Excerpts from The Evergetinos
On Death and the Future Life
Regarding those who die and come to life again,
and how this happens by Divine Providence.
And how many times sinners while still
alive, beholding the torments of Hell
and the demons, shudder with
fear; and in this state of fear,
their souls depart
A. St. Gregory the Dialogist
Question from Peter
How can one explain the phenomenon which occurs with many who appear, by some delusion,
to be separated from their bodies and are thought momentarily to be dead, as though
without a soul, but who come back to life?
St. Gregory's Answer
This phenomenon, if one understands it well, is not a delusion, but a divine admonition
to man: for this phenomenon God in His compassion renders by Providence, offering it forth
as the greatest gift of mercy, so that many, after the departure of the soul from the
body, come back into their dead bodies; having seen for themselves, with the eyes of their
souls, the torments of Hell, in which they did not believe when they heard of them from
others, they thus come to stand in fear thereof.
There once lived a monk named Peter. This monk was the disciple of an ascetic Elder,
Evvasa, who lived the ascetic life in a secluded, wooded place. Elder Evvasa told a story
to his disciple, Peter, about how, before settling in that secluded place, he fell ill and
died. Immediately, however, his soul returned to his body and, when he had come to, he
swore that he had seen the torments of Hell and its immeasurable burning chambers, and
that indeed, he had seen suspended in that fire many of the rulers of this world.
Moreover, just as he was being led away to be thrown into that place of torture and fire,
a white-winged Angel had appeared and preventing him from being cast into the fire, said
to him: "Go and take heed; and henceforth you must take great care in how you
After these words, the cold members of his dead body began to warm and, when he had
completely awakened from the sleep of eternal death, he related to all those around him
what had happened to him.Thereafter, he gave himself over to strict fasts and vigils,
being reminded always of the torments which he had seen in Hellindeed, fearing these
torments so greatly that, even if he did not speak thereof with his tongue, he nonetheless
preached them by his conduct.
In this way, thanks to the wondrous Providence of God, the Elder experienced a
temporary death, so that he would not be condemned to the eternal death of Hell.Though the
heart of man is possessed, at times, by such profound darkness, perhaps this demonstration
before him of the torments of eternal Hell can bring him to repentance.
Then again, the manifestation of the torments of eternal Hell becomes a source of
greater reproach for those indifferent or negligent, who, even after this ghastly vision,
return to life, remaining the same as before, uncorrected; wherefore, there is no longer
left for them any justification.
B. St. Gregory the Dialogist to his Deacon Peter
That souls often see, while yet in the body, various
of the torments of the unclean spirits in Hell,
sometimes for their own edification, at
other times for the edification of
those who hear of them.
There once lived a youth by the name of Theodore. He was very unruly and followed his
brother, who was in fact a monk, to the monastery out of necessity and not out of any
personal inclination or desire to do so. If anyone happened to tell him some good word
about his salvation, the young man, since he was very disobedient, was not only little
disposed to act on the advice, but would not even hear it; nor, moreover, would he agree
to become a monk.
Now, it so happened that this young man developed a sore on his thigh from a deadly
disease [this is a symptom of the bubonic plagueTrans.] and came near to the
end of his life. All of the brothers of the monastery gathered near him. Just as they saw
him slowly expire (his body had already become cold and there remained in his bosom only
the slightest warmth of life), they began to pray for him persistently and to ask God, Who
loves mankind, to have compassion on him at the hour of the departure of his soul from the
Suddenly, as the brothers were praying, Theodore began to cry out in a loud voice and
interrupt the prayer of the monks, saying: "Get away from me, move away, for I have
been handed over for a dragon to devour me. The dragon cannot consume me entirely because
of your presence. He already had my head completely inside his mouth. So give way, that I
will not be further tortured and so that what he must do, he can do even more quickly.
Since this dragon is intent on eating me, why should I suffer a slow martyrdorn?"
When they heard these words, the brothers were struck with terror, and they said to the
"Make the sign of the Cross over yourself."
Theodore answered in a heart-rending cry:
"I want to make the sign of the Cross, but I cannot, since the slime from this
dragon is weighing down my hand."
After this responsethough Theodore became inanimate, the monks knelt down
on the ground and began with fervent tears to pray intensely for the redemption of
Theodore from the dreadful dragon.
