Archimandrite Ephrem Philotheos
And we the unworthy were called to serve Him. Our call is very high because it aims to guide the man called near God. The monks will have the first place near the divine Throne as the rising star had it before its fall and they shall see the Face of God. This condition is impossible to be covered by the mind, it is a condition which must monopolize our attention and keep us with our mind focused on heaven to show patience in the saddening matters from here. This is known by the devil too and that is why he fights against us so to impede us by all means to reach this place.
When the pious martyr Jacob from Iviron was in rapture and reached the place of the rising star he saw the bliss of that place and remaining amazed he asked what was there. And he was answered that the place was to be filled with the caste of the saved monks. Saint John the Evangelist in his Apocalypse describes the heavenly Jerusalem, the Sion as a bride. How much so many saints marveled about it.
It is completely empty and waits for the children of God. There will be no sun because everything will be lighted by the Face of Christ.
Saint Andrew the fool for Christ revealed to us that in this citadel will live all those who took heed at themselves and lived in repentance and purity. And he said about the Lord that He left His glory for our nothingness. And the Lord told him inexpressible words which he did not reveal.
For all these saint Isaac the Syrian tells us: `You came to become an angel and you wonder if this path you wished to follow is an exhausting one?`
If we truly had this thought rooted within us if we meditated deeply with God`s enlightenment that we are called by our monachal life to become angels and dwell in that free place full of light of the rising star and receive that place and the closeness to the Throne of God and praise Him without cease, then could recklessness, laziness, selfishness, disobedience, self will rule us and make us be only some formal monks?
Think about the glory the humble disciples will have who will see the divine beauty of the Face of Christ for eternity, which cannot be compared with a thousand edens!
How can someone imagine that he can become an angel of God and have the grace and the appearance of the angels and even more than them and sing with them! If a man heard the chant of an angel he will go crazy because he cannot resist. He will surely die of joy. Think now how is to see thousands of angels chanting and the Face of Christ shining like thousands of suns!
There will be other souls saved as well but they won’t see Him often. As the peasants from villages don’t see often their emperor who lives in a palace in the capital in the same way these souls in the afterlife will not see God the Emperor as the monks who will be with Him permanently because they will be in the place of the 10th caste of the rising star. It is something which cannot be comprised neither with the heart nor with the mind.
You will reach such glory, monk, and you are knelt down because of despair? Not only that it is worth to suffer all pains now and show obedience and patience but think that this offering is nothing comparing with such a great gain. Aren’t the pains of this life going to end? But after these it begins the angelic life. Let us tell to ourselves: `The angels have a place they keep for me. For this reason I will endure for Your Love cause no matter how much I would serve You, I will never be able to answer in an appropriate way to Your mercy!
Excerpt from the book The Art of Salvation to be published by Evanghelismos.