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Κυριακή, 14 Οκτωβρίου 2012

Teachings of Reincarnation

As a replacement for the Christian teaching of man's salvation through Christ, more and more we see the spreading of the pernicious, occultist and theosophical teachings of reincarnation. According to the ancient Hindu version of this teaching, the soul after death temporarily goes into the astral plain from which it reincarnates into a different form of life, such as a plant, insect, animal or human being. (We should probably add microbes and viruses to this list, as the ancient Hindus were not aware of these forms of life). The selection of the body is determined by the amount of Karma, the amount of deeds, good or bad, collected by the soul in its previous life. If a person was good, his body transfers to a more developed and nobler creature. If he was bad, than his soul is punished by a transfer to a lower class of creature. The process of reincarnation continues until such time as the soul frees itself from Karma by losing all interest in life at which time it blends with the absolute, Brahma, or according to Buddhism dissolves in Nirvana.
Teachings of reincarnation pronounce that as there was a time when man did not exist, so there will come a time when he will be no more. Man began his development from the lowest orders, as a plant or a fish, and will develop into something greater than man. Therefore, human beings are just transitory creatures. They are completely at the mercy of cosmic powers pulling them towards some unseen goal and will eventually be brought into condition that has no humanity.
There are several versions of teachings on reincarnation. In the west the more humanized version is popular wherein the souls of people only reincarnate into other human bodies that are nobler or baser, but not into lower life forms.
The teaching of reincarnation in all its different forms goes against the teaching of the Holy Scripture regarding the nature and purpose of man. This false religion has objective facts in its favor and is founded in fantasy. Notwithstanding, it attracts converts by, on the one hand, promising a type of immortality of soul (in its primitive and heathen form) and, on the other hand, denying God's judgment and the punishment of hell. It frees a sinner from feelings of responsibility and fear for his inappropriate actions. The logical conclusion of the teaching is that even if a person commits many sins in this life, in his next reincarnation he can mend his ways. After an unlimited cycle of reincarnations each person will eventually reach the same end as all the other, a blending with the absolute. The only difference is in the quantity of cycles.
Additionally, the teachings of reincarnation provide an explanation for any passions or even transgressions a person might have. For instance, if a sodomite feels attraction towards another man, it is apparently because he was a woman in one of his former lives. If a wife is unfaithful to her husband, it may be that her lover was a husband in a previous life and so on.
However, the teaching is completely unverifiable fiction and its seeming appeal is in actuality extremely depressing. Firstly, what is it that reincarnates after a person's death? Evidently, it is not the soul with which we associate with our feeling of self (me). After all our feeling of self, our me, recognizes itself as single and unending being throughout the course of its life. Our "me" learns, acquires knowledge and develops its talents. As it turns out, all of this spiritual cargo, acquired with great effort, is erased and we start learning all over again from ground zero. At the moment of reincarnation the soul is a blank page. If a person suffers for bad Karma, collected in a previous life, he will never understand why he is being punished. After all, he can remember nothing. As a result, he bears the punishment for acts committed by him in a state of incompetence, which is not only unfair, but also not allowed in any system of law.
If all people, sooner or later, will reach the same goal, why labor or try to develop your good traits or do good deeds? And what kind of a reward is it to dissolve in Nirvana, where there is no thought, feeling or will? In the discernment of personality a sharp contrast is drawn between the theosophical teachings of reincarnation and the Christian teachings regarding man. Teachings of reincarnation abolish the personality or soul. According to them, in the cosmic evolution it is just a transitory embodiment and does not make up the core of the man. In reincarnations, a person's personality is not retained. In theosophy, the core element, retained during reincarnation is not personality, but individuality, which is explained as a combination of functions and indicators. Individuality is a purely biological category, established by an evolutionary process. Consequently, man’s destiny is determined by cosmic forces.
The teachings of reincarnation do not in essence solve the problems of immortality, because memory of previous lives is not retained which would be a prerequisite of a singular personality. The reincarnated becomes a different person, at times not even a person but something different. The theosophical understanding of the world is in conflict with personality and is, therefore, in conflict with man. The theosophical deity is without personality, as is his man. The deity, mankind and nature are all different forms of the absolute.
Christian teaching declares exactly the opposite. The core element that inherits eternity is the personality. Personality is created by God and carries in it the image and likeness of God. This is the great advantage of Christianity over theosophy. In Christian teachings man is continually developing and growing, can enter into communion with God, and to some degree be likened unto Him. All the while retaining his human nature. Man did not develop from the lower spheres of cosmic life. He was created by the Living God and in this likened unto Him. In view of this, man is preordained for eternal and conscious life.