When a period of persistent prayer and supplication by the brothers had elapsed,
suddenly the ill Theodore jolted up and yelled with all the power of his lungs:
"My brothers, give thanks to God, for the dragon which had taken hold of me to
devour me has fled, and was unable to stay here at all. Now, therefore, I ask that you
fervently pray to God that He will forgive me of my sins. After this fearful thing that
has happened to me, I am completely ready to repent and to forsake the life of the
And, indeed, having come to and having recovered his strength, the young man turned
with all of his heart to God and entirely changed his outlook, since he was effectively
admonished by the corrective scourge which God had sent him. Having pleased God
sufficiently, his soul then departed from his body.
2. Theodore saw the punishment that follows death and was benefited thereby. Others,
however, as we noted previously, see the punishments inflicted by the evil spirits after
death while they are still alive and recount these for the sake of our spiritual
edification, then immediately die after the narration of the fearful things which they
saw. As an illustration of this, I will tell a story.
There once lived a man named Chrysaorios, from among the most notable of this world. To
the degree, however, that he added to his wealth, so much more he enriched his passions.
Pumped up by vanity, he submitted without resistance to the passions of the flesh,
endeavoring to amass many riches and inflamed by the passion of greed.
When, however, the Lord deigned to put an end to the many sins of this man, he allowed
Chrysaorios to fall to a life-threatening illness.
Now, when he had come to the last moment of his life, and while his eyes were still
wide open, he saw before him frightful and dark-faced spirits, who were there to help
escort him to the gates of Hell. He began to tremble and turn pale and was drenched with
perspiration; crying out in desperation, terrified, he pleaded for a little time (in order
He called with deep and agitated cries for his son Maximos, whom I later knew as a monk
when I, too, was a monk, saying: "Maximos of mine, come to me. Never have I done you
wrong. Save me now with the strength of your faith."
Thereupon, Maximos, upset and weeping, immediately went to him, along with all those
who lived in Chrysaorios' house. Though none of them was able to see the evil spirits
which had beset Chrysaorios, they could conclude that they were there from everything that
the suffering man was saying and from his pallor and the fear which he showed, since he
was turning here and there in his bed from fear of the vexatious spirits and their dark
forms. One minute he would turn to the left, only to see in front of him those spirits
which he dared not confront. Then he would look away toward the wall, only to see them
again standing before him.
So, having despaired of any possibility of escaping from them, he began to cry out:
"At least give me time until the morninga little time until the morning."
With these cries his soul departed from the body.
In all of this, it is obvious that Chrysaorios saw all of these things not for his own
benefit, but for ours, that we might learn, come to fear, and correct our ways. For of
what benefit to Chrysaorios was the appearance of evil spirits before his death or the
reprieve which he sought, yet did not receive?
3. A similar instance was related to me by the Presbyter serving our brotherhood,
Athanasios. In Iconium, from which he also hailed, there was a monastery: the monastery of
the "Galatians," as it was called. In the monastery there lived a certain monk,
whom all considered to have attained to a high degree of virtue and seemliness. As his
death revealed, however, his life was far removed from the apparent virtues that he
One day, foreseeing that his end was near, he called near him all the brothers of the
monastery. The brothers gathered around him with great eagerness, waiting to hear from
such a virtuous ascetic, as they reckoned him, something great and wondrous, now that he
was dying. Thereupon, he, mourning and trembling from his fear, said:
"You thought that I was fasting with you, when in fact, hidden away from you, I
was eating. And now behold: I am delivered to the frightful Dragon to be devoured. This
frightful Dragon has wrapped his tail around my feet and my knees, putting my head in his
mouth, while he sucks out and uproots my soul."
Having said this, he immediately died, without having been granted to live even a short
time in order, through repentance, to be set free from that Dragon. From this incident it
becomes wholly obvious that he saw this fearful vision solely for the spiritual benefit of
those who were listening, since he, even though he made known to others the Enemy to whom
he was delivered up, nonetheless could not escape it.
C. From the Gerontikon
An ascetic Elder related the following:
There once lived an aged nun who excelled in virtue and piety. When I asked her why she
fled from the world, she told me this. "When I was still a young girl, reverend
Father," she began, "I remember that my father was a very tender and good man.
