Self-Determination and the Last Judgement…

The Last Judgement...

“One, and only one has spoken to us clearly and definitely about all that will come to pass at the end of time: the Lord Jesus Christ… For human understanding and logic, however great they may be, are too puny to reach to the world’s beginning and its end. Understanding is useless where vision is needed. We need a seer, who sees as clearly as we see the sun – to see the whole world, from its beginning to end…their has only been one such: the Lord Jesus Christ….” (St. Nikolai of Zicha, Homily on the Last Judgment. Homilies.)

“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
[32] Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
[33] and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.
[34] Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
[35] for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
[36] I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
[37] Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
[38] And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
[39] And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’
[40] And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’
[41] Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;
[42] for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
[43] I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
[44] Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’
[45] Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’
[46] And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

-An article by Fr. Steven C. Kostoff gives an excellent commentary of this passage, and a few parts stuck out to me:

“A merciful and charitable heart — that is what God wants from us: Be merciful like your Father in heaven. If in a human being’s heart there is no love, then all that he has is dead and of no value.”

“The Fathers tell us that we have the gift of “self-determination” (Gr. autexousia). This means that we are forming ourselves in the way we shall be for all of eternity — a sheep “at his right hand” or a goat “at the left.”

-How exciting! I found a sermon by St. John Maximovitch on the Last Judgement. It’s interesting how he discusses the antichrist and then ends it very abruptly with these words:

“When “the books are opened,” it will become clear that the roots of all vices lie in the human soul. Here is a drunkard or a lecher: when the body has died, some may think that sin is dead too. No! There was an inclination to sin in the soul, and that sin was sweet to the soul, and if the soul has not repented of the sin and has not freed itself from it, it will come to the Last Judgement also with the same desire for sin. It will never satisfy that desire and in that soul there will be the suffering of hatred. It will accuse everyone and everything in its tortured condition, it will hate everyone and everything. “There will be gnashing of teeth” of powerless malice and the unquenchable fire of hatred. A “fiery gehenna” — such is the inner fire. “Here there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Such is the state of hell.”

Happy New Year!

I am now a few weeks into my freedom after finishing graduate school and receiving my M.Ed degree. I would like to get back into blogging again now that I have a bit more free time, but we’ll see how well I can keep it up! I was married to the love of my life back in July in a beautiful ceremony at St. Elias Orthodox Church here in Austin. Our martyrs crowns rest on the top shelf below our icons hanging on the wall in the room we call “the prayer room” and wait to be hung up. We are reminded when seeing them of our commitment to die for the other, yet it is so easy to fight to win and to “live” for ourselves everyday. Our 5-month anniversary was yesterday, and we remembered that marriage truly is a path to sanctification.

Why would I like to start blogging again? Praying with my husband everyday, I enjoy his leading and choosing the readings. However, I know that my faith needs to still be my own. Being orthodox nearly a year and a half now, I am realizing how intentional I must be in digging into the readings and prayers and connecting with the saints who have gone before me. It has always been good for me to write about things, though the last year and a half of moving and graduate school and getting married and more moving has made it less likely that I will stop and meditate on all that has happened. I’d like to catch up now…


October 16 Gospel Reading

Luke 6:1-10

1 Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. 2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” 3 But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to Continue reading

July 6 Epistle Reading

I Cor. 6:20 – 7:12

[20] For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in
your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.[1] Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is
good for a man not to touch a woman.[2] Nevertheless, to
avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman
have her own husband.[3] Let the husband render unto the wife
due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.[4]
The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise
also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.[5]
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time,
that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together
again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.[6] But
I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.[7] For I
would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper
gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.[8]
I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if
they abide even as I.[9] But if they cannot contain, let them
marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.[10] And unto
the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart
from her husband:[11] But and if she depart, let her remain
unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put
away his wife.[12] But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If
any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell
with him, let him not put her away.

