We know from the Gospel that there are various places of torment.
For it has been revealed to us that there is exterior darkness (Mt.
viii. 12), and so it follows that there is also interior darkness (cf.
Mk. v). The fire of Gehenna is another place, the abode of weeping
and gnashing of teeth (Mt. xxv. 30). Another place speaks of
the worm that dieth not (Mk. ix. 43). We read in another place
of the pool of fire (Apoc. xix. 20), and again of tarturus,
of unquenchable fire (Mk. ix. 42, 44). The lower world of
destruction and perdition are written of in precise terms (Mt. vii. 13;
I Tim. vi. 9). The depths of the earth is another place. The
hell where sinners are tormented, and the depths of hell, a more fearful
place. The wretched souls of the damned are distributed throughout
these places of punishment, each one according to the nature of his sins;
fearfully or less fearfully, as it is written: Each one is fast bound
by the ropes of his own sins (Prov. v. 22); and this is what is meant
by the servant who is beaten with many stripes or with few stripes
(Lk. xii. 47, 48). For just as there are differences of sin so also
are there differences in their punishment.
They who foment enmities among themselves, if they should happen to
pass from this life in that state, they shall in that same hour undergo
the inexorable condemnation of this Judge (Mt. v. 18), and as hateful to
God they shall be cast into exterior darkness for having held as of no
importance the precept of the Lord that says: Love one another, and
forgive one another, even to seventy times seven. Let every sinner
remember that he cannot live in security in this life, or free of anxiety;
yet that we are never at any time to despair. For we have an Advocate
with the Father, Jesus Christ (I Jn. ii. 1), and He is the propitiation
for our sins; but not of the sins of those who live lives free from all
concern and anxiety, lives of sloth, of sleeping, of living for pleasure,
and laughter and drunkenness, but for the sins of those who grieve for
their sins, who do penance for them, calling on Him in the day and in the
night. It is these who shall receive the comfort of the Advocate.
But the sinner who is oblivious of his own sins, and who departs from
his body in that state, upon him shall fall that anger which threatened
Manasses; who cried: Insupportable, O Lord, is the anger of Thy threatening
against those who sin (cf. 2 Paralip. xxxiii; Jer. x. io). Woe
to the fornicator, woe to the drunkard. Woe to the foul-tongued.
Woe to those who drink with song and dance, with drums, with pipe and thabor, but the works of the Lord they regard not, nor do you consider of the
works of his hands (Is. v. 11, 12). Woe to those who despise
the words of Holy Writ. Woe to gamblers, as often as they shall make
themselves strangers to the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; as
the Holy Spirit admonishes us through the blessed Apostles (Lk. vi; Jas.
iv). Woe to those who waste the time of repentance in dissipation
and folly; for they shall seek for this very time of repentance that they
wasted in vain, and they shall not find it.
Woe to those who traffic with sorcerers, and seek to learn from the
spirit of untruth; giving their minds to the teaching of demons: for they
shall be condemned together with them in the world to come. Woe to
those who bring forward false accusations. Woe to those who look
for strange things, incantations, divinations, the blood of infants, amulets,
dyes, protective oracles inscribed on leaves, which bring instead disaster
to the body, and damnation to the soul, and all similar things.
Woe to those that deprive the labourer of his wage (Jas. v. 4); for
he who deprives the labourer of his wage is as one who sheds innocent blood.
Woe to those who give judgement unjustly. Woe, I repeat, to those
who for a bribe justify the wrong doer, and take away the right of the
Woe to those who stain the holy faith with heresies, or who give place
to heretics. Woe to those who are afflicted with an incurable disease;
such as are envy and malice. But to what end need I name so many
sins instead of including all in a few words? Woe to all who in that
dread hour shall be placed at the left-hand side: for they shall be in
darkness, they shall tremble and they shall weep bitter tears when they
hear that most fearful sentence: Depart from me, you cursed.
And some shall hear again that most doleful sentence: The wicked shall
be turned into hell (Ps. ix. 18). Others will hear the words:
Amen I say to you, I know you not, whence you are: depart from me, all
ye workers of iniquity (Lk. xiii. 27). Others, the envious, will
hear the words: Take what is thine, and go thy way (Mt. xx. 14).
