Like heavenly angels in the bright citadel

Prayer at the New Skete monastery, Mount Athos

Prayer at the New Skete monastery, Mount Athos

PRAYER is always possible for everyone, rich and poor, noble and humble, strong and weak, healthy and sick, righteous and sinful. […]

Great is the power of prayer, and it brings most of all the Spirit of God, and is most easily practiced by everyone.

We shall be blessed if the Lord God finds us watchful and filled with the gifts of His Holy Spirit.

Then we may boldly hope to be caught up…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess 4:17) Who is coming with great power and glory (Mk 13:26) to judge the living and the dead (1 Pet 4:5) and to reward every man according to his works (Mt 16:27).

St Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1833). Conversation with Nicholas Motovilov.

**

The following lines come from a poem on the Eight Ages of creation by St Bede of Jarrow (+735). In Migne (PL94 621), the title is given as “A Hymn on the Day of Judgment”.

According to St Bede’s scheme, the seven days of creation correspond to seven ages of the world.

Christ’s crucifixion takes place on the eve of the Sixth age, and his lying in the tomb is the Seventh (the “day of rest”). The Eighth Age is the life of the world to come.

THE eighth remains
More sublime than these other ages,
When the dead will rise again
From the pristine mound of the earth;
And the righteous shall see
The delightful face of Christ forever,
And they shall be like heavenly angels
In the bright citadel.

Which narrow road it is [that leads] to him
He showed us, treading the way before,
Who was born of a Virgin Mother,
God, and Son of God.

For conquering death by death
On that Sixth day,
He took his Sabbath [i.e. seventh day] rest,
Hidden in the heart of the earth;
And rising up early that Sabbath,
He threw open the gates of Life,
And even as his own rejoiced with him,
Ascended the the throne of his Father.

And six ages of this generation he went before us,
And now bearing our cross,
Was victorious over every law of death.

Once every battle of this world has ended in victory
The chains of the flesh loosed,
[There shall be] A Sabbath of endless life.

There shall follow a Sabbath
Which will not be closed with any ending,
When an everlasting immortality of the flesh
Shall be granted to us.

Thus a joy of flesh and spirit alike gained,
We will mount up to the heavenly walls of the everlasting Kingdom;
Where, we beg you Holy Trinity, grant us to come,
To know you, the one true God, throughout all generations.

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