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ReligionChristianityAfterlife in Orthodox perspective (4th part)

Afterlife in Orthodox perspective (4th part)

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The appearance on earth to people of beings from the spiritual world – angels and souls

We said that the real world – the earthly – is in union and relationship with the world beyond the grave – the spiritual, and showed what the union and communication consisted of. Now let us also point out the actual cases of the appearance to us from the spiritual world of good angels, dead perfect, imperfect and evil spirits. These are the cases that really took place, which are still being committed, but due to our inattention or ignorance, they remain unnoticed. In this regard, we have the evidence of religions. Frank and natural (pagan) about the appearance to people, albeit sinful, of the inhabitants of the spiritual world. These phenomena are described both in the Old Testament and in the New, they took place among paganism and are even taking place at the present time.

Our Holy Church teaches that today there is one flock of angels and men, and the powers of heaven serve with us invisibly. Angels and humans have mingled and are in invisible, secret communion, and sometimes they enter into sensual communion with more perfect Christians.

a) Appearance of good angels on earth

Anyone familiar with St. By Scripture, he knows that both in a dream and sensually, at the special discretion of God, angels appeared to people, escorting them to the kingdom of heaven. These examples are found in both the Old and New Testaments.

The teachings of our Church and examples of the appearance of angels on earth testify to the close, inseparable union and attitude of angels towards us, as older brothers to younger ones, of one family, whose Father is God.

Angels, fulfilling the will of God, as ministering spirits, and of their own free will, take an active part in the fate of mankind. They proclaim the will of God to people, watch over states, keep human societies, regions, cities, monasteries, churches and govern various parts of the earth, have influence on the private affairs of people, approve, preserve, lead the apostles out of prison, are present at the exodus of the soul from the body, accompany her procession through the air ordeals, lift up our prayers to God and intercede for them themselves. Angels come to serve people, teach the truth, virtues, enlighten the mind, strengthen the will and protect them from trouble in life. You can read about the appearances of good angels in St. Scripture (Gen.18:2–22; 28:12; Joshua 5:13,14; Luke 1:11,26,28; Matt. 2:13; Acts 5:19; 10:31; 12:7; Deut. 32:8; Ap. 7:1, 14:18).

b) The appearance of evil spirits on earth

Just as tares grow among the wheat, so among the members of the spiritual and moral kingdom, i.e. angels and men, among the sons of God, evil spirits – fallen angels – roam like lions, arranging intrigues for a person in any case, in order only to distract him from the path of virtue. Our enemies are among us, as St. The Church, their dwelling is the air that surrounds our earth.

Since a person, spiritually by his side (mind, will), can naturally be in union and communion with beings of his own kind, then evil spirits, just like good spirits, act on our mind, will and heart, and a person either opposes, fights with evil spirits, or enter into communion with them.

Acting invisibly on our soul with their temptations, evil spirits appeared and apparently, sensually. Whoever does not believe this doubts the temptation of the Lord Jesus Christ after baptism.

Are there many of the ascetics of Christ who would not see or speak with them? Suffering defeat from the ascetics in their intrigues, they were forced to take on various images in order only to catch the warrior of Christ. How many sorrows they caused both soul and body; but by the grace of God they remained defeated.

They will say – why are they not now and now the true servants of God? And why should we sinners see their sensual appearance, when we are already zealous slaves of our passions, zealous executors of their plans and suggestions? Our bad deeds, words, thoughts, make us their accomplices, and we are in alliance with them. Their hatred of God and our sinful activities, hated by God, make us their allies. Then the evil spirit already acts autocratically on its allies and accomplices. It is clear that such an alliance and communion is harmful and harmful to the world. Not everything anti-Christian on earth is the work of the devil alone? Isn’t it his allies who are spreading ideas of disorder, destruction on earth, ideas that reduce a person from his moral greatness?

c) Appearance on the land of the saints

The Lives of the Saints (Cheti-Minei) testify to us about the various appearances of God’s saints on earth. Of course, they visited people according to the will of God. Leaving the heavenly homeland, they appeared to those who needed their strong help, both in a dream and sensually. Are there many saints who, in their loving heart, would not visit the sinful earth after their repose? They always accompanied visits to people with supernatural deeds, miracles, in which the name of God was glorified. Who can affirmatively say that saints no longer appear today? Has God’s love for the human race come to an end?

