Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hell is Locked From the Inside

Sometimes it is hard to imagine how people could actually choose hell instead of heaven, actually prefer it. Here is an actual example, from the book Demetrios recently bought me.

From The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios, by Dionysios Farasiotis (St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California, 2008, pp. 274-276):

I was in [a state of spiritual bliss, joy, and peace] when I boarded the hydrofoil to go back to Athens, pondering this gift I had received. What could it mean? It was then that I saw Demetrios on the deck, sitting off on his own, reading in a chair … So I walked over to him, and we took up our conversation where we had left of five yeas earlier …

I told him about my trip to India, emphasizing this aspect of my life. “How are you doing?” I asked. “Are you still just studying, like you used to, or have you started practicing the things you’re reading?”

“Of course I’m not just studying. We get together regularly to practice witchcraft techniques.”

Naturally, I already knew this, but his open declaration, not typical of Greeks involved in the occult, struck me. Of course, he was under the impression that he was speaking with someone like himself. He had left his old job and found a new one using his connections with Masonry, around which his interests and hence his life revolved.

I told him, “I visited the Monastery of Saint Nectarios. That place is filled with energy. You should go and check it out for yourself.”

“No way. I’m not going there. It’s not my style. It’s the opposite of where my soul leans. I just don’t like that place – I find it repulsive.”

I was both surprised and deeply saddened. How could there be people who felt like that? How could they dislike the grace of God so bluntly and categorically? I had felt such joy and peace in the saint’s presence. He must, I thought, speak this way out of ignorance.

I told him about my experiences and described in detail what I was still feeling. I admitted that I had changed and become a Christian.

“Okay,” he replied. “Christianity is a very exalted philosophy, but as a religion it doesn’t have anything to offer.”

Although I always had wanted to believe that such arguments were used exclusively out of ignorance, our lengthy conversation, in which I had the opportunity to explain the Christian Faith to him, convinced me otherwise. We disagreed many times, although I no longer recall over what points. But one of his comments stands out in my mind. It was said with such an insane obstinacy that I gave up trying to persuade him. He told me, “If what you are saying is true, then I would rather be in hell with the devil.” It’s true what they say about the effects of one’s inner choices in this life. The doors of hell are closed from the inside.

(But now it’s time for me to admit that I once said the same words to a Calvinist, whose idea of God was at least as morally repugnant as his idea of the devil.)


DebD said...

Thanks for that lengthy quote. I recently convinced St. Marks to start carrying that book in their parish bookstore. It's on my TBR pile.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I devoured it, and will re-read parts. I've lined up three or four more passages from it to quote in coming days.