He was thin and sickly in body, so that the majority of his time he passed confined to his
bed. He was marked by such simplicity that he spoke only when compelled. When he was well,
he dedicated himself to tilling the land, thereby occupying himself and bringing to our
home the produce which he cultivated. But he was so reticent to speak that those who did
not know him thought him to be mute.
"Wholly the opposite of my father was my mother. She was such a busy-body and so
idle that she was anxious to learn about things even outside our village. She talked so
much that nobody ever saw her silent, even for a little: rather, one time she would be
seen arguing and quarreling, and another time saying obscene and indecent words in jest.
Most of the years of her life she wasted in drunkenness and in the company of profligate
men. She was often away and was immoral, and, like a prostitute, badly looked after our
household, so that we could no longer get bydespite the fact that our assets were
not few, since it was to her that my father had entrusted the administration of the
household. Though she lived in this way, she nonetheless never became sick and never felt
the slightest pain; for all of the wretched life that she lived, she maintained her bodily
"It happened, anyway, that my father died, ravaged by many years of illness. Now,
what happened at his death? Immediately a fearful wind came up and almost razed the area.
There was continual thunder, and the rain poured so violently that no one dared poke his
nose out of his house even for a moment. This foul weather lasted three days, and out of
necessity we kept my father inside the house, unburied.
"Our fellow villagers, seeing all of these obstacles, greatly condemned my dead
father, saying: 'My, my, what evil was living in our midst, and we did not know it! It
seems that this dead man must have been an enemy of God, and for this reason God has not
even allowed him to be buried yet.'
"We however, so that the corpse would not start decomposing in the house and make
it uninhabitable because of the stench, risked, despite the violent rain, transporting the
body to the cemetery, and buried it.
"From that time on my mother had even greater freedom to devote herself with great
brazenness to orgies and debauchery. Indeed, she became so audacious that she transformed
our home into a house of immorality and, indulging her unceasing sensual pleasures,
squandered away all of our holdings; so, in a short time we had nothing left. Some years
after the death of my father, my mother died. She had such a splendorous and magnificent
funeral that one could say that nature itself cooperated in conducting it.
Since my mother had died and I had passed the age of childhood, the flames of youth
being kindled and tempting me, one evening the thought came to me: Which path shall I
follow in my life? Occupied with this thought, I said off the top of my head, talking to
myself: 'Should I choose, I wonder, my father's way of life, and live with kindness,
modesty, and judiciousness?
"'But my father, even if he did live virtuously, nonetheless never enjoyed even
one good thing, but was always devoured by illness and misfortunes. He was so unfortunate
that he was not even allowed in his torments to be buried like other people. If my
father's conduct and behavior were pleasing to God, why was he tested by so many
disasters? And what was my mother's life like? Did she not live a healthy life, even
though she was plunged into a life of pleasures and desires? I will also, therefore, live
the life that my mother did, for I prefer to believe in what I can see than in promises
about what is to come.'
"By the time that I had decided to follow in the steps of my mother, night had
fallen. And when I went to sleep, there appeared before me a man of enormous dimensions
and with a savage face. Staring at me with rage and a wild look, he asked me in a dreadful
voice: 'Tell me what is in your heart.' I was so frightened that I dared not even look at
"This fearful man, with the same sternness, asked me again:
"'Tell me, then. What have you decided?'
"When he saw that I was paralyzed by fear and was in danger of losing my senses,
he himself reminded me in detail of all that I had just been thinking of myself.
"Recovering from my fear and astonishment and being unable to deny anything that
the man had said, I began begging and imploring him to forgive me.
"Then, as though he had become calmer, he took me by the hand and said:
"'Come and see where your father and mother are. On the basis of this you can
choose which way of life you want for yourself.'
"Taking me from where I was, he guided me to a vast garden, which was planted with
various beautiful trees, beyond description in their charm and filled with different kinds
of fruits. And there, as I was walking with this fearful man, my father came up to me,
embracing me and covering me with tender kisses, saying, 'My beloved child.'
"I embraced my father with joy, asking if I might remain with him. My father
"'Now, my child, this is not possible; if, however, you will follow my own way of
life, not much time will pass and you will be here, too.'
"Just as I was to about to continue in my requests to remain with my father, the
Angel who was accompanying me pulled me by the hand and said:
"'Come, now, to see your mother, too, so that you can determine firsthand which
way of life you want to lead.'