By visiting the earth and its inhabitants, they thereby give us evidence of the existence of God and the afterlife eternal life.

d) Appearance of souls from hell

Possible or impossible? Maybe! Why?

What was the soul on earth, so it remains in the new afterlife. Everything obeys the all-good will of Him in Whose hands are the keys of hell (Rev. 1:18) and Who is powerful to bring out of hell and bring down into it (1 Sam. 2:6).

In the Old Testament, hell and death triumphed over humanity.

All the dying: both the righteous, except for Elijah and Enoch, and sinners, descended into hell, and hell held its prisoners tightly. The Lord Himself, while still on earth, showed people the possibility of such a phenomenon, resurrecting the dead. The same was done in the Old Testament by God’s chosen ones: Elijah the prophet, who resurrected the son of a widow of Sarepta, Elisha, the son of a Shunamite woman, and others by prayer brought back dead souls from another world – from hell (1 Kings 17:22; 2 Kings 4:33–37).

When the triumph of hell and death collapsed, our own redemption by the God-man was accomplished, then hell was no longer able to hold its dead. The dead, of course, by the will of God, began to resurrect and appear alive to assure that now both hell and death are not terrible for those who believe in the Redeemer, who has already come. Hell did not hold back Moses, who was supposed to be with Christ on Tabor. The dead: the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, the four-day Lazarus, freely come out of hell and are resurrected.

Hell could not hold them against the will of the One in Whose hands are the keys of hell. The prince of darkness foresaw, as it were, his destruction and trampling, and at the moment when our redemption took place, many dead saints were resurrected and appeared alive in Jerusalem (Matthew 27:52 and 53).

The disciples of Christ and many of God’s saints raised the dead. If resurrection was possible, then why consider it impossible for the appearance of the dead by the will of the Lord for a well-known beneficent purpose? Not only the holy departed appeared, but also sinners who were still in an unresolved state (hell). Both those and others appeared alive not only in a dream, but also sensually. Holy angels, and St. saints appeared to people to proclaim the will of God. The appearance of the dead was aimed at edifying the living, assuring the reality of the existence of the invisible world, inaccessible to our bodily senses in our fallen state.

Every Christian who is at least somewhat familiar with sacred history knows that celestials came to earth from the afterlife, the spiritual world, from paradise: angels and saints. And there were cases when sinners who had not yet been completely cleansed came to earth from hell, and therefore they needed the prayers of the Church, the remaining relatives, and acquaintances. Both angels, saints, and dead sinners appeared on earth to people either in their dream vision, or sensually.

It is now impossible for a person to have visible, sensual communication with the afterlife. The whole world lies in evil, and our deceased, as having already escaped evil, would hardly agree to visit us. One can imagine the moral evil that could result from sensual communication between the two worlds. Our fall, and the malice of the devil, who assumes all forms, would certainly give a sure way to destroy the living through sensual communication with those who have passed into the afterlife. Evil spirits would incessantly visit the living in the form of our dead dear to our hearts. The devil would pour out all his poison on mankind. I don’t know how much would have resisted the terrible evil in sensual communication with the dead?

The afterlife, the fate of the righteous and sinners, our assistance in improving the lot of sinners, asking God for forgiveness of their sins, and the means by which we help the dead – all this is testified on earth by the appearances of the dead alive.

According to history, we know that appearances to people living on earth from the afterlife of souls who have already departed there were in the world of the Old Testament, in paganism, in the New Testament, in the first centuries of Christianity, and even occur in the modern semi-Christian or even anti-Christian world. What about modern spiritualism? Spiritualists swear by their salvation in the truth of their assurances that they are visited by souls from the afterlife; and between them there are hearts and minds illuminated by Christian light and even highly educated? ..

Now let’s look at the historical evidence of the phenomena of souls.

In the Old Testament, St. the prophet Elijah resurrected the son of the Sarepta widow, and from touching the bones of St. Prophet Elisha resurrected dead (2 Kings 13:21). In parallel with the call from hell of the soul of Saul by Samuel, the following cases from paganism can be cited.

All mankind knows the immortality of the soul, and consequently, its afterlife; but where the souls of the dead live, or where this afterlife – paganism was aware and represented differently.