Teachings of reincarnation also conflict with the Christian teaching of redemption. This is seen clearly from the Gospel’s example of the wise thief, who in one moment inherited the kingdom of heaven by simply appealing to Christ (bypassing Hindu Karma). Redemption, created by Christ, frees man from the forces of cosmic processes and from the powers of fate. It gives, by the power of Grace, that which theosophy's endless cycles of wandering through cosmic corridors cannot.
Contemporary stories of life after death are valuable, because they foil the very root of occultist teaching regarding reincarnation. In all the accounts recorded by the reanimating doctors, the soul upon leaving the body continued to recognize itself as the same being that lived in the flesh. If it wanted to return to this world, it was only to finish some task. In meeting the souls of departed friends or relatives, the souls of those who later returned to life recognized them as living personalities and they were likewise recognized by their deceased relatives and friends. In all instances the souls of the departed retained their unique personalities.
By denying the retention of personality, teachings of reincarnation deny immortality and make man a toy of blind cosmic processes. It is as false as it is pessimistic.
Yet, Christ has risen! By his strength, we too shall rise in transfigured bodies for eternal and conscious life. Glory to Him unto the ages. Amen.

Heaven and Hell

The Holy Scriptures' teachings regarding the delight of the righteous in heaven and the suffering of the sinners in hell can be found in the brochure "The end of the World and Future Life"(missionary brochure of our parish, number 47). What is heaven? Where is it? In conversation people refer to heaven as up "above" and hell as down "below." People who have seen hell during their clinical deaths always described its approach as a descent. Although, clearly, up and down are relative terms, it would be incorrect to think of heaven or hell as simply different conditions. They are two distinct places though they defy geographical description. Angels and the souls of the dead can only be in one particular place, be it heaven, hell or earth. We cannot denote the location of the spiritual world; it is not within the "coordinates" of our space-time system. That space is different and, although it has its beginnings here, it expands in new directions beyond the reaches of human mind.
Countless incidents from the lives of the saints show us how that spiritual space interacts with the space of our world. In such a way, the residents of Spruce Island saw the soul of Saint Herman of Alaska rising in a column of fire; the Elder Seraphim Glinsky saw the ascending soul of Saint Seraphim of Sarov; and the Prophet Elisha saw the Prophet Elijah taken to heaven in a fiery chariot. As much as we would like to penetrate into this new world, we are prevented by its existence outside of our three-dimensional world.
Most contemporary accounts of clinical death describe places close in proximity to our world, on this side of the threshold. Still, we come across accounts of places that resemble heaven and hell as described in the Holy Scriptures.
For instance, in the works of Dr. George Ritchy, Betty Malts, Maurice Rawling and others there are depictions of hell: "serpents, fiends, unbearable stench, and demons." In his book "A return from tomorrow" Dr. Ritchy tells of his own experiences in 1943 when he saw depictions of hell. The bondage of the sinners to the cravings of this world was unbearable. He saw murderers that were, so to speak, chained to their victims. The murderers cried out and asked for forgiveness from their victims, but they could not be heard. These were purposeless tears and requests.
Thomas Welch tells how he, while working as a lumberjack in Portland, Oregon, slipped and fell into a creek and found himself crushed by giant logs. It took workers more than an hour to find his body and pull it out from between the logs. Not seeing any signs of life, the workers concluded that he was dead. Thomas, meanwhile, in a temporary state of death, found himself on the shores of boundless flaming ocean. He was frozen by fear of the fiery sulfur rushing towards him. This was the fiery Gehenna that cannot be described in words. There, on the shore of the fiery Gehenna, he recognized the faces of a few people who had died before him. All of them stood in absolute horror of the rolling fiery surges. Thomas knew that there was no chance of leaving this place. He began to regret that he had previously shown so little concern for his salvation. Oh, if only he had known what awaited him, he would have lived very differently. Then he noticed someone walking in the distance. The face of the stranger showed great strength and goodness. Thomas understood that this was the Lord and that only he could save his soul, condemned to Gehenna. A spark of hope was kindled in Thomas and he hoped the Lord might notice him. The Lord, however, was walking past him towards something in the distance. "Now, he will depart and then all hope will be lost." Suddenly the Lord turned His countenance and looked at Thomas. It was all that was necessary, just one look from the Lord. In an instant, Thomas was back in his body and alive once again. He had not yet opened his eyes when he could clearly hear the prayers of the workers standing around him. Many years later Thomas could remember everything he had seen there in great detail. It was an unforgettable experience (his experience is written in the booklet "Oregon's Amazing Miracle," Christ for the Nations, Inc. 1976.).
