Life after Death | Orthodox | 9

Where a soul resides after death of the body

What does the Orthodox Holy Tradition say?

A man’s contact with another world is more often starts before death and the soul often comes into the complete amazement before a completely different reality, which opens before it.

Numerous facts testify to it. I’ll cite 2 reliable facts:

My own uncle studied in the town of Tula. Having received a telegram telling him about his mother’s death, who lived in the village, he urgently started for home.

It was late at night when he arrived at the town of Plavsk, which was situated at 15 kilometres away from his own village.

No means of transport functioned at that hour, he felt fear to walk. But he walked.

Having come out of the town, he was amazed seeing clearly his own mother walking in front of him. He rushed to catch her but all in vain.

As soon as he started to walk quicker, she in the same way quickened her steps. And that continued all the way along till he reached the village, when the vision suddenly disappeared.

This is how his mother’s soul encouraged him in a difficult moment of his life.

My other uncle, dying in complete conscience before our eyes, all our relatives, suddenly stated: “Here are the two who have come, and now you will not be able to help me”.

These cases very remarkable and not explainable by any natural reasons are uncountable number. I am sure almost everyone either heard or got in touch with something similar.

An established church tradition asserts that during the first 2-3 days after death (though our time cannot be correlated with the category which we call Eternity), a man, or rather his soul stays in the conditions of the “earth gravity”.

Having turned out to be there, in eternity, it will not deny itself the immediate attempt of usual association with relatives and dearest people.

In Apostolic Decisions (IV c.) we find direct indications to the 3rd, 9th, 40th and anniversaries as of special days to commemorate of the departed.

(Later on in the Church they started to perform ecumenical service for the dead, when the Church prays for all the departed, including those who did not get a Church burial due to different reasons).

We find an interesting explanation of these days of remembrance in the writings of St. Macarius of Alexandria (IV c.) He asked an Angel:

When the Church Fathers are entrusted with making an Offering to God for the departed on the 3rd, 9th and 40th day, so is the benefit made to the soul of the departed?”

The angel answered:

God did not connive at anything at the Church that is ill-disposed or unfavourable;

but He arranged heavenly and earthy sacraments in the Church and ordered to commit them

When on the 3rd day an offering takes place at the Church, the soul of the departed gets from an Guarding Angel a relief in his sorrow, which he feels because of the departure from the body;

he gets it because, the praying and offering was made in the Church of God for it, and from that a favourable hope is born.

During 2 days the soul is allowed to walk on the earth where it wanted together with angels staying by its side.

That is why a soul, loving the body, wonders around the house, where it departed with the body, sometimes around the coffin, into which the body had been put, and in this way it spends 2 days, as a bird, searching for a nest for itself.

A virtuous soul walks along those places, in which it used to commit truthful things.

On the 3rd day when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He ordered every Christian soul to resurrect to the heaven in the memory of His resurrection for the adoration to God.

Thus the Church has a good tradition to make an offering on the 3rd day and pray for the soul.

After the adoration to God He orders the soul to be shown different and pleasant abodes of the saints and the beauty of paradise.

All that the soul sees for six days, in astonishment glorifying the Creator of everything – God.

Contemplating all that it changes and forgets sorrow, which it had, being in a body.

But if it was guilty in sins when seeing saintly enjoyments it starts to grieve about and reproach itself, saying:

Alas, how much I used to fuss in that world!

Carried away by finding satisfaction in lust, I spent the major part of my life in unconcern and I did not serve God as it should be in order to have the same Grace and Glory. Alas, poor me!

Upon viewing during the 6 days all the joy of the saints it is again raised by the angels to admonition before God.

So the Church is doing very well by committing offering and praying on the 9th day for the passed away.

After the second admonition the Lord of all orders to take the soul to the hell and to show it the places of torture there, different departments of the hell and different tortures of impious, and being there the souls of the sinful weep constantly and grind their teeth.

The soul rushes for 30 days, trembling at the thought of a possibility to be condemned and embraced by them.

On the 40th day the soul is again raised for the admonition before God; and then the Judge determines the place which is appropriate for it depending on its deeds.