LIFE AFTER DEATH
by Saint Paisios of Mount Athos
--Geronda [Elder], when a person dies, does he become immediately aware of his spiritual condition?
--Yes, he does, and says to himself, "What have I done?" But the result in fayda yok, [An expression in the Turkish language, which means: "There is no benefit, there is no progress or success".) that is, this awareness is of no benefit. This can be likened to a drunk man who kills his mother and goes on singing and laughing, but who, upon becoming sober and realizing what he has done, will wail and lament and say, "What have I done?" In much the same way, those who commit wrongdoings in this life are like drunken men. They don't understand what they're doing; they don't have a sense of their guilt. But when they die, this "drunkenness" disappears and they become aware of their real condition. The eyes of their soul are opened and they realize their guilt, because the soul, when separated from the body, moves, sees and perceives with an inconceivable speed.
We don’t know anything about the use of musical instruments in the early Church, so we cannot state anything for a fact. On the one hand, it is beyond controversy that the Church of Christ developed Her worship based on ancient Jewish traditions of worship in the Temple and in synagogues. Therefore, the ancient Christians could have borrowed the traditions of using musical instruments from the synagogue and especially the Temple. In addition, there were many Christians who had been raised as pagans, so they could adopt musical instruments as one of the simplest ways to express religious feelings. On the other hand, it could be that the ex-pagans, remembering the religious dances and music of their past religions, which were accompanied by rituals unacceptable for Christians, did not want to bring that dubious tradition in the Church. In any case, we don’t have facts to either prove or disprove the use of musical instruments during early Christian worship.
Making New Years resolutions? Consider the following Ten Points for a better Orthodox way of life. These will nourish your soul and bring you closer to God and an eternal ire in His kingdom.
1. Praying Daily: Have a regular prayer rule that includes morning and evening prayer.
2. Worshiping and Participating in the Sacraments: Attend and participate in the Divine Liturgy receiving Holy Communion regularly as well as regular participation in Confession.
3. Honoring the Liturgical Cycle: Follow the seasons of the church and participate in the fasts and feasts of the Church.
4. Using the Jesus Prayer: Repeat the Holy name whenever possible throughout the day or night.
5. Slowing Down and Ordering Your Life: Set priorities and reduce the stress and friction caused by a hurried life.
6. Being Watchful: Give full attention to what you are doing at the moment.
7. Taming the Passions: Overcome your habits, attachment to your likes and dislikes, and learn to practice the virtues.
8. Putting Others First: Free yourself from your selfishness and find joy in helping others.
9. Spiritual Fellowship: Spend time regularly with other Orthodox Christians for support and inspiration.
10. Reading Scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers.