We [Orthodox] have inherited the customary exposition of the sacramental liturgy from the Holy Apostles and their successors, the Doctors of the Church. With respect to none of these loci shall we discover that the gift of the Eucharist is hallowed and fructified/perfected (Gr. τελειοῦσθαι) by the very dominical lines and those words alone and, further, that [the gift] is altered to the dominical body and blood. Yet, concerning the [dominical] words among ourselves, on the one hand, the aforesaid are dogmatically and harmoniously referring to the memory (Gr. μνήμη) and power (Gr. δύναμις) of what was done at that time, as if they are fusing into the gifts offered unto a transmutation (Gr. μεταβολή), the change of which, on the other hand, additionally comes about after the following; namely, that of the prayer and the blessing of the priest actually altering the gifts to that very famous prototype (Gr. προτότυπος); viz., the dominical body and blood. Yet, these items and the [liturgical] commentaries themselves bear witness that we are to be found harmonious among ourselves. (The Libellus of Mark of Ephesus on the Eucharistic Consecration. excerpted from Fr.Christiaan Kappes “Annotated and Complete Epiclesis Sermons of John Torquemada and the Response of Mark of Ephesus at Florence 1439 [Appendices to upcoming monograph])
Nevertheless, let one remove every rational account with respect to that which concerns the Theotokos, who alone is the most supernatural marvel among supernaturals realized from eternity, who is also higher than all rational discourse; for in a a true way God wished His own omnipotence to be manifested in this woman. (First Antirrhetic, II.16-19)
We should not hold the judgment of a man, even though this man might have been Orthodox and had a high reputation, as the same kind of authority as the canonical Scriptures, to the extent of considering it inadmissible for us, out of the reverence we owe such men, to disapprove and reject something in their writing if we should happen to discover that they taught other than the truth which, with God’s help, has been attained by others or by ourselves. This is how I am in regard to the writings of other men; and I desire that the reader will act thus with regard to my writings. (Second Homily on Purgatorial Fire, Ch. 15-16; Archimandrite Ambrose Pogodin, pp. 127-132)
Latins must not be re-baptized but only after the renunciation of their heresies and confession of sins, be anointed with Chrism and admit them to the Holy Mysteries and in this way bring them into communion with the holy, catholic Eastern Church, in accordance with the sacred canons. (Acts of the Moscow Councils 1666-1667, Moscow, 1893, pp. 174-175)
Mal 4:1-2 For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
Mar 9:49 For everyone will be salted with fire.
The sinners and those imprisoned after death in Hades benefit from these prayers [for the reposed] on the one hand because they have not been definitively condemned and do not yet have the final decision of the tribunal, on the other hand because they have not yet fallen into hell, which will happen after the Second Coming of Christ. If this is effective for sinners, much more do the memorial services and prayers benefit those who have repented but did not have time to be purified completely and therefore illuminated. If these have very small or light sins, they are restored to the inheritance of the righteous or remain where they are, that is to say in Hades, and their troubles are lightened and they return towards more honorable hopes. (excerpted from the pamphlet “The Dead Urgently Need Our Help” produced by Orthodox Monastery of the Archangel Michael, Marrickville, NSW, 1475 Australia)
True prayer is the sweet, continuous and unceasing memory of Jesus in the heart and the ineffable illumination, which results from it.
It is for this reason that a time and a place for prayer was instituted by our holy and divine fathers, as they received it from Christ Himself and the Apostles, for those, who do not live their lives entirely like beasts. This is a sort of necessary and instituted liturgy to be offered to God, which entails a scheme of bodily posture, a direction to look towards in prayer and, before these, a condition of the soul of the person, who is to pray.
Now, what concerns the place, the scheme and the condition of the soul, is specified by the Apostle, who says: “I want men to pray in every place raising holy hands without anger and evil thoughts” (1 Tim. 2:8).What is said about the place is in agreement with that prophetic statement, which says, “In every place incense is offered to me, says the Lord, incense which is pure” (Mal. 1:11); because incense denotes prayer and sacrifice of rational praise. “Sacrifice to God a sacrifice of praise and return your offerings to the Most High” (Ps. 49:14).
What is said about the scheme is similar to what is said in the Psalms, “The raising of my hands is an evening sacrifice” (Ps. 140:2).
What is said about the condition of the soul is reminiscent of what the Savior said: “When you stand in prayer, leave aside whatever you may hold against anyone, so your Father may forgive your transgressions” (Mat. 6:14).
What concerns the direction to look towards in obviously connected with turning eastwards, as both the ancient tradition wants and Solomon teaches in the book of Wisdom: “As it is known that the sun should fall on your thanksgiving and the light from the east should attend to you” (Wisdom 16:28).
