Life after death

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.


It has been widely observed that great interest is being shown today in the life after death. People are intensely occupied with the mystery of death. Naturally this is connected with the so-called existential questions arising in everyone, especially in the young. They are such questions as: What am I, what is the meaning of life, where am I going after I die, is there life after the soul leaves the body, and so forth.

Of course, not only our contemporaries but, in general, people of all times and races have been concerned with these questions. Philosophers are characteristically concerned with the origin of life, the existence of the soul, the entrance of evil into the world, and death. Thus while these topics appear to be contemporary, they have always occupied man's spirit.

If we observe an increasing interest today, it is due more to the insecurity which people are feeling now. For when all the certainties are being demolished and people feel discouraged by various events, it is natural that their interest in existential questions is intensified.

The Church has always confronted such questions, especially the most fundamental problem and the greatest mystery, the mystery of death. Indeed the aim of the incarnation of Christ was to conquer the power of death and the devil. Christ's victory over death gave man the possibility that he too could conquer death within his personal life. This is achieved in the Church.

When the Church speaks of death, it is not in order to frighten the people and create panic, but to help them to overcome it. Obviously the problem of death is not easy to face in any case, nor is death a simple event. We are born corruptible and mortal. At his birth the particular person is born who is going to die. All human life is a succession of deaths. The illnesses and general corruptibility of the body indicate that we are bearing the burden of death. And our various negative reactions go back to the experience of death. So when the Church speaks of these matters it is an effective help. In place of fear and panic it spreads hope and consolation. In this way it gives joy to life.

In this book we shall confront some of the questions which concern people today, such as what is death, what is the soul, what happens when the soul leaves the body, where the soul goes after its separation from the body, whether a man's being dissolves at death, what is the purifying fire, what are Paradise and Hell, what will happen at the Second Coming of Christ, and so on.

I would like to make some general observations in this introduction.
First of all, what is said in this book is inspired by the teaching of divine Revelation as it has been manifested to the saints of each epoch and recorded both in Holy Scripture and in the lives and teachings of the holy Fathers, who themselves are bearers of the divine Revelation.

Then, in developing the separate chapters it was not possible to avoid some repetitions. For example, in dealing with the subject of the purifying fire according to St. Mark Eugenicus, it was necessary to speak of the Kingdom of God, Paradise and Hell. In the chapter "diachronic eschatology”there had to be some repetition from the previous chapters. Moreover we know that theological topics, just as this life itself, cannot be set apart absolutely and interpreted independently, in isolation.

The reader should be told that some parts of the book are more difficult to understand because they give the theological interpretation and analysis of these topics. They cannot all be simplified. When subjects are greatly simplified, they tend to be distorted and degraded. If the reader encounters a few difficulties, let him not be discouraged, but go on to where the reading becomes easier, and he will have a good understanding of the Church's position on the subject of life and death, what happens after the soul leaves the body.

In this book we examine topics which move from the soul's departure to the life after the Second Coming of Christ. This is a difficult "area”because it moves within a mystery. There are many things which we do not know; not everything is easy to interpret. We know only what Christ and the saints have revealed to us. Since I have encountered some difficultes during the writing, the reader must be forbearing.

The Church, which is the risen Body of Christ, is the place where we experience His triumphal victory over death and where we already share, as a foretaste, the Kingdom of God. It is the prayer of all of us that we may live in the Church exactly as Christ wishes, Who is its Head, so that we may attain experiences of eternal life. In that case there will be no need for intellectual analyses and logical understanding of these eschatological topics. We shall be living a diachronic eschatology.
1. The parable of the rich Man and Lazarus
"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. In hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus in his bosom. So he called to him, `Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire'.

But Abraham replied, `Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us'.

He answered, `Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment'. Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them'.

`No, father Abraham', he said, `but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent'. He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead'". (Luke 16, 19-31)

2. Interpretive analysis of the parable

In studying this famous parable of Christ one can observe many things. One can deal with its social dimensions or even draw numerous ethical and moral conclusions. However, we prefer to keep within the subjects relating to life after death. In other words, we shall concern ourselves with the eschatological analysis of the parable.

First. As we see, the parable is not about life after the Second Coming of Christ, but about the life of the soul between a person's death, when his soul leaves his body, and the Second Coming of Christ. This interval is called the intermediate state of souls. Other words spoken by Christ refer to His Second Coming, when He will come to judge men. Before that, bodily resurrection will take place, when the souls will enter their bodies again, and a person can enjoy the things that he did in his lifetime.

Second. It points out that death exists in man's life.

The Rich Man and poor Lazarus died. Death is separation of the soul from the body. This state is also called sleep, because death was overcome by the Resurrection of Christ. Christ overcame death ontologically by His Passion, His Cross and His Resurrection, and He gave man the possibility of transcending it by living in the Church. The fact that death is a sleep, a temporary state, appears from the way in which saints die, for they all have hope in Christ, and it can be seen in their uncorrupted and wonder-working relics.

God did not create death, but death has inserted itself into nature, as a fruit of man's sin and his withdrawal from God. There is death of the body and death of the soul. Death of the soul is the removal of the grace of God from the soul, and death of the body is the separation of the soul from the body.

All people taste the terrible mystery of death, since we all inherit corruptibility and mortality. In other words, we are born to die. Death is the surest, most certain event in our life. Even contemporary existentialist philosophers say that the truest fact is "existence towards death".

Although death is the surest event, the day and hour of death are uncertain. No one knows when he will die. The point is to live right, so that the how of death may be eternal life.

In the text of the parable it says: "The time came when the beggar died...", and "the rich man also died and was buried".

Thus death is the greatest democrat, for it makes no exceptions.

Third. After Lazarus' soul left his body, it was received by the angels and carried to Abraham's bosom. This means that there are angels and, of course, each person's guardian angel as his personal protector, who receive the souls of the just and take them to God.

By contrast, another parable says that the demons receive the souls of unrepentant sinners. The foolish rich man heard a voice from God: "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you; then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Lk. 12, 20). The verb `demand' suggests the demons, who claim the soul of the sinful person in order to control it forever.

Therefore, at the terrible hour of death, when the soul is forcibly separated from its harmony with the body, dreadful things happen. The angels receive the souls of the saints, and the demons receive the souls of sinners. The teaching of the Fathers of the Church speaks of the `customs houses', which are the demons, the aerial spirits which desire and attempt to rule the souls of all people forever. Of course the souls of the saints, which have been united with Christ and bear the seal of the Holy Spirit, cannot be controlled by the demons.

When the Fathers of the Church speak of the customs houses, they mean both the hatred and aggressive fury of the demons and the existence of the passions, which seek satisfaction but cannot be satisfied because of the non-existence of the body. It is just this condition that suffocates the soul, which feels a terrible anguish. This torment of the soul is like the complete solitary confinement of a person in prison without any possibility of sleeping, eating, meeting anyone, and so forth. Then his passions and his whole being are really infuriated.

The fact that men's souls are received by angels or by demons is relative to their condition. As the Fathers say, angels and souls are noetic spirits in comparison with the material body, but in comparison with God they have something material. So the angels are called ethereal beings, they are not entirely immaterial. Furthermore, the soul is a creature, which means that it is created by God. It is immortal by grace, for immortality is God's gift to it. Every creature has a beginning and an end. Since the soul is created, it has a definite beginning, but it has no end, for God willed it so.

Fourth. While Lazarus' soul went to Abraham's bosom and the Rich Man's soul went to hades, Christ says in the parable that Lazarus went to Abraham's bosom and this particular Rich Man went to hades. Then it says that the Rich Man "saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom".

This is very significant, because it means that in spite of the separation of the soul from the body, the hypostasis, or substance or person, is not lost. Indeed the soul did not exist before the body, but it was created at the same time as the body, and yet neither soul nor body alone constitutes the man. Nevertheless, in spite of the temporary separation of the soul from the body, the man is not lost. This is seen from the fact that the soul maintains consciousness and, as the Fathers explain, a man's soul recognises the elements of his own body which remain in the earth and are probably scattered or broken up into the elements of which they were composed. At the Second Coming, by the grace of God the soul will reunite the elements of his body, the whole man will be formed, and of course then the bodies of both the just and the unjust will be spiritual, that is to say they will not need food, nor will they be limited by distances and other restrictions. Resurrection is a gift granted to all people, just and unjust.

It should be noted that in this parable Christ mentions the name of the poor man but does not know the Rich Man's name. This signifies that because Lazarus lived with God, he was soteriologically a person, a true hypostasis, whereas the Rich Man, although he was a man, had no hypostasis soteriologically. This means that a real man is one who has a soul and a body but also the grace of God in his soul and body. Although a man who does not have the Holy Spirit is ontologically a person, he is not a person in relation to God, for the very simple reason that he has become enslaved to things. Instead of turning to God, his nous turns to matter and is enslaved by it.

Fifth. The parable says that the Rich Man, finding himself in hades, saw Abraham "and Lazarus in his bosom". The person of Abraham is understood as meaning God. To be in the bosom of God means to be in communion with God.

In the bosom, behind the chest, is the heart of man. The heart, which is the source of biological life, is a symbol of love. The greater the love, the greater the knowledge, since knowledge is closely linked with love. Indeed this love constitutes communion and union. Thus for a person to be in the bosom means that he is linked with the loved one, that there is unity between them.

So the expression that Lazarus is in Abraham's bosom points graphically to his communion with God, which is connected with spiritual knowledge and love. When we speak of knowledge of God we mean "communion in being". It is not cerebral knowledge, but the knowledge that is connected with love, with this very life.

Lazarus does not seem to be troubled about the terrible hardship of the Rich Man. He does not see hades, while the Rich Man does see the glory of Paradise. Actually a person who lives in the uncreated Light, in the great vision of God, as our Fathers say, forgets the world. The Light is so great, so dazzling that it does not even allow one to see anything else. This does not mean that the saints do not pray for the whole world. They pray and entreat God, for they do indeed have greater communion with Him. However, they are in a state which we cannot comprehend. Only if we look into the divine experiences of the saints can we grasp it.

Sixth. While Lazarus was in Abraham's bosom, the Rich Man was burning in hades. Indeed he would ask Abraham to send Lazarus to cool his tongue, because, as he expressed himself, "I am tormented in this flame".

Here hades, not Hell, is being referred to. For Hell will begin after the Second Coming of Christ and the future judgement, while the souls of sinners experience hades after their departure from the body. According to the teaching of the holy Fathers, hades is an intelligible place, it is the foretaste of Hell, when a person receives the caustic energy of God.

There was a great discussion about these matters at the Council of Ferrara-Florence, and the views of Mark Eugenicus, which were revealing, have been preserved. The fire in which the Rich Man was burning was not what the Latins called the purifying fire, or `purgatory' that all people's souls pass through. It was not a created fire, but uncreated. That is to say, even sinners receive the rays of divine Light, but since they die unrepentant, without being cured, they experience the burning energy of the Light. Thus, according to the degree of their cure or illness, people receive the same grace either as light or as fire.

It should also be observed that the Rich Man saw Abraham with Lazarus in his bosom. He saw the glory of Abraham, but he had no share in this glory. By contrast, Lazarus both saw it and participated in it. This is a very significant point, for it shows that in that other life everyone will see God, but the righteous will have communion, participation, while the sinners will not. A characteristic example is what Christ said about the coming judgement. All will see the Judge, all will converse with Him, but some will enjoy His glory and others will experience the caustic energy of divine grace.

Seventh. The Rich Man was concerned about his brothers living in the world and asked Abraham to send Lazarus to preach repentance to them. Therefore in spite of the separation of a man's soul from the present world, there is knowledge and social interest.

This fact, along with other elements, shows what we said before, that the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus does not refer to the life after Christ's Second Coming, but to the life up to the Second Coming. Clearly it is about the so-called intermediate state of souls.

The saints are interested in the salvation of the world. By the grace of God they hear our prayers and lift them up to God. That is why we pray to our saints. By the feasts which we have dedicated to their memory we show that they are saints, that they have been united to God, that they await the resurrection of their bodies, which they are already receiving, with their imperishability, the prelude of the age to come. We too are concerned for those who have fallen asleep. We pray to the saints to pray to God for us, we ask for their intercessions, while we pray to God to have mercy on all the others who have fallen asleep. This, apart from being evidence of communication among us, at the same time expresses something else that is deeper.

According to the teaching of the holy Fathers, when a person enters into repentance, the stage of purification, he progresses continually. Perfecting continues both in the `intermediate' stage and in the life after the Second Coming. The stages of the spiritual life are purification, illumination and deification. These are not to be conceived as water-tight states, but as degrees of participation in the grace of God. If a person is struggling to be purified, the grace of God which is purifying him is called purifying energy. When the nous is illuminated, it means that it is receiving the energy of God which illuminates it, and this is called illuminating energy. And when he is in the process of deification, this happens by the grace of God which is called deifying. The process is continuous. Thus those who have repented before their soul's departure from the body, progress and become increasingly receptive to uncreated grace. Therefore we hold memorial services and pray for those who have fallen asleep.

However, since those who did not repent before their soul left the body do not have spiritual vision, they experience only the caustic energy of God and will never participate in the good. But we pray for all, because we do not know their inner spiritual condition.

Eighth. It says in the parable that there was a "great gulf” between hades, where the Rich Man was, and the place where Abraham was, and that it was not possible to pass from one to the other.

Of course this is not a question of particular places, but as we said before, it refers to particular ways of life. There is a clear difference between Paradise and Hell as particular ways of life.

Paradise and Hell do not exist in God's view, but in man's view. God sends His grace to all men, since "He makes His sun rise on the just and the unjust and sends His rain on the evil and the good". If God gives us a command to love all people, even our enemies, He does the same Himself. It is impossible not to love sinners as well. But each person feels God's love differently, according to his spiritual condition.

Light has two properties, illuminating and caustic. If one person has good vision, he benefits from the illuminating property of the sun, the light, and he enjoys the whole creation. But if another person is deprived of his eye, if he is without sight, then he feels the caustic property of light. This will be so in the future life too, as well as in the life of the soul after it leaves the body. God will also love the sinners, but they will be unable to perceive this love as light. They will perceive it as fire, since they will not have a spiritual eye and spiritual vision.

Something similar applies to Holy Communion. All can take part, but for those who are prepared and fit it is light and life, for those who approach unworthily it is judgement and condemnation.

The Church shows this in the iconography of the Second Coming. There we see the saints in the light that comes from the throne of God; and from the same throne springs the river of fire, where the unrepentant sinners are.

Therefore in the Orthodox Church we attach great importance to man's healing. The Church is a spiritual Hospital, a sanatorium that cures the spiritual eye, which is the nous. It is ill and must be cured. This is the whole work of the Church.

Ninth. Abraham, who did not comply with the Rich Man's plea to send Lazarus to earth and exhort his brothers to repent, justified his position by saying that if people do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, "they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead".

A carnal man cannot repent, however many miracles he may see in his life. He lives in a deathly sleep. This is a fact. If man's freedom is not activated, there is no repentance. Everything takes place by the energy of God and the cooperation of man.

The greatest fact in history is the incarnation of Christ, His Resurrection, and the establishment of the Church, which is the Body of the risen incarnate God-man Christ. If a man cannot be inspired by this staggering reality, if he cannot be persuaded by the lives of so many saints who are members of the risen Body of Christ, he will not be persuaded by the greatest miracle.

The salvation and rebirth of a man is not a matter of conjuring actions, but a fruit of the free expression of his will, a fruit of suffering, struggle and much hard work. Unfortunately, many people of our time content themselves with magical, external events. To be convinced of the existence of the other life is a matter of inner spiritual sensitivity. For even if someone should rise from the dead it could be misconstrued as fantasy.

Much is being said today about so-called `after-death' experiences. Some people claim that their soul had left their body or was approaching the way out and then came back to the body. They recount all the terrible things that they saw and faced.

In the Orthodox Church we say that there have been cases in which the soul came back to the body. In other words, they were resurrected by the power of Christ. These, however, are exceptional cases; they do not happen to everyone. There are saints who had terrible experiences, when in their personal lives they knew Hell and Paradise, experienced the flames of hades, saw angels and demons. When they returned to themselves, they lived a life of repentance and preached repentance to others. However, we say that most of these experiences are demonic or are the fruits of repressed experiences, or they are fantasies, or the results of sedative and narcotic drugs given to prevent suffering in the frightful ordeal of their illnesses. There is certainly need for great discernment in order to be able to distinguish these states, whether they come from God, from the devil or from psychological and somatic anomalies.

