On Paradise

St. Gregory of Sinai ca. 1260-1346

Paradise is twofold – sensible and spiritual: there is the Paradise of Eden and the paradise of grace. The Paradise of Eden is so exalted that it is said to extend to the third heaven. It has been planted by God with every kind of sweet-scented plant. It is neither entirely free from corruption nor altogether subject to it. Created between corruption and incorruption, it is always rich in fruits, ripe and unripe, and continually full of flowers. When trees and ripe fruit rot and fall to he ground they turn into sweet-scented soil, free from the smell of decay exuded by the vegetable-matter of this world. That is because of the great richness and holiness of the grace ever abounding there. The river Ocean, appointed always to irrigate paradise with its waters, flows through the middle of it. On leaving paradise, it divides into four other rivers, and flowing down to the Indians and Ethiopians brings them soil and fallen leaves. (On Commandments and Doctrines, 10.)