Pastor Kenneth E. Hagin remembers that in April of 1933 when he lived in McKinney, Texas his heart stopped beating and his soul left his body." After this, I began to descend lower and lower. The lower I went, the darker and hotter it became. As we went deeper, I noticed the flickering of ominous flames, presumable hell's, on the walls of the caves. Finally, a large flame burst through and began to pull me. Many years have passed since then. To this day I can picture that hell's flame.
Having reached the bottom of the chasm, I felt the presence of a spirit next to me and it began to lead me. At this moment, above the hellish dark a powerful Voice was heard. I did not understand what was said, but I felt that it was the God's Voice. From the force of this Voice, the whole of the nether world trembled. Immediately the spirit which had been pushing me, let me go and a wind lifted me back up. Gradually the light of this world began to shine. I was, once again, in my room and I jumped into my body like a man jumping into a pair of pants. I saw my grandmother, who started telling me "Dear, I thought you had died." After a time, Kenneth became a pastor in one of the Protestant churches and dedicated his life to God. He wrote about his ordeal in a brochure entitled "My Witness" [4, pg. 91].
Dr. Rawlings dedicates a whole chapter of his book to stories of people who had been to hell. In one of the stories there is a huge field where sinners battle without rest, maiming, raping and killing each other; the air full of their agonizing cries, obscenities and curses. In other stories there are places of fruitless labor, where cruel demons oppress the souls of sinners by forcing them to carry loads from one place to another [4, Chapter 7].
The unbearable torments of hell are well illustrated by the following two stories from orthodox books.
An enfeebled man after suffering for many years finally prayed to the Lord for an end to his suffering. An angel appeared to him and said: "Your sins require cleansing. The Lord offers you to exchange one year of suffering on earth for three hours of hell. Choose." The sufferer contemplated his choices and decided on three hours in hell. Then the angel took him into the pit of hell. All around was darkness, narrowness — everywhere evil spirits, the cries of sinners, and suffering. The soul of the enfeebled began to experience indescribable fear and pain, but only echoes and the surging hellfire answered his screams. No one noticed his groans and bellows; all of the sinners were occupied with their own suffering. The sufferer felt that centuries had passed and that the angel had forgotten him. Finally the angel appeared to him and asked, "Well, how are you brother?" "You tricked me!" exclaimed the sufferer. "Not three hours, but many years I have been here in intolerable pain!" "What years?" the angel asked, "only an hour has passed, and you still have two to go." Then the sufferer begged the angel to return him to earth, where he was willing to suffer as many years as required, if only to leave this place of terrors. "Very well," answered the angel, "The Lord will show His Great Mercy." Finding himself back on his sickbed, the sufferer from that point forward bore his sufferings with meekness, always remembering hells terrors, which are incomparably worse. (from the letters of Sviatogortz, pg. 183, 15th letter, 1883).

Here is the story of two friends. One went to a monastery and led a saintly life and the other remained in the world and lived sinfully. When the sinful friend died, his friend the monk prayed to God for knowledge of his friend's fate. Once, while the monk was in a light sleep, his friend came to him. His friend began to tell him about the intolerable agonies he was experiencing and how a tireless worm was gnawing at him. Having said this, he lifted his clothing over his knee revealing an awful worm, which covered the length of his leg and was consuming it. The lesions on his leg exuded such an odor that the stench woke the monk. He jumped from his cell and the stench from his cell spread through the monastery. As the stench did not decrease with time, all of the monks were forced to move to a different site. The monk who saw hell's prisoner could not rid himself of the stench which clung to him for the rest of his days (from the book "Eternal Mysteries from Beyond the Grave" a publication of St. Panteleimon Monastery, on Mount Athos).
In contrast to these visions of terror, the descriptions of heaven were always bright and joyful. Such is the story of Thomas N., an eminent scientist, drowned in a pool when he was five years old. Fortunately, a relative noticed him and pulled him from the water and took him to the hospital. When the other relatives gathered in the hospital, the doctor told them that Thomas was dead. To everyone's surprise, Thomas awoke. "When I was under the water," Thomas later recounted, "I felt that I was flying through a long tunnel. At the other end of the tunnel, I saw a light that was so bright that I could touch it. There I saw God enthroned and below people or maybe angels surrounding His throne. When I came closer to God, He told me that my time had not yet come. I wanted to remain, but I unexpectedly found myself back in my body." Thomas insists that this vision helped him find the right path in life. He wanted to become a scientist to more deeply understand the world that God created. Undoubtedly he has had great success in this endeavor.