We in the Church do not wait for resurrections of saints or experiences of such states in order to believe. We have Holy Scripture, the lives of the Prophets, Apostles and saints, we have their words and their teachings, as well as their holy relics, and we believe that there is eternal life. At times each of us is granted by God to experience in his heart what is Hell and what is Paradise.

Beyond these things, we keep Christ's commandments in order to be cured, so that we can solve many existential, interpersonal, social and ecological problems. To abide by God's commandments makes us balanced people.

Tenth. The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus suggests the method which we should use in order to be cured and thus, after death and after the Second Coming of Christ, to experience God as light and not as fire. Abraham said to the Rich Man: "they have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them". We should observe the law and obey the Prophets of every epoch.

A Prophet is one who by the grace of God sees the mysteries of the coming age, who already tastes the Kingdom of God. There were such Prophets in both the Old and New Testaments. They themselves received the Revelation, they themselves lived the Kingdom of God, became acquainted with its mysteries and then revealed them to the people.

The Prophets, who are identified with the real theologians and spiritual fathers, renew the people and guide them towards life. Spiritual guidance is connected and identified with man's spiritual rebirth. Actually one cannot be reborn without having been associated with a deified person, a Prophet.

Even in our time there are Prophets who preach repentance, turn our hearts towards God, and recommend another way of thinking and living. Even if we have not been able to meet such a Prophet, there are the words of the Prophets, and by reading them we can learn what the Kingdom of God is and what we should do to attain it.

These general thoughts, which are the basic points in orthodox eschatology, have been formulated here very briefly, in a simple way. The reader can find the detailed analysis of these topics, documented by the teaching of the holy Fathers, in the chapters which follow. With these basic points in view he will also understand what he is going to read.

The separation of the soul from the body is truly a great mystery. We have seen what happens when this time is approaching, just what is happening when the soul finds itself at the border point, that is, when it is preparing to go out of the body, and what follows after its departure. These are mysteries which Christ revealed to us and the saints of our Church attested. In the lives of saints we find many examples relating to these crucial questions.

The Latins developed the theory of the purifying fire, that the souls of all men, righteous and unrighteous, will pass through what they call purgatory after leaving their bodies. The patristic tradition speaks of purifying the heart, but that has a different meaning. The Latins' theory of purgatory is a misinterpretation and distortion of the relative passages in Holy Scripture and the Fathers of the Church and has been used for other purposes.

We would do well to look at the difference between the Orthodox and the Latins on the subject of purgatory. It is one of the topics which concern us in this book.

In the Council of Ferrrara-Florence (1438-1439), which took place for the purpose of `uniting' the Churches, among other topics the subject of the purifying fire was taken up, and the difference between the Orthodox and the Latins on this point came to the fore there. We shall now follow this discussion, as well as the views of St. Mark Eugenicus, for they are quite interesting.

I feel we need to make a few essential clarifying observations at the start.

First, the whole subject will be approached on the basis of the teaching of St. Mark Eugenicus, who was the protagonist on the Orthodox side at the Council, the final decisions of which were not accepted by the Orthodox Church.

Secondly, before we develop St. Mark's teaching in detail, we should look historically at how the Council began and how the subject was approached. Without this explanation it will be difficult to follow his teaching.

Thirdly, since we shall be looking particularly at the views of St. Mark Eugenicus on the subject of the purifying fire, in connection with Hell and Paradise, we shall not make many references to other Fathers of the Church. Furthermore, the related topics of Paradise, Hell, the Kingdom of God and eternal life will be analysed in other chapters of this book. It may be that repetitions on these subjects, as they are inescapable, will help us to consolidate our knowledge about these serious questions.

1. The discussions at Ferrara-Florence about the purifying fire.

The question of purgatory was the first to be discussed between the Orthodox and the Latins at Ferrara. The festive assembly of this Council began on the 9th of April, 1438, but the discussions took place later, in June of the same year. We shall follow these discussions according to the official Greek records of the Council and with the information provided by Syropoulos, which is authentic.

Among the existing differences betwen the "Churches"it was preferred to begin with the question of purgatory. The representative of the Latins, Cardinal Julian Caesarini, said that they should begin by first examining the Pope's rule, that is to say, his primacy, but he considered it better to talk "about the purifying fire, so that we too might be purifed by the words about it". St. Mark Eugenicus agreed with this view but he wanted to find out where the Latins acquired these traditions, how long they had believed them and just what their view was on this subject.

Before beginning the discussions about the purifying fire, or `purgatory', St. Mark asked Emperor John Palaeologus how he would like the answers to the Latins to be given, "combatively and stubbornly or diplomatically?". The Emperor's reply was "say all our right things combatively". This is significant because, as we shall see in what follows, he preferred another method, the method of conciliation, for in the event St. Mark was compelled to be silent during the dialogue on the purifying fire.

In fact it was on the fourth of June that the two delegations met to examine this question. The views of the Latins were set forth by Cardinal Julian. Concretely, he said: "There is a purifying fire, that is to say, in the present age the souls of sinners having pardonable sins are purified by fire, with the cooperation of the Church through the priests' prayers, and furthermore they are released from punishments through almsgivings and charities".

More analytically, he said that there are three places and categories. One is that of the saints, whose souls are in heaven after death, the second is that of the sinners and the unrepentant, who are in hades, like the soul of Judas, and there is another, intermediate place where the souls of those men are who have forgivable sins because they have confessed and received Communion, but who also "owe a debt of penance". The souls of these people pass through the purifying fire.

According to Syropoulos, Cardinal Julian said among other things that the souls of those who repented and confessed sincerely, but did not have time to fulfil the penance which their spiritual father set, and did not give fruits of repentance to atone for their sins, "are cleansed by the purifying fire, some more quickly, some more slowly, according to the sins which they committed, and after the cleansing they depart for spiritual enjoyment".

The Latins expressed these views, taking various passages from Scripture and the Fathers of the Church. From Holy Scripture they quoted the Apostle Paul's words that "each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire" (1 Cor. 3, 13-15). Likewise he used many passages from the holy Fathers of the Church.

From these views three things are shown clearly. First, that in speaking of the purifying fire the Latins distinguished it clearly from the everlasting fire, because they spoke of a fire "in the present age", before the Second Coming of Christ. Secondly, that this fire is in reality created, it is not the uncreated energy of God, and thirdly, that the souls of men are purified by this fire. We shall look at the views of the Orthodox in the dialogue, but chiefly in the teaching of St. Mark Eugenicus which we shall present in another section of this chapter.

After Cardinal Julian set forth his views, St. Mark spoke. Sylvestre Syropoulos reports, among other things, that St. Mark said that until then they had thought that the Latins professed other things, but now different things were being heard. Indeed he said incisively: "For from the account by your reverence I find the difference between us in this summary to be slight, and I hope that even that will be corrected, please God. "Naturally, as Syropoulos says, he said this diplomatically in order to create a friendly atmosphere. In any case he asked for their views in writing in order that he might give his answer.

In the official records which Mansi presents, immediately after what was said in this first session is recorded all that was discussed in the following session, which took place on the fourteenth of June, when the Orthodox gave their response. Syropoulos preserves an event which shows the whole prevailing mentality, but also presents vividly why St. Mark refrained from giving an answer at these sessions, while Metropolitan Nikaias Vissarion undertook to state the Orthodox view.

Endless discussions were going on among the Orthodox about what reply they should give to the views of the Latins about the purifying fire. Finally St. Mark and Nikaias Vissarion each wrote a text, which were read in a meeting of the Orthodox. The Emperor made a choice between the two writings. He gave orders to take the preamble of Vissarion's writing and whatever else seemed useful from it, and to take the most and best from St. Mark's, and thus to put together the "writing to be offered". It was then that "the scandal between the Ephesian and Nikaias began".

Vissarion undertook to speak, but others also must have intervened because, it says in the records, "the Greeks were defending themselves in those matters". However, it seems from what Syropoulos informs us, that at the beginning Nikaias Vissarion gave the main speech. Syropoulos says that St. Mark wrote very good words refuting the views of the Latins. The Latins demanded that St. Mark should answer and give the view and teaching of the Orthodox Church concerning those who depart through death. But St. Mark "did not do it, having been forbidden to speak by the emperor". The Latins insisted on finding out why St. Mark said nothing, and called on him to speak. But the saint "was hard pressed by the imperial command, prevented as if by some bridle and was in difficulty". Then Vissarion undertook to speak, and in fact he moved away from the place where he was sitting with St. Mark "and sat in the same place where the aforesaid leading officials were sitting".

This incident too shows St. Mark's difficult position, since he was on the one hand required by the Emperor not to speak, and on the other hand he became the object of Vissarion's jealousy and hatred. Nevertheless St. Mark gave successful answers throughout the discussion that followed. Syropoulos writes: "We wondered how the Ephesian immediately gave the solutions with graphic descriptions, without knowing beforehand what John intended to propose".

But let us follow the interesting dialogue which took place at Ferrara between the Orthodox and the Latins about the purifying fire.

Vissarion received a command from the emperor to answer the views of the Latins. He began by analysing the apostolic passage: "If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire" (I Cor. 3, 13-15). The works which are going to be burned, he said, are the deeds and life of the people who have lived in this world. The fire spoken about in the apostolic passage is the eternal fire of the age to come and there is no question of any other fire. "That fire spoken of by the apostle is about the age to come, not about the present". Likewise the verb "will be saved"does not indicate salvation, restoration, but "will not be destroyed". This means that the sinner will not be destroyed, but he will remain "in torment in the fire eternally".

The Latins maintained that there is both a fire in the present age by which purification of the soul takes place, and fire in the age to come, which is not purifying but everlasting. Likewise they said that the fire in the present age is universal, that is to say, "all are purified by the fire". He who has many sins is purified for a long time, while he who has few sins "gets off with less, with the Church cooperating as well".

The answers of the Latins justify St. Mark, who, when he heard the initial introduction by Cardinal Julian, had said that the advice given for the teaching of the Latins about the purifying fire was different from that heard in this introduction. As it seems there is a difference. The fact is that during the discussion it was demonstrated that they were speaking of two fires, present and future ones, and that all men pass through the purifying fire.

The Orthodox then answered that in the Orthodox Church there is no distinction between an eternal and a present fire. In the Orthodox interpretation of the apostolic passage the eternal fire is meant, the souls of the sinners enter a dark place, a place of sorrow "and they grieve in part and they are punished, being deprived of the divine light", but they are purified through the entreaties and prayers of the Church. This purification and revival does not happen through any existing fire, but by the work of prayer, entreaty and charity.

In the course of the discussions two differences between the Orthodox and the Latins came to light. The first is that the Orthodox were speaking of a place of punishment and grief, but not of fire, while the Latins were speaking of "punishment and purification through fire". The second difference lies in the fact that the Orthodox said that the souls of unrepentant sinners do not receive their final punishment now, since they are also waiting for the resurrection of their bodies, just as the souls of the saints receive the good things now, "but not completely". They will receive the good things completely when at the resurrection of the bodies their souls are united with their bodies. The Latins were saying that the souls of sinners are not punished finally, since they too await their bodies in order to be punished with their bodies eternally, but the souls of the saints "have received the perfect crown in heaven", yet they will then rejoice forever "when they have been clothed in their bodies".

The Latins asked for the Orthodox views in writing in order to think them over and discuss them later. In fact there were also other meetings to discuss this subject, as on the twenty-fifth of June and the twenty-seventh of the same month.

A central topic in these first meetings was the apostolic passage which speaks of salvation "as through fire". The Orthodox based themselves on St. John Chrysostom's interpretation of the passage which we shall see in the next section when we develop in detail St. Mark's teaching about the purifying fire. At any rate, when the Latins returned to the discussion, they maintained that the verb 'is saved' and `save' "is said for the good and not for the bad". They were referring to the scriptural passages in which it appears that to be saved means "salvation, and help, and redemption of the evil ones, and revival". David's saying is characteristic "my God, save thy servant whose hope is in thee", as well as the cry of the Apostle Peter when he was sinking, "Lord save me". The Orthodox opposed this with other passages with a different meaning.

In this first phase of the discussions the Orthodox did not want to disclose all their teaching on the subject, "but only to put the questions and answers obliquely". In this way they wanted to prolong the labours of the Council "until the ambassadors should come from the kings". A deputation had been sent from the Pope to the kings of Venice for help to be sent to Constantinople, where they were in great trouble. For this reason the Orthodox prolonged the discussions and did not completely and fully express their views.

Nevertheless the Orthodox were discussing among themselves "whether the saints were receiving the good things completely, or not". This was being discussed on the sixteenth of July 1438. The Emperor wanted their views in writing, and indeed there was "a great dispute about this". Finally the view prevailed "that they were and were not receiving: the souls as souls were receiving completely, and they will also receive more completely in the resurrection with their own bodies, and then they will shine like the sun, or as the light which our Lord Jesus Christ radiated on Mt. Tabor".

The discussion about the purifying fire continued also in Florence, to which the seat of the Council was transferred. We shall not examine in this section everything that was discussed there, but only what was said about the purifying fire, which was one of the topics discussed. In Florence they ended with a recommendation which seems to be conciliatory. According to this proposal "the souls of the righteous, as souls, have completely received their crown in heaven, and the souls of sinners the complete punishment: and those in the middle exist in a place of torment, which is either fire or darkness and tumult, or something else, we do not disagree".

This proposal is conciliatory because it seems that in their discussions the Latins came back again to the same things. The Latins offered a written text with the proposal that the Orthodox should agree and sign it, and then "let there be unity". In this text it says concerning the purifying fire, that this fire exists and is received by those who have repented and confessed. One interesting sentence is important in showing the difference between the Latins and the Orthodox. The Latins maintained that the order of saints which does not need to pass through the purifying fire "sees the essence of God immediately". Likewise they affirmed that all who have been purified, since they have passed through the purifying fire, will also be deemed worthy of "seeing the essence of God directly".

Here the Franco-Latins' view is presented that the saints see the essence of God, whereas in the Orthodox Tradition there is a distinction between the essence and energy of God, and it is said clearly that men share the uncreated energy of God and not His essence. The fact that the teaching which was set forth at the Council of Ferrara-Florence is speaking of a temporary purifying fire, which purifies a man and leads him to participation in the essence of God, shows that the purifying fire, according to the Latins, is a created reality and that man can attain participation in the essence of God. However, in the Orthodox teaching we are well aware that purification comes from the purifying uncreated energy of God, and illumination and theosis are participation in the illuminating and deifying energy of God and not in His essence.

It seems, then, that the teaching about the purifying fire is not unrelated to the heretical identification of the essence and energy of God, which is the central error of the Latins and their main divergence from the theology of the Fathers. In fact, if one examines carefully all the differences between the Latins and the Orthodox, one will see clearly that they come down to one, to the truth concerning the essence and energy of God.

In the unofficial conversations which the Orthodox had with the Latins, the text of which was given to be signed so that there would be unity after that, the Orthodox were ready to accept their proposal about the purifying fire, but not to defend their point "concerning the divine essence and energy". In the Greek report it says: "They were trying to coerce us to accept what was written: but we, not having an imperial command, could not accept it".

There were many discussions about the purifying fire. While agreement was reached on other questions, they still disagreed about the purifying fire and the consecration of the divine gifts. At one point the Orthodox did say: "We are not divided about the purifying fire, nor do we need to be". The Latins wanted to make the topic of the purifying fire the condition for agreement and unity. There were members of the Orthodox delegation who also wanted to add the subject of the purifying fire to the condition for completing this task, but the emperor opposed it. Finally it was made a stipulation of the Council that the righteous immediately at their death are taken into heaven; those who have fallen into mortal sin without repenting "go straight to hades", and the souls of those who have sinned and repented without having managed to give worthy fruits of repentance "are purified after death". Through the prayers of the living, through the holy offerings and charities, their souls are relieved and freed from punishments.

Of course this stipulation was not signed by St. Mark Eugenicus, nor by some who agreed with him, nor also by some who had left Florence previously. The "unity of the Churches"which came about at Ferrara-Florence was not realised in the end, and this was a great blessing for Orthodoxy. The Orthodox people, clergy and laity who lived the Orthodox Tradition, opposed this unity and consequently the things that had been signed about the purifying fire were not accepted.

It is noteworthy that the Council of 1722 in Constantinople, in an encyclical to the Orthodox of Antioch, referred, among other things, to the subject of the purifying fire. It is a synodal text which is very important and valuable.