And hearing what He says, the dread word, go, they ask, whither?
There where they also shall be who shall hear the words: Depart from
me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire (Mt. xxv. 41).
Others will hear the command: Bind his hands and feet, and cast
him into exterior darkness. Others shall be gathered together like
chaff to be burned in the furnace of fire (Mt. xiii. 42).
But just as there are many ways of salvation, so are there also many mansions
in the kingdom of heaven. And as there are many kinds of sin, so
are there various ways and places of torment.
Whosoever has tears and compunction of heart let him now weep with me.
For I am mindful, my blessed brethren, of that unhappy separation, and
I cannot support the thought of it. In that terrible hour men shall
be separated, the one from the other, in that last and most sorrowful of
all separations, and many shall go on their way destitute of all hope of
ever returning. Who is there so stony of heart who will not from
this time forward weep at the thought of that hour? That hour when
bishops shall be separated from their fellow bishops, kings from kings,
princes from princes, priests from other priests, deacons from the other
deacons, hypodeacons (sub-deacons) and readers from their companions.
Then shall they be separated who once were kings, and they shall cry as
children, and they shall be driven forward like slaves. Then shall
princes mourn, and the rich who were without pity, and pressed in on every
side they shall look here, look there, and find nowhere any one to help
them. Then shall they be separated, to depart like captives into
sorrow; where riches will not avail them, nor flatterers stand by them,
there shall not be any place for mercy, for they had refused mercy to others;
nor will they have sent mercy on before them, so that they might find it
when they come, as the prophet says of such people: They have slept
their sleep; and all the men of riches have found nothing in their hands
Then shall children be separated from their parents, and friends from
friends. There in sorrow shall husband be separated from wife, because
he has not kept his marriage bed undefiled. And they too shall be
separated; they who though virgin in body were yet cruel and without mercy:
For judgement without mercy to him that hath not done mercy (Jas.
ii. 13). But I shall leave out many things here: for I am held by
fear and trembling from speaking of them, and so I shall conclude in a
Then at last they shall be driven forth from the Tribunal and led away
by fierce angels, wretched and beaten, grinding their teeth, and turning
back continuously to look once more if possible upon the just, and upon
that joy from which they are now for ever cut off. And they see that
ineffable Light, they glimpse the beauty of paradise, and see there amid
that joy those they knew and who were once their friends. They see
the great and shining gifts which they have received from the King of Glory;
they who have striven lawfully for the mastery (II Tim. ii. 5).
Soon they are led away, separated from all the just, and from those
they knew, and hidden from the sight of God Himself, so that they can no
longer look upon that joy or upon that true Light. And now they draw
near to those punishments we have spoken of earlier, to be divided from
one another among these various places, seeing themselves abandoned on
every side, destitute of all hope, of all help, and of all intercession
on their behalf by others, abandoned. For the judgements of God are
just. Thou art just, O Lord; and thy judgement is right (Ps.
cxvm. 137). Then crying and weeping most bitterly they will exclaim:
O why did we spend our time in neglect and indifference? O why have
we deceived ourselves? O how we have mocked at ourselves, hearing
the divine Scriptures and mocking them? There God spoke to us, in
the holy Scriptures, and we paid no heed to Him. Now we cry out to
Him and He turns away His face from us. What has the end of the world
brought us? Where is the father who begot us? Where is the
mother who brought us into the world? Where are our children?
Where are our friends? Where now are our riches? Where are
our properties and our possessions? Where now the throngs of friends?
The banquets? Where are the endless senseless races? Where
are the kings and lords? How is it none of them can save us; none
can bring us help? We are utterly abandoned, by God and by His holy
ones. What shall we do? For there is no more time to repent.
Prayer and intercession no longer avail; there is no help in tears.
They no longer come who sold us oil: they who appear as the poor and the
destitute. Every festival is over. While we had time, and had
the means, and when the oil-sellers were crying out, ‘come and buy’, we
stopped our ears and refused to listen or to purchase their oil.
Now we look for it and we do not find it. There is no more redemption
for us unhappy ones; no more mercy. For we were not worthy.
The judgement of God is just. We shall no more look up and see the
company of the Saints. We shall look no more upon that True Light.
We are bereft of everything; cut off from everyone.