Betty Malts' book, "I Saw Eternity," released in 1977 describes how she died and then found herself on a marvelous green slope. She was surprised that even with three incisions from her operation she could stand and walk freely and without pain. Above her, was a bright blue sky. There was no sun, but light was everywhere. Beneath her bare feet the grass was green, like no green on this planet, and each blade seemed to be alive. Although the hill was steep, her feet moved easily, effortlessly. She could see bright flowers, shrubs and trees. To her left, she saw the figure of a man in a robe. Betty thought to herself, "Could this be an angel?" They walked along without speaking. She felt that he was not a stranger and that he knew her. She felt young, healthy and happy. " I had everything that I had ever wanted; I was everything I had hoped to be; and I was going to where I had always wished to be." Then her life flashed before her eyes. She saw her own selfishness and was ashamed, but she felt love and concern around her. She and her companion came to a wonderful silver palace, "but it had no towers." Music and singing could be heard. She heard the word "Jesus." The palace had walls of precious stone and a doorway of pearl. When the gates opened, for a moment, she saw a street in golden light. Even though she could not see anyone in the Light, she knew that this was "Jesus." She wanted to enter the palace, but on remembering her father was returned to her body. This encounter has brought her closer to God. She now loves people.
Saint Salvianus of Albi, a hieromonk of Gaul during the 6th century, was returned to life after being dead for the better part of a day and told his friend Gregory Tursk the following: "When my cell was shaken four days ago and you saw me dead, I was lifted by a pair of angels and taken to the heights of heaven. There, under my feet, I could see not only the insignificant earth, but also the sun, moon and stars. After this, I was taken through a gate brighter than the sun and led into a building where all the floors shined with silver and gold. That Light defies description. That place was full of people and stretched so far in all directions that I could not see its end. The angels cleared a path before me through the crowd and we entered the place upon which our gaze had rested when we were still afar. Above this place, hovered a bright cloud, brighter than the sun, and from it I heard a voice, like the sound of many waters.
Then I was greeted by other beings; some were in priestly clothing, others in usual dress. My guides explained that these were the Martyrs and other Saints. While I stood, I was fanned by a pleasant fragrance; it filled me in such a way that I felt no need of food or drink.
Sometime thereafter, the Voice from the cloud said, "Let this man return to earth as he is needed by the Church." And I fell down to the ground and cried: "Alas, Alas, Lord, why have You shown me all of this if only to take it away?" But the Voice answered, "Go in peace. I will watch over you until such time as I will return you to this place." Then I went back, crying, through gates by which I had entered.
Another extraordinary vision of Heaven is related by St. Andrew the Christ Lover, a Slav, who was born retarded and lived in Constantinople in the 9th century. Once, during a harsh winter Saint Andrew was lying in the street dying from the cold. All at once, he felt unusual warmth and saw a beautiful youth shining like the sun. This youth took him to heaven, the third firmament. This is what Saint Andrew described upon his return to earth.
"By God's will I spent two weeks in a sweet vision… I saw myself in heaven and I wondered at the untold charm of this beautiful and delightful place. There were many orchards full of tall trees. Their swaying tops pleased my sight and their branches emitted a delightful fragrance. The beauty of these trees could not be compared with any on earth. The orchards were filled with innumerable birds with gold, white and colored wings. They sat on the branches of these heavenly trees and sang so that I lost myself in the singing…
Next, I saw myself standing on heavenly firmament and a youth with a face bright like the sun and dressed in royal purple walking before me. As I followed him, I saw a tall beautiful cross that looked like a rainbow and around it flame-like singers, who sang unto and praised the Lord, crucified for us on the cross. The youth, who walked ahead of me, approached the cross and kissed it. He motioned for me to do the same…
Kissing the cross I felt untold gladness and felt the fragrance more than before. Going further, I looked down and saw below me something like the depths of the ocean. The youth turned to me and said, "Do not be afraid for we must go even higher" and he gave me his hand. When I grabbed it, we were already at the second firmament. There I saw amazing men; their happiness cannot be related in the language of mankind. And so we rose above the third firmament, where I saw and heard the numerous powers of heaven, singing and praising God. We approached a curtain that blazed like lightning. Before it stood youths of flame… And the youth, who had guided me, said, "When the curtain opens, you will see the Lord Christ. Then bow down to the Throne of His Glory…" And so a sort of flaming hand opened the curtain, and I, like the Prophet Isaiah, saw the Lord Himself sitting upon the most high and exalted throne, and Seraphims flew about Him. He was dressed in royal purple garments, His Face glowed and He looked upon me with love. Seeing this, I fell down before him, bowing to the Almighty and to His Throne of Glory. What happiness filled me when I looked upon His Countenance, words cannot explain. Even now, remembering this vision I overflow with inexpressible joy. In trepidation I lay before my Master. Then all the heavenly forces sang a most-glorious and unutterable song, thereafter, not knowing how, I was again in heaven (the third firmament)."
It is interesting to note that when Saint Andrew, not seeing the Virgin Mary, asked where She was, the angel explained: "Did you expect to see the Queen here? She is not here. She has descended to the unsettled world to help the people and comfort the grieving. I would show you Her Holy Place, but there is no time. You must return."