It says that while the Latins affirm that there are three places to which the souls of the dead go, "we the godly, following the truth and turning away from such innovations, confess and accept two places for the souls of the dead, paradise and hell, for the righteous and sinners, as the holy Scripture teaches us. We do not accept a third place, a purgatory, by any means, since neither Scripture nor the holy Fathers have taught us any such thing. However, we believe that these two places have many abodes... None of the teachers of the Church have handed down or taught such a purgatory, but they all speak of one single place of punishment, hades, just as they teach about one luminous and bright place, paradise. But both places also have different abodes as we said; and since the souls of the holy and righteous go indisputably to paradise and those of the sinners go to hell, of whom the profane and those who have sinned unforgivably are punished forever and those who have offended forgivably and moderately hope to gain freedom through the unspeakable mercy of God. For on behalf of such souls, that is of the moderately and forgivably sinful, there are in the Church prayers, supplications, liturgies, as well as memorial services and almsgiving, that those souls may receive favour and comfort. Thus when the Church prays for the souls of those who are lying asleep, we hope that there will be comfort for them from God, but not through fire and purgatory, but through divine love for mankind, whereby the infinite goodness of God is seen".

From what has been said it is clear that in the Latins' teaching about the purifying fire there are two interesting points which show how it differs from orthodox teaching. One is that a purifying fire is distinguished from the eternal fire of hell, a notion which is nowhere in Holy Scripture and the Patristic tradition. The second is that because it is said that through the purifying fire people attain a vision of the essence of God, and since in the teaching of the Latins essence is identified with energy - for they speak of `actus purus' and created energy - therefore the 'purifying fire' is created. We shall see later on what kind of presuppositions this teaching of the Latins is based and what consequences it has for the spiritual life. However, it must be noted that it differs clearly from the theology of the Fathers of the Church.
2. The teaching of St. Mark Eugenicus about the purifying fire
St. Mark, Metropolitan of Ephesus, was one of the protagonists at the Council of Ferrara-Florence, expressing the orthodox patristic teaching on all the subjects. Anyone studying his teaching will be manifestly convinced that it is an expression of orthodox teaching and in the main is an expression of the theology of St. Gregory Palamas. At this point we can look at the value of his theology.

It was natural for him to be concerned with the purifying fire and to express the orthodox views on this subject. Since what he said is interesting and has a bearing on many theological questions related to it, we shall make a broad analysis of them.

The things we are going to analyse are in two of St. Mark's homilies which have been preserved - homilies which he delivered in debates at the Council of Ferrara - as well as some chapters which sum up all his teaching and in which he rejected the teaching of the Latins about the existence of the purifying fire.

The first homily bears the title: "Refutation of the Latin chapters which they proposed concerning the purgatorial fire, by the Very Reverend Metropolitan of Ephesus Mark Eugenicus". As it seems, this is a discourse which St. Mark wrote just after the topic was set, but after the command was given by the Emperor. The second sermon is entitled: "Second defence addressed to the Latins in which is also set forth the true doctrine of the Church of the Greeks, by the most wise and learned Mark the Noble of Ephesus". The chapters are entitled: "Ten considerations showing that there is no purifying fire".

Indeed it is difficult to present analytically the whole teaching of St. Mark on this subject. A special treatise would be needed to analyse all the views. However, in what follows I shall attempt to set forth the general positions he takes about the purifying fire, trying not to distort their content. I consider it important because, unfortunately, we know very little about the subject of the purifying fire, and in many respects what is presented does not fully express the orthodox view on the subject.

a) Dogmatic discussion is needed
In the beginning of his second homily St. Mark underlines the need for a genuine investigation of the dogmatic themes which are in doubt. He writes characteristically: "There is truly a need for much research and discussion of all that is doubtful in the dogmas, and for words that are in each case firm and genuine".

The research on doubtful dogmatic topics must be with truth, without underhandedness, always employing the firmest arguments. Such a discussion will be very profitable, for the truth will be revealed. Naturally the saint maintains that the profit will be great if both sides aim at a search for the truth and not at strife and if they are not interested in winning by all means, but also at being tolerant and accepting defeat with good grace. This was a reproach to the Latins, who were pursuing just the opposite. They were seeking not the truth about the purifying fire, but simply, as also on other subjects, to impose their views.

Referring to the apostolic Council which was called to determine whether Gentile Christians should be circumcised, and especially to the discussion which took place among the Apostles, but also to the harmony in the meeting, he says that they themselves too in these conversations should aim at peace and harmony, even if there should be much discussion.

So this is the way the discussion of dogmas should take place when there are arguments and when there is interest in peace and harmony. But if strife prevails, and an attempt to enforce every view, there can be no benefit. This moderation is necessary for every discussion of dogma. For if the Holy Spirit does not act, if peace does not prevail during the discussions, then it is impossible for the truth to be found.
b) Paradise and Hell exist .
The Latins' teaching about the purifying fire is related to the teaching about Paradise and Hell, and that is why this subject is discussed.

St. Mark dismisses the existence of the purifying fire, arguing from the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus told by Christ. The soul of Lazarus is in Abraham's bosom, while the rich man's soul is in hades. In this parable, as St. Mark says, the Lord uses Abraham's bosom to indicate "the extremely happy ending of the friends of God", and he uses hades to present "the final condemnation of the tormented and the eternal punishment of sinners". Of course in this parable Christ "did not leave between these two another place with some temporary torment". Consequently there are Paradise and hades and there is not some other temporary place of torment. Moreover according to this parable there is a great gulf between Paradise and hades.

Nowhere in Holy Scripture does it appear that directly after the soul's departure from the body we have Paradise, Hell and a purifying fire. When a person's soul is released from his body to be bodiless and immaterial, "it is not logical that it should be tormented by a bodily fire", since his body is decayed. But after the resurrection, when his soul has come back into his incorruptible body and all creation has been changed and after the fire has been divided, that is to say, its illumination and its burning are separated, then the person will taste everlasting hell, just as do the demons, because they too have some matter and are clothed in a grossness and have aerial bodies and fires. Therefore only Paradise and Hell exist and nothing between them. The foretaste of them begins at the departure of the soul from the body.

It is true that Holy Scripture speaks of hades before the incarnation of Christ and before the abolition of death by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. But Hades as described in Holy Scripture cannot be identified with the purifying fire of the Latins. Hades is an intelligible place, because souls do not have form. The souls of the righteous are kept in hades until the coming of the Saviour only because of the ancestral sin, "not as in fire and torment at any rate, but as in bondage and prison". Therefore it is not a question of a purifying fire, as the Latins teach.

That there should be some kind of purifying temporary fire between Paradise and Hell is connected, in some way, with the teaching about the restoration of all things, since it cultivates indolence in the lazy. The restoration of all things and the end of eternal Hell, as Origen taught and passed on to some early church writings as well, was repudiated and anathematised by the Fifth Ecumenical Council because it made lazy people lazier, as they counted on deliverance from the torments. In the same way also the teaching about a purifying fire should be dismissed by the Church since it cultivates the impression that it is not necessary to struggle in the present life, for there will be another purification. "So these are the reasons why the proposed dogma of the purifying fire should be dismissed by the church as making earnest people lazy and persuading them not to struggle by all means to purify themselves in the present life, since another purification is expected".

In analysing the subject of Paradise and Hell, St. Mark, also expressing the teaching of the Church, says that neither do the righteous after death possess that blissful state completely, nor are the sinners led to everlasting torment, where they will be tormented for ever, but both of these things "will necessarily take place after the Judgement of that last day and the resurrection of all". Now both the righteous and the sinners "are in places proper to them": the righteous, in absolute repose and free, are in heaven with the angels and have a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven, whereas sinners are shut into hades, waiting with discomfort and inconsolable grief, like condemned men awaiting the Judge's sentence and foreseeing eternal torment.

From the teaching of St. Mark it appears that there is no intermediate state of souls, as the Latins maintained, in the sense that between Paradise and Hell a middle place, a purifying fire, intervenes, but he supports an intermediate state of souls from the point of view that after the soul's departure from the body, the righteous await the final pleasure of Paradise, and the sinners await the final decision of the Judge and the final torment. But the enjoyment of the vision of God by the righteous after the soul's departure from the body is at a greater depth than in the present life. He writes that after death the righteous enjoy the blessed vision of God "and the radiance from it more completely and purely than in their former experience".

In order to support this view St. Mark uses many passages from Holy Scripture and the Fathers of the Church. In the final judgement, which will be after the Second Coming of Christ, the righteous will hear the words: "Come, blessed ones of my father and inherit the kingdom prepared for you". This means that they had not yet inherited it directly after the departure of their soul from the body. Besides, if they had inherited it, there would have been no need for the resurrection of the bodies, the coming of the Judge and that dread and universal judgement to take place.

Likewise the Apostle Paul writes: "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5, 10). This means that before that Judgement seat and before we appear before Christ, and especially after the soul is living without the body, no one receives "what is due him for the things done while in the body".

On being asked whether, after the soul's departure from the body, the righteous enjoy the good things and the sinners hell, Athanasius the Great answered "Not at all, but this joy which the souls of the saints have now is partial enjoyment, just as the sorrow which sinners have is partial hell".

And St. Mark concludes by saying that neither are the righteous enjoying completely those eternal good things, nor have the sinners received complete condemnation and been sent to Hell. Moreover, before the resurrection of their bodies they are incomplete "and like cut in two and without a body". Only after the souls' entrance into their incorruptible bodies will they receive the prizes and praises of the contests.

Therefore, between the Paradise and Hell which the righteous and sinners receive in advance directly after the soul’s departure from the body, after biological death, there is no other created purifying fire. This dogma of the Latins about a created purifying fire cannot be supported in the tradition of the Church.
c) There is no purifying fire.
What has been said is not the only argument for the non-existence of the purifying fire. A bearer of the Orthodox Tradition, St. Mark, with unbending arguments demolishes the theories of the Latins and presents the orthodox view on the subject.

At first he maintains that nowhere in holy Scripture or in the patristic tradition is anything said about the existence of a purifying fire. Where there is a reference to this subject, the uncreated and eternal fire is meant, which the sinners will taste after the Second Coming of Christ. But we shall speak of this further on. Here it must be pointed out that the teaching of the Latins about the purifying fire before the Second Coming of Christ is not supported, and indeed cannot be proven from Holy Scripture.

The view that it is possible for souls to be released from sin by purifying punishments brought about by some temporary fire "has not yet been found expressly written, either in the prayers and hymns on their behalf or in the words of the teachers". It is true that some texts which the Latins use refer to this subject, but they are misinterpreted, interposed, that is to say, in another interpretive tradition, as we shall see more analytically further on.

One can find in patristic texts that those who have sinned and not repented "are punished in particular", but not that they have fallen into Hell. The texts of Holy Scripture and the Fathers speak of the grief of those who are in the intermediate state, which chastises and punishes them either by shame and torment of conscience or by regret or confinement and darkness or by fear and uncertainty of the future or even only postponement of the vision of God, according to what they have done, but never is anything said about a fire "bodily punishing and purifying bodiless souls"43. None of the Fathers who have interpreted the related texts of Holy Scripture have construed them to refer to the purifying fire which the Latins teach.

The Lord says in His sermon on the Mount that whoever calls his brother a fool "shall be in danger of hell fire". And St. Mark explains that the Lord did not assign him "to purgatory but to hell fire". He will be at any rate be accountable for every idle word "at the time of judgement, but the Lord does not teach that one is purified by fire".

Holy Scripture says that the vision of God is a perfect reward for those who have purified their hearts, according to Christ's word: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. 5,8). Naturally there are depths of the vision of God, according to the depths of purification. Therefore not all men have the same depth of purification, nor, naturally, is there need for a purifying fire if the purification in some is imperfect. In the Bible as a whole it appears that "the less purified will see God less". People will see God according to the the depth of purification. Just for that reason it is not necessary that there be another purification after departure from this life.

So nothing is said in Holy Scripture directly about the existence of a temporary purifying fire after the soul's departure from the body, but neither is this novel teaching of the Latins in harmony with its whole spirit. There is no purifying fire between the death of each person and the Second Coming of Christ.

d) Theological arguments against the existence of a purifying fire.

The homilies of St. Mark Eugenicus on the subject of the purifying fire are very rich, and naturally it is difficult to present them in this brief analysis of his teaching. They will have to be abbreviated and fragmented. But in spite of the difficulties of presenting the whole teaching of St. Mark, we are trying not to distort it but to examine his general views about the subject which interests us here.

At the end of his first homily he sets out as conclusions the reasons why it is not possible for a purifying fire to exist, as the Latins understand it, as created, temporary and intervening between death and the Second Coming of Christ. The reasons are as follows:

First. Since the longing for the divine, this love itself, purifies people and makes them godlike, why cannot the same thing happen also after death? Cannot this longing purify them of small sins, without the need for such a purifying fire?

Second. It is in keeping with the goodness of God not to overlook the small good or punish the small sin. But the small good among great sins does not receive any reward. Nor is it necessary that the little evil done by those who have achieved great things should be brought to court. This is just why there is no need for a purifying fire to exist.

Third. The little good in the sinners cannot have a recompense, but be punished differently. The same happens with the saints. The little evil in them does not produce punishment, but a different pleasure. Consequently, as far as there is a difference of pleasure for the righteous and a different punishment for sinners, there is no need for the existence of a purifying fire.

Fourth. A result of the foregoing points is that the vision of God meets all men alike, but the seeing depends upon the difference and depth of their purification. Hence, in those who have imperfect purification "there is no need for the purifying fire".

Fifth. In his Easter sermon St. Gregory the Theologian expressly and clearly declares that there is no purification "beyond this night", that is to say, no purification after this life, which is characterised as a night.

Sixth. In his sermon St. Gregory the Theologian says that it is preferable for us to purify ourselves here and not to be sent to the torment of hell, because then "it is a time of torment and not of purification". So it seems clear that there is no purification after the soul's departure from the body, but only eternal hell.

Seventh. In His parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Christ left no temporary place between Paradise and Hell, "but a great and impassable gulf lay between them, presenting a sharp and direct opposition".

Eighth. It is impossible for a bodiless and immaterial soul after its separation from the body to be punished bodily by a fire. This eternal fire will exist after the Second Coming of Christ and after the assumption of the imperishable body.

Ninth. Hades, into which the souls of the saints of the Old Testament descended, was not in the form of fire and hell, but in the form of a gaol and a prison. In the same way the souls of those who have sinned in moderation "will be held in that kind of hades after death". In other words, those who have sinned a little will live as in a prison until the Second Coming of Christ, awaiting the final judgement, when Hell will begin. This is why it is not necessary for a purifying fire to exist.

Tenth. The holy Fathers who have lived a life equal to the angels on earth and have been initiated by visions and dreams and wonders into the life of the eternal torment of the ungodly and sinners, as also described in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, "have nowhere explained a purifying temporary fire".

Eleventh. The dogma of a purifying fire must be discarded, because it leads men to be nonchalant and not to struggle in the present life to be purified, awaiting some future purification, just as the dogma of the restoration has been discarded, because it has the same effect.

He develops the same arguments also in his syllogisms about the non-existence of a purifying fire, explaining why we cannot accept the existence of such a temporary and created fire. In these syllogisms the arguments of St. Mark are centred around three points.

First that, as the whole Bible and the Tradition of the Church teach, there is a difference in the vision of God, according to the person's purification in this life. He who is more purified sees the glory of God more completely. Whenever there is greater and lesser vision of God it corresponds to the purification. If someone even has a few sins "he too sees God without any need for a purifying fire", as God's love for mankind is sufficient, of course to a proportionate degree. But the teaching about the purifying fire takes away this difference in the enjoyment of the glory of God. For if men of this category pass through the purifying fire, it follows that all the souls of the righteous "are in the same vision of God, which is bliss". But this is false, because Christ said that in His Father's Kingdom "there are many mansions" (John 14, 2).

The second argument is that it is not possible for the will of man to be changed by any purifying fire after his departure from this life. "The movement of the will and that of deeds is necessarily limited to the present life". The will can be changed as long as a man is in this life, whereas after death it remains immovable. "And he receives the prize or the punishment for these things and not for going through purgatory". So long, then, as uprightness of the will is needed for beatitude and so long as purgatory cannot change the will from bad to good, since this is in accordance with the way the person lived in his biological life, therefore "purgatory contributes nothing" towards beatitude. This too means that men cannot be purified by any purgatory.