What is there left for us to say? Farewell! Farewell all
ye just! Farewell Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs. Farewell to
the company of the holy Patriarchs. Farewell to the hosts of monks.
Farewell, O precious and life-giving Cross! Farewell to the kingdom
of heaven which is to be without end! Farewell to the spiritual Jerusalem;
the mother of the Firstborn! (Gal. iv. 26). Farewell to the joy of
paradise! Farewell to You Lady Mother of God; Mother of the Lover
of Mankind! Farewell fathers and mothers, sons and daughters: we
shall never see you again. And after that each one will go to the
place of torment that was prepared for him because of his evil works; where
their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished (Mk. ix. 43).
You have heard me, my blessed brethren. I have fulfilled your
request to me for knowledge of the judgement; I have fulfilled your desire.
See now if you understand for what we are preparing ourselves? You
have learned what they gain who are negligent, who are slothful, who scorn
repentance. And you have heard for what reason they are mocked at
who here on earth mocked at the commandments of God. You have learned
how the evil one deceives the many, how he leads this world, wicked and
rejoicing, astray. You have learned how those who laugh at the Scriptures
are themselves laughed at. Let no one be led into error, dearly beloved.
Let none of you be deceived, my blessed brethren. Beware of any one
saying that they are but mere words; these that we speak to you of the
judgement. Rather let us all firmly and carefully believe in Christ
as He preaches to us of the resurrection of the dead, of judgement, of
the rewards of the good and the wicked, according to the Holy Scriptures
(Jn. v. and vi; I Cor. xv).
Rather, despising all earthly things, let us with earnest care give
thought to rendering an account of these same things; and let us be resolved
to go in fear of that Tribunal, and that in that dread and fearful day
and hour we shall be prepared. For that is an hour to grieve over,
one filled with anguish, and with pressure that shall shake the whole world.
Of that day and hour the holy prophets and Apostles have spoken (Job xix.
2o; Is. ii. 13, 30; I Cor. iii. 55; Mt. xxiv. Lk. xii. 13; Apoc. iii).
And of this day the Holy Scriptures cry out from end to end of the earth,
through all the churches, in every place, and gives testimony to all men,
and warns all men, saying to them: Take heed, Watch, Pray, Be sober, Show
mercy, Be prepared, You know not the day nor the hour in which the Lord
will come. Let all men therefore, as I have already said to you,
cry out with tears and with grief, proclaiming that inevitable day.
Of that day the prophet Isaias has said: Behold the Lord shall come,
to lay waste the whole earth, and to destroy the sinners thereof out of
it (Is. xiii. 9). And the same prophet says again: Behold
thy saviour cometh: behold his reward is with him, and his work before
him (Is. lxii. 11). And another prophet cries out: Behold
the Lord cometh, and who shall endure the day of his coming? And
who shall stand to see him? (Mal. iii. 2). And another prophet
cries to us: Lord, I have heard thy hearing, and was afraid, and fear
has entered into my bones (Hab. iii. 1). And yet another prophet
cries to us, in the person of the Lord, and says to us: Revenge is mine,
and I will repay them in due time (Deut. xxxii. 35). And again:
I will deal vengeance to my enemies, and repay them that hate me.
And there is no one can deliver out of my hand (vv. 41, 39).
Of this day the prophet David has also spoken. God shall come
manifestly: our God shall come, and shall not keep silence. A fire
shall burn before him; and a mighty tempest shall be round about him (Ps.
xlix. 3, 4). Of this day the Apostle Paul also speaks. In
the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according
to my Gospel (Rom. ii. 16). And again he says: See therefore
how you walk circumspectly; not as unwise; It is a fearful thing to fall
into the hands of the living God (Eph. v. 15; Heb. x. 31). And
Peter, the Head and Summit of the Apostles, says of that day: The day
of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall
pass away with great violence, and the elements shall be melted with heat
(II Pet. iii. 10).
And why do I speak only of the prophets and Apostles? The Sovereign
Lord Himself has given testimony to it in many places, saying: Take
heed to yourselves, lest your heart be overcharged, with surfeiting and
drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly.
