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Orthodox Talks #29: If Only the Saints are Saved, What Happens to the Faithful Who Die Struggling?

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Talk 29: If Only the Saints are Saved, What Happens to the Faithful Who Die Struggling With Sins and Passions?

Speaker: Hieromonk Kosmas

(Duration: 3hr 28min) 

We often read in the writings of the Holy Fathers statements such as: “Our sins will prevent us from seeing God”, “Only those who have been purified before death can be saved”, and “After death, even forgotten sins will be used by the demons to obstruct a soul’s passage to Heaven”. Many who read these types of statements fall into despair, thinking that salvation is impossible. The fact is, most people are neither complete sinners nor complete saints when they die. So the question arises: what happens to the souls of these people?

In this talk, Father Kosmas uses the writings of both ancient and contemporary fathers and the Orthodox church services for the reposed to explain what happens to the souls of those who have departed this life with minor unconfessed sins or who have not brought forth fruits of repentance for the sins they have confessed. He emphasises that there is much hope for the salvation of those who have died without having attained spiritual perfection. Knowing the Church’s teaching on this topic not only can help those who have already departed this life, but can also help us to better prepare for our own departure.

The following questions are also discussed: what is the Orthodox teaching on praying for those who have committed suicide? Why are people reluctant to give money to the poor on behalf of their departed brethren? Are the Protestants correct when they say that, since there is no repentance after death, praying for the dead is useless? When is it appropriate to weep for our departed brethren? What are the fruits of repentance, and are they necessary for salvation?

Other topics covered in this talk include: a wonderful account of how the dead appeared in order to defend a sinful priest; how zeal in praying for the dead is a sign of spiritual progress; how Elder Cleopa of Romania gives hope for Orthodox Christians who have departed this life without proper preparation; and the sad story of an egotistical modern-day confessor of the faith.

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