"Then, taking me to a place that was all dark, in which one could hear great
disorder and groans, he showed me a furnace, the fires of which would spill over every
time it surged up. And outside the furnace a number of ghastly and frightening individuals
gazed on the sight.
"As I was looking at this frightening and terrible place of torture, I saw my
mother, submerged to her neck in the flaming furnace, numberless worms gnawing on her all
over. From my pain and fear, I was trembling, while my teeth began to chatter and to
"When my mother raised her eyes to look at me, she began to cry harrowingly and
said to me:
"'Alas, my child. My pains are unbearable. My torments are unceasing. For a few
years of delight and sinful pleasure, I brought all of this terrible punishment on myself.
Woe to me, such an unfortunate one! Woe to me, wretch that I am! Because of the ephemeral
pleasures of temporary life, I am now tormented eternally. But, my child, take pity on
your mother, who, as you see, is in flames and is being devoured by fire. Remember, my
child, how I gave you suckle and reared you, and take pity on me. Give me your hand and
pull me out of here.'
"I, however, did nothing, and could not even approach my mother, who, out of shame
before those who were around her, cried out even more strongly and with tears:
"'My child, help me and do not scorn your mother and her lamentations. Do not
close your eyes to this unfortunate mother, who is tortured in the Gehenna of fire and
continually consumed by unsleeping worms.'
"Moved by sympathy for my mother, I stretched out my hand, so that I could pull
her out of that frightful Hell. No sooner had the flames of the fire only slightly touched
my hand, than I felt great pain and began to cry in moans. From my lamentations and moans,
I awoke everyone in the house. They got up, turned on the lights, and ran to my bed,
asking with incessant questions to learn why I was crying in my sleep and groaning.
"So, having come to a bit, I began to relate to them everything that I saw in my
"From that day I most decisively resolved to live as did my father, whose way of
life I longed for. I pray that God will deem me worthy to succeed therein and to see my
father again and live with him, for, by the Grace of God, with my own eyes I saw the glory
and honor which awaits those who ready themselves by living reverently and virtuously;
and, on the other hand, again, what fearful punishment and Hell awaits those who squander
their lives on pleasures and passions."
E. From the Gerontikon
Abba Macarios the Egyptian related the following incident to his disciples.
Once, while I was walking in the desert, I found a lifeless skull on the ground. I
pushed it lightly with my staff and, to my amazement, I heard a voice from this skull. So
bravely and without fear I asked the skull:
"You, who are you?''
The skull answered me, as though it were a living person:
"I was a high priest of the pagan gods and Greeks who once lived near this place.
And you are Macarios, a man of the spirit. Take note, then, that any time that you take
pity on those in Hell and pray for them, they receive some comfort."
Abba Macarios once more questioned the skull:
"What is the nature of this comfort? And what is Hell like?"
"As far as Heaven is from the earth, such is the depth of the fire below us. In
that fire we stand upright, entirely buried in it. We are so situated that one of the
damned cannot see the other, but only his back. But when you pray for us, we are able to
see one another's face for a moment. This, then, is the comfort which we experience."
Abba Macarios, on hearing this, sighed deeply and said: "Alas, such misfortune the
day of his birth brings upon a sinner that it is better, as the Lord said of Judas His
betrayer, had he not been born." After speaking to himself in this way, the Elder
once again posed a question to the skull:
"Are there in Hell other torments that are worse than those which you have
"Below us there are even more frightfully hellish things," the skull replied.
"And who is punished there?" the Elder asked.
"We, in the end," the skull said, "enjoy to some extent the mercy of
God, since we did not know Him; those, however, who knew God and, despite this, denied Him
are below us and suffer far more hellish torments."
This exchange having come to an end, the Elder took the skull, buried it beneath the
soil, and went on his way.
Let us heed and fear all that this story tells us. For, if those who deny God suffer
more greatly in Hell than unbelievers, we must take care not to deny God by works of
darkness, that we might flee this fearful punishment. A denier of God is not just one who
rejects Him in word and deed, but anyone who commits sinful acts, even if, with his words,
he seems to confess faith in God. And a witness to the fact that what I say is true is the
Apostle [Paul], when he proclaims: "They profess that they know God; but in works
they deny Him" (Titus 1:16).
2. Likewise, the brother of the Lord, St. James, says: "If any man should think
himself religious, that is, devout, and does not bridle his tongue, but misleads his heart
into placing confidence in such faith, he is not thinking correctly and thereby fails to
be benefited by religion; for 'faith, if it hath not works, is dead' (St. James
These words contain an obvious truth. For God, through the mouth of the Prophet, said:
"Woe to those who blaspheme my name among the Gentiles." If we the people of
God, the holy clergy, we who are called by yet other such honored names, insult God by our
sins and therefore become the reason for unbelievers to blaspheme the good name of Christ,
by whose name the world knows us, how is it not just that we should be relegated to a
deeper part of Hell than the unbelievers, we who are the reason for their blasphemy and
insults before God? Furthermore, as the Savior, the just Judge, Who is not a respecter of
persons, says: "He who knows his Lord's will, and does not prepare himself, shall be
beaten with many stripes (that is, shall be more greatly punished); but he that knows not
the Lord's will shall be beaten with few stripes (that is, shall receive the least
punishment)" (St. Luke 12:47-48).
For this reason, my brethren, taking into account the fearful punishments of Hell, let
us tremble and struggle, within the measure given to us by Divine strength, to appear
faithful in every way by virtue of our good and virtuous works, and to work in all things
for the glory of God, that the name of God might be glorified by all who see our good
3. Abba Silouan was once siting among a number of brothers when, suddenly, he was taken
by ecstasy and fell down with his head to the ground. After a short time, he rose up with
tears. The brothers insistently pleaded with him and persuaded him to speak with them:
"Tell us, Father, what it is."
So, Abba Silouan, with emotion, told them:
"I was taken to the fearful Judgment of God and saw monks being led to Hell, as
many lay people were being escorted into Paradise."
For this reason Abba Silouan always mourned and never desired to leave his cell. If he
was obliged to leave his cell, being forced by some matter of necessity, he would cover
his face with his koukoulion [monastic veil].
The Testing of a Soul as It Passes From Earth to Heaven: Hypothesis X
The soul, after its departure from the body,
undergoes testing in the air by evil
spirits which encounter it
and attempt to impede
A. From the Life of St. Anthony the Great
St. Anthony the Great was once preparing to eat at his normal time; according to
custom, he stood to pray. It was then the ninth hour. But at that very moment he felt
himself somehow carried off spiritually. And this unusual thing took place: While he was
standing there, he looked on himself, as though he had left his body, and his soul was
taken into the air by several beings. After this, he saw a number of fearful and ugly
creatures standing in front of him in the air, trying to keep him from passing.
Those who were guiding his soul began to wrangle with these frightening creatures, who
were asking for an account of the soul which they were accompanying and whether it was
responsible to them for some debt. While the latter wanted to begin their assessment from
St. Anthony's birth, those who were accompanying him stopped them, saying:'Whatever errors
Anthony committed from his birth have been erased away by the Lord; however, all of his
deeds from the time that he became a monk and dedicated himself to God you may
Though the demons accused Anthony, they could not prove their accusations; so his path
remained free of impediments. Immediately he saw himself return to his body, and he
revived. And St. Anthony became as he had earlier been.
However, such was his agitation that he forgot to eat, and he passed the rest of the
day and the whole night groaning and praying.
He was stunned when he reflected on how many temptations we must combat and what trials
one must endure to pass by the air-borne demons. And he thought that this must be the
meaning of the words of the Apostle Paul: "According to the prince of the power of
the air" (Ephesians 2:2).
For this power alone belongs to the enemy of our souls, that is, to war against us and
try to impede those souls ascending into Heaven. Thus St. Paul counsels us with even
greater insistence, saying: "Take unto yourself the whole armor of God so that you
can withstand the devil on that wicked day, that the enemy might be brought to shame and
thus have to say of you nothing dishonorable" (Ephesians 6:13).
2. After this vision, several people went to visit St. Anthony and began to discuss
with him the soul and where it goes after its departure from the body. The very next
night, he heard a voice call to him saying:
"Anthony, arise. Come out from your cell and look"
Indeed, St. Anthony the Great went out (for he knew what voices he should heed) and,
having lifted his gaze up to Heaven, saw the following vision.