The third argument is that, as there is a difference in enjoyment of the Kingdom of Heaven, so there is a difference of punishment. And, as we said earlier, the little good of the sinners cannot be repaid, "but can only have a different punishment". Thus even the little evil in the righteous "will not make a hell but only a difference of enjoyment". For this reason there cannot be a purifying fire, as the Latins say.
e) Interpretation of an apostolic passage.
The Latins use various biblical passages to support belief in the purifying fire. For just this reason St. Mark Eugenicus in these homilies, which contradict it and were used in the Council of Ferrara-Florence, provides an orthodox interpretation of these biblical passages and demonstrates that the Latins really misinterpreted them in order to fortify their new doctrine.

The chief passage in which they referred to is one in the first letter to the Corinthians which speaks of the testing of work by fire. The Apostle writes: "Let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become manifest; for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire" (I Cor. 3, 10-15).

This passage, as St. Mark says, while it appears that it introduces the purifying fire, nevertheless "most of all it takes it away". The words which demonstrate this are the following. First, the Apostle Paul called it testing and not purifying. Secondly, all the works, even the good ones and the most valuable will pass through the fire, which means that not all need purification. Thirdly, the Apostle says that while the works of the wicked will be burned, they themselves will suffer loss, but according to the interpretation of the Latins, the purified will profit. Fourthly, the things that are said by the Apostle will happen at the time of the Judgement and the age to come, and it is not a matter of any purifying fire between Paradise and Hell. Moreover, there is nothing in Holy Scripture which says this. Indeed Christ is explicit when He says: "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matt. 25, 46).

Therefore it is essentially a question of the uncreated grace of God which illuminates the righteous but burns the sinners. This is also in keeping with the passages from Scripture which St. Mark offers in comparison. The prophet David says: "A fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around him" (Psalm 50, 3). And: "A fire goes before him, and burns up his enemies round about" (Psalm 97, 3). And the Prophet Daniel writes: "A stream of fire issued and came forth from before him" (Dan. 7, 10).

Particularly important is the Apostle Paul's statement: "If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire. "In interpreting this sentence St. Mark says that the work which will be burned and will finally disappear completely is a bad disposition or action. "He will suffer loss"refers to the burdens of evil which sinners had, and "he will be saved"refers to their preservation. He writes incisively: "he will be saved", that is to say, constantly held prisoner, not destroyed by the evil".

This means that the grace of God will preserve the sinners as well, will restore their nature, and they too will remain eternally in Hell. Therefore the saving refers to preservation.

This interpretation of St. Mark Eugenicus is not arbitrary, but is taught by the Holy Fathers of the Church. St. Mark refers to the interpretation of St. John Chrysostom and the teaching of Basil the Great about the fire of the age to come.

St. John Chrysostom, who is `the lips' of Paul, as the Apostle Paul is `the lips' of Christ, interprets this sentence of the Apostle Paul by saying precisely: "for the sinner is saved as through fire", that is to say he will remain tormented in fire and will not be destroyed together with his evil works and dispositions. This is not unrelated to the Orthodox teaching that a man is a person, that he can never be brought into non-existence, into nonbeing, and that Christ by His resurrection gave to all men, righteous and unrighteous, as His gift, the resurrection which will take place at His Second Coming, that there will be a restoration of nature, but not of will, and that while the righteous will enjoy "ever-being", the sinners will have "ever ill-being".

St. Basil the Great, interpreting the scriptural passage "The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire" (Psalm 29, 7), says that since fire has two properties, illumining and burning, the voice of the Lord will cut through this fire "so that the fire of hell is without the light of the sun, while the light of rest remains".

Presenting this passage of Basil the Great, St. Mark says that the bright and luminous works of the righteous appear brighter, and the righteous will be inheritors of the light. The sinners, however, will suffer loss with the burning of their works, while "they will inherit a salvation which is worse than perdition, remaining eternally in the fire (for this is what, strictly speaking, the word `saved' means) lest they think that because of the destructiveness of the fire, they themselves will be utterly destroyed". At the same time St. Mark says that if there is any interpreter who understands the word salvation to mean release from hell, and going through the fire to mean purification, he "seems to have understood this passage in a completely wrong way".

According to St. Mark Eugenicus, St. John Chrysostom's interpretation is the most important, and all the teachers of the Church agree with this. Thus Chrysostom's interpretation "is the most exact and true". Within this frame of reference he himself adds an interpretation, which is connected with the events that took place in Corinth and provided the occasion for the Apostle Paul to say these words.

St. Mark maintains that in this case the Apostle Paul is referring to the Christian in Corinth who committed prostitution. He was one of the teachers who, while he had fallen into a great misdeed, "nevertheless held to the value of teaching, having a system and seeming in himself not contemptible in either outward wisdom or wealth". So it seems that the Apostle had in view a certain teacher who while he had sinned, was continuing to teach, trusting in external wisdom and the wealth of his mind. He draws this conclusion from what is said in the relevant chapter of the Apostle Paul's epistle.

Therefore, according to St. Mark, this word "is expressly addressed to the man who had committed prostitution". Such a teacher not only will not receive a reward for his teaching, but also his teaching work will burn to ashes. But he will remain to be judged for his deeds. "Such a teacher himself will not perish with his own work, but will be preserved and remain and stand trial and answer for what he has done and undergo eternal judgement, not having any profit from that work of teaching, which is to be destroyed, ... and he will be saved in a salvation worse than destruction; for it would have been better for him who brings such a matter upon himself if he had not existed or then not been preserved".

It must be pointed out that St. Mark repeatedly uses St. John Chrysostom's words that salvation means "to be left alive". "... salvation means only that one does not perish with one's work, that one is left when one's work perishes". This man will be presented before the Judge "surrounded by fire". Besides, this fire about which the Apostle Paul speaks is only a testing "but not that which the sinners endure for ever". That is to say, clearly St. Mark is here distinguishing the testing fire of judgement, at the Second Coming of Christ, from the everlasting fire of hell. Naturally the fire of judgement is not created, but uncreated. I think this distinction manifests, on the one hand, the trial of the judgement, which is made by Christ Himself, and on the other hand the caustic property of God's energy, which is due to the person's spiritual state.

St. Mark, rejecting the view that the word salvation is not used for what is bad, but only for the good, refers to the relevant passage in Job. The messenger after the catastrophe spoke to Job to tell him about what had happened, saying: "I alone have escaped to tell you" (Job 1, 15). He was saved, preserved from the catastrophe, and said it was in order to give him the bad news.

Consequently, the apostolic word cannot support any purifying fire, as the Latins say. It refers clearly to the coming trial, to the judgement and the preservation of the sinner, that is his coming through the fire without being destroyed together with his evil deeds.

f) Patristic passages in the dialogue.
The Latins too used patristic passages during the dialogue in order to support their novel teaching about the purifying fire. This is because the Orthodox were seeking to find out where they found support for their teaching, so strange to the Orthodox Church. But we shall see in what follows that the Latins in fact distorted the passages from the Fathers, as well as the biblical passages.

I am not going to make a lengthy analysis of this side of the subject, but I shall simply comment on it, also drawing the necessary conclusions.

The Latins used "some words from the Fifth Ecumenical Council", in which it seems that there was acceptance of the teaching of St. Augustine and St. Ambrose. Next they used passages from St. Gregory Dialogos, prayers of Basil the Great, sayings of St. Gregory of Nyssa, as well as sayings of Dionysius the Areopagite, Epiphanius and Theorrimonos of Damascus. There is also reference to the blessed Theodorite.

Using all these patristic passages, the Latins came to the conclusion that divine justice does not leave anything unpunished, and therefore there must be another place for those who have not been punished in this life. Nor is it about their being punished in heaven or in Hades, in which they will be punished and purified. After these things the Latins say: "It remains for another place to be set apart where this purification must take place, through which everyone who has become pure is taken up into the heavenly pleasure forthwith".

St. Mark Eugenicus, a bearer of the Orthodox tradition and an authentic witness of the Scriptures and the words of the Fathers, analyses and interprets all these passages according to Orthodoxy, overthrowing the views of the Latins. He demonstrates clearly that not one of these passages from the Fathers says clearly that the so-called purgatory exists. Therefore there is no justification for the Latins to claim the existence of a purgatory. Very simply, in their attempts to fortify it, they alter and misinterpret the patristic words.

Thus St. Mark demonstrates that some of these passages, such as those from St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, are not clearly about the purifying fire, that others are misinterpreted, such as those of Basil the Great, Dionysius the Areopagite, St. John of Damascus, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and so forth.

We must certainly point out that St. Gregory of Nyssa does not speak about a restoration of all things in a philosophical and heretical way, as some contemporary thinkers influenced by the western hermeneutical tradition want to present it, but he is in the Orthodox Church Tradition. We shall see this in another chapter.

Likewise the fact that the Latins use passages from the Fifth Ecumenical Council is also an object of criticism and reproach by St. Mark, who maintains that this great Ecumenical Council is not able to legislate such teachings. Then St. Mark ends sharply: "For neither the scripture nor the fifth of the ecumentical councils has handed down to us a double hell and a double fire".

In his second homily St. Mark analyses this subject thoroughly, presenting various patristic passages that refer to the future without any clear word about a purifying fire, as well as the teaching of St. Gregory of Nyssa and how the Church confronts this serious topic. But here is not the suitable place for going into it.

In general St. Mark affirms that the Latins misunderstand and falsify the patristic teaching about this topic. The Latins do not have orthodox presuppositions for understanding the Fathers of the Church and therefore they miss the mark in their interpretive presentations of them.

Orthodox teaching speaks of the remission of sins and the value of memorial services. The Latins are not really able to grasp these two happenings. In what follows we shall refer briefly to the relevant teaching of the Church.

The remission of sins in the Orthodox Tradition is release from hell and punishment. And this remission takes place in three ways and at three different times. The first is at the time of Baptism, the second is after Baptism through conversion and mourning during the present life, and the third after death, through prayers and beneficences and whatever the Church of Christ performs.

Remission through Baptism is effortless and equal in value in all people. It is a work of grace and no work is required on the part of the person, but only faith. Remission after Baptism is arduous and requires repentance and contrition on the person's part. Remission after death too is arduous, because it is closely connected with repentance "and a conscience that is contrite and suffers from insufficiency of good", but it is free of punishment, since it is not possible for remission and punishment to exist at the same time.

In the first and third remission the grace of God prevails, and prayers contribute, but very little is brought in by us". The intermediate remission is by the grace of God, but more of it is from our own action: "the middle, on the contrary, has little from grace, while the greater part is owing to our labour". Likewise, the first remission, through Holy Baptism, differs from the last, after death, because the first remission is forgiveness of all sins, but the last is remission only of those that are not mortal, and certainly of those over which the person has repented in life.

This is the teaching of the Orthodox Church, as St. Mark says, and therefore it prays for forgiveness for those who have fallen asleep. It asks God to forgive the sins of the penitent Christians who died in the faith, without appointing any punishment because it is aware that in such sins the divine goodness "far outweighs the word of justice". Thus in the Orthodox Church we speak of the goodness of God and not of the satisfaction of divine justice.

Also connected with the remission of sins is the subject of memorial services. The Orthodox Church has memorial services for Christians who have fallen asleep, and prays to God for them, but in a different way and for a different reason from the Latins. In other words, it is not possible for the purifying fire of the Latins to be linked with the memorial service in the Orthodox Church. The former presupposes purification by punishment, the latter presupposes a completion for the person's unfinished journey towards theosis. St. Mark gives interesting information on this subject.

The memorial services in the Orthodox Church are for all the people who have died in the hope of resurrection and with faith in Jesus Christ. And therefore the memorial services and prayers of the Church benefit all those who have died, righteous and unrighteous, saints and sinners. Of course the prayers said are different for each Christian. Even for the saints we have memorial services and offer wheat in their memory, but because we have signs of their holiness and since they have been counted in the list and company of the saints, the prayers differ. We do not ask God to have mercy on them, but we pray "in order to honour and commemorate them"and we ask them to pray for us.

Concerning the benefit of the prayers and memorial services St. Mark writes: "Likewise we pray for all those who have fallen asleep in the faith and we say that these prayers achieve something for all and the power and benefit pass over to all from them". So the prayers are made for all those who have died in the orthodox faith.

The Church prays at first for the sinners, who have been imprisoned in hades, "that they may gain some small comfort, even if not complete release". Prayers are said mainly for those who have died in faith "even if they are very sinful". Indeed there are also cases of saints who have even prayed for the ungodly, but "the church of God by no means prays for such". The sinners and those imprisoned after death in hades benefit from these prayers on the one hand because they have not been definitively condemned and do not yet have the final decision of the tribunal, on the other hand because they have not yet fallen into hell, which will happen after the Second Coming of Christ. If this is effective for sinners, much more do the memorial services and prayers benefit those who have repented but did not have time to be purified completely and for their nous to be illuminated. If these have very small or light sins, they are restored to the inheritance of the righteous or remain where they are, that is to say in hades, and "their troubles are lightened and they return towards more honourable hopes".

But the memorial services and prayers of the Church also benefit the righteous and those who have lived a saintly life. This is a central teaching of our Church. St. Mark affirms that the prayers of the Divine Liturgy show that "the power of these prayers and especially of the mystical sacrifice goes through to those enjoying blessedness from God". This appears in the prayer in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: "Also we offer to thee this reasonable worship on behalf of those forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs confessors, ascetics and every righteous spirit who has died in faith". Even if, having prayed for the saints, we do not seek blessings for them, we give thanks for them and "do this for their glory, nevertheless in some way the sacrifice is on their behalf and passes over to them".

In another passage St. Mark analyses more thoroughly what is the benefit of saints being subjected to the fire which is everywhere with God and is His uncreated energy. He writes: "For such a fire shows the saints brighter, like gold tried in the furnace, since they bring no evil deed and mark...". It is plain in this passage, as also in other connections in the holy Fathers, that the saints are illumined more and have a greater capacity for participating in the glory of God.

St. Mark also takes a passage from St. Dionysius the Areopagite, in which it seems that the bishop prays even for those being perfected in the divine life. By citing this passage the saint says that the power of the prayers, and particularly of the mystical sacrifice, also goes "to those who have lived a righteous and holy life". And this is explained because as far as perfection is concerned, even the saints are imperfect and so their capacity for divine glory can increase. He writes: The power of prayers and of the Divine Liturgy also reaches those who have lived a righteous and holy life "since they too are imperfect and always receptive to what contributes towards the good, as they do not yet enjoy perfect blessedness".

So the prayers of the Church reach all, both sinners and righteous, but they work differently, according to the spiritual condition which each has reached in this life. The saint ends by saying: Since the prayers of the Church reach all, we do not need to receive the purifying fire. Purification and salvation are brought about by the goodness and philanthropy of God.

This teaching of St. Mark is orthodox and is found in many patristic texts. We will not go into this in detail here. What must be underlined is that, according to orthodox teaching, there are three stages of spiritual perfection: purification of the heart, illumination of the nous, and theosis. A man's perfecting is incomplete. Man is always susceptible of improvement in his spiritual condition. This movement will continue even in the age to come. Therefore when through repentance a person enters the stage of purification but because of death cannot complete the purification and reach illumination, this can be done through the prayers and memorial services of the Church. That is, there will be an endless increase of participation in the purifying, illuminating and divinising energy of God. This is how we are to understand many occurrences in the lives of saints in which their prayer justified their spiritual children. If we think that justification is illumination of the nous - and of course it is primarily the remission of sins - then we can explain these occurrences.
g) The eternal fire is uncreated.
Nowhere in the Fathers is there mention of a punishing fire through which people will pass after their death - chiefly those who have not succeeded in performing their rule. In the teaching of the Fathers, as we have seen, it is clearly said that there are Paradise and Hell after the Second Coming of Christ, and a foretaste of Paradise and Hell after the soul's departure from the body. Until the Second Coming of Christ the Church performs the memorial services, the power of which passes to all those who have died in the faith, whether they are sinners or righteous and holy. Nowhere is it said that there is also a purifying fire for Christians who have repented but not completed the repentance.

St. Mark says that where fire is mentioned in Holy Scripture and the patristic texts it means the eternal fire of Hell, which actually is uncreated and not created. It is not a question of something created, about some created reality, but about the action of God, which is experienced as fire by those who have not been cured.

In one place in his first homily he affirms: "If there is to be encountered in these hymns and prayers any mention of fire, it is not a temporal one that has a purgatorial power, but rather that eternal fire and unceasing punishment, from which the saints pray for the deliverance of those departed in faith ...".