And so, according to the lives of the saints and the stories in orthodox books, we see that the soul reaches heaven only after it has left the earth and traveled the distance between the two worlds. Many times these trips include the snares and plottings of demons. The soul is always led to heaven by angels. The soul never arrives there without guidance. Even St. John of Chrysostom wrote about this: "And then the angels led Lazarus… for the soul does not go into that world on its own for that it cannot do. For if we travel from one city to another, we have need of a guide, how much greater then is the soul’s need in a guide having been taken from the body and presented with the life of the world to come." We must conclude that the contemporary stories of the Light and of the beautiful places are not actual visitations. Rather, they are "visions" or "foretastes" of them from a distance.
Obvious signs of God's Grace always accompany direct visitation of heaven. Sometimes through marvelous fragrance accompanied by a bolstering of man's strengths. For example, the fragrance so fed St. Sabellius that he did not need food or drink for three days and only when he spoke of it, did the fragrance disappear. The intimate experience of visiting Heaven is accompanied by a feeling of reverence before the Resplendence of God and an appreciation of one's unworthiness. Moreover, the personal experience of Heaven cannot be accurately conveyed, because the "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" and "for now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face" (1 Cor. 2:9 and 13:12).

The Soul on its Way to Heaven

We have already mentioned several contemporary accounts about the review that some people experience when they leave their bodies. Obviously, this stage has something to do with the informal judgment or as a preparation for it.
In the lives of the saints and in spiritual literature, there exist stories about Guardian Angels taking the soul after death and accompanying it to heaven to worship before God. Frequently, as the soul is ascending to heaven, demons, upon seeing the soul, surround it intent on scaring it and carrying it away. This is because, according to Holy Scripture, after their expulsion from heaven, the fallen angels took over the area, if it can be called that, between heaven and earth. This is why Apostle Paul calls Satan "the prince of the power of the air" and his demons, spirits of wickedness in "heavenly" places, that is to say, in the sky or heavens (Eph. 6:12, 2:2). These wandering spirits of the heavens upon seeing a soul led by an angel approach it from all sides reproaching it for sins committed throughout its life. Being extremely insolent, they attempt to frighten the soul, bring it to despair and thus take hold of it. During this trial the Guardian Angel bolsters the soul and defends it. This is not cause to think that the demons have some power over the soul, because they too are subject to God's Judgment. The are spurred on to brazenness by the fact that the soul in its time on earth was submissive to them in certain things. Their logic is simple, "since you behaved as we do, then your place is with us."
In church literature these meetings with demons are called "trials" (from the Church Fathers, this theme is discussed by: St. Ephraem the Syrian, St Aphanasios the Great, St. Macarius the Great, St. John Chrysostom and others). The most detailed development of this idea is by St. Cyril of Alexandria in his "Word on the exodus of the soul," published in the "The Following Psalters." A pictorial depiction of this path is seen in the life of Saint Basil the New in the 10th century, when the reposed Saint Theodora recounts what she saw and felt after leaving her body. Further accounts can be found in the book "Eternal Mysteries from Beyond the Grave." While reading these accounts, keep in mind that much is described figuratively, because the arrangements of the spiritual world do not resemble ours.
K. Uekskuell, whose story we stated above, describes a similar meeting with the wicked ethereal spirits. This is what happened after the two angels came for his soul: "We began to ascend quickly. And by the degree of our ascension, increasingly greater became the expanse of space that was revealed before my eyes. And finally it took on such terrifyingly vast proportions that I was seized with a fear from the realization of my insignificance in comparison to this desert of infinity. Here also certain peculiarities of my vision became apparent to me. Firstly, it was dark and I saw everything clearly in the dark; consequently my vision received the capacity of seeing in the dark; secondly, I was able to include in the field of my vision such a vast expanse of space, which undoubtedly I would not have been able to do with my ordinary vision.

The conception of time was absent in my mental state at this time, and I do not know how long we were moving upwards, when suddenly there was heard at first an indistinct noise. And following this, having emerged from somewhere, with shrieks and rowdy laughter, a throng of some hideous beings began rapidly to approach us.
