November 26 - Daily Thoughts from St. Theophan, One of Russia's Favorite 19th Century Writers

"Do not blame God for hell and eternal torments; blame the sinners. Make no mistake: had there been no remorseless sinners, there would have been no hell. . ."

Originally appeared at: Global Orthodox

Editor's Note: Saint Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) was one of the most prolific and beloved spiritual writers of 19th-century Russia. His works comprise over twenty volumes. Although he lived the last twenty-eight years of his life as a hermit, his impact on his homeland was immense. His articles appeared in the popular spiritual journals of his time, his books were in great demand, and he personally replied to an average of thirty letters daily. We will be publishing excerpts from Thoughts for Each Day of the Year (Amazon). In it, St. Theophan takes us through the yearly cycle of Gospel and Epistle readings, humbly and reverently offering us brief but powerful daily meditations on the word of God. He also addresses the problems of his day: lack of faith, coldness of heart, trust in the rational mind rather than in the revealed Truth of God - which are problems of our day as well.

Friday, 23rd week after Pentecost
Epistle reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:14-19
Gospel reading: Luke 13:31-35

How to Obliterate Hell

“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,” said the Lord of Jerusalem [Luke 13:35]. There is, indeed, a measure of God’s forbearance. Though His mercy would be willing to wait indefinitely until we repent, there is no point in waiting if we are corrupt beyond recovery. If this is the case, the Lord’s forbearance is over and He abandons us.

The same can be applied to our eternal fate. It has become vogue to say: “The Lord’s mercy will not allow eternal damnation.” To be sure, His mercy does not want it — but what else can happen to those who are full of evil and have no desire for change? By their own free will they have placed themselves beyond the confines of Lord’s mercy and stay there, unwilling to move.

Spiritualists advocate reincarnation — their daydream of multiple lives which they pretend to cleanse remorseless sinners. Let us look carefully, whether it really offers a solution. What is the reason to assume that someone who is a sinner in the present life will be righteous in the next one, or in ten other lives, and so forth? There is progress in good, but there is also progress in evil. Presently there are hard-core evil-doers on earth, and they would naturally remain the same beyond the earthly life.

Thus, when the inevitable end comes, what would be the fate of those souls, hardened in evil? Obviously, that would be some separate domain, far away from those who pursued goodness and fought evil in their lives. This is just what we call hell. Would they change for the better while staying there, if they did not change in the present life under immensely better conditions? If they would not, this is nothing but eternal hell.

Therefore, do not blame God for hell and eternal torments; blame the sinners. Make no mistake: had there been no remorseless sinners, there would have been no hell. The Lord does truly wish there were no sinners. After all, to make it possible, He once became Man and died on the Cross! Just as strongly, he wants everyone to avoid eternal damnation. It is now completely up to us to make a choice.

So, let us get together and obliterate hell by sinlessness. The Lord will be more than happy. He let us know what hell is all about, to make sure that we stay away from it.

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