July 22, 2010

One Hour Of Suffering

(from the book: “Eternal Mysteries Beyond The Grave”)

There was a paralytic who, becoming impatient of his suffering, cried out to the Lord and asked that his miserable life might end.

An angel appeared to him and said: “Very well. Since the Lord is unspeakably good, He will respond to your prayer. He will put an end to your life on earth, but on one condition. Will you consent to spend three hours in hell instead of suffering one more year on earth? Hell cleanses every man, as gold is purified in the fire, and your sins need cleansing. You were destined to suffer from your illness one more year, so that the paralysis of your body might cleanse you of your sins. Like all believers, you have no road to heaven except the way of the cross, opened by the sinless God-Man. This road seems to have tired you on earth; well then, experience what hell is, where all sinners go. Yet you must experience it for three hours only, and then you will be saved through the prayers of Holy Church.”

The sufferer thought about these words. A year of suffering on earth seemed and unbearably long time. “I would rather endure the three hours,” he finally said to the angel. The angel quietly took up his suffering soul, enclosed it in the abyss of hell, and then departed, saying, ”In three hours I shall appear again and take you away from here.”

The darkness that reigned all around, the closeness, the indescribable sounds of the cries emitted by sinners, the sight of the evil spirits in all their hellish ugliness - all this formed for the miserable sufferer one overwhelming feeling of fear and sickness.

Everything that he saw or heard was full of suffering, and there was no hint of any happy sound throughout the limitless abyss of hell. He saw nothing except the fiery eyes of demons glistening in the darkness, and their gigantic shadows, which seemed about to oppress, devour, and burn him with their hellish breath. The poor suffer trembled and cried out, but there was no response to his cries except an echo which died down somewhere in the far distance of the abyss, and the bubbling of the hellish fire. It seemed to him that whole centuries of suffering had already passed, and from one moment to the next he was waiting for the light-bearing angel.

Finally the sufferer despaired of the angel’s coming. Gnashing his teeth, he groaned, he roared with all his strength, but no one listened to him. All the sinners who were languishing in the dark abyss were occupied with themselves, and only thought of their own suffering.

After some time, however, the calm light of angelic glory spread over the abyss. The angel approached our sufferer and with a celestial smile asked him, “How are you, brother?” “I never thought an angel’s tongue was capable of a lie,” the sufferer whispered with a barely audible voice which was breaking with suffering.

“What do you mean?” the angel asked.

“How can you ask?”, the sufferer said. “You promised to take me away from here after three hours, but now whole years, perhaps whole centuries have passed, filled for me with unspeakable suffering!”

“What years, what centuries?”, the angel asked, mildly smiling. “Only an hour has passed since I left you here, and two more remain.”

“Two more?”, the sufferer asked alarmed. “Two more hours? I cannot endure them, I have no strength left! If only it may be possible, if only this is the Lord’s will, I beg you to take me away from here! I should rather suffer for years and centuries on earth, even to the last day, to the time of Christ’s coming at the last judgement; but do take me away, I cannot stay here! Take pity on me!” Thus the sufferer groaned and cried out stretching hims arms to the angel of light. “Good”, said the angel. “God, the Father of mercy and of comfort, will reveal His mercy to you.” At these words the sufferer opened his eyes and saw himself once again lying on his bed. All his senses were extremely weary, and the suffering of his body had affected his spirit as well.

Yet from that time he sweetly endured his suffering on earth, for he bore in memory the horror of suffering in hell, and thanked the Lord, who is merciful to all. (Taken from the letters of our Father of the Holy Mountain; page 183, letter 15, 1883)

Thank you to my Friend and Brother in Christ Andrew for typing this excerpt out.

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