It was also aware of heaven – the afterlife place for kind, good souls, and hell – the location for evil spirits. The appearance of the souls of the dead to the living was recognized by the pagans, and therefore the living were constantly in unity, union and communion with the inhabitants of the afterlife, i.e. with their dead family and friends. In the opinion of rude, uneducated peoples, souls live a bestial life, they are those living things that are afraid even to remember them. Departed souls, like ghosts, wander everywhere at night and live in clefts, abysses, mountains, groves, and even in the sun and stars. They thirst for human blood and are defeated by sacrifices, prayers and spells.

The learned Greek philosopher and alchemist Democritus, who wrote the essay “Physics and Mysticism”, says in it that his teacher died before he had time to read him a full course of science. Then he resorted to spells and, calling the shadow of his teacher from the underworld, talked with her about science. The teacher told him that all wisdom is inside one of the columns of the temple, and Democritus found the following three sayings there:

“Nature is born in nature.

Nature conquers nature.

Nature commands nature.”

(Magazine “Northern Star”, 1878, No. 2, p. 29).

Homer, in the eleventh song of the Odyssey, paints a picture of Odysseus calling the souls of the dead from the afterlife:

I drew a copper-edged sword and dug it out

A pit deep, one cubit wide and one long,

Three he offered libations to the dead, whom I called together:

The first with a mixture of honey, the second with fragrant wine,

Thirdly, he sprinkled everything with water and barley flour.

…making invocations to the dead,

I myself slaughtered a ram and a sheep over a deep pit,

Black blood poured into her, and flocked in a crowd

The souls of the dead rise from the dark abyss of Erebus.

I myself drew a sophisticated sword and with it in front of the pit

Sat down to prevent the lifeless shadows of the dead from approaching

To the blood, until the questioned Tiresias gives me an answer.

Soon the image of Tiresias appeared before him; Odysseus allowed him to drink blood, then Tiresias gave him the desired answer.

Regarding other shadows, Tiresias said to Odysseus:

That of the lifeless shadows, which approach the blood

Give it to you, it will start talking to you reasonably, but silently

That one will leave you, which you will not let to blood.

Odysseus’ filial love for a dead mother called to earth:

Carried away by my heart, I wanted to hug the departed mother’s soul.

Three times I extended my hands to her, striving with love,

Three times between my hands she slipped

A shadow or a sleepy dream…

The Babylonians, when summoning human souls from the afterlife, as it appears in the Arabic translation of the ancient Babylonian work “On Agriculture”, which has come down to us, lit a fire for this and threw various incense there, while reciting mysterious spells. In the rising smoke, the spirit materialized in front of them to a completely dense impenetrability. The Chaldeans believed that the souls of the dead live underground, without blood and vitality, and that spells can be used to summon them and force them to reveal their future fate to the living.

In the New Testament, first of all, from the afterlife – from paradise Elijah, from hell Moses – appeared to the Savior during His transfiguration on Mount Tabor, with three witnesses: Peter, James and John (Luke 9: 28-32).

At the moment of Christ’s death, the resurrected dead preached the resurrection of Christ. From the words of St. Matthew (27:52) shows that the resurrected were saints, and that there were many of them. Some of the ancient teachers of the Church believed that at this time of the resurrection there were patriarchs and prophets, especially those who were in a kindred union according to the flesh with Jesus Christ, such as: Abraham. Tavitz, or those who served as prototypes for Him: Ion, Melchizedek, and others. Others believed that it was difficult for the long-dead to be recognized, therefore the resurrected saints belonged to the recently deceased, such as: Simeon the God-Receiver, Anna the Prophetess, Joseph the Betrothed.

It can also be added that only those who were buried in the vicinity of Jerusalem were resurrected. The most ancient tradition says that the rocks where the coffins were located fell apart only near Jerusalem. The so-called First Gospel of Nicodemus points to the resurrection of the two sons of Simeon the God-bearer (Pascha of the Lord, Easter, Athos. ed. 1869, p. 31). Ap. Peter, at the request of weeping widows in Joppa, resurrected their dead benefactor (Acts 9:40,41).

The Apostle Thomas was given the lot to preach the gospel in India.

He was horrified that he had to go to such wild countries. The Lord appeared to him, consoled him, promising to be with him. Thomas went.

