January 20, 2016

Elder Sophrony on the Toll Houses, Hell and Paradise

- The toll houses about which the Fathers write are symbols of a reality. The Fathers understand them as follows: after the fall of man, the soul is nourished by the body, in other words, it finds refreshment in material pleasures. After death, however, these bodily passions that used to divert the soul no longer exist, because the soul has left the body, and they choke and stifle the soul. These are the toll houses and hell. Abba Dorotheos says that hell is for someone to be shut up for three days in a room without food, sleep or prayer. Then he can understand what hell is.

- Paradise is the grace of God and His Kingdom. God continuously sends His grace and calls us in this life. Those who despise God and drive Him away, will see at His Second Coming what sort of a God they drove away, and they will be burned up. Those who live in God now will be in raptures then.

From the book I Know a Man in Christ: Elder Sophrony the Hesychast and Theologian, by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, p. 380.