Orthodoxy is humility. Orthodoxy is compassion. Orthodoxy means “I am the last”. The first will be the last. When one feels and shouts: “I am the first, we are the first in the whole Europe and in the whole world!” This is definitely not Orthodox mentality, even if you are an Orthodox Christian and teach the finest things. You are an Orthodox Christian, but your arrogance ruins everything. Do not forget that the Pharisees and Sadducees were the first people of their time, the most “orthodox” ones, but they lost everything. Think a bit about it. No one knows who will be saved. No one knows anything about anyone.
Clearly, paradise starts here. If you are happy in this life, you will be happy later on. If you are picky, bitter, and indignant in this life, if you put on a sour face, grumble, cry, and complain constantly, then do not think that the next life will be any different. The way you live here is not going to change there. The life of the next century is nothing other than continuation of this life.
Do you live in paradise now? Afterwards it will be the same. Do you love Christ? Afterwards you will continue loving Him. Do you love your significant other? Afterwards you will continue doing so. Do you understand? The scene will not change at the touch of a button. It is impossible to feel as if you are in hell here, in this life, and suddenly find yourself in paradise. If you are going through the emotional anticipation of hell now, you cannot say later: “Oh, great! I am in the Kingdom of God now”.
It all starts here. Many saints have felt the joys of paradise just from here and were surprised by this great delight. “I am already so happy, and I am so glad about it! The next life is yet to come, why am I so glad?” they asked. Their spiritual father answered, “All the good things that we believe in start here. Even in mortal life we can feel what the Kingdom of God, paradise, and eternal joy mean”.
I wish you to enjoy the anticipation of paradise in this life, right from this moment and after many years to go where many saints and souls of the righteous live. In this or that era each of them worked hard in their courses of salvation. Nowadays ascetic life is defined anew: the content is the same, but forms and manifestations change. Experience has shown that if we follow the old ascetic forms in the “copy-paste” fashion, we will self-destruct, move away from each other. We cannot let “ascetics”, “Orthodox Christians”, and “hermits” become the reason of such a disintegration.
From the book “On Certain Difficulties in Marriage” by Father Andrew (Konanos)
Translated by Julia Frolova