
Look at alcoholics, at drug addict:

Possibly many of them, having seen what they have been driven at, they would like to return to a normal life – but they can’t.

For the law is such:

the more and more often a man satisfies any passion, the more become depleted his spiritual powers, and in the final count, he becomes a weak-willed slave.

However to the full extent this absence of will is revealed in after death sufferings, when the soul is being tested, is tempted by the spirits of passions, which have enslaved a person.

And, as there are no external circumstances, the body itself included, which could detain somehow the action of passions, they declare themselves in the soul in their full might – a 1000 times more, as Hegumen Nikon wrote, then under earthy conditions, so the will of the soul is completely paralyzed, is taken away.

If we address to the description of sufferings, we’ll find everywhere spirits of evil appearing in different images.

Blessed Theodora even describes the appearance of some of them, though it is clear that it is the weak similarity of their genuine essence.

The most serious lies in the fact that as Anthony the Great writes, in what measure the soul resigns itself to a sinful passion, in the same measure it unites with demons-tortures.

And this, both on earth and there, happens naturally, for likeness always unites with likeness. But in earthy life this occurs as if invisibly (though a man sometimes clearly feels it), and there quite tangibly.

Look, how under the conditions of earthy life people of the same spirit unite: Quite often you can only wander, – such a friendship, – where is it from?

Then at a closer knowledge of them, it turns out, that they have the single spirit! They are unanimous. The same thing happens with the soul after death.

When it crosses the sufferings, it is being tempted by a passion of each suffering, its spirits, demons-torturers, and according to its state, it either rejects them, or unites with them, surviving the corresponding sufferings.

There is another reason for these sufferings.

That world is the world of a genuine light, in which our deeds, thoughts, feelings will be revealed in front of all the people and angels.

And imagine such a picture: in front of all our friends, acquaintances, relatives, all our evil, mean, baseness will suddenly come to light!

What a dreadful thing and shame – isn’t it a hell? That is why the Church calls upon everyone for the quickest repentance with such a force and persistence.

Repentance in Greece – metanoia – change of mind, way of thinking, that is rejection of any dirtiness in yourself, it is hatred for a sin.

It is a great means of purification of a soul, a perfect means of salvation from the future disgrace, fear, from demons-tortures and unquenchable flame of passions.

As prophet Isaiah wrote:

Come now, let us reason together”, says the Lord.

Though your sins are like scarlet they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool
”. (Isaiah, 1, 18).

And here is how remarkably St. Isaac of Syria speaks about it:

As God knew with His merciful knowledge, that if an absolute righteousness had been required from people, then only one out of every ten thousand could have been found being able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

He gave them medicine, suitable for everyone – repentance,

so that for every day and for every moment they might have an accessible means of redressing by force of this medicine power

and to wash themselves through contrition of heart at all moments and from all defilement, which can occur, and to renew themselves every day through repentance”.

How does the genuine repentance act?

Not to say anything about striking Gospel stories about a tax-gatherer, a whore, a criminal; let’s recall Raskolnikov, for one, from “Crime and punishment” by Dostoevsky:

Look: he is ready to go to any convict prison, even to go with a joy – if only to redeem the committed evil, to purify from blood, to wash himself.

And we all know, how he transformed himself, having repented in his sins.

Dostoevsky excellently showed both a crime and internal punishment, and the great purifying force of repentance.

A great many people have gone through the similar transformation.

Here is what repentance is:

It is in fact a genuine salvation of a soul, which literally speaking transforms a man.

The sincere, humble repentance, testifying to our determination to fight our sin to the end is always accepted by God.

And this lachrymal drop or as Barsanuphius the Great said, this “small copper coin...”, it seems quite insignificant, becomes a token of the fact that God is united with the soul and eradicates that evil, which lives in it.

That is why if a man has a tiny bit of such a struggle, that is the compulsion, that is within one’s powers to live according to the Gospel, if he has a repentance, God Himself will make up for what is absent and there will free us from the hands of demons-destructors.

True is the word of Christ:

You have been faithful with a few things;
I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master’s happiness!”
(Matthew 25, 23).

Here is what a tremendous significance has repentance in our life.

Christians should be utterly thankful to God, for He has opened to us the after-death’s mystery of sufferings, and has given us a great medicine – repentance – to avoid all their nets.

God wants that here, and moreover after death, we will not suffer.
That is why the Church calls upon: a man, until it is late, collect yourself, repent.