On the Judge at the Tollhouses

St. Ignaty Brianchininov 1807-1867

Not only temporal sorrows, but also those that await man at his entry into eternity, beyond the bounds of the grave, are unable to withstand the vision of Divine providence. They are blunted and destroyed by the grace-filled consolation that always descends upon a soul who denies himself in order to be submissive to God. In the face of selflessness, in the face of devotion to God’s will, death itself is not terrible. The true servant of Christ entrusts his soul and his eternal lot into Christ’s hands, entrusting them with firm faith in Christ, with unwavering hope in His goodness and power. When his soul parts from his body, and the rejected angels defiantly and impudently approach him, he strikes the dark and evil angels with his self-renunciation and turns them to flight. “Take me—take me!” he courageously tells them. “Cast me into the abyss of darkness and fire; cast me into the abyss of hell, if it is my God’s will for you to do that, if such a determination has come from Him. It is easier to be deprived of the sweetness of Paradise, it is easier to bear the flames of hell, than to transgress the will and decision of the great God. I have surrendered myself to Him, and still surrender to Him! He is the Judge of my infirmities and sins, not you! You—even in the midst of your insane rebelliousness—are only the fulfillers of His determinations.” The servants of the prince of this world will tremble and become astonished, seeing such courageous selflessness, such meek, total devotion to God’s will! When they spurned that blessed obedience, they went from being radiant and good angels to being dark and utterly malicious demons. They will back away with shame, and that soul, without hindrance, will direct his course to where his treasure is—to God. There he will see, face to face, Him Who is seen here through faith in His providence, and he will eternally exclaim: Glory be to God! (“Glory be to God!” Orthodox Word No. 294-295, 2014)