This fire mentioned in texts of the Church is not a temporary one, but the eternal fire. Referring to a passage in St. Gregory the Theologian, he says: "He says that that fire is not temporary and passing, but longer and more painful".

So the fire of hell is not corporeal, created, but uncreated. The light in the worthy is vision of God, says St. Mark. And of course this light is the uncreated glory of God. St. Mark also associates the uncreated light with the fire of hell. He says that the eternal fire is not corporeal, "as it is light for those worthy of the vision of it". Analysing this view, he affirms that the saints of the Church take the eternal fire and unending punishment "rather allegorically". It is a matter of allegory, because the light of the righteous is not corporeal, nor is the fire of the sinners created and corporeal. They are actual facts and true states, but not the states which we know from the world of the senses.

Holy Scripture uses many images to indicate the condition of those punished, such as fire, worms, snakes and the gnashing of teeth. All these express other realities. By fire the saints mean ignorance of God: "that fire there should not be thought of as corporeal nor outer darkness as other than ignorance of God".

Of course when one speaks of ignorance of God, one means not participating in Him, since we realise that the sinners will see God, that is to say they will have a sight of God, but, not participating in Him, they will be ignorant of Him. Knowledge of God in the Orthodox Tradition is participation in God. The worm or some poisonous and flesh-eating genus of reptiles indicate the torment of the immoral by their conscience, and that bitter remorse. The gnashing of teeth means exactly the same, that is to say it indicates the grief, rage and bitter lamentation of those in conflict with themselves.

It is clear then that where there is reference to fire in the ecclesiastical tradition, the eternal and uncreated fire is meant. This means that it is not a question of some temporary purifying fire, but of the experience of uncreated grace as fire because of one's impurity. For just this reason it is not possible that there can be a purifying fire in the Latins' sense.

In general we can say that the teaching of St. Mark Eugenicus, as it appears in his homilies at the Council of Ferarra-Florence, belongs organically to the Tradition of the Orthodox Church concerning a man's life after his soul leaves his body. St. Mark is an authentic interpreter of the orthodox teaching, because he himself is a bearer of the Orthodox Tradition. Thus it is demonstrated that the purifying fire of the Latins is an empty doctrine, a new teaching, a novel belief which cannot be adopted by the Orthodox Church. On this matter too St. Mark proves to be an authentic interpreter of the Orthodox Tradition.

3. What is the source of the Latins' teaching about the purifying fire.

An interesting point in our study is to find the reasons that led the Latins to the teaching about the purifying fire. This is necessary, because, as we believe, the appearance of this teaching is not fortuitous.

We must point out that, as it appears from our study, the teaching about a purifying fire is an organic part of the Latins' whole theology and is developed entirely within that atmosphere. So it is not a chance event, but a symptom of the theology of the West as it has been developed in the course of its severance from orthodox theology. We have already had occasion to look into this in previous analyses, but now we shall study it more extensively and analytically.

We can point out five factors which brought western theological thought to the teaching about a purifying fire.

First, the lack of a neptic theology. Western theology, by its withdrawal from orthodox theology, especially from the neptic tradition about purity of heart, illumination of the nous and the vision of God, prepared the way for the teaching about the purifying fire.

This is said in the light of the fact that in the hesychastic-neptic theology of the Orthodox Church one speaks of the energy of God, which, as a fire, purifies man. In view of its action the grace of God also acquires a special name, it is called a purifying, illuminating and deifying energy. In other words, when the uncreated energy of God purifies a man it is called purifying, when it illuminates him it is called illuminating and when it deifies him it is called deifying.

Christ Himself said: "I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" (Luke 12, 49). The Apostle Paul writes: "For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12, 29).

St. John of the Ladder, expressing the whole neptic tradition on this subject, says that we experience the grace of God first as fire, a flame, and then as light. The supracelestial fire, when it comes to dwell in the heart, sets some people ablaze because of the insufficiency of their purification and illuminates others "according to the degree of their perfection". This same fire is called "both a consuming and an illuminating fire". Therefore some have come from their prayer as if from a flaming furnace, feeling relieved from uncleanness, and others, when they have finished their prayer, feel as if they were coming out illuminated and had put on the garment of lowliness and rejoicing.

At another point St. John of the Ladder says that we take great pains until God's fire enters into our sanctuary, our heart. God, who is a fire, consumes "all lusts, all stirrings of passion, all predispositions, and all hardness of heart, and darkness both within and without, both visible and spiritual".

Generally, the whole ecclesiastical tradition speaks of the fire which enters the heart, that is to say the uncreated grace of God which one feels in one's heart burning up the passions. This fire is uncreated, that is to say, it is the uncreated grace of God, which burns up the passions, purifies the heart, and therefore is called the purifying grace, and this takes place during a man's struggle to be cured. It is essentially the first stage in the spiritual life. Likewise this same fire, the purifying grace of God, will work in those who have fallen asleep who have entered the stage of purification but have not had time to be purified. Thus through the memorial services and prayers of the Church, as we said before, the person is purified and ascends into the stages of spiritual perfection, where, moreover, the perfection is never-ending.

Since the Latins had lost the neptic theology and did not experience these states empirically, they misunderstood the patristic texts. They were certain that the texts of Holy Scripture and the holy Fathers are speaking of a fire which purifies a man, and that this continues even after death for those who have already entered repentance, the stage of purification; and since they did not have spiritual experience of this teaching, they misinterpreted the patristic passages. Thus they came to speak of a created fire of punishment, through which men will pass. But it is clear that the term has another meaning in orthodox patristic teaching.

A second reason for the appearance of the teaching about the purifying fire is the identification of essence and energy in God, which has brought about many evils in the West.

From orthodox theology we know well that God has essence and energy. If the essence is uncreated its energy is also uncreated, if the essence is created, then also its energy is created. The essence of God is uncreated, and so we say that His energy is uncreated. Love, peace, justice, and so forth are energies of God, which are certainly not impersonal, but personal, since it is impossible for energy to exist without a person, by reason of the fact that he who acts is the person. This theological truth protects us from many dangers and from heretical deviations.

This distinction is not made in the West. The scholastic theologists, in their effort to maintain the simplicity of God and at the same time to keep intact the distinction between God and the world, identify God's energy with His essence, calling Him `actus purus' (pure energy), and at the same time consider the providential and saving energy of God as created. In this way God, according to western theology, has no actual relationship with the world in His uncreated energy, but only through created means and created energies. But this teaching impairs the whole basis and content of man's salvation.

If we examine carefully all the differences between the Orthodox Church and that of the Latins, we shall be convinced that they are due to this crucial theological question. Precisely this also appears in the teaching of the Latins about the purifying fire. At first they speak about the experience of the purifying fire, which is created, since God has no direct communication with created things, and as a result they speak of the vision of the uncreated essence of God by those who have been purified. That is to say, when men have passed through the purifying fire, they reach the vision of the essence of God. But this teaching, apart from the others, inasmuch as it speaks of salvation, necessarily removes the distinction between created and uncreated, between nature and grace.

In the Orthodox Church, however, salvation is identified with man's participation in the uncreated deifying grace and energy of God. Here salvation is real and God remains God.

Third, the teaching about the purifying fire is a consequence of the whole Franco-Latin tradition as it is expressed by the so-called scholastic theology. Actually, as we have also said before, scholastic theology, which disengaged itself from the empirical, hesychastic and neptic theology of the Orthodox Church, has done a great deal of harm in the West.

According to Western theology, which was based on St. Augustine, the ancestral sin is inherited from Adam by all the descendants, and God's justice has condemned all mankind to Hell and prescribed the penalty of death. Therefore, according to the Franco-Latin tradition, hell and death are a punishment by God and not an illness, as the Orthodox Church teaches.

As a consequence of this teaching, the Franco-Latins were led into the theory of punishment and a purifying fire. The Franks, since they believed that the punished do not see God, considered the fire of hell as created. It is in this light that we must see Dante's Hell, where the sinners will be tormented by the created fire of Hell. Thus the Franco-Latins imagine the world as three-storeyed, made up of the unchanging heaven for the fortunate, the changing earth for the testing of men and the changing underworld for those punished and being purified.

Of course the Franco-Latins, as we have said before, also speak of the vision of the essence of God by the righteous and the purified. In other words, by their grace and their reason, those saved will see God and the archetypes of beings, which exist in Him. By this vision of the divine essence the souls will be released from desire, passion, and changing, and so will become unchangingly happy. Needless to say, the Orthodox Church does not accept these views, since the achetypes of beings do not exist in God. God creates, foresees and saves the world by His uncreated energy.

Likewise the Franco-Latins did not understand apophatic theology correctly; they took it more as a theology of conjecture. In Orthodox theology the glory of God is put in terms of opposites: light and dark, fire and darkness. The first antithesis is about the glory of the righteous, the second is about the state of sinners. These antitheses are used not because antitheses exist in God, but in order to express the truth that there is no likeness between the uncreated glory of God and created things.

In any case these presuppositions of the Franco-Latins led western theologians into a teaching about a purifying fire, by which the sinners and penitents will be punished so that in that way they may attain the vision of the essence of God. Therefore we maintain that the Latins' dogma about a purifying fire is not independent of the basic structures of the scholastic theology of the West.

A fourth reason is the Latins' teaching about satisfying divine justice. According to Anselm of Canterbury the requirement to punish man and the requirement to save him are a necessity of the divine nature. Contrary to the teaching of the Fathers, who speak of sin as an illness and salvation as God's love, through which a man's cure is achieved with his own cooperation, Anselm speaks of offending God's justice and of atoning for it.

Such a view on the part of the Latins about man's salvation was subsequently to lead them to the teaching about the purifying fire, to the teaching about man's punishment so that God might be appeased. Naturally this teaching distorts the whole spiritual life, since it makes it a commercial transaction and sets up relations of offended and fallen.

A fifth cause of the appearance of the teaching about the purifying fire is the politico-economic connection of Popery. Since the Franco-Latins lost the empirical theology of the eastern Church and disengaged themselves from the neptic-hesychast tradition of the Orthodox Church, it was natural for them to fall into anthropocentric conditions. The feudalistic conception of the composition of the community, the passion for building and economic rise, the clash with the political authority, and so forth, contributed to the dogma of a purifying fire. In this way too the people are held down, but the "Church"is helped in the reconstruction of buildings.

The connecting of the purifying fire with material offerings brought the people's disenchantment with the Popery. It is said that the purifying fire, the so-called purgatory, was invented for the completion of the temple of the Apostle Peter in Rome and the upkeep of the Papal palace. But it must be observed that the dogma of the purifying fire was not invented simply to exploit the people, because, as we have said before, it is in line with the Franco-Latins' scholastic theology. Nevertheless it was used for economic reasons as well.

After this analysis we can end with the following conclusion. Just as Orthodox theology constitutes a unity - I would say a circle -and when one approaches a point on the circle one meets the whole circle, the same is true also in Franco-Latin theology. All of its novel dogmas are interrelated and are defined on the same basis.

This means that the loss of hesychastic theology and the discarding of therapeutic and empirical theology, have brought many evils to the West. The dogma of the purifying fire is not unrelated to the loss of the teaching about the inseparable distinction of essence and energy in God.

The purifying fire is a fruit and result of the scholastic theology of the Franco-Latins and has no relationship to Orthodox theology as Christ taught it, the Apostles lived it and the holy Fathers handed it down to us.
All the events connected with the Second Coming of Christ are called eschatological, because they refer to the last day, to the things which will happen after the end of the present world. We usually speak of the end of history, but this does not fully express the reality, since history is not only historical events but refers also to the lives of the saints. The saints' lives after death and the lives of men after the Second Coming of Christ do not constitute a `meta-historical epoch', but a historical epoch: it is the history of the saints. Just as the world is not destroyed, but renewed, just as man does not disappear but is transformed, so also history never ends but its content and life change.

Therefore when we speak of eschatological events, we mean properly all those things which will take place at the Second Coming of Christ to judge men. So we are waiting for those eschatological events, but we can still say that as far as the way of life is concerned, the last things are already present, since the saints are enjoying the Kingdom of God now. As we shall verify in what follows, the saints are now having a foretaste of all that is to be revealed in the `last times'. In terms of time we are waiting for the last things; in terms of way of life the last things are coming and being experienced by the saints.

In this chapter we shall concern ourselves with three specific topics, which are connected with the eschatological events related to the Second Coming of Christ. First we shall refer generally to the Second Coming of Christ, secondly we shall develop the theological truth about the resurrection of the body, and thirdly we shall look into the judgement, which is connected with the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the body.
1. The coming of Christ in glory.
In the entire Biblico-patristic tradition it is said that Christ will come again into the world to judge the people. It is a truth which Christians cannot doubt.

Christ Himself, in the passage about the coming judgement, speaks of His coming again in glory: "When the Son of Man comes in His glory” (Matt. 25, 31 ). The "when”is not hypothetical, but temporal, which means that there will be a time when Christ will come into the world, and with great glory. And in another place Christ said: "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds” (Mark 13, 26 ).

In the Book of Acts where Christ's ascension is described, it says that the angels said to the astonished disciples: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven will so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1, 11 ). The way in which He will come back to earth will be the same in which He was taken up.

The Apostle Paul teaches that all who are living at the time when the Son of Man comes, and certainly all who are righteous, will be caught up "in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4, 17 ). And in the Revelation it is written: "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see him” (Rev. 1, 7 ).

These passages, which are representative, indicate that the faithful believe unshakeably that Christ will come to the earth to judge people, at which time the end of this world will come and the new life will begin. Therefore in the Creed we confess: "and He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose Kingdom will have no end".

In Holy Scripture there are many expressions which point to the coming of Christ. We shall introduce some of these, the most indicative ones.

First, the second coming of Christ is characterised as a day, and especially the day of the Lord and the day of Judgement. The Apostle Peter writes: "But the day of the Lord will come” (2 Pet. 3, 10 ). The Apostle Paul in one place characterises it as "the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1, 8 ) and in another as the day on which all will be revealed (1 Cor. 3, 13). But John the Evangelist calls it the day of judgement (1 Jn. 4, 17 ). It is called a day because, compared to the present life, which is darkness, it expresses a new reality. The image of the day is not unrelated to the image of the sun. Since Christ is the sun of righteousness, Who will appear then, it is therefore called a day.

John the Evangelist links this day with the last things and characterises it as the last day. In the Gospel according to John Christ Himself speaks about the last day. At one point he says that He will raise man up "at the last day” (Jn. 6, 40 ). Here the word `day', which is connected with the last things, points more to the last day before the beginning of the Kingdom of God, when it is connected more with the end of the present life.

The day of the Lord is inseparably linked with the coming of Christ. For precisely this reason other expressions are used to refer to this reality. It is characterised as a day of the appearing of the glory of God (Tit. 2, 13 ). Also it speaks of the day of "our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing” (1 Tim. 6, 14 ). At other times it is linked with the word `coming', because the Lord will be present. The disciples ask Christ: "And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24, 3 ).

On that day the glory of God will be revealed, and all people, even those who did not know it before, will see it. The Apostle Peter speaks of the revelation of the glory of God (1 Pet. 4, 13 ), and the Apostle Paul speaks of the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ "from heaven with His mighty angels” (2 Thess. 1, 7 ).

These passages which we have mentioned show the faith of the Church, which rests as firmly on the revealing words of Christ Himself as on the assurance of the Apostles that the day will come on which this world will end and Christ will come to judge the people, who will have been raised when their souls enter their bodies once more and they appear at the dread judgement seat.

While it is certain that Christ will come to judge the people, nevertheless, as it seems in Holy Scripture, that great and remarkable day is unknown. Christ Himself said to His disciples: "But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13, 32 ). And when after His resurrection the disciples thought that that day had come, Christ relieved them of false notions and said: "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1, 7 ).

To be sure, when Christ says that no one else knows that hour except the Father, He does not mean that He Himself as God does not know it. The fact is that men and the angels do not know it. But what the Father knows, the Son knows as well. St. Symeon the New Theologian, interpreting this fact, says: "no one knows except the Holy Trinity, the one and undivided deity". The Trinitarian God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who have a common essence and nature, knows the hour when the world will end and Christ will come. The words of Christ that the Son does not know this hour, "is said in his nature as man, not in his divinity". That is to say, here Christ was referring to His human nature, not to His divine nature, and clearly He wanted to show that the creature cannot know the hour and day of the end of the world and of His coming.