For as a snare shall it come upon all that sit upon the face of the whole
earth (Lk. xxi. 34, 35). Watch ye therefore, because at what
hour you know not the Son of man will come (Mt. xxiv. 43). Strive
to enter by the narrow way that leadeth to life (Lk. xiii. 24).
Let us walk by this way, Brethren, that we may attain to the inheritance
of eternal life. For he who enters in by this way will beyond doubt
be the inheritor of eternal life. For this way is life. And
though few there are who find it, yet let us, dear Brethren, not be deprived
of it. Let none of us walk outside this way; lest we take the road
to perdition; as was said by the prophet: Lest the Lord be angry and
you perish from the just way (Ps. ii. 12). Let us listen to the
Lord speaking to us. I am the Light. I am the Good Shepherd.
I am the Life. I am the Door. By me, if any man enter in, he
shall be saved. I am the Way. He that followeth me walketh
not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Let us therefore follow Him on this blessed way which all have walked
who have loved Christ. Its entrance is linked with tribulation and
with torment; but there is blessed peace there. The gates of this
way are narrow and forbidding; but its reward is joy. Its entry is
strait, but the place of rest within is wide and spacious. The gates
of this way are fasting, prayer, compunction, vigils, humility of soul,
poverty of spirit, contempt of the flesh, care of the soul, sleeping on
the ground, eating of dry food, lack of comfort, harshness, hunger, thirst,
nakedness, mercy, tears, grieving, poverty, groanings, genuflexions, humiliations,
persecutions, revilings from others, to be hated and not to hate, to hear
evil and to render good for evil, to forgive debts to our debtors, to lay
down our lives for our friends. Lastly, to shed our blood for Christ
when the occasion calls for it. These are the narrow gates, and the
strait way; these are the steps, the approaches, which lead to a most blessed
reward, the Kingdom of Heaven itself, of which there will be no end.
Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction;
whose steps are now joyous and gay, but beyond the gates they are sad;
here they are sweet, there they are more bitter than gall; here the steps
are quick, there they are slow and encumbered with pain. Here they
seem as nothing, there they shall surround him like wild impenitent beasts
attacking; as the prophet says: In the evil day the iniquity of my heel
shall encompass me (Ps. xlviii. 6); that is, the evil of this life,
that is, the wide gate and the broad ways of which the Apostle speaks,
numbering them one by one; and of which are: fornication, adultery, shamelessness,
idolatry, witchcraft, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels,
dissensions, sects, and such like (Gal. v. 20), which are the steps of
the wide way. And akin to these is immoderate laughter, rioting,
lute playing, spectacles, piping, dances, the baths, soft clothing, sumptuous
eating, flattery, uproar, prolonged sleep, soft beds, varieties of food,
an insatiable desire for food, fraternal hate, and what is worse than all
this, impenitence, and never to recall to mind our departure from this
life. These are the steps of that dangerous way along which so many
And such as these shall come to a fitting inn. They shall find
hunger in place of delights, thirst for their drunkenness, pain for their
repose, mourning in place of laughter, weeping for piping, the worm for
their swollen bodies, grief for their ease and sloth of mind, for their
witchcrafts association with the devil, for their gaming tables they shall
be given over to the company of the demons, for their incantations and
divinations they will be given over to the authors of these and other evil
practices, exterior darkness, the gehenna of fire and similar things, which
are the wages of Death, where he feeds his sheep, his own disciples, his
own friends, who have entered in by the wide and broad gate, according
to the saying of the holy prophet: They are laid in hell like sheep:
death shall feed upon them (Ps xlviii. 15).
But we, dearest Brethren, turning aside from this perilous and troubled
way, let us listen to what Christ says to us. Strive to enter
by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall
not be able (Lk. xiii. 24). Many things such as these the Lord
cries out to us, and many others also who have God within them. Remembering
these things the holy martyrs of God had no compassion on their own bodies,
but submitted them to every kind of torment, rejoicing in the hope of their
crowns. Some strove in the deserts, in mountains, and in caves, in
fasting, in virginity, and they still strive, and not only men but women
also, the weaker sex, and these entering in by the narrow gate, and by
the strait way, have seized the kingdom of heaven. Who then will
not be shamed when in that hour women shall be crowned and many men condemned?
For there will be no more male and female. But each one shall receive
his due reward, according to his labours.
