July 28, 2015 (Source: http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com)
It is decreed that men should die once, and after that the judgement.
The Orthodox tradition on the judgement of the soul after death, and the
passage of the soul through the “toll-houses”, was summarized by St.
Macarius the Great as follows: “When the soul of man departs out of the body,
a great mystery is there accomplished. If it is under the guilt of sins, there
come bands of demons, and angels of the left hand, and powers of darkness
that take over that soul, and hold it fast on their side. No one ought to be
surprised at this. If, while alive and in this world, the man was subject and
compliant to them, and made himself their bondsman, how much more, when
he departs out of this world, is he kept down and held fast by them. That this
is the case, you ought to understand from what happens on the good side.
God’s holy servants even now have angels continually beside them, and holy
spirits encompassing and protecting them; and when they depart out of the
body, the hands of angels take over their souls to their own side, into the pure
“Like tax-collectors sitting in the narrow ways, and laying hold upon the
passers-by, so do the demons spy upon souls and lay hold of them; and when
they pass out of the body, if they were not perfectly cleansed, they do not
suffer them to mount up to the mansions of heaven and to meet their Lord,
and they are driven down by the demons of the air. But if whilst they are yet
in the flesh, they shall with much labour and effort obtain from the Lord the
grace from on high, assuredly these, together with those who through
The first major exposition of this tradition in modern times was Bishop
Ignatius Brianchaninov’s Essay on Death in the third volume of his Collected