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NewsAfterlife in Orthodox perspective (3rd part)

Afterlife in Orthodox perspective (3rd part)

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It is believed that until the third day after death the soul remains in the house, and then until the 40th day it travels around all the places where the deceased went in his lifetime. That is why the remembrances are made more often during this period, because it is believed that the deceased as a “fresh soul” has not yet left the world of the living. The 40th day after death is especially solemnly celebrated, when the tomb is leveled. Most people gather at the forties, usually all those who attended the funeral. The priest reads a prayer and then symbolically levels the grave, which is still a mound, and thus the fresh grave differs from other Christian graves. The second sacrifice is given for the deceased on the 40th day, the first is at the funeral, and the last – at the commemoration of one year. It is believed that on the 40th day the soul finally leaves the world of the living and goes to “that” world, the world of the dead, which he finally joins at the end of the first year. The commemoration of the year after death is also celebrated solemnly, in the presence of more people and a priest.

Meaning of days: ninth, fortieth and annual

Where is the soul immediately after separation from the body? What does the 3rd, 9th and 40th day mean? How long does it take for the soul to go through aerial ordeals, and when, after separation from the body, is a private judgment made?

St. Macarius of Alexandria gives us the following angelic revelation about the state of the souls of the dead in the first forty days after their separation from their bodies.

When the sacrament of death is performed and the soul is separated from the body, it – the soul, stays on earth for the first two days and, accompanied by angels, visits those places where it used to work the truth. She wanders about the house in which she parted from her body, and sometimes stays near the coffin in which her body rests. On the third day, in imitation of the resurrection of Christ, which took place on the third day, every Christian soul is supposed to ascend to heaven to worship God. This is the reason why St. The Church has a good habit on the third day to make an offering and prayer for the soul of the deceased.

The third day after the death of a person is called feast, and they commemorate the deceased, bringing prayers to God for him – they serve a memorial service. This day for the deceased and for us, still alive, has a direct spiritual relation to the resurrection of the Head of our life, who laid the foundation for our (and therefore your deceased) blessed resurrection. On the third day, the deceased is buried. Consigning to the earth the body dear to our heart, let us turn our mind and heart to the Conqueror of death, who granted the triumph of life over death; our triumph, and, consequently, of your deceased, the triumph that took place in the resurrection of Christ. The Church solemnly assures us, her children, that Christ has risen from the dead and granted life to those in the tombs. And to your dead man, do you hear? Life and resurrection are given only through Christ.

On the third day, the body is buried, and the soul must ascend to heaven: “and the dust will return to the earth, as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12: 7).

The immeasurable space between heaven and earth, or between the Churches triumphant and militant, is the space in ordinary colloquial human language, and in St. Scripture, and in the writings of the Holy Fathers, is called air. So, here air is not the subtle ethereal substance that surrounds the earth, but space itself.

This space is filled with outcast, fallen angels, whose whole activity is to divert a person from salvation, making him an instrument of untruth. They cunningly and hostilely act on our internal and external activities, in order to make us accomplices in their destruction: “Looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5: 8), testifies about the devil ap. Peter. That the air space is the dwelling place of evil spirits is evidenced by the chosen vessels of the Holy Spirit, and we believe this truth.

Thus, the viewer of the great mysteries of God in the Apocalypse testifies that the fallen angels lost their heavenly dwelling (Rev. 12:8,9). So where is their home? In the book of Job, the celestial is their dwelling place (Job 1:7), and the teacher of tongues already directly calls them spirits of malice and celestials, and their head is the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).

From the very moment that our forefathers fell and were exiled from the paradise of sweetness, Cherubim was placed at the tree of life (Gen. 3:24), but another, fallen angel, in turn, stood on the way to paradise to stop man from entering . The gates of heaven were closed for man, and since that time the Prince of Peace has not let a single human soul, separated from the body, go to heaven.

Both the righteous, except for Elijah and Enoch, and sinners descended into hell.

The first to pass harmlessly this impassable path to paradise is the Conqueror of death, the Destroyer of hell; and the doors of paradise have been opened since that time. The prudent robber and all the Old Testament righteous walked harmlessly behind the Lord, the Saints led out of hell by the Lord pass this path harmlessly, or, if they sometimes endure demonic stops, then their virtues outweigh their falls.

If we, having already been enlightened by the light of Christ and having free will to do right or wrong, constantly become their captives, doers of iniquity, executors of their vile will, then all the more will they not leave the soul when it is separated from the body and will have to go to God through air space.

Of course, they will present to the soul all the rights to possess it, as a faithful performer of their suggestions, thoughts, desires and feelings.

Demons present her sinful activity in its entirety, and the soul realizes the justice of this testimony.