On the way he met a wealthy merchant named Avan, who was sent from the Indian king Gundafor to Palestine to find an excellent architect to build a royal palace like the palaces of the Roman Caesars. Avan told the reason for his journey, and Ap. Thomas pretended to be an architect. Avan was glad, and they went together to India. Upon arrival, Avan presented the desired architect to the king. Gundafor told the apostle his desire to have a magnificent palace in the likeness of the Romans, and Thomas volunteered to build such a palace. On that they agreed.

The apostle received a large amount of gold and silver for the building. The king went to other countries of India. The apostle began to preach the Gospel and teach the people the Christian faith, generously distributing alms to all those in need. Almost two years later, the king sent to inquire about the construction of the palace. Thomas answered that all that remained was to make the top of the palace, and for this he received a fair amount of money. Finally, the king was decisively informed that no palace was being built, but that the strange Thomas was only teaching the people the new faith and distributing the royal treasure to the poor. The king, having arrived home, was really convinced that no construction had been and was not being carried out. He immediately ordered Thomas and Avan to be taken and imprisoned, intending to bring them to a cruel execution.

At this time, the king’s brother, having heard about the sorrow of Gundafor, fell into a serious illness, and sent to tell the king that he was unable to endure the sorrow of the king and became so ill that it seemed that he would have to part with his life. The patient soon died. Then the king forgot about his sadness caused to him by St. Thomas, but mourned and wept inconsolably over the death of his beloved brother. The angel of God showed the soul of the deceased all the heavenly abodes and, bypassing all the mountain villages, showed many marvelous bright chambers of the righteous. Of all the chambers, one in particular was the best. Then the angel asked the soul: “Which chamber would you like to live in?” The soul, looking at this excellent chamber, answered: “If I were allowed to live in any corner of this chamber, I would not want anything more.”

“Not! answered the guiding angel. “You cannot live in this ward; it belongs to your brother! It was created for him by the strange Thomas, with the gold that he received from your brother to build him a royal house.

Then the soul said: “I beg you, Lord, let me go to my brother and I will buy this chamber from him, for he does not know its beauty, and then I will return here again.” The angel returned the soul to the body and the deceased was resurrected. As if awakening from a dream, he, first of all, ordered to call his brother.

When the king heard that his brother had risen, he rejoiced and did not hesitate to come. Seeing, indeed, his brother alive, the king was overjoyed. The resurrected one began to say: “King! I know for sure that you love me, your brother, and I know how bitterly you wept for me! I know, good king and brother, that you would not hesitate to give even half of your kingdom to redeem me from death! Is not it?”

“You know my love for you and did not err in hope,” the king answered. The resurrected one continued: “If you really love me so much, then I ask you for one gift, but you won’t refuse me! ..” The king answered: “Everything that is in my state, I give you, my beloved brother,” an oath promise. Then the risen one continued: “Give me your chamber, which you have in heaven, and take all my wealth for it!”

Hearing such a request, the king thought for a long time, was silent for a long time, and finally asked: “What is my chamber in heaven?” “You have such a prepared chamber in heaven,” continued the resurrected one, “which you cannot imagine, and which you have not seen and cannot see in the whole universe. This chamber was made for you by Thomas, whom you keep in prison. I saw your chamber, marveled at its indescribable beauty, and wanted to live at least in some corner of it, but the angel, who showed me everything heavenly, said: you cannot live in it, for it belongs to your brother; it was created for him by the strange Foma. I begged the angel to let me go to you to purchase this chamber. So, if you love me, give it to me, and take all my possessions for yourself.”

Then the king rejoiced doubly: both at the resurrection of his brother, and at the chamber created for him by Thomas in heaven, and said to the resurrected one: “Beloved brother! I swore not to spare anything for you that on earth is in my power, and in my power, but that I have a chamber in heaven, I did not swear to that. But if you also want to have such a chamber in heaven, then this builder is with me; he will build a similar chamber for you.” After that, it was ordered to bring the Apostle Thomas out of prison. The king himself came out to meet him and, crouching at his feet, asked for forgiveness for having sinned against him in ignorance. Then the Apostle Thomas thanked God, baptized both brothers, taught them the Christian faith. And resurrected by many alms, he also created for himself an eternal abode in heaven.

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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