The day and hour of the Second Coming of Christ not only is unknown, but will come suddenly. Christ, revealing this truth, says that it will happen like lightning. Just as lightning appears from one end to the other, "so also the Son of Man will be in His day” (Lk. 17, 24 ).

The Apostle Paul uses another image to show the suddenness of the coming of Christ. Just as the thief does not give advance notice of his coming, but enters the house entirely unexpectedly, so will it be with that day: "For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5, 1-2 ). In His own time the "blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6, 15 ) will manifest the day of His coming.

The suddenness of that day appears also in another passage in Holy Scripture. Christ, teaching about the unknown great day of His appearing, says that two men will be in a field and one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left (Matt. 24, 40-41 ). The Apostle Paul, referring to this fact, says that all who are alive on that day and have not died will be changed in a moment of time. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15, 51-52 ).

Apart from that day's being unknown and sudden, there are several signs which indicate its coming. No one can know this fact perfectly, but according to the depth of one's preparation, one's watchfulness, one can understand how crucial the times are from external signs. These are described by Christ Himself (Matt. 24 ).

The basic signs, as Christ describes them, are that the gospel will be proclaimed in all creation, there will be a great uprising of people in the universe, and many false prophets will appear. The antichrist, with many wonders and signs which he will perform will attempt to lead even the chosen ones astray. Wars, famines, persecutions, earthquakes, and so forth, will prevail.

We must say, however, that even from these facts it is difficult to conceive the end of the world and the coming of Christ. The Church cultivates eschatological preaching but at the same time it declares that it is not an easy matter to interpret the facts of every generation. Only those who are illuminated and have a revelation from God know dimly that it is about events which precede Christ's appearing, with the sole purpose of leading the people to repentance and a return to God.

So it is the conviction of the Church that Christ is to come again to judge the people, but that the day and hour are unknown. Only those who have an illumined nous can dimly realise from the various events that the days are approaching, but again they do not know the coming of that day, according to what Christ said. Therefore in the Orthodox Church we avoid defining the times and seasons in which we think these eschatological events will take place.

The holy Fathers also see things in this way. In what follows we shall refer to several very indicative passages from the patristic teaching.

First. What is said about the judgement of the people which will follow the coming of Christ is "difficult to explain”because, according to St. Symeon the New Theologian, it is not about events present and visible, but about future and invisible ones. Hence the need for much prayer, much zeal, much purity of spirit on the part of those who speak and those who hear. This is essential so that the speakers may know well and the hearers may be able to listen intelligently.

This message from St. Symeon the New Theologian - whom we shall recall later as well when we refer to the judgement to be established at the coming of Christ - is of considerable interest, because it is the object of many errors. There are people who speak about the eschatological events quite anthropocentrically, in many ways falsifying the passages in Scripture and the Fathers, thus leading people into errors and discouragement. Likewise there are others who understand the words of Scripture and the Fathers according to their conceptions. Hence the need for spiritual prudence and much discrimination in order that the message may be understood and lead to repentance. For what leads to psychological fear and human despair is not orthodox. By contrast, what is genuine and orthodox leads man, through spiritual fear, to hope in God, to repentance and prayer.

Second. St. Symeon the New Theologian says that the day of Christ's coming is called the day of the Lord not because it is the last of the earthly days nor because Christ is expected to come on that day, nor yet because men will be judged on that day, "but because the very God and Lord of the universe will shine at this time in the glory of His godhead". And again this day is called the day of the Lord because of the shining of the light of the godhead and not because of a simple appearing. Just as during the day all the stars are extinguished by the light of the sun, the same also will happen on that day. All visible things will give way and make room for the Maker of heaven and earth. And he who now is invisible to all eyes will then uniquely be both "day and God". And thus for the saints it will be a day of eternal joy. For the sinners who have not seen this light in their life through being purified, Christ will be inaccessible in the future.

Third. In Holy Scripture, when it speaks of the coming of Christ, lightning, clouds, trumpets, thrones and other images are mentioned. St. Gregory Palamas says that the message of the Second Coming of Christ is condescending. All these happenings indeed are beyond the human nous, human reason and sense. Christ knows precisely all the things that are to happen, but "He descends to the level of the capacity of those being taught". Human nature is accustomed to these human and sensible facts, and so it can understand eschatological events in this way. This is why Christ by condescension uses such images and representations.

There will indeed be a judgement, there will be rejoicing of the righteous and pain of the sinners, there will be Hell and Paradise, but these are not things of the senses, since we know very well from the patristic tradition that it is not a question of created things. Yet even the fire of Hell is not created and sensory, but uncreated. The reader must be patient until he studies the relevant chapter of this book entitled "Paradise and Hell", in order to be convinced of how all these things are understood.

Thus we should not stop at the sensory examples and lose the essence of what is said. Nor indeed should we simply look at the essence of these things, scorning the examples. For since Christ used them, we should keep them and explain their deeper meaning, leading people to repentance and not to fearlessness.

Fourth. The Second Coming of Christ is compared with His coming. When we speak of the First Coming, we mean Christ's becoming man and when we speak of the Second Coming, we mean the coming of Christ to judge men. There is a clear difference between the First and the Second Coming.

St. Gregory Palamas presents the difference between these two Comings. He says that at the first Coming the glory of His divinity was hidden beneath the flesh, which he assumed from us and for our salvation. And still now the glory of His divinity is hidden in the Father with His flesh that is identically God. But then at His Second Coming "His whole glory will be revealed". Then there will appear a brightness shining round the ends of the world with the rays of His divinity. And interpreting Christ's words "when the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the holy angels with Him", he says that at His first coming He brought the angels and was surrounded by the angelic ranks, but invisibly, and He restrained their zeal against the heretics. But at the Second Coming He will come openly with His angels, in all His glory and majesty.

Fifth. In the works of St. Symeon the New Theologian we can find another truth also in relation to the Second Coming of Christ, and likewise in relation to the judgement of men. St. Symeon makes an extensive analysis, saying that the Second Coming of Christ and the judgement to come will be chiefly for the sinners, who are living in passions and sin, but not for the saints, who are already experiencing the Paradise of Christ. As many as are children of that light and are sons of the coming day, "on them the day of the Lord will never come". To be sure, Christ will come to judge men, but these have been judged in this life and the tribunal will not follow. The presence of Christ will be a promise of joy and delight. When the Christian in fear and trembling keeps the commandments of Christ and lives in repentance, he becomes united with that light, and so in reality in this life he passes through the judgement. He who is deified is baptised by the divine fire and the Holy Spirit "and becomes all pure, all undefiled, a son of light and day, and no longer of mortal man".

I shall quote an astonishing passage from St. Symeon the New Theologian, because I cannot leave it behind without comment, but also it is not possible to say it in my own words. "Such a man is not judged by the judgement and justice to come, for he has been judged beforehand, and he is not censured by that light, for he has been enlightened beforehand, nor is he tested or burned on entering that fire, for he has been tested beforehand, it is not then, in his opinion, that the day of the Lord appears, for it has became altogether one bright and shining day, thanks to the conversation and company of God.

What St. Symeon says is astonishing. I would like to comment on the fact that the judgement takes place essentially in this life. The person who sees the light is baptised with the Holy Spirit and does not take into account the day of the Lord, because by his association with God he is wholly a bright and shining day. We must note the word `association', which refers to the man's communion with God. Actually, since the man is wholly bright and shining day, since he is wholly light, he cannot distinguish the coming of day. This day is his own existential fact.

So in this way the Second Coming will appear mainly to the sinners, who have lived with passions during their present life and not kept the commandments of God. For the saints it is a natural state, which they are experiencing now. Certainly the saints are awaiting the Second Coming of Christ, in order that their bodies which are now living in corruption may also rise again, so that the whole man may taste the rich gifts of the great day and of the appearance in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore the Second Coming of Christ is an indisputable fact, since it is witnessed by the apocalyptical word of God, by the assurance of the Apostles and by the experiences of the saints, who are already living the Kingdom of God.
2. The resurrection of the dead.
Also closely connected with the Second Coming of Christ is the resurrection of the dead, which is a very firm belief of the Church, and that is why in the Creed we confess: "I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come".

When we speak of the resurrection of the dead, we mean the resurrection of their bodies, that indeed their souls will again enter the dead bodies and they will be made alive and so the whole man will come together again. This is very natural and justified because souls never die ontologically, because the immortality of the soul is a gift given by God from the beginning. The bodies die, and so when we say resurrection of the dead we always mean the resurrection of the body.

At this point too we can see the difference in the approaches of philosophy and orthodoxy to the resurrection of the body. Classical philosophy can never accept the view that the bodies will be raised, simply because it believes in the naturally immortal soul and naturally mortal body. According to the ancient philosophical view, the naturally immortal soul, which was previously in the world of ideas, was enclosed in the body as in a prison, and therefore the salvation and redemption of the soul means its liberaton from the body. In this sense the body is bad and the imprisonment of the soul in it constitutes and expresses its fall.

This explains the fact that the Athenians reacted when the Apostle Paul spoke about the resurrection of the dead on Mars Hill. The Apostle Paul was speaking about Christ who would come to judge the world. Among other things he said: "He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all, by raising him from the dead". At this point the Athenians interrupted him, as the Acts of the Apostles point out: "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, `We will hear you again on this matter'” (Acts 17, 31-32 ). This reaction was not unrelated to the conception, incomprehensible to them, of the resurrection of dead bodies.

However, in the whole biblico-patristic tradition it appears clearly nevertheless that there will be bodily resurrection in order for the whole man to be put together. For not even the separation of his soul from his body caused man to lose his hypostasis, his personhood.

In what follows we shall attempt to look very briefly at what Holy Scripture and the patristic tradition say about the resurrection of our bodies, but also about what the bodies will be like in the life after the Second Coming of Christ. It will be seen that this constitutes a firm faith and a basic mark of the Orthodox Tradition. Besides, the assumption of human nature by Christ, and its deification, the fact that the flesh which Christ assumed from His All-holy Mother is identically God, as well as the fact that in Christ the divine is always united with human nature, shows the value of the body. The body was not evil from the beginning, it is not the prison of the soul, it is a positive creation of God.

First we must refer to some passages from Holy Scripture which speak of the resurrection of the body.

The prophet Isaiah acknowledges: "The dead shall rise, and those in the tomb shall be raised, and those in the earth shall rejoice” (Is. 27, 19 ). The book of the prophet Ezekiel presents an astonishing event of resurrection of bodies, where it appears that at the word of God the dry bones acquired nerves, flesh, and skin, and then the spirit, that is, the soul, was given (Ez. 37, 1-14 ). This supreme miraculous event shows how the resurrection of bodies will be at the Second Coming of Christ, and therefore the Church reads this passage at the burial service, even when we go back into the church after the procession. The resurrection of Christ is the prelude to our own resurrection, because Christ, by His death and Resurrection, conquered the power of death and gave to all men the gift of the resurrection to come.

The Jews had an unshakeable faith in the future resurrection of the dead. It is characteristic that at Christ's meeting with Lazarus' sister Martha after Lazarus' death, Christ assured her that her brother whould rise again. Martha then answered: "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (Jn. 11, 22-23 ).

The three resurrections which Christ performed, that of the daughter of Jairus, that of the son of the widow of Nain, and that of Lazarus, as well as His own resurrection which came about through His divinity, are assurances and prefaces to the resurrection of all men at the Second Coming of Christ.

In Christ's teaching we find many passages which refer to the resurrection of the dead. In one of His talks Christ said: "the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice” (Jn. 5, 28 ). At another time He said: "I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11, 25 ).

The holy Apostles accepted this teaching, and it was spread widely in their letters. Especially the Apostle Paul many times spoke of the resurrection of the body in the letters that he sent to the Churches which he created. Because they were in idolatrous surroundings, where the concept was widespread that the body is evil, the Church had felt that influence. We shall cite some characteristic passages.

To the Romans he refers to the redemption of the body, clearly touching on the theme of the resurrection of the body: "even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8, 23 ). To the Thessalonians he says that the resurrection will come about by the power of Christ, at His Second Coming. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4, 16 ).

In the texts of Holy Scripture we see not only the faith of the Church in the resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of Christ, but also how these bodies will be. We know from the whole Orthodox Tradition that the bodies will be spiritual.

Christ declares that in the future life men will not have the elements of carnality. It is known that after the fall man was clothed in corruptibility and mortality, and consequently the way of his conception, pregnancy, suckling, belongs to the fallen life which, to be sure, God blessed for the increase of mankind. But after the resurrection all these states will be abolished and men will live as angels. Christ says: "But those who are counted worthy to attain that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die any more, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20, 35-36 ).

While the bodies of the saints are now having a foretaste of the glory of God, since they have the uncreated grace of Christ, at that time they will be transformed and become bodies of glory. The Apostle Paul says that Christ "will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body...” (Philip. 3, 21 ). As the body of Christ shines with divinity, so will also the bodies of the righteous shine in heaven. There will of course be a great difference between the body of Christ and the bodies of the saints. For the divine-human body was a source of the uncreated grace of God, while the bodies of the saints are made holy by the grace of God. Besides, we know very well from our tradition that man receives theosis, while Christ makes theosis.

The place where the Apostle Paul develops the teaching about the resurrection of the dead is his first letter to the Corinthians. It seems that some of the Corinthians were influenced by philosophical ideas about the human body. The Apostle Paul writes that if there is no resurrection of bodies, then Christ is not risen (1 Cor. 12-16 ).

Then He answers a question, probably put by the Corinthians, about how the dead will rise and what bodies they will have (1 Cor. 15, 35-41 ). In answering this question He takes an example from the world of the senses. Man sows a small grain and God gives to this grain a different body. The argument is that man does not plant wheat, but a seed, and out of the seed itself there comes a different body according to the origin. This happens also at the resurrection of the dead. There will be the resurrection of the body, by the power of Christ, and naturally the bodies, while they will be themselves, will have a different way of functioning. The dead will rise incorruptible, because, as he says characteristically, "this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15, 53 ).

It is very significant that the Apostle Paul presents in greatest detail the state of the body at the resurrection of the dead, He writes to the Corinthians: "It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15, 43-44 ). Here we see the difference between a person's body before and after death and his body after the resurrection, at the Second Coming of Christ.

In this apostolic passage we see the four characteristic features which the body will have after the resurrection. One, that it will be incorruptible, as opposed to the corruptible body of the biological life. The second feature, that it will be glorified in contrast to dishonour. The third, that it will be strong, in contrast to weakness, and the fourth feature, that it will be spiritual, as opposed to the former state, which was natural. This means that while the body of the biological life is corruptible, in dishonour, weak and natural, that is to say, governed by the natural functions, the body of the resurrection will be incorruptible, glorified, powerful and spiritual.

If we interpret the teaching of the Apostle Paul on the basis of the patristic teaching, we can say that people's bodies after their resurrection will be incorruptible, they will not need nourishment and sleep, they will not be subject to change. The Fathers say that they will be like the body of Christ, which came out of the tomb without anyone perceiving it, went in and out of the upper storey when the doors were closed, had no need, of food, covered great distances, and so forth. True, Christ ate after His resurrection, but not because of need, but to make the disciples understand that He was not a ghost. That food was burnt up by His divinity, since there was no digestive system, nor other workings which are features of corruptibility and mortality.

Also the bodies of sinners will cast off corruptibility and mortality, but they will not be spiritual and glorified, as the saints will. And naturally, the bodies of the saints will have glory corresponding to the condition of their souls. The Apostle Paul would say: "One star differs from another star in glory” (1 Cor. 15, 41 ). Just as the light of the sun is different from the light of the moon and different from that of the stars, the same will be true of the glory of the saints. According to the purity, illumination and deification which the person has acquired in this life, so his radiance will be in the eternal life. It is not a question of any partiality on the part of God, but a person will receive grace according to his capacity. God will send His grace to all, and each will shine and be radiant according to his spiritual condition.

It is within this framework that we must also see that all men will then acquire the age of a mature person. Even the baby which died at an early age, but also the person who died at a great age will have the same age which, as is said, will be that of Christ. In any case it is natural that they should attain the age of a mature person, which is about thirty years.

In one of his poems St. Symeon the New Theologian writes that people's souls which will be reunited with their bodies, "each according to its merit, will find its dwelling full of light or of darkness". Those who have lit their lamps in this life will be in light that never sets, and all those who were impure and the eyes of whose hearts were blind will not see the divine light. And the bodies of the saints will be holy shadows of the Holy Spirit. Just as they were very pure here, so also they will rise glorified "shining, flashing like the divine light".