Augustine the Wise said in his Sermon 71 on the New Testament:

Continue reading

June 27 Gospel Reading

Matthew 8:28-9:1

[28] And when he was come to the other side into the country of
the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of
the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.[29]
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee,
Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the
time?[30] And there was a good way off from them an herd of
many swine feeding.[31] So the devils besought him, saying,
If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.[32]
And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into
the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently
down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.[33]
And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and
told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.[34]
And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw
him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.[1] And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into
his own city.

St.John Chrysostom in his Homily XXVIII on Matthew VIII said:

"But what can be the reason that they love to dwell in the tombs? This would easily suggest to the multitude a pernicious opinion, as though the souls of the dead became demons, which God forbid we should ever admit into our conception…It does not stand to reason that the injured soul should cooperate with the wrongdoer, or that a man should be able to change to an incorporeal power away from the body, to wander here some more. For 'the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God' (Wisdom 3:1)…and the souls of sinners too are immediately led away from here. This is evident from Lazarus and the rich man, and elsewhere too Christ says,'This day they require your soul of you'…How should the soul, being rent away from the body, and having gone out from all her accustomed region, know where to walk without one to show her the way?…Why did Christ fulfill the devil's request?…One, to teach those who are delivered from the wicked tyrants how great is the malice…another, that all might learn how not even against swine are they bold, unless He should so allow them."

Tertullian in De Fuga in Persecutione writes:

"…in the prayer prescribed to us, when we say to the Father, 'Lead us not into temptation'…, we acknowledge that that comes to pass by His will whom we beseech to exempt us from it. For this is what follows,'But deliver us from the wicked one,' that is, do not lead us into temptation by giving us up to the wicked one, for then are we delivered from the power of the devil, when we are not handed over to him to be tempted. Now would the devil's legions have had power over the herd of swine unless they had got it from God; so far are they from having power over the sheep of God. I may say that the bristles of the swine, too, were then counted by God, not to speak of the hairs of holy men. The devil, it must be owned, seems indeed to have power – in this case really his own – over those who do not belong to God, the nations being once for all counted by God as a drop of the bucket, and as the dust of the threshing-floor, and as the spittle of the mouth, and so thrown open to the devil as, in a sense, a free possession. But against those who belong to the household of God he may not do ought as by any right of his own, because the cases marked out in Scripture show when – that is, for what reasons – he may touch them."

Tertullian Tertullian was a second century Christian writer, apologist, and activist against heresies.

Chrysostom again referred to this passage in his Homily 6 on Philippians:

"See now what scorn is it, yea, what misery, to see him standing over our
heads, who has been given to us to tread down. And whence is this? It
is of ourselves. If we choose, he becomes great; and if we choose, he
becomes of small power. If we take heed to ourselves, and take up our
stand with Him who is our King, he draws himself in, and will be no
better than a little child in his warfare against us. Whenever we stand
apart from Him, he puffs himself up greatly, he utters terrible sounds,
he grinds his teeth, because he finds us without our
greatest help. For he will not approach to us, except God
permit him; for if he dared not to enter into the herd of swine, except
by God's permission, how much less into men's. But
God does permit him, either chastening or punishing
us, or making us more approved, as in the case of Job.
Do you see that he came not to him, neither dared to be near him, but
trembled and quaked? Why speak I of Job? When he
leaped upon Judas, he dared not to seize on him
wholly, and to enter into him, until Christ had
severed him from the sacred band. He attacked him
indeed from without, but he dared not enter in, but when he saw him cut
off from that holy flock, he leaped upon him with more than wolfish
vehemence, and left him not till he had slain him
with a double death."

St.John of Dalyatha…How I Am…

"You ask me how I am. I don’t know what to answer considering the ups and
downs that I experience. Sometimes I am full of Life and sometimes
death seems to rage against me in all my members. Sometimes I kill life
and sometimes it is the dead who bring me down. Sometimes I am cut off
from everything through union with the Lord and sometimes I am a mixture
of everything. It is a wonder for me that the Spirit of Life so lends
Himself to alienation that the dead can so exercise power. But He allows
this to happen in order to warn us, so that we should not breath in the
odour of the dead with any longing."

(Letter 37, 1)