Christians who spend their earthly life not without sins do not directly receive blessed eternity. It is necessary that their shortcomings, falls, deviations be weighed and evaluated.

If the soul has not known itself, has not fully recognized itself here on earth, then, as a spiritual and moral being, it must necessarily recognize itself beyond the grave; to realize what she developed in herself, what she adapted to, what sphere she got used to, what was food and pleasure for her. To recognize oneself and thus pronounce judgment on oneself, before the judgment of God – this is what heavenly justice wants. God did not and does not want death, but man himself desired it. Here on earth the soul, with the help of St. Communion can come to consciousness, bring true repentance and receive remission of sins from God. But behind the grave, in order to bring the soul to the consciousness of its sinfulness, there are fallen spirits, who, being teachers of all evil on earth, now present to the soul its sinful activity, remind all the circumstances under which evil was committed. The soul is aware of its sins. By this she already warns the judgment of God upon her; so that the judgment of God, as it were, already determines what the soul itself has pronounced over itself.

By repentance, the sins committed are destroyed and are no longer mentioned anywhere, neither at ordeals, nor at the trial.

Good angels at ordeals, for their part, represent the good deeds of the soul.

The entire space from earth to heaven represents twenty divisions or courts, at which the incoming soul is convicted by demons of sins. Each judgment seat or, as the patristic writings call it, ordeal, and evil spirits – publicans, corresponds to a group of a certain kind of sins.

Publicans not only convict the soul of the sins it has committed, but also of those to which it has never been subjected, as St. John of the Ladder (Ladder, 7th degree).

The order in which the ordeals follow one after another, we borrow from the story of St. Theodora about them. On the way to heaven, directed to the east, the soul meets the first ordeal, on which evil spirits, stopping the soul, accompanied by good angels, present to it its sins in a word (verbose, idle talk, idle talk, foul language, ridicule, blasphemy, singing songs and passionate hymns, wanton exclamations, laughter, laughter, etc.).

The second ordeal is lies (any lie, perjury, excessive invocation of the name of God, failure to fulfill vows given to God, hiding sins before the confessor at confession).

The third ordeal is slander (slandering one’s neighbor, condemnation, destruction, defaming him, cursing, ridicule while forgetting one’s own sins and shortcomings, while not paying attention to them).

The fourth ordeal is gluttony (overeating, drunkenness, eating without prayer, breaking fasts, voluptuousness, satiety, feasting, in a word – all kinds of pleasing the womb).

The fifth ordeal is laziness (laziness and negligence in the service of God, abandonment of prayer, parasitism, mercenaries who perform their duties with negligence).

The sixth ordeal is theft (any kind of kidnapping – gross and plausible, overt and secret).

The seventh ordeal is the love of money and avarice.

Eighth – likhvy (usurers, covetous and embezzlers of someone else’s).

The ninth ordeal is untruths (unrighteous: judgment, measure, weight and all other untruths).

The tenth ordeal is envy.

The eleventh ordeal is pride (pride, vanity, conceit, self-aggrandizement, failure to render proper honor to parents, spiritual and civil authorities, disobedience to them and disobedience to them).

The twelfth is fury and anger;

thirteenth – rancor:

the fourteenth, murders;

the fifteenth is sorcery (witchcraft, seduction, compilation of poisoning, slander, whispers, magical invocation of demons).

The sixteenth ordeal is prodigal (everything that relates to this filth: thoughts, desires and deeds themselves; fornication of persons not bound by the sacrament of marriage, pleasure in sin, voluptuous views, bad touches and touches).

Seventeenth – adultery (non-preservation of marital fidelity, fornication of persons who have dedicated themselves to God).

The eighteenth ordeal is Sodomite (unnatural adulterous sins and incest).

The nineteenth ordeal is heresy (false wisdom about faith, doubt in faith, apostasy from the Orthodox faith, blasphemy) and, finally, the last, twentieth ordeal is unmercy (mercy and cruelty).

The passage of ordeals happens on the third day after death.

Bishop Macarius writes: “The continuous, constant and universal use in the Church of the doctrine of toll-houses, especially among the teachers of the fourth century, indisputably testifies that it was handed down to them from the teachers of previous centuries and is based on the apostolic tradition” (Right. Dogm. Bogos. Volume 5- y, pp. 85 and 86).

Knowing the afterlife state of the soul, i.e. the passage of ordeals and the appearance to God for worship, corresponding to the third day, the Church and relatives, wishing to prove that they remember and love the deceased, pray to the Lord for the harmless passage of the soul through air ordeals and for the forgiveness of its sins. The liberation of the soul from sins constitutes for it a resurrection for a blessed, eternal life. So, following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead on the third day, a memorial service is served for the deceased, so that he, too, will be resurrected on the third day for an endless, glorious life with Christ.

After worshiping God, it is commanded to show the soul the various abodes of the Saints and the beauty of paradise. Walking and looking at the heavenly abodes lasts six days. The soul is surprised and glorifies the Creator of everything – God. Contemplating all this, she changes and forgets her grief, which she had while in the body. But if she is guilty of sins, then, at the sight of the pleasures of the saints, she begins to grieve and reproach herself that she spent her life in carelessness and did not serve God as she should. After considering paradise, the soul on the 9th day (from its separation from the body) again ascends to worship God. So, the Church does well that it brings an offering and prayers on the 9th day for the deceased.

Knowing the afterlife state of the deceased soul, corresponding to the ninth day on earth, in which the second worship of God takes place, the Church and relatives pray to the Almighty to reckon the deceased soul to the nine faces of angels.

After the second worship, the Lord commands to show the soul hell with all its torments. The driven soul sees the torment of sinners everywhere, hears weeping, groaning, gnashing of teeth. In the course of 30 days, the soul wanders through the hellish compartments, trembling so as not to be condemned there to imprisonment. Finally, on the 40th day after separation from the body, the soul ascends for the third time to worship God. And only now the righteous Judge determines for her a decent place of residence according to her deeds and earthly life. This means that a private judgment on the soul takes place on the 40th day after its departure from the body. So right, St. The Church commemorates the dead on the 40th day.

The fortieth day, or fortieth day, is the day of determining the fate of the soul in the afterlife. This is a private judgment of Christ, which determines the fate of the soul only until the time of the terrible universal judgment. This afterlife state of the soul, corresponding to the moral life on earth, is not final and may change.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the fortieth day from His resurrection, exalted human nature, taken by Him into His Person, into a state of glory – sitting on the throne of His Divinity “at the right hand of the Father” (Matthew 22:44); so, according to this prototype, the dead, on the fortieth day after death, enter with their souls into a certain state corresponding to their moral dignity.

Just as the Lord, having completed the work of our salvation, crowned it with His ascension on the 40th day with His life and death, so the souls of the departed, completing their life path, on the 40th day after death receive a reward – their afterlife lot.

Just as the Lord, having ascended on the 40th day, always sits at the right hand of God the Father, waiting for His enemies to lay down at the foot of His feet (Heb. in it (although not without the possibility of change) until the general judgment of Christ (Sermon about the commemoration, deceased arch. Theodora, pp. 37 and 38).

This correspondence between the states of Christ and the states of the souls of the departed is recognized by the word of God (Heb. 9:27,28).

So, lamenting the death of someone close to your heart, on the fortieth day, with faith, raise your mind and heart to the Head of our life, who ascended on the 40th day after the Resurrection, so that He “now appears before God for us” (Heb. 9:24), the living and the dead. Will the all-merciful Father refuse Him this intercession, having His beloved Son before Him in the crucifixion for us? Hold fast by faith to such love of the Lord, in His glory occupied with our eternal fate, the fate of you and your dead. Beg Him for the deceased, so that with His grace He would heal the weak in the departed soul, the impoverished one – He would fill it up, forgive and cleanse all sins and give her the lot of the pardoned. Your faith and prayer overshadowed by St. The Church will help the deceased a lot at the private judgment of Christ in determining his fate until the Last Judgment.

Knowing the afterlife state of the deceased soul, corresponding on earth to the fortieth day, when the fate of the deceased is decided, although not completely yet, the Church and relatives rush to his aid.

A memorial service is served on this day, so that as much as it depends on us, propitiate God regarding the deceased.

So, from the previous one it is clear that the soul, after being separated from the body, stays on earth for two days and on the third day ascends to God to worship; then in the next six days he is in heaven and, finally, the next thirty days he is in hell; and on the fortieth day she is already in place, in a state not yet finally decided.

The soul will receive the final decision on the day of universal judgment.

Days are annual, and in the next years it will already be the day of death, days – name days, births for good Christians remain forever memorable days. Wanting to prove that death has not terminated the spiritual union and relationship between the living and the dead, they serve a memorial service and pray to Him in Whom our salvation and life is: they pray to Him Who Himself told us: “I am life!” (John 11:25).

We pray and hope unquestionably for His promise to hear those who pray: “Ask and it will be given to you”, for I do not want the death of a sinner for whom I suffered, shed My blood and to whom I now give life … just believe!” (Mark 5:36).

(to be continued)

Source: Afterlife. How our dead live and how we will live after death / Monk Mitrofan – Kiev. Ed. Ukrainian Orthodox Church. 1992. – 336 p. (in Russian)

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