"Evil Spirits!" — I suddenly comprehended and appraised with unusual rapidity that resulted from the horror I experienced at that time, a horror of a special kind and until then never before experienced by me. Evil spirits! O, how much irony, how much of the most sincere kind of laughter would this have aroused in me only a few days ago. Even a few hours ago somebody's report, not only that he saw evil spirits with his own eyes, but only that he believed in their existence as in something fundamentally real, would have aroused a similar reaction! As was proper for an "educated" man at the close of the nineteenth century, I understood this to mean foolish inclinations, passions in a human being, and that is why the very word itself had for me not the significance of a name, but a term which defined a certain abstracted conception. And suddenly this "certain abstracted conception" appeared before me as a living personification. Even up to the present time I am not able to say how and why at that time, without the slightest trace of doubt, I recognized evil spirits to be present in that ugly sight. Undoubtedly only because such a designation of it was completely outside of the normal order of things and logic, for if a similar hideous sight appeared before me at another time, undoubtedly I would have said that it was some kind of fiction personified, an abnormal caprice of one's imagination. In short, everything else but in no way, of course, would I have called it a name by which I would have meant something which cannot be seen. But at the time, this designation of its nature took place with such rapidity, that seemingly there was no need to think about it, as if I had seen that which already was well known to me long ago; and since, as I already have explained, at that time my mental capacities functioned with such incomprehensible intensity, I therefore comprehended just as rapidly that the ugly outward appearance of these beings was not their real exterior; that this was some kind of an abominable show which was probably conceived with the purpose of frightening me to a greater degree; and for a moment something similar to pride stirred within me. I then felt ashamed of myself, for man in general, because in order to arouse fear in man, a being who thinks so much of himself, other forms of being have recourse to such methods which we ourselves use with respect to small children.
Having surrounded us on all sides, with shrieks and rowdy sounds the evil spirits demanded that I be given over to them, they tried somehow to seize and tear me away from the Angels, but evidently did not dare to do this. In the midst of their rowdy howling, unimaginable and just as repugnant to one's hearing as their sight was for my eyes, I sometimes caught up words and whole phrases.
"He is ours: he has renounced God," they suddenly cried out almost in unison. And here they lunged at us with such boldness that for a moment fear froze the flow of all thought in my mind.
"That is a lie! That is untrue!" Coming to myself I wanted to shout, but an obliging memory bound my tongue. In some way unknown to me, I suddenly recalled such a slight, insignificant occurrence, which in addition was related to so remote a period of my youth that, it seems, I in no way could have been able to recall it to mind.
I recalled how during my years of study, once having gathered at my friend's, after having spoken about school studies, we passed over to discussing various abstract and elevated topics — conversations which often were carried on by us.
"Generally speaking, I don't like abstractions," says one of my comrades, "but here you already have absolute impossibility. I am able to believe in some kind of power of nature which, let us say, has not been investigated. That is to say, I can allow for its existence, even when not seeing its clear cut, definite manifestations, because it may be very insignificant or combined in its effects with other powers, and for this reason difficult to grasp; but to believe in God, as a Being, individual and omnipotent, to believe — when I do not anywhere see clear manifestations of this Individuality — this already becomes absurd. I am told: believe. But why must I believe, when I am equally able to believe that there is no God. Why, is it not true? Is it also not possible that He does not exist?" Now my comrade turned to me for support.
"Maybe not," I let escape from my lips.
This phrase was in the full sense of the word an "idle statement": the unreasonable talk of my friend could not have aroused within me a doubt in the existence of God. I did not particularly listen to his talking; and now it turned out that this idle statement of mine did not disappear without leaving a trace in the air, I had to justify myself, to defend myself from the accusation that was directed against me, and in such a manner the New Testament statement was verified in practice: We really shall have to give an account for all our idle words, if not by the Will of God, Who sees the secrets of man's heart, then by the anger of the enemy of salvation.
This accusation evidently was the strongest argument that the evil spirits had for my perdition. They seemed to derive new strength in this for the daring of their attacks on me, and now with furious bellowing they spun about us, preventing us from going any further.
I recalled a prayer and began praying, appealing for help to those Holy Ones whose names I knew and whose names came to mind. But this did not frighten my enemies. A sad ignorant Christian only in name, I now, it seems, almost for the first time in my life remembered Her, Who is called the Intercessor for Christians.
And evidently my appeal to Her was intense. Evidently my soul was filled with terror, that hardly had I remembered and pronounced Her name, when about us there suddenly appeared a kind of white mist which soon began to enfold within itself the ugly throng of evil spirits. It concealed them from my eyes before they could withdraw from us. Their bellowing and cackling was still heard for a long while, but according to how it gradually weakened in intensity and became more dull, I was able to judge that the terrible pursuit was gradually being left behind.
The feeling of fear that I experienced took hold of me so completely that I was not even conscious of whether we had been continuing our flight during this terrible meeting or whether it stopped us for awhile. I realized that we were moving, that we were continuing to move upward only when the infinite expanse of space again spread itself before me.
Having passed through some of its distance, I saw a bright light above me, it resembled, as it seemed to me, our sunlight, but was much more intense. There, evidently, is some kind of kingdom of light.
