On the Mysteries of the Kingdom and Paradise

St. Nikitas Stithatos ca. 1000-1090

Is the kingdom of heaven already given in this life to all those advanced on the spiritual way, or is it given ot them after the dissolution of the body? If in this life, our victory is unassailable, our joy inexpressible, and our path to paradise unimpeded: we are directly present in the divine East (cf. Gen. 2:8). But if it is given only after death and dissolution, we should ask that our departure from this life may take place without fear; we should learn what the kingdom of heaven is, what the kingdom of God is, and what paradise is, and how the one differs from the other; also what the nature of time is in each of them, and whether we enter all three, and how and when and after how much time. If you enter the first while you are still alive and in the flesh you will not fail to enter the other two. (On Spiritual Knowledge, 97.)