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Reflections on death and on demons’ traps

50. Death, to people that understand it, is immortality, while to simpletons that do not understand it, is death. One should not be afraid of physical death but the destruction of the soul, which comes about from not seeing God — this is a terrifying thing for the soul! Life is the attachment of soul and body: and death is the rupture in their association and not the disappearance of those aspects of human nature. God preserves all this after their separation. Just like a baby emerges from its mother’s womb, so does the soul emerge naked from its body. It happens that one might be clean and bright, another stained with its failings, while another black from its many sins. That is why a clever and God-loving soul, in reminding itself and discoursing about the woes after death, lives piously so as not to be condemned and be inflicted with them. But through their foolhardiness, the non-believers do not realize this and sin; not thinking about what awaits them over there. Just as one having emerged from the womb doesn’t remember being there, so the soul leaving the body does not remember being there. Just as having emerged from the womb you become advanced and bigger in body, so will you traverse into Heaven advanced and incorruptible if you emerge pure from your body. Knowing beforehand that death awaits them, mortals should be concerned about their salvation. Because a holy death is the lot that occurs to a blessed soul that dwells in goodness, a soul that becomes evil will meet eternal death. Remember that your youthfulness has passed, your strength has been exhausted while your weaknesses have grown, and the time of your departure is near at hand when you will have to give account of all your deeds. Also know that there, a brother will not be able to redeem his brother or a father deliver his son. Always think of the departure from the body, bearing in mind the eternal condemnation. If you will maintain this frame of mind, you will never sin.

51. What a great number of demons there are and how multitudinous are their traps! Even after we have repented and attempt to avoid evil acts, they do not leave us alone but continue to tempt us with despairing effort, knowing their destiny has been conclusively determined and because of their extreme wickedness and rejection of God, that their inheritance is hell. May the Lord open your inner eyes so that you may see the many demons’ snares and how much evil they inflict upon us daily — may He grant you a bold heart and a judicious spirit so that you may bring yourself as a chaste and living sacrifice to God.

51. Because of his pride, the Devil fell from the heavenly ranks and is attempting with all his might to entice toward destruction — in the same manner as his own fall: i.e. through pride and love for vainglory — all those who whole-heartedly want to serve God. These are the methods used by the demons against us — these and other similar ones in order to separate us from God. Apart from this, knowing that to love your brother is to love God, they implant hatred against one another into our hearts — hatred to such an extent that one is not capable of even looking or saying one word to his brother. Many genuine great ascetics bore the difficulties of a virtuous life, yet through foolhardiness destroyed themselves. This could happen with you if for example you grow cool toward virtuous effort, thinking that you are virtuous. Because here you have already fallen into the devil’s illness (self-importance), thinking that you are close to God and are abiding in the light, whereas in reality you are in darkness. What prompted our Jesus Christ to take off His clothes, put a towel about His waist and wash the feet of those lower than Himself, if not to teach us humility? Yes — humility. This He showed by His own example. Indeed, everyone that desires to enter the first ranks cannot do this other than through humility…Consequently, if a person does not have extreme humility, is not humble with all his heart, his mind, his spirit, his body and soul — then he will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. 

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