To realize how inexpressible is the spiritual glory and joy of those who reached heaven by our Kind God`s grace and mercy, I`ll relate to you a short story.
In a monastic community there was a very pious and highly spiritualized monk who was accomplishing all the good deeds permanently and who when hearing this verse of David, the prophet `One thousand years before You, God, are like the day of yesterday which passed` started to think about it being unable to understand it. Because in that monastery there was no erudite scholar he could have asked about these words he prayed fervently to God to reveal to him the meaning of this verse.
After praying a long time God, Who fulfills the will of those who fear Him, listened to his prayer and one day, after it was read the service of the Matins and all the brothers went to their cells, he remained in the church and prayed as usual. Then he saw a very beautiful eagle flying through the church and coming closer to him. The monk was very glad to see such a beauty and wanted to catch him. But the eagle flew away of him and the monk ran after him. Following this eagle he went out of the church then out of the monastery and he came to a forest from the neighborhood.
There the eagle started to sing such a beautiful and sweet song that the monk was amazed by the sweetness of that song and thought happily about the sweet chanting from heavens. Being attracted by the beauty of that singing by the grace of God he received such a power and will that he felt no more fatigue or any other physical need. Then he changed so he was feeling as if he was in heaven.
Thus he listened to this angelic singing for three hundred years. After this singing ended the angel, for the eagle was an angel, flew into the skies and the monk returned to the monastery thinking he was out only for an hour.
Reaching the monastery the gate-keeper asked him:
`Where are you from, father?`
He was surprised he didn`t know him and said:
`I am the tailor called so and so, don`t you re cognize me?`
The gate keeper thought he was out of his mind and told him:
`I`ve never seen you in this monastery.`
The monk terrified told the gate keeper all the rules of that community as well as the names of all the brothers. After the gate keeper listened to him, took him to the abbot and related to him everything he had heard.
The abbot gathered all the monks before him but this one didn`t recognize any of them. Then he told them fearfully:
`I`m surprised and don`t understand a thing, brothers, how could this change have been done in an hour while I was out and I can`t recognize any of you nor you can recognize me. God is my witness that only an hour passed since I went out from the monastery, after we read the Matins and we had that abbot and those brothers and elders. The abbot searching the archives where were written the names of all the brothers saw that 300 years had passed since then.
Then they began to ask the monk what kind of man he was and what good deeds he had done to understand how he had become worthy of such a grace from God. And he answered:
`I don`t know any other good deed at me except that I always listened my superiors and had love for my brothers, I never upset any of them and I especially had a great love and piety for our Most Holy and Pure Theotokos and I read her hymns every day.
Then he told them everything in detail and the story with the eagle as well. When he finished his story the listeners understood the mystery and the cried of joy and kissed him looking at him as to an angel not to a man because his words seemed divine as well not human. After that the abbot said:
`Father, glorify God, because He considered you worthy to witness such a wondrous miracle nobody else had ever seen in this vain and ephemeral world and because you understood a part of that heavenly sweet singing and joy. Know that you have been living that miracle for 300 years and this seemed to you an hour. Such a joy and merriment must feel the saints in heaven partaking that blessed delight of the Holy Trinity so one thousand years for them is like a passing day, according to the words of David, the prophet.
Hearing these the monk understood the truth and glorified God and shed tears of joy then he asked to partake the Flesh and Blood of the Lord. After he did that he said very piously: `Now free your servant, Lord…and he immediately gave his soul in the hands of God.
Excerpt from Ascent to Resurrection– Archimandrite Cleopa Ilie, the publishing house of the Metropolitan of Moldavia and Bucovina, Iași, 1992.