I would like to present the teaching of many saints both as to their assurance of the resurrection of the body and as to eternal life, as well as how the resurrection will take place. However, I shall content myself with setting out the teaching of St. Gregory of Nyssa about the resurrection of our bodies. We shall look at some aspects of his teaching. I believe that it is sufficiently enlightening and characteristic.

At first St. Gregory of Nyssa teaches that when we speak of resurrection or coming back to life or renewal of the world, and when we use many other names, we are speaking about the body which is subject to decay and not the soul, which, as being incorruptible, indestructible and immortal, is not going to be resurrected, because it does not die.

The resurrection of the body includes also the resurrection of all the limbs which for various reasons have been destroyed. On the day of resurrection even the part of a human body which thousands of years ago was eaten by carnivorous birds will be found "with nothing missing". But even the limbs which the whales and sharks and all the sea creatures have eaten will be resurrected with the person. The bodies which have been burnt by fire and eaten by worms in the tombs, and in general all the bodies which decay has destroyed, "will be yielded up by the earth whole and complete". So all the missing limbs will be filled in and the person will be presented whole. This means that we shall have our own body, which, however, will not be subject to decay and death.

This will happen in any case because it is connected with the creation of man by God. God did not form man for him to die, but death is the result and fruit of sin. And if the shepherd wants his flock to be healthy and almost immortal, if the cowherd wants to use various cures to increase his oxen, if the goatherd prays that his she-goats may bring forth twins, and all are aiming at something beneficial, God too has the same desire. It is plain from these examples that God wishes to reform "the ruined creature".

In this homily of his which he delivered on Easter Day, referring to the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of bodies at the Second Coming of Christ, St. Gregory of Nyssa affirms that at any rate there will be resurrection of the dead, that it is not impossible for God, and in addition he analyses the way in which it will happen. The things which St. Gregory says are very important, and we shall set them out briefly.

The resurrection of the body is not an impossibility. For many reasons.

First. The God who will raise the bodies is the same One who created man out of earth. We regard the creation as given, says St. Gregory, but if we think better we will see that it is something marvellous. Really, how the fine dust was concentrated and became flesh, and from the same material bones, skin, fat and hair came into being, that is to say, how, while it is one flesh, there appeared different members. He describes the different structure of each member of the body, since the lung is soft, the liver coarse and red, the heart a compact organ, and so forth.

Yet it is very strange that Eve came from a small part of Adam's rib. How did the rib become a head, feet, hands, and so forth? The God who created man in this way has the power to re-create him and to repair the limb of a decayed body. Moreover God Himself is the creator of both the first creation and of the second reordering. So it is a mark of the grateful and wise to trust in the things that God says and not to examine the ways and causes which go beyond their powers.

Second. The different examples which exist in nature show that God is all-powerful and that nothing is impossible and perplexing for Him. God's omnipotence appears in the variety and complexity of nature. The whole of nature loudly proclaims God's grandeur and His power. The resurrections which Christ performed, such as that of Lazarus after four days, the son of the widow of Nain and the daughter of Jairus, show that it is also possible for all men to rise in the same way when He so wills. The sculptor who constructs one statue can construct others as well. Thus Christ too, who raised three people, can also do it to many others. Therefore the question of how the dead are restored to life is answered interrogatively: "How was Lazarus raised after four days?".

Not only the first creation but also what followed, what takes place in nature, displays the power and omnipotence of God. We know that a person's birth is a fruit of God's action. By the grace of God a person is conceived, held in the womb, born and grows. St. Gregory of Nyssa says that the resurrection of the dead can be in the manner in which a person is born. It is strange enough, according to human logic, how the sperm, which is formless at first, then acquires form, and the members of the human body are gradually created. If a person comes into being from the formless sperm, it is not at all inconsistent for the matter which is in the tombs, and which had a form, to be at once renewed in the old form and for the earth to become a man again, as happened at the first creation.

Some people consider it improbable that bodies should rise again and that a person should be reconstituted after death, and they consider very natural the formation of the embryo and the development of the person through natural birth. But if the second can happen, so can the first, since it is the Same God who created each of them.

He also takes the case of the potter who, when he has made beautiful objects out of clay, after a ceremony, someone enters his workshop and destroys it. But if the good potter wants to, he can correct what happened, making the same objects again, not inferior to what they were before. It is foolish for us to believe that the potter, who is such a small creature of God's power, can do such a thing and not to believe that God can restore the dead.

The Apostle Paul uses the image of the grain of wheat which falls to the earth and dies and from it sprouts a great wheat plant. St. Gregory adapts this image wonderfully. After thorougly analysing what comes of this little grain of wheat and how many mysteries are hidden in it, he says that it is wonderful how a dry grain of wheat, when it rots performs a miracle, because it falls to the ground alone and sprouts a great number. The renewal of man is easier than the renewal of the wheat. Through his resurrection man does not receive anything more than what he had.

The holy Fathers use many images from nature and present them to their flocks. We see this in many of their homilies, and in the homily of St. Gregory which we are examining at this point. In order to show that it is possible to rise from the dead, he analyses very beautifully, realistically and representatively, with vivid colours and literary talent, how throughout the winter the trees are dry and at the beginning of spring they bear flowers and become a place where the birds gather and people enjoy them. And the reptiles and the snakes too are hiding in the earth during the winter hibernation, and as soon as the suitable season comes and a stirring is heard echoing a sign of life, they leap up and start their activities. Just as the snakes wake up from their hibernation at the sound of this stirring of life, so also the dead bodies of men will receive their souls and be raised up when God's trumpet is heard.

He gives a wonderful description of man from birth to death. He observes that man's life is like that of the animals, it undergoes change and variation. A man, after his birth, successively grows, acquires various functions, and as he grows and reaches the end of his life he becomes a baby again who lisps, is silly and crawls on his hands and knees, as at the beginning of his life. All these things show that also before death man receives changes upon changes, fadings and renewals. This will naturally take place also during the resurrection. Inasmuch as the perishable perishes by the law of decay, much more will it be renewed by the power and action of God.

But sleep too, which is necessary for our daily refreshing, and likewise our rising from sleep, point to the mystery of the resurrection of the dead. Moreover, sleep is an image of death and being awake is an image of resurrection. Many have characterised sleep as a brother of death, for in sleep man is like dead, unconscious. He does not recognise friends and enemies, he does not notice those who are around him, and that is why one can easily injure those who have been lulled to sleep. When a man wakes up, he gradually recovers his powers and it seems as if he has come to life. If there are changes and ecstases in man during day and night, it is very foolish and contentious of us not to believe in the God who promises "the final renewal".

It appears from all these examples that the resurrection of the body is a very natural event. Just as we regard as a natural fact the birth of a man, the alternations in nature, the growth of plants and, in general, just as we regard as natural all the things that happen in nature, we should regard as another just as natural thing the renewal and re-creation of man, the resurrection of bodies. For the God who did the former can do the latter.

Third. The body is not completely destroyed after the soul leaves it. It is dissolved into "the things of which it was composed", for it consists of four elements, water, air, fire and earth, but it does not vanish. In another chapter we saw the views of St. Gregory of Nyssa, that although the soul is separated from the body, it remembers the elements and limbs of its body, is in touch with them and at the suitable time, by the power of God, will bring them together and the spiritual body will be composed. This shows that in spite of the separation of the soul from the body, the person is not abolished.

In this homily which we are studying, St. Gregory of Nyssa says that the body does not disappear completely, but it is dissolved into the elements of which it was composed "and is in water and air and earth and fire". The fact that the original elements stay and join with those things which come from them, after the body dissolves, shows that the things which are partial also remain within the general. And when these four elements of which man is composed approach their prototypes, again too, while the prototypes remain, the particulars, the parts, also remain.

We know very well that the whole world was made from nothing, from non-existent matter. If it is easy for God to re-create something from nothing, it is easier to create from existing elements. Thus, since these prototypes exist, it is possible for God to form man again.

Fourth. St. Gregory of Nyssa takes examples for the resurrection of bodies from the views of the men of his time. Many people considered and still consider it very natural for the features of bodies which have decomposed to go to their descendants and for features of bodies of those not related to be transmitted to other bodies, but they do not believe that it is possible for the same features to be renewed in those who once had them as their own. I shall quote what St. Gregory of Nyssa said, because it is worth noting. He says that it is inconceivable "...not to acknowledge that the same and exceptional things about those things once possessed are renewed and brought back to life".

Observing this passage, we can verify that at the resurrection of the body people will receive their own body with its special features, but nevertheless transformed. Since the body will be raised "in power and incorruption” it means that it will not have on it the marks of decay, mortality and illness. Naturally, we do not know more details about this subject, but I think that what has been cited is very expressive.

Fifth. St. Gregory of Nyssa, however, insists strongly that the resurrection of bodies is necessary also for men to live a good life. For if death is the end of life, then the murderer, the adulterer, the perjurer, the liar, will increase in their evil. If there is no resurrection there is no judgement. If there is no judgement, then even the fear of God is lost and naturally where fear does not chastise, "there the devil dances with the sinner".

Thus when the Church speaks of the coming life and the tribunal, it increases the fear of God in men. This fear has a humanising effect on life. So the teaching about the death and resurrection of bodies provides man with a socialising factor. Whoever banishes fear becomes subject to the demons, a prey to all the passions.

The conclusion is that there will be a resurrection of the dead. God's word bears witness to this, God revealed it to us, the saints confirm it by their lives and teaching, and human experience bears witness to it. This is why we stand with reverence before the human body. We revere it, we love it, we struggle to purify ourselves of sins, so that it too may be glorified. It is very characteristic that the hesychasm of the so-called neptic Fathers also turned to the body, which we honour greatly. We note this in the works of St. Gregory Palamas.

Reverence for the human body is also shown in its burial. In the Orthodox Church the burning or cremation of bodies is not accepted, but they are buried. To be sure, as we said before, about the teaching of St. Gregory of Nyssa, the bodies which have been burned will also be raised, but if a person of his own will desires his body to be burnt, he indicates that he does not believe in his resurrection. It is not at all strange that where the burning of bodies prevailed, notions prevailed that the body is a prison of the soul which must be discarded in order for the soul to be liberated. We reverence the body, we bury it and we await its resurrection. The saints are sleeping with nostalgia for the resurrection. They confess "I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come".
3. The coming judgement.
The Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead are closely connected with the coming judgement, the so-called future tribunal. All men will stand before the dread judgement seat of Christ.

In the Creed we confess that Christ will come with glory "to judge the living and the dead". This conviction constitutes the central teaching of the Church, as we shall verify in what follows. In all the assemblies for worship and in the divine Liturgy there are words about presence before the throne of God. The priest prays: "For a Christian end of our life, painless, peaceful and unashamed, and for a good answer before the dread judgement seat of Christ, we beseech Thee. "

In what follows we shall have an opportunity to emphasise the fact that although we use images in a tribunal, the judgement will have more the character of a revelation and manifestation of the spiritual state of the person. Moreover, all the images used have a symbolic character. Christ and the saints, as we shall see, use such images to make people understand pictorially that dreadful day when they will see the reality. Consequently, unless we do away with the images, we must enter into their essence and inner content.

According to St. Symeon the New Theologian, "What we have to say about the judgement is difficult to explain because it is not about present and visible things but about future and invisible ones". The present things are seen, the future is invisible, and that is why purity of nous, much prayer and much zeal are required.

In Holy Scripture a great deal is said about the coming judgement, which is a starting-point for eternal life and eternal Hell. Christ's parables about the Ten Virgins, the tares and the weddings are well known. It is not easy or possible for us to analyse all these elements. However, we shall set down the most significant ones.

Christ assured the people that He Himself would judge the people in the age to come. "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgement to the Son” (Jn. 5, 22 ). And this is not independent of the fact that Christ is the prototype of man, since man is an image of Christ, but also the rebirth of man comes through Christ. He became man, suffered, was crucified, rose again and was taken up. He, then, will be the judge of men.

"And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10, 42 ). Also the Apostle Paul preached the same teaching on Mars Hill, when he said: "He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all, by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17, 31 ).

In these apostolic passages it appears that Christ will be the judge of men. A parallel passage from the Apostle Paul is his exhortation to his disciple Timothy: "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom...” (2 Tim. 4, 1 ). The Second Coming of Christ is called epiphany and kingdom, which is connected with the judgement of dead and living, that is to say, those who have died previously and those who will be living at that time.

The connection of the Second Coming of Christ with the throne shows both the majesty of God and Christ's authority to judge men, but also men's fear in the face of the judgement and the judge. Christ used this image when he said that when he comes with the angels, "he will sit on the throne of his glory” (Matt. 25, 31 ).

The throne, which is a symbol of his glory, but also of the authority which he has over men, has its origin in the worship of the divinities of ancient times and of the god - emperor of the Romans, but also in the Old Testament, as well as in the Revelation of John. The Prophet-king David already writes in one of his psalms: "He has prepared his throne for judgement. He shall judge the world in righteousness” (Psalm 9, 7-8 ).

And there is a portrayal saying "preparation of the throne", which has been connected with Golgotha. Since the eleventh century the depiction of the "preparation of the throne”has been connected with the Second Coming of Christ and the coming tribunal.

The meaning of the throne, which suggests the imperial throne and the tribunal, has been closely linked with Christ's judgement of the living and the dead, and we find it in many passages in the epistles of the Apostle Paul. Referring to the fact that we are all suppliants, servants of Christ, and we should not judge others, he affirms: "For we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ” (Rom. 14, 10 ). The Christians of Rome, to whom this is said, had knowledge and experience of what the emperor's and the judge's throne meant. He also says the same thing to the Christians of Corinth: "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5, 10 ).

Since the final judgement of men will take place, and since the real Judge is Christ, Christians should avoid judging their fellow men, their brothers. The Apostle Paul writes: "He who judges me is the Lord... who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the heart” (1 Cor. 4-5 ). In this passage, apart from the fact that it says that Christ is the true judge of men, at the same time the way in which he will judge is also presented. He who is the true light, by His appearing will reveal all the hidden things of darkness and will manifest all the wishes and desires which there are in the heart. In another place the Apostle Paul refers to the judgement which will come from the saints. He writes: "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6, 2 ). This passage shows again the way in which the Judgement will take place. It is not a matter of a worldly tribunal where the accusation will be pronounced, and there will be witnesses for the accusation and for the defence, and then the decision will be heard. The image of the future tribunal is taken from the judiciary, but its content is different. The appearing of the sun of righteousness will reveal everything, all will be stripped of their outward distinctions and there will be a comparison of saints with sinners. This is the meaning of the saying that the saints will judge the world. We shall look at all these things in what follows when we speak of how the Fathers interpret the scriptural passages which refer to the future judgement.

Christ's parable of the wedding is well known. When the king came to the place where those invited to his son's wedding were gathered, he saw one person who was not wearing a wedding garment. Then he reprimanded him, saying, "Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?”He commanded that he be bound hand and foot and cast into the outer fire, where there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 22, 1-14 ).

According to the interpretation of this parable by St. Gregory Palamas, the wedding refers to the Second Coming of Christ and to the Kingdom of Heaven. The entry of the King, who is God, is "the manifestation at the time of the future judgement". The garment of the spiritual wedding, which was indispensable for those invited, was virtue. And naturally when the holy Fathers speak of virtue, they mean the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and not a superficial human virtue. He who lacks the garment of virtues will not only be unworthy of the Kingdom of God, but also will be punished. Not only the soul but also the body will prove to be unworthy of that bridal chamber, if it has not lived in self-control, purity and sobriety. The punishment for not having a wedding garment is connected with his removal from the dwelling-place of those rejoicing and from close association with them. It is basically a question of separation from God and not sharing in His grace.

The fact that his hands and feet are bound, by order of the King, refers to a person's constriction by successions of sins which occur in this life. The unbearable pain and great suffering which the person feels when he commits them in this life will continue in the next life as well. The fact that he is cast into the outer fire indicates "his having become far from God because he did not do deeds of light here". Inasmuch as he did not practice deeds of light in this life, in that day he cannot participate in the light. Saying that he is separated from God means this. The darkness into which he will be taken is synonymous with the inextinguishable fire, the unsleeping worms, the weeping and gnashing of teeth. All these things point to "the impending unbearable sufferings touching both soul and body”and the mournful cries of useless and perpetual regret. That is to say, they will repent of the deeds they have done, but it will never be possible to be comforted, for the repentance to be brought to an end.