Every place, then, is appropiate for prayer but better perhaps, is that specified part of the house, which is more modest and more precious. Indeed, it seems that in this manner that the following verse should be taken: “When you pray, enter into your secret (precious) place” (Mat. 6:6).
Better still is to go to sacred edifices and temples, since they are called houses of prayer, and there is in them the holy places of the holy people, in which the mystical and bloodless ceremony is done, where the angels desire to delve into, and where they are sealed with the holy myrrh and are sanctified by the relics of the martyrs and which contribute greatly to those, who pray. Indeed, it is the Psalmist, who says, “Worship the Lord in His holy court” (Ps. 95:9), as if worshipping outside the court is not something, which is easily forgiven.
Now, there is also the need to bend the knees from time to time, and wherever it is proved necessary, as the Apostle says: “For this reason, I bend my knees to the Father, from whom every Fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph. 3:15); and elsewhere, “Bending the knees he prayed with them all” (Acts 20:36).
Furthermore, in addition to the hands, it is also appropiate to raise the eyes to heaven as the Lord indicated when He prayed for Lazarus, since He clearly indicated by the former the raising of the soul to God and to depart from earthly things, and the by the latter, the fall, which followed immediately, and the servile supplication.
This is how these things are, but the time of prayer is divided by the divine Fathers into seven times each day. The Fathers have taken this from David’s saying: “Seven times a day I praised Thee, for the just rulings of Thy righteousness” (Ps. 118:164). Day here is used conventionally to denote the day and the night as it is also the case in Genesis: “And it became evening and it became morning…”; while the number seven is meant to describe the need for us to pray to God throughout our whole life. (An Exposition of the Church’s Daily Prayer)
St. Niphon then records, “As soon as the Judge pronounced that decison, at once, an enormous fiery river spilled over from the east and went rolling violently toward the west. It was broad like a big sea. When the sinners on the left saw it they were stunned and began to tremble, frightened in their despair. Nonetheless, the impartial Judge ordered everyone – just and unjust – to pass through the flaming river, so the fire could try them. Those at His right hand started first. They crossed and came out gleaming like solid gold. Their deeds did not burn, but instead proved to be brighter and clearer with the test; that is why they were filled with joy. After them, those at His left hand came to pass through the fire, so that their deeds might be tried. However, because they were evildoers, the flame began to envelop them and kept them in the middle of the river. Their deeds were burned like straw, whereas their bodies remained unharmed, to burn for endless ages along with the devil and the demons. No one was able to come out of that fiery river. The fire imprisoned all of them, because they deserved condemnation and punishment.” (The Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy pgs. 409-410)
Rev 19:11-12a Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems…
The heavens opening signifies the appearance of the visible judge to come, just as here, when the curtains of the judges on the earth are drawn back the judgment and sentence come down upon those who are guilty. And the white horse is the future joy of the saints, upon which he is carried to judge the nations impartially, I think by His watchful, providential power throwing out flames of fire, which the righteous illuminate but do not burn, but the sinners burn and do not illumine. (Commentary on the Apocalypse)
St. Isaac of Syria ca. 7th cent.
That fire will flare up inside a man: on seeing the Cross, some will rejoice, while others will fall into despair, confusion, terror. In this way, men will immediately be separated. In the Gospel narrative, some stand to the right of the Judge, some to the left — their inner consciousness separated them. The very state of a man’s soul casts him to one side or the other, to the right or to the left.
The more consciously and persistently a man strives toward God in his life, the greater will be his joy when he hears the words: “Come unto Me, ye blessed”; and conversely, those same words will call forth the fire of horror and torment on those who did not want Him, who fled or fought or blasphemed Him during their life.
The Dread Judgment knows no witnesses or charge-sheets. Everything is recorded in men’s souls, and these records, these “books” are open. Everything becomes clear to all and to oneself, and the state of a man’s soul assigns him to the right or to the left.
Some go to joy, others to horror.
When the “books” are open, it will become clear to all that the roots of all vices are in man’s soul. Here is a drunkard, a fornicator; some may think that when the body dies the sin dies as well. No; the inclination was in the soul, and to the soul the sin was sweet.
And if [the soul] has not repented of that sin and has not become free of it, it will come to the Dread Judgment with the same desire for the sweetness of sin and will never satisfy its desire. In it will be the suffering of hatred and malice. This is the state of hell.
The “fiery Gehenna” is the inner fire; this is the flame of vice, the flame of weakness and malice; and
there will be [the] wailing and gnashing of teeth