"Yes, namely a kingdom, full of the power of light," guessing by means of a special kind of feeling yet not understood by me, I thought. Because there was no shade with this light. "But how can there be light without shade?" Immediately my perplexed conceptions made their appearance.
And suddenly we were quickly carried into the field of this light, and it literally blinded me. I shut my eyes, brought my hands up to my face, but this did not help since my hands did not give shade. And what did the like protection mean here anyway?
But something different happened. Majestically, without wrath, but authoritatively and firmly, the words resounded from above: "Not ready!"
And after that thereafter an immediate stop came to our rapid flight upward — we quickly began to descend.
But before we left this realm, I was endowed with the capacity to learn of one most wonderful phenomenon.
Hardly had the said words resounded from above when everything in that world it seems, each particle of dust, each slightest atom, responded to these words with their accord, as though a multimillion echo repeated them in a tongue unable to be perceived by hearing, but perceived and understood by the heart and mind, expressing its unison with the decision so decreed. And in this unity of will there was such wonderful harmony, and in this harmony so much inexpressive, exalted happiness, before which all our earthly charms and raptures appeared like a gloomy day without sunlight. This multimillion echo resounded in the form of an inimitable musical chord, and one's whole soul extended out towards it, wholly responding to it in a state devoid of any cares and in an ardent transport of zeal to be at one with this omnipresent, most wonderful harmony.
I did not understand the real sense of the words that were directed to me, that is to say, I did not understand that I had to return to earth and again live as previously. I thought that I was being carried to some other different parts, and a feeling of timid protest stirred within when before me. At first as hazily as in a morning mist, the outlines of a city were denoted before me, and following this, streets well known to me also became clearly visible.
Here I saw the building of the hospital, which was known, to me.
Approaching my lifeless body the Guardian Angel said "Have you heard the decision of God?" and pointing to my body commanded me : "Enter into it and prepare!" Following this both Angels became invisible to me."
K. Uekskuell continues to describe his return to the flesh, which had been lying in the morgue for thirty-six hours and how the medical personnel where astonished by the miracle of his return to the living. Soon after, K. Uekskuell went to a monastery to live out his live as a monk.

The fantasy of the Masons and the Church's position

Masonry saw early persecutions and criticism of ideology and scheduled it. But failed to include in it, especially during the nineteenth century, princes, kings, emperors, teachers, clergy. Let us examine in more detail the attitude of the Church against this movement:
1. The Western Church. Masonry was considered by the Roman Catholic Church as incompatible with the Christian faith. The Pope Clement XII in the year 1738excommunicated the organization. In 1754 the excommunication was renewed . Persecutions followed by part of the state. Masonry in France linked to the denial of God. On behalf of Masonry was attempted elimination of the Church from public life. Pope Leo IC with the House of Humanum Genus (1884), featured as Freemasonryantiekklisia , founded by the envy of the devil, with a focus on hatred against the Church. When the papal bull Masons want to lowering the standard marriage contract, to separate the Church from the State and to repel the Christian teaching of public life. The Codex Juris Canonici, the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church (1917), provides for the Masons to excommunication .
After the Second Vatican Council, in 1974 , the Faith Kogregatio determine how the laws apply to the Masons in case someone has actually antiekklisiastiki energy. But the German Episcopal Conference in 1986 determined that the simultaneous participation of the Catholic Church and Freemasonry excluded . The new Codex Juris Canonici (1983) not named in Freemasonry, but overall participation in companies that act against the Church.
2. THE CHURCH OF GREECE . issue of Freemasonry in the Church of Greece took an official position and even twice. First the Synod of Bishops dealt with this issue at its meeting of 7 'October 1933 and exedoke special "Action" (Church 48/1933, p 37-39). This text talks about " Sacred international organization "and" mystical system opera ypomimniskei Tash old national mystery religion or cult, of which originates and whose synecheian and anaviosin is. " The text refers to testimony Masonic texts and secures its position "of this, their encounters myisesin and Committed."
For the third degree initiation indicated that a "dramatic afigisin the death of the patrons of Freemasonry Hiram and what kind of imitative repetition of death. Masonry proven so happens sacramental religion, most diverse, divided and foreign of the Christian religion. " The Masonry says then the text has religious ceremonies , such as the Masonic baptism, the tectonic marriage, Masonic memorial, the inauguration of Masonic temple etc. Has initiations, rituals typically own hierarchical order , solstice celebrations, religious feasts and can be classified in the field of religious nature worship.
The Holy Synod accusing Freemasonry for syncretism , which confirms their origin from the ancient pagan mysteries, initiations in which edechonto of every worshiper of any god. to ask or Freemasonry to include within the whole of humanity, with the promise that it would provide "ithikopoiisin and completion and knowledge of the truth, imperceptibly lifted itself into what kind yperthriskeias , consider passing Tash religion, nor of such a Christian except as subordinate it. Ypotrefei so not to the mystics that the conviction that only a de masonikois ergastiriois is treatment and Abradable him uncouth and rough stone ".
The claims of Freemasonry on yperthriskeias proved by the fact that it creates a brotherhood , which considers that exalted above every other lying outside, even if it is Christian, as a fraternity consisting of profane. By Masonic initiation is a Christian brother of the Privy Ottoman or Buddhist or any rationalist, while the Christian who has not been initiated in Freemasonry deemed him profane .
The "Praxis" Hierarchy refers to condemnatory stance of the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches and mentions the reference of "Inter-Orthodox Commission" held at the Mountain and featured Freemasonry as " unchristian system and incorrect . " At the position taken by the then Archbishop Chrysostomos of Greece, which emphasizes the "actual practice" clerics involved of Freemasonry is worthy launching .
The decision of Bishops of the Church of Greece was renewed with a new one, taken on the 28th November 1972 and marked "original text of this." Hence the Hierarchy "adheres strictly to the provisions in the act relating to Freemasonry. Afthis and proclaims that Freemasonry is proven sacramental religion, projection of the old pagan religions, most foreign and contrary to the revealed salvific truth of our Holy Church. Demonstrators categorically that the property of Mason in whatever form isincompatible with the office of a Christian member of the Body of Christ. "
This new decision mentions and praises the No. 260/1.12.1969 JUDGMENT OF Instance of Athens , in which the condemned Freemasonry ' as religion in secret, not known "and the statement of the Holy Synod, published in" Voice of the Lord "(13/05/1970), where denounces Freemasonry as a religion.
Concluding the matter, we observe that the alleged Masonic, at least "rule system" Freemasonry is not a religious movement, and has no international hierarchies. But even if they respond to this reality, the Masonic edifice is incompatible with the Christian faith.
Firstly emphasized that the ritual is a kind of intellectual depth and experience staff "refining" conversion "stone" from the state of "raw" to "finished", the "personal perfection." But this way of Masonry is opposed to the Christian.
The Masonic experience is not leading man beyond the experience of himself or society of "brothers." not exceed the created reality and leaves the man alone . For the Christian there is no perfection out of his participation in the life of God "in Christ Jesus." The holiness belongs to Christ ('s saint ") and, by extension, those whoparticipate the life of Christ. Is holiness "in metochin" and not independent of the Christian faith and the spirit of Christ.
With holy baptism the believer engaged in the Body of Christ and is "in the Christ" with all other members of the same Body, becomes "State by." can not accept the Masonic initiation and how this perception leads him beyond the field of "profane" and makes him a spiritual brother to the faithful of Islam or any religion.
We Christians believe that we are children of God only when we receive the Spirit of adoption, whereby we integrated into the body of Christ through holy baptism (Gal. c 26). Only then will we become "flat epangelian heirs." The Holy Spirit, who is called "Spirit of Christ", "symmartyrei in spirit that esmen us children of God. If no children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ "(Rom. 17). To evaluate one's Masonic initiation over the Christian baptism, is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.Masonry does not link the moral values ​​which preaches a certain faith in God. The image of God ("Great Architect of the Universe") is determined entirely subjectivelyby each Freemasonry, according to their own religious beliefs. The understanding of man and his life, as is the concept of God, beyond the limits of a particular faith. In this way the Christian faith relativized and equalized assessed through the faith of Islam, Buddhism, etc. Anyone who lives "right," and deemed "right" to God ...
This position is not identical with the teachings of the Christian Bible and the faith in the Triune God. Here the Christian Bible is no longer the only divine revelation.alternates with the Koran, the Vedas, etc. It is "one" of the many "holy books"! The Christian faith is not the only path to salvation and definite, but one of the many " paths". All religions lead "to the same cause." In this way the images are a reflection of "a god", the "Great Architect of the Worlds", which is " open "to all the Deities. This no longer applies the phrase, which refers to Jesus Christ, "in him resides all is fullness of Godhead bodily." The apostle has emphasized this to protect the faithful from the false wisdom. So I mentioned previously: "Beware lest you drag one to the philosophy and empty deception things in the tradition of men, according to the information of the world , and not according to Christ "(Col. b 8-9).
From what you say it is clear that Freemasonry is incompatible with the Christian faith and the status of the Orthodox Christian . Especially note the risk of erosion of pastoral work and canceled the message of the Gospel and hope in Christ.
Like other occult groups , the Masons leave the man completely alone in his quest to find the true meaning of life and to realize. This is possible only through divine grace through the gift of Christ. The word of the Lord " No one comes to the Father if not through me "(John, 6) is fully implemented here


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