Nor does this happen only in the deserts and in the mountains; much
more does the multitude of those who shall be saved shine out in cities
and towns and islands and in the churches. Each one in his own order
who observes the commands of God: bishops, priests, deacons, and the other
orders of the Church, kings, princes, rulers, governors, and those who
live in palaces and castles. For the Lord God said there shall be
no differences, but that there is one place that is above others: Where
there are two or three gathered together in my name; that is, in the
deserts, in the mountains and in caves, or in cities, towns or islands,
or in any place of My dominion, there am I in the midst of them
(Mt. xviii. 20) and with them, unto the consummation of the world, and
then in the world to come I shall pasture them for all ages.
Dwelling within himself upon that tremendous judgement, and upon that
Incorruptible Judge, the great and blessed David watered his couch with
tears each night, and called upon the Lord, saying to Him: Enter not
into judgement with thy servant; for in thy sight no man shall be justifed
(Ps. cxlii. 2). Enter not upon a reckoning with me; do not, Most
kind Lord, pass judgement on me; for I am destitute of defence. And
therefore I implore Thy goodness, Lord, enter not into judgement with
thy servant. For if you will do this, there is not a man in Thy
sight will be justified.
Behold, Brethren, the holy and blessed prophet David, beseeching the
Lord because of that dread day and hour, and making ready for his defence.
Let you also do this, Brethren and Beloved in Christ, before that day
or hour comes, before the wedding feast, before the Lord
comes openly, and comes upon us unawares. Let us come before
His face with confession, with repentance, in prayer. Let us come
before His face in fasting and in tears, and in hospitality. Let
us come before His face, I say, before He comes openly to us, and find
us unprepared. Let us not cease to pray without ceasing, doing penance,
prepared for your meeting with tile Lord, all alike, women as well as men,
rich and poor, bond and free, old and young. Let no one say: I have
sinned in many ways and so there is no hope of pardon for me. He
who says this does not know that God is the God of the repentant; Who came
into this world because of those who were sick; Who has said: There
shall be joy in heaven on one sinner doing penance; Who has said: I
am not come to call the just, but sinners to repentance (Mt. ix. 13).
This is true repentance; to cease from sin, and to hate it, according
to His words: I have hated and abhorred iniquity; but I have loved thy
law (Ps. cxviii. 163); and to His words, saying: I have sworn and
am determined to keep the judgements of thy justice (cxviii. 106).
It is with joy therefore that God receives whoever comes to Him.
Beware also of saying: I have not sinned. For he who says this is
blind, groping with his hands, seducing himself, and knows not how Satan
is seducing him, in word and deed, by hearing, by touch, by sight and in
thought. For who has ever been able to glory that his heart was pure,
and that all his senses were free of every stain? So there is no
one among men who is wholly without sin save Him alone Who because of us
took Flesh from the Holy Mary, Who is really and truly the Mother of God;
Who being rich became poor, for our sakes (II Cor. viii. 9).
He alone is free from all stain of sin Who takes away the sins of
the world; who will have all men be saved, and come to the knowledge
of the truth (I Tim. ii. 4); Who wishes not the death of the sinner; Who
is sweet and mild, and plenteous in mercy (Ps. lxxxvi. 5); Who is clement,
good, the lover of souls, Almighty, the Saviour of all men, the Father
of orphans, and the judge of widows, Who is the God of the repentant, the
Healer of souls and bodies, the Hope of the despairing, the Deliverer of
those who are tossed to and fro in the tempest, the Help in every way of
the destitute, the Way of life Which leads all to repentance, and rejects
no one doing penance.
Let us fly to Him, Brethren; for as often as sinners have turned to
Him they have been saved. And therefore let us not despair of our
salvation, Dearest Brethren. We have sinned; let us repent. We have
sinned a thousand times. Let us do penance a thousand times.
The Lord rejoices in every good work; especially in a soul doing penance.
For upon this He is wholly intent; receiving such as these with open tender
arms, and calling to them He cries: Come to me, all ye that labour and
are burdened, and I will refresh you, in the Heavenly City, where all My
angels are refreshed with great joy. Come to me, all of you, to that
ineffable and unending joy, to these delights on which the angels desire
to look (I Pet. i. 2), and where are gathered the choirs, the hