Elder Paisios on the Final Judgment

3/4/14

This is my opinion of how Judgment will take place; that is, Christ is not going to say: “Hey you – come here! What have you done?” or “You: you are going to Hell” or, “You: you are going to Heaven”; but rather, each one of us will compare himself to the others and will proceed to where he knows is his place.

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“Elder, how is a soul purged?”

“When a person upholds God’s commandments, works on himself and cleanses himself of passions, that is when his nous becomes illumined, then reaches the heights of theory (“seeing” God) and the soul is brightened and becomes like it was before the Fall of the First-fashioned humans.  It is the state a person will be in, after the resurrection of the dead.  However, one can see the resurrection of his soul even before the common resurrection, if one becomes cleansed of all his passions; his body will then become angelic, immaterial, and it will not care about material sustenance.”

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“Elder, how will the Final Judgment take place?”

“On the Day of Judgment, each person’s state will be revealed in an instant and each one will move on to where he deserves to be.  Each person will observe his own wretched state like on a TV screen, as well as the other’s state.  He will see himself reflected against the other and will bow his head in shame and thus move on to the place that he deserves.  

For example, a daughter-in-law who used to sit indifferently cross-legged in the presence of her mother-in-law, who although suffering a broken leg, was nevertheless taking care of her little grandchild, will not be able to say “Why, o my Christ, are you putting my mother-in-law in Paradise but not me?”  because that precise scene will appear before her eyes (during Judgment).  She will be recalling the scene of her mother-in-law standing on her broken leg to attend to her little grandchild, and she will know she doesn’t deserve to go to Paradise – and neither will there be any space for her there.

Or, when monks who have seen the difficulties and the trials that secular people have been undergoing and how they were confronted – but they themselves (as monks) had not lived accordingly – they will hang their heads in shame, and head for where they deserve.

Nuns who had not pleased God will see there all the hero-mothers – who had taken no vows nor had the blessings and opportunities that the nuns had – and how those mothers struggled and to what spiritual state they had reached – when they as nuns had preoccupied and tormented themselves with all those petty matters – will be ashamed of themselves! 

That is how my thoughts perceive Judgment will take place.  Christ is not going to say: “Hey you – come here! What have you done?” or “you: you are going to Hell!” and “you: you are going to Heaven”; but rather, each one of us will compare himself to the others and will proceed to where he knows his place is.

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Note 1.  Saint John of Damascus writes: “Let no-one believe that there will be no recognition of one another on that terrible gathering.  Yes, indeed, each one will recognize the one near him – not by the form of his body, but by the discerning eye of the soul.”  (PG 95 276A)

Note 2. Saint Simeon the New Theologian writes: “And quite simply, every sinful person will see opposite him on that terrible day of Judgment in the eternal life and in that ineffable light the likeness of himself and will be judged by it.”  (On Repentance, Discourse 5, Sources Chrétiennes 96, 434).

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