Life after Death | Orthodox | 18


The apostle Paul wrote remarkable words, opening us a great truth:

You are the body of the Christ and each of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians, 12, 27).

All of us, believers, make up, as is evident, His single live organism, but not a bag of peas, within which the peas push each other and heat each other painfully.

We are cells (live, half-live, half-dead) in the Christ Body.
All of us are the single body.

And being in a single body a change in the condition of any organ and even any cell, would tell on the whole organism, on each other cell.

All is interconnected and interdependent in a live organism.

The same apostle Paul writes:

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”
and the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!
“ (1 Corinthians, 12, 21).

In a live organism all the cells feel, all sympathize with each other as their own- joy and suffering.

Here is the question:
Why and how one man can help the other spiritually, and, moreover, to the dead?

Because, maybe, we all make up the single organism; and one can help the other in the same order as any live cell and organ can aid each other in the same organism:

If one eye is blind, the other makes the double work.
One leg is damaged – the other takes its load upon itself.

This is natural law of mutual support and, if you like, mutual salvation.

In what way does one cell help the other?

– By giving up a part of itself, sacrificing its own efforts, its health, itself proper.

The most healthful undertakes the functions of the ill and by doing it renders them a real help.

Look how animals often help each other.

That is the same God’s law of love, laid down in the very nature of the created world, though it was distorted and weakened by a man’s sin.

This law of reciprocal aid preserves life not only in the wild-life world, but, above all in mankind’s world.

Who can help another person? Naturally, a strong man can help a weak one, a rich man - a poor, a courageous - a weak-willed, not on the contrary.

As in a walking hike, for example, if somebody sprains their ankle, the other takes up their load upon themselves. And who takes most of all? - Of course, the strongest.

Such is the law of our life, explaining and opening us the mystery of our prayers for those alive and the dead.

Another question: how and by what do our prayers help another man?

Might it be that we beg God and He becomes more merciful and more amorous?
Of course, not..

He is an absolute that is a perfect love and that is why he cannot love more or less.

The mystery of help to our dead is in the fact that these prayers are means of purification, above all of ourselves, means of our spiritual communion with God.

Due to this fact only, they become an effective force, helping the weak-willed soul of the dead to free itself from the passions enslaving it.

It is very important to remember that we can help each other spiritually only according to the measure of our personal spiritual level,

which is stipulated by the labour of keeping Christ’s commandments, by force of a fight with our passions, by the sincerity of repentance.

So the effect of our prayer for the other people is directly conditional on the degree of our spiritual purity, communing us with God.

For in God only we may spiritually unite with our dead, and according to our purity God releases his soul from the flame of passions.

By our effective and thorough prayer here we awake and pour efforts in the weak-willed dead to be active there.

Our prayer aid to the dead consists in the above said and not in the fact that our prayers, exploits, good deeds somehow propitiate God, satisfy to His justice, are a redemption for the sins of the departed, – as Catholicism teaches us.

The great significance of the Church consists in the fact, that being the Body, God-and-Man Organism of Christ, not an ordinary human society,

it includes in itself each person, accepting baptism with faith, and makes him its part, its cell, due to this fact the baptized unites with all other Church members by live currents of the Holy Spirit Grace.

This man’s coming into the Church makes him capable, to the measure of his spiritual growth, both to perceive the spiritual acts of the other members of the Church upon himself, and in his turn, to inspire them.

These interactions are expressed first of all in a prayer.

However we should bear in mind that a Christian stays in the Church and the Church in him to the extent of his being able to keep Christian commandments and to what measure he has communed to the Holy Spirit (as Seraphim of Sarov put it “to acquire the Holy Spirit”).

The degree of a Christian residing in the Church stipulates the power of his prayers – in that case our prayer will not be an empty pronouncing words and names, but effective force.