The passage about the coming judgement is matchless and most expressive, and since it is a teaching of Christ, it is authentic through and through. No one can doubt it and wish to be called Christian. And this because what is said about the judgement comes from the indisputable mouth of Christ (Matt. 25, 31-46 ).

We shall not quote the text of the Gospel which describes the coming judgement, but we shall refer to the interpretation given by St. Gregory Palamas, and within the interpretation we shall also look at the related events.

When Christ has come in glory and with His angels, he will separate the people, as the shepherd does, and the righteous will be placed at His right, and the unrepentant sinners at His left. The judgement will be based on the love or hate which they have shown towards their brethren who found themselves in difficult circumstances. The question is, why is charity the only criterion? And is it altogether right that people should be saved by charitableness, while some people are condemned to everlasting death simply because they did not show sympathy to their fellow men?

St. Gregory Palamas makes a wonderful analysis of the passage, out of the whole experience of the Church. He says that the righteous will enjoy the Kingdom of God, not simply because of a small deed of charity which they have done, but because of their whole reborn existence. This is shown by three things.

First, by the fact that they are called sheep. By this term he shows that they are righteous, gentle, forbearing, and walk the level and trodden path of the virtues, that is to say, they have followed Christ, who is the real Shepherd of men. And not only have they followed him but they have become like Him, who is the lamb of God. This means that throughout their lives they kept the commandments of God, but also that they were always ready "for the death beyond the good". Some of them are sons of God because they are guardians "of the mystical rebirth from God”and others are paid workers, for they have acquired grace once more by the sweat of repentance and humility.

Secondly, the righteous have in their lives lived the love which is completion of the law, it is the virtue which towers above all the other virtues and is their head. Love towards humanity is an expression of the reborn man, especially when that love is within a love for God.

Thirdly, the righteous are also characterised by humility. For although Christ reminds them of what they have done, they do not feel it. Humility is connected with love. The righteous feel unworthy of praise. Therefore, by all these characteristics the righteous show that they are united with God, spiritually reborn.

The opposite happens with the sinners, who will stand at Christ's left. They are not condemned simply for the omission of a few small acts of love and charity, but for the opposite reasons for which the righteous were praised.

First, he calls the sinners kids, "as being impudent and undisciplined and going down the precipices of sin. Just as goats go up to high places, the same is observed in sinners. The unrepentant sinners have not acquired the prudence of Christ, they have not become sheep that are led by the true shepherd, but they preferred the disordered and impudent life, they have not made themselves like the lamb of God, which means that they did not possess the character of sacrifice for their brothers.

Secondly, they did not show charity and love, which means that they had not been reborn of the Holy Spirit. At the same time they showed hate. Just as love is the fullness of all the virtues, so also hate and deeds of hate, the unsympathetic manner, and the uncommunicated opinion is "the fullness of sin". The sinners are judged by their misanthropy, because all evils follow from this.

Thirdly, sinners are distinguished by their arrogance, which is connected with an unsympathetic manner. And then, when they are reproached for their lack of sympathy, instead of humbly drawing near, they contradict and justify themselves. It shows that misanthropy has become their nature.

Just for this reason the righteous enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the sinners are sent to Hell.

Analysing this point, St. Gregory Palamas says that the righteous enjoy eternal life: "they have life and they have it abundantly". "Life”refers to coexistence with God, and "abundantly”means that they are sons and inheritors of the Kingdom of God, that is to say they share the same glory and kingdom. Sinners have no share of God. At the same time they will coexist with the demons and will be consigned to hell fire.

St. Symeon the New Theologian, interpreting this passage, says that Christ is referring to something deeper and more essential. The fact that he reproaches the sinners, since he was hungry and they did not feed him or he was thirsty and they did not give him water to drink, means that he was hungry for their salvation and they did not measure up to it.

Through his creation by God, man is in His image and likeness, and through his coming into the Church, which is the Body of Christ, he is closely connected with God. Likewise through the sacraments he becomes a member of the Body of Christ. So when he does not live in accordance with God's commandments, it is as if he was letting Christ be hungry and thirsty.

Analysing this idea, St. Symeon says that Christ was hungry for man's conversion and repentance and man did not satisfy His hunger. He thirsted for man's salvation, and man did not give him a chance to taste it. He was bare of virtuous deeds, and man did not clothe him with them, for when the Christian as a member of Christ lacks these virtues, He is as if left naked with His limbs exposed. He was shut into the narrow, filthy, dark prison of man's heart, and man did not wish to visit him or bring him out into the light. The Christian knew that it was because of his indolence and inactivity that Christ was ill, and he did not help Him by good works and acts.

Christ really desires the salvation of man, whom He created, and through love he has endured many sufferings for his salvation. At the same time, through holy Baptism the Christian is a member of His body. And when he does not measure up to this desire of Christ and remains in the darkness of sin, then he condemns himself.

It is impressive when he says that he was in the narrow, dark and filthy prison of the heart. Actually through holy Baptism the grace of God remains in the depth of the heart of man. But divine grace is hidden by the sins which we commit after our entry into the Church. Thus Christ is as if imprisoned in the heart. Man's Hell will be precisely this.

Connected with this is St. Gregory Palamas' interpretation of Christ's parable of the Ten Virgins. According to the parable, the five wise virgins who had oil with them along with their lamps, went in to the wedding, while the five foolish virgins, who had no oil, were not found worthy of this great joy (Matt. 25, 1-13 ).

According to St. Gregory Palamas, entrance into the Kingdom of God is connected with virginity, not simply of the body, but properly of the soul. Everyone can experience this virginity. Virginity is practised by asceticism, self-control and the various struggles of the virtues. But hands too are needed to hold the lighted lamps, as well as oil. The hands are the active life of the soul, that is to say repentance, the effort to purify the soul. Lighted lamps are the right nous in which there will be that diligent spiritual knowledge which rests on the active life of the soul, is consecrated through a life in God and is kindled by the illuminations which come from Him. It seems here that it is a question of purity of heart and illumination of the nous. Noetic prayer, unceasing communion with God, is linked with the illuminations which come from God. But there is need for plenty of oil, which is love, the summit of all the virtues.

Judging from our analysis of patristic passages referring to the future tribunal, it seems that the coming judgement is not a typical legal process but is Christ's expression and revelation of man's inner spiritual condition. He who is reborn of the Holy Spirit will then appear clearly to all men; his kinship with Christ, who will shine radiantly, will be revealed. And he who is not reborn, and especially he who has a dark and unenlightened nous, will be revealed to all men, because he will have no share in God. Just as the appearing of the sun throws light on all things, so also the coming of the true sun of righteousness will be a real revelation of the inner dispositions and desires of men. We shall see this put more expressively, especially in the teaching of St. Symeon the New Theologian.

First it must be underlined once more that Christ is the Kingdom of Heaven. He is the true light which will shine at His coming to judge men. St. Symeon the New Theologian, referring to Him, says: "Thou Kingdom of heaven, Thou Christ, earth of the meek, Thou Paradise of verdure, Thou divine nuptial chamber, Thou ineffable banquet hall, Thou table open to all, Thou bread of life, Thou unprecedented beverage... “He adds that Christ, who is the unapproachable sun, will shine in the midst of the saints, and then all will be illuminated according to their faith, practice, hope, love, purity and illumination, which comes from His Spirit. The different mansions which will exist in Paradise will be reckoned as "the measures of their love and their vision of Thee".

Therefore according to his spiritual purity a man will radiate the brightness of God. The coming of the sun of righteousness among men will reveal everything. This is also how the Apostle Paul's saying is understood: "...your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3, 3-4 ). Another saying of the Apostle Paul is parallel: "Anything shown up by the light will be illuminated; and anything illuminated is itself a light” (Eph. 5, 13 ). All who have accomplished divine things in their lives will be in the light, and those who have done depraved things, as St. Symeon the New Theologian teaches, "will be in the darkness of punishments”and there will be a great gulf between them.

Thus at His appearance Christ will reveal men's way of life, their whole being, what is at the depth of their heart. This revelation is eternal life and eternal hell, because the first is participation in God, and the second is connected with non-participation and non-communion with God.

What will happen in the next life, at the coming Judgement, is also going on already. St. Gregory Palamas says that Christ is the sun of righteousness, the never setting, true and eternal light. The souls of the saints are in it now, and in the future life their bodies will be in it as well. Those who do not repent now, although they enjoy the physical, sensible sun and are comforted by the other creatures of God, are living outside the light. Then in the future life they will find themselves very far from God and will be delivered over to eternal Hell.

Therefore what will be in the next life is experienced already now. So St. Symeon the New Theologian asks God to give him His grace already now, as a pledge, that he may enjoy it in the coming life: "Grant me henceforth to serve Thee, my Saviour, and to receive Thy Divine Spirit, pledge of Thy kingdom and hence to enjoy Thy banquet, Thy glory, that I may see Thee, O my God, unto the ages of ages".

This is a concern of all the saints. They do not fear death, but they fear what will happen after that, especially at the Second Coming of Christ. They are not so much concerned about the time of their death as about the way in which they will depart, that is to say what will be their condition at that hour, for that will have eternal consequences.

St. Symeon says that he has a fear and horror of dying with a blind nous. Even if a person receives sensible light, the light of the eyes after his resurrection, it is of no use if he has no spiritual eyes to see God. In such a case a man who has come out of the dark dwells in darkness again and will be separated from God unto the ages.

Thus the appearance of God as sun will reveal the spiritual nakedness of a man. Now we have the possibility of concealing our spiritual nakedness by various means, but then all will be revealed. In one of his catechetical discourses St. Symeon the New Theologian presents the truth that it is not a matter of a man's profiting from all the material, sensory and mental gifts which he happens to have in his life.

He puts many questions, such as then where will be the sumptuous dinners, the various costly costumes, the arrogance of those in authority, and so forth? I would like to focus attention on his saying that then the nakedness of man's soul will be revealed. He asks: "Where will be the great names? Where the holiness that others attribute to us or we attribute to ourselves? Where will those be who now flatter and deceive us, who call us holy and wipe off the chaffing of our feet?".

Many of us have the illusion that we are holy, that we are full of virtues, since there are also many flatterers who cultivate this self-esteem. But then all will be revealed, and all men will see our nakedness.

There are many things in this life which conceal the blindness of our hearts and the nakedness of our souls. Many times this happens through the wisdom and knowledge of the world. We think that we are something, while essentially we are dead to God, we have nothing good. Then all will be revealed. St. Symeon the New Theologian asks: "Where will be the pretended prudence of those who are honoured for their knowledge and wisdom of the world? Where our presumption and illusion that we are something, though we are nothing?". This is precisely why great fear and trembling will then seize those who are slack, careless and slothful.

So, blessed is the man who lives in repentance and sees himself "lower than every creature", because "then he will stand at His right hand in glorious apparel". Only those adorned with the grace of God will stand at the right hand of the throne of God.

When St. Symeon speaks of clothes and nakedness, he does not mean only the existence or lack of virtues, but the Holy Spirit, the very light of God. Then the night will become as light as the day; every house and cave, even heaven and earth will be removed, and thus all who have not put on Christ, that is to say "those who have not received the light... and previously been in it and become light", then will appear naked and will be filled with much shame. Every act, bad or good, every thought, every memory that has arisen in us from our very birth till our last breath will appear. All will be revealed before men.

It is impressive here that those who appear naked will be chiefly those who have not seen the light in this life and have not become light. In that case the problem is not moral, but spiritual, ontological. The nakedness is related to not having participated in the light in this life. Therefore St. Symeon recommends that they enter the narrow gate through penitence "and see the light that is within it”already in this life. The vision of the uncreated light is not a luxury of the spiritual life, but the essence and purpose of it.

In the teaching of St. Symeon the New Theologian something else appears as well which is connected with what has been said. When we keep the commandments of God, we are brought to the light. Therefore not to keep the commandments takes us away from the light and commits us to darkness. So in reality the commandments of God will condemn man. The word of God is living and abides for ever. The neglected word of God "will stand in the presence of each one of us then and condemn whoever has not observed it". The Judgement will be by the commandments of God, which will test the faithful and unfaithful. In reality the unfaithful will be self-condemning for the deeds which they have done. Then a man will not get help from human wisdom and knowledge nor from eloquence of words nor from money and earthly possessions.

In the Biblico-patristic tradition we also see another way in which men will be judged in the future Judgement. It is said that men will be judged by the saints. We find this already in Christ's words to His disciples: "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19, 28 ).

The Apostle Paul maintains the same thing. Reproaching the Christians for turning to worldly tribunals to solve their various affairs, he says: "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6, 2 ). But how is this judgement known by the saints?

St. Symeon answers this point as well. He says that every man, finding himself faced with eternal life and that unutterable light, will see "one who is like him and will be judged by him". All men who have lived on earth in different ways of life will be judged by other men who have lived with them in the same conditions of life. And the ones lived in accord with the will of God, the others rejected His commandments. This means that there can be no excuse that the conditions of life were difficult and that therefore they could not live according to God's ordinances.

Thus fathers will be judged by fathers, relatives and friends by relatives and friends, brothers by brothers, the rich by those who were rich, the poor by those who were poor, the married by those who have excelled in the married state, etc. When sinners look at sinners who have repented, whoremongers who have not repented see penitent whoremongers, when the kings see holy kings, etc, and in general, when each person sees that someone like himself, who had the same nature, the same hands and eyes, the same conditions of life has been saved, this will be a self-condemnation, he will have no arguments and no excuses.

St. Symeon's words which I shall quote exactly are very characteristic: Thus each of us sinners will be condemned by each of the saints, and likewise unbelievers by those who believe, and sinners who have failed to repent by those who perhaps have sinned more but have fervently repented".

It is terrible at that hour for someone to see in the glory of God "him who received the tonsure with him standing on the right hand, the one who ate and drank with him, his contemporary, his colleague”being completely surrounded by great glory like Christ, while he himself is the opposite. Then he will be unable to speak at all.

This is just what it means that we shall be judged by the saints. We will be censured by their penitence and by the fact that they lived under the same conditions and yet they have been shown to be recipients of the Holy Spirit, imitators of Christ in every respect. We shall not be able to justify ourselves at all.

Another point which we see in the teaching of St. Symeon the New Theologian is that in the future Judgement those who have not received the Holy Spirit will be deprived of eternal life. Not only those who have sinned will be deprived of Paradise. Someone may not have sinned but if he has no virtues, which are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, he will be deprived of eternal life, he will be expelled from Paradise and will go to Hell. What St. Symeon said is characteristic: "Even if he has no sin but if he is without virtues, he stands naked". So even if we have not committed sins, we shall prove unworthy of the glory of God if we have no virtues.

He goes on still further to emphasise that virtues are not enough, but the glory of God, the grace of God is also needed. This means that the virtues are not simply achievements of man's individual effort, but fruits of the Holy Spirit. Just as Adam, because he did not keep the commandments of God, was stripped of divine glory and deprived of Paradise, so also he who will be found "truly stripped of divine glory”will be deprived of the paradise of the kingdom of God and the heavenly bridal chamber.

What one needs in order to enter the Kingdom of God at the Second Coming of Christ is the participation of the Holy Spirit. The Judgement Day is terrible because, apart from other things, one will learn "that those who do not have the Holy Spirit shining like a torch in their spirit and dwelling inexpressibly in their heart are committed to eternal darkness".

Therefore the repeated exhortations of St. Symeon the New Theologian, who is rightly regarded as the “theologian of Light”a theologian, are to keep away from evils and passions, to free the heart from every impurity, to acquire a pure nous, participate in divine grace, enjoy the divine Light. When a man lives in this way, then when Christ comes, there will be revealed and expressed an ineffable joy. He will participate in God, while the sinner will see God, but that will be self-condemnation and self-punishment, and he will experience the caustic energy of light.

In conclusion let me say that Christ will come into the world again, and this will be His Second Coming. The whole creation will be renewed, the dead will rise again, all who are alive then will be changed, and the judgement of men will follow. All these things are truths which will happen in any case, but we do not know the day and hour when they will happen.

Therefore Christ exhorts us always to be ready. Just as happened with Noah's flood, where men were "eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage”until Noah entered the ark and then all understood that the flood had come, the same will happen at the appearing of the Son of Man. So Christ says: "Watch, therefore, for you do not know at what hour your Lord is coming" (Matt. 24, 37-42 ). And at the end of the parable of the Ten Virgins Christ said: "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming".

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