In the ranks of the saints
If we hope to enter into the company of the saints, we must tread the path of the saints. In the funeral service of the Byzantine Orthodox Church, the following exquisite verses are sung:
The Choir of the Saints have found the Fountain of Life
And the Door of Paradise.
May I also find The Way through repentance.
I am a lost sheep:
Call me, O Savior, and save me.
Ye holy Martyrs, who preached the Lamb of God,
And like unto lambs were slain,
And are translated into life unfading and everlasting;
Fervently beseech ye Him
To grant us remission of our debts.
Then the Savior Himself speaks:
“Ye who have trod the narrow way of grief;
All ye, who in life
Have taken upon you the Cross as a yoke,
And followed Me by faith: Draw near.
Enjoy ye the honors and celestial crowns
I have prepared for you.”
The vision of Saint John
When Saint John the Beloved was taken into the highest worlds, he saw there a uniquely resplendent company of Holy Ones. Then he was told: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 7:14).
What a glorious destiny. And it is intended for every one of us who perfects himself in the fullest and highest conformity to the spiritual principles of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes.
When we think of all that is required of those seeking the vision of God and of the lofty ideals to which we are called, if we waver in our determination and wonder if this is really the path we want to tread, then let us remember this description of Saint John’s and its profound meaning–for it, too, is symbolic of a spiritual glory far beyond anything this earth or any of the worlds beyond can offer.
It is worth it!
Is the life in God worth pursuing? Saint Paul says: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him” (Philippians 3:7, 8).
When we were children, five dollars seemed a fortune. Then as we got older and more aware of the world and the prices of things, the amount we considered a fortune increased proportionately. For a while, one hundred dollars was the limit of our imagination, then five hundred, then one thousand, then one hundred thousand, and so on. So it is with us as we grow in the spirit. The price exacted from us seems increasingly less in magnitude as we experience the wonder of resurrecting into eternal life. Just as a multimillionaire sometimes speaks of hundreds of thousands of dollars as “nothing,” one day we will realize that, in comparison with what we have received, the price was very small, indeed.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
Until then, let us follow the final exhortation of the Beatitudes:
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:
for great is your reward in heaven.