A tall and fearful creature, horrible in form, was standing straight up. His height
seemed to reach up to the clouds, while a multitude of creatures flew around him, as
though they had feathers. He would stretch out his hand and some of these he prevented
from flying, while others succeeded in passing by and flying higher, continuing on their
path without obstruction. This immensely tall demon would grit his teeth over those who
escaped him; but, on the contrary, he would rejoice over those who drew near and were
Forthwith St. Anthony heard a voice:
"Anthony, try to digest all that you have seen. And thereupon he cleansed his mind
and reflected on what he had seen. It was the passage of souls into Heaven, and the
immensely tall and frightening wild man, who was standing erect, was the Devil, who
despises the Faithful. He takes hold of those who were guilty of sins and tries to prevent
them from passing. Those who did not in their lives heed his counsel, however, he cannot
hold, and for this reason such persons succeed in soaring above him and making their way
to Heaven. When St. Anthony the Great saw this vision, it reminded him of the earlier one
that he had seen, and he struggled daily, thereafter, to excel in the virtuous life.
The Death of Two Brothers
B. From the Gerontikon
Two brothers once agreed both to become monks. After their tonsures, they rightly
decided to build two cells, one some distance from the other. They departed from one
another, therefore, and each was, for the sake of silence, cloistered in his cell. A
number of years passed without one seeing the other, since neither of the two went out of
It happened, however, that one of the brothers fell ill and the Fathers went to visit
him. They observed that the monk fell into ecstasy and, a bit later, came to. So, with
some curiosity, they asked him: "What did you see, Father." "The Angels of
God," the sick monk answered, "coming to fetch me and my brother and to lead us
into Heaven. As we were going up, we were met by hostile powers, countless in number and
of fearful form. Though they bothered us a great deal, they nonetheless had no success
against us. just as we were passing by these powers of Satan, they started saying: 'Purity
gives great boldness to a soul."'
No sooner had he spoken these words than the monk reposed. When the Fathers who were
there determined that he was dead, they sent a monk to announce this to his brother. But
the monk found the brother also dead. And so the Fathers glorified God in wonderment.
An Admonition to Prepare for Death
C. From Saint Isaiah
Beloved Brother: Those who occupy themselves with the ephemeral and vain world, if they
advance and make gains, do not count the trials which they have endured, but rejoice at
the progress which they have made. Can you imagine, then, my brother, what joy the soul of
a man who undertakes spiritual work for God and finishes it successfully experiences? It
is natural for the soul to feel unfading joy, for at the moment of its departure, the good
works which it has done will precede it when it ascends into Heaven. At that time the
Angels of God will rejoice together with it, as they see it delivered from the powers of
This happens because, when the soul of man departs from the body, the Angels go along
with it. However, all of the powers of darkness then hasten to meet it and seek to take
hold of it, thereby to examine it carefully and learn whether or not it was engaged in any
of their own works. It is not now the Angels who struggle with the demons to protect the
soul; but the deeds of the soul surround and defend it, so that the demons cannot touch
it. And if the good deeds of the soul defeat the demons, then the holy Angels sing on its
behalf, until the soul, with joy and gladness, meets God. At that time, the soul
completely forgets all of its good deeds in this vain world, as well as the labors it
Blessed, indeed, is he against whom the leaders of darkness can find nothing. He will
find joy, honor, and rest beyond all measure. Let us thus weep with the whole power of our
soul before God, that in His goodness he will take pity on us and send aid from on high by
which we might do all to conquer the leaders of evil, who obstruct our path [towards
Paradise]. Let us, thus, disengaged from the many other pursuits of life, take care with
resoluteness of heart to fulfill the Will of God, which will save us from the hands of the
demons when they shall come to meet us there above.
Let us remember love for the poor, that this love might save us from greed, when the
sin of greed shall come to meet us.
Let us acquire peace with all, the humble and the great, that this might guard us
against hate, when it shall come to meet us.
Let us acquire patience before all and in all things, that this might guard us against
carelessness, when it shall come to meet us.
Let us love all of our brothers and sisters, without hating anyone or repaying anyone
any ill done against us; for this shall guard us against envy, when this demon too shall
come to meet us.
Let us love the endurance in humility of our neighbor's word, even if this word should
bring upon us hurt and derision; for humility will guard us against pride, when it too
shall come to meet us.
Let us seek to honor our neighbor and not to condemn or hurt anyone; for this shall
protect us from gossip, when it shall come to meet us.
Let us despise the cares of the world and its honors, that we might be saved from its
bewitching evil, when it shall come to meet us.
Let us teach our tongues to be unceasingly occupied with the commandments of God,
righteousness, and prayer, that we might be protected from falsehood, when it too shall
come to meet us.
All of these foregoing evils impede the soul, while the virtues to which we have
attained help it to confront these evils successfully. Now, what prudent man would commit
his soul to eternal death just to be relieved from the labors required to gain these
Let us do all that is within our power and the power of our Lord Christ, which is
great, to help humble ourselves; for our Lord Jesus Christ knows that man is hapless, and
thus he has granted him repentance, as long as the soul is in this corruptible body, that
he might, until his very last breath, correct himself and flee from sin.
Confronting the Judgement After Death
D. From the Gerontikon
The Blessed Archbishop Theophilos said: Indeed what fear and terror and what need the
soul experiences when it departs from the body or, afterwards, when it has been completely
separated from it. For then all of the principalities and powers of darkness come upon it
and make manifest all of the sins which it has committed, whether in knowledge or
ignorance, from the time of a man's birth until his last hours, when the soul is separated
from the body. These powers brazenly draw near it and furiously accuse it.
Confronting these hostile powers of darkness are the holy powers, Angels, putting forth
and calling attention to the good deeds that soul occasioned to perform.
Think what agony and terror the soul will experience when it stands before such a
tribunal and faces such a fearful and impartial judgment.
It is impossible for anyone to express in words or to conceive in his mind the fear
that overtakes the soul up to the moment that the decision of the Judge is given and it is
released from those who hold it. That moment precisely is the moment of the soul's
greatest torment, until it hears the verdict of the Righteous Judge.
If, then, by the verdict of the Righteous Judge, the soul is given its freedom,
immediately the enemies scatter and the bright Angels seize the soul from them and, with
no more obstructions, it is led by the Angels to that inexpressible joy and glory in which
it will finally be restored.
If, however, the soul lived in carelessness, and is thus found unworthy of being freed,
then it shall hear that most dreadful voice: "Let the ungodly be taken away, that he
see not the glory of the Lord" (Isaiah 26:10).
Henceforth begins for that soul the day of wrath, sorrow, and unceasing grief; it is
given over to the outer darkness, hurled into Hell, and condemned to the eternal fire, in
which it will remain damned unto the unfading ages.
What then do the luxuries and fanfare of this world benefit the soul? Where are the
vainglory and the delights and the enjoyments of this vain and fleeting world? Where is
the money? Of what benefit a high birth? Where are your father, mother, brothers and
sisters, and friends?
What from all of this can free your wretched soul, as it is burned by the fire of Hell
and tormented by indescribable punishment?
How Souls Are Assigned Immediately After Death: Hypothesis XI
How, after death, souls are assigned to
the same place as those souls which
lived in a similar way on earth.
A. St. Gregory the Dialogist
The Holy Gospel says of the elect: "In my Father's house there are many
mansions." Now, if the righteous in that eternal blessedness enjoyed its good things
in the same way, then there would be reason to believe that there is but one mansion, not
many. However, there are many mansions in which the elect will be distributed, according
to their worthiness, that they might together rejoice and be glad.
The fact that all of the chosen who are distributed among the different mansions
receive only one coin shows that there is but one blessedness, enjoyed by all of those who
are saved; the amount returned to each of the elect, however, differs according to the
various works of virtue that they performed.
As for sinners, the Lord, referring to the Day of Judgment, says: "I will say to
the reapers, gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to bum
them." The reapers, that is, the Angels, bind up those sinners who have committed the
same sins, so that they can be sent to Hell together, and thus the proud are tortured
together with the proud, the immoral with the immoral, the greedy with the greedy, liars
with those who he, murderers together with murderers, and unbelievers together with
unbelievers. All of these, joined together according to their types of sins, will burn in
the various places of torture into which the Angels throw them.
I would like to ask this, in order to learn from you. How is it that in these recent
years so much has been revealed about the soul which earlier escaped our attention?
Perhaps this has come about so that we might see the future world presented to us in
It is exactly as you have said; for, as the end of this world approaches, so the
presence of the future world is bit by bit revealed by clear signs. In this world we
cannot even discern one another's thoughts, whereas in the future life we will be able to
see that all that we have in our hearts is also in the hearts of others. Thus, this
limited world resembles the night, while the future life is like the day.
