Question: How not to be afraid of joy? Why do we find it hard to be happy sometimes?
Answer: We are aware of the fact that our joy will not remain forever. That’s why we feel terrified. It is difficult to get down to the sinful earth and to suffer after being exalted by joy. Ups and downs in our lives are inevitable and very painful for each of us. That is why the Lord grants happiness and special grace to those people who don’t feel dispirited, who can endure the sorrows and trials that can befall a person right after the moments of graceful joy.
Question: Sometimes a person doesn’t fast too strictly and doesn’t pray too fervently, but he still receives great joy at Easter… What does Easter joy depend on?
Answer: Here is the depth of one’s inner life and the depth of one’s heart. Sure, sometimes people work really hard and abstain from a lot of things but they still don’t receive grace. The Lord knows one’s heart and He knows what each person needs most. There can be an unexpected joy when someone did not do anything special to receive it, and he is surprised: what was the reason for it? The Lord simply gives his love and touches one’s heart.
The publican walked into the Temple… Did he read all canons? Did he fast? Did he fulfil the Law? No, he didn’t but he came to the church, and his soul was ready to accept God’s grace because it was humble, it knelt before God, and the Lord comforted his sick and suffering soul. Our entire lives are in God’s hands. The amount of joy and love that the Lord gives us depends on his Providence, and not on our own efforts. Otherwise, we would work hard and demand, “Come on! Comfort me, now! Why do you comfort that guy over there? He spent less time working for you…” We would start arguing and quarrelling with God. We would not be able to enter the Kingdom of God in that case. “How can it be that I denied myself all my life, and that guy lived as he pleased, and he was a thief but here he is the first in the paradise?!” It is fair? No, but it’s love.
Question: It is said that if one dies on Easter or during Bright Week, he will not go through ordeals and go straight into Heaven. Is it true?
Answer: Yes, there is a tradition that says so. I believe that each person will be tested with the question, “Lovest thou Me?” However, we guess that death does not occur at random. Its time and date is not haphazard. When the Royal Door is opened, when the heaven and the earth celebrate the victory of life over death, we would like to think that one’s soul will go to Paradise no matter what.
However, approximately one hundred people die on Easter in Minsk every year. We can’t say that they immediately go to Paradise. Those who didn’t have the encounter with God in the course of their lives also die, unfortunately. That’s why the day of Easter is not a 100% guarantee of free entry into Paradise. However, when a believer who goes to church regularly dies on Easter day, it does matter for his soul. It is a testimony for his relatives, too, that their deceased relative had pleased God.
What if someone dies on a different day but had led a saintly life, does it change anything? I suppose not. All days are holy for God. That’s why we have to humble ourselves down and to repent in order to get into Paradise.
Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok
What should an ideal woman be like? Can you name the best and the worst qualities of a woman’s nature? Why are there so few female saints in the Orthodox calendar?