Now, as when the night is ending the day begins to shine with light before the sun
fully rises, the darkness somehow mingling with the light, just before the darkness of
night completely fades and is overcome by the light of the coming day, so exactly are
things here. The end of this world is being mingled with the dawn of the future life, so
that certain obscure things of this world are made known by reason of their intermingling
with spiritual things. For this reason precisely, we are learning about things of that
Certainly, however, we do not know all of those things of the other world, or know them
clearly, but see them only dimly, as though our minds were illuminated in some wayin
the same way that we perceive objects of the material world just prior to the rise of the
B. From the Life of St. Evthymios
When our holy Father Evthymios reposed and his body, much tormented by ascetic
exercises, was, with the chanting of the appointed hymns, placed in his richly decorated
tomb, Dometianos, the disciple of this Father, a true disciple indeed, who had imitated
the life of St. Evthymios with great exactitude, serving the Saint more than fifty years,
would not leave the tomb, but remained at the grave for six days, believing that, after
St. Evthymios' death, he could no longer live or even see the light of day without him.
However, when the seventh day had passed, that night St. Evthymios, with a joyful
countenance, appeared to Dometianos and said to him:
"Come, enjoy the glory that has been prepared for you. For God has granted us the
privilege to live together here in this place."
Immediately, Dometianos ran and revealed all of this to the council of the Brothers.
And then he, too, joyful in the hope for future good things, departed this life.
C. From Abba Isaac
Our Savior calls the mental levels of those who dwell in that other realm the
"mansions" of his Father. I mean by mental levels the diverse ways in which the
mind of each of the saved takes pleasure in and enjoys the blessedness of Paradise. For
the Lord did not characterize the mansions of Paradise as various places, but called the
various ranks of the gifts of Grace "many mansions."
That is, just as each of us enjoys the sensible sun according to the acuity of his
vision, without this single sun being divided into many different gleams of light, but
remaining a single light for all men, so it is exactly with the righteous in the next
life., All of the righteous dwell in one place; each of them, however, each one, will draw
to himself the light and joy of the spiritual Sun according to the level of his own
purity. Each of the righteous, that is, will enjoy as much light and joy as he is able to
receive and to assimilate.
D. St. Gregory the Dialogist
I am of the opinion, honored Master, that since the human race is subject to many and
incalculable passions, the greatest part of the heavenly Jerusalem must be filled with
Let us not doubt that baptized babies who die in their infant years will enter into the
heavenly Kingdom. We should not, however, believe that all those infants who have begun to
speak will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. For the entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven will be
closed to many babies because of their parents' bad rearing. In this city, there lives a
certain man who is known to all; three years ago, this man had a son who, if I recall,
would then have been about five years old, for whom he had such human love that he did not
even try to discipline him.
For this reason, the boy, when someone prevented him from getting his way, used to
blaspheme the magnificence of Godand let me emphasize that this is something
When, three years ago, a deadly plague fell upon the region where he lived, this young
boy succumbed to it and was near death. As eyewitnesses recounted, while the father took
the child into his arms, the boy himself saw evil spirits coming for him. The boy began to
tremble, to blink his eyes in fear, and to cry out in despair to his father: "Father,
save me, protect me." Simultaneously, as he cried, he turned his face towards his
father's chest, as though wanting to be hidden.
When the father saw his son trembling, in agony he asked him what he had seen. The son
answered: "Black creatures came to me and wanted to take me away with them." No
sooner had he finished this phrase, than he immediately blasphemed the name of the Divine
Magnificence and, with this blasphemy, expired.
Thus, God, the All-Powerful, in order to show by what sin the boy was given over to
these evil servants, allowed him to die with this sin which his father, while the boy was
alive, did nothing to prevent. And this boy whom God allowed, by His mercy, to live as a
blasphemer, by His righteous judgment was also permitted to blaspheme at his death, so
that his careless father might know well his sin. For this father, being indifferent to
the soul of his young son, reared for the Gehenna of fire not an insignificant sinner, but
a great sinner.
E. From the Gerontikon
The Elders say: "Brethren, chastise children, that they be not a chastisement for
From The Evergetinos, Book I, Vol. II (Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox
Studies, 1991). There are now (October, 1998) three volumes available of
this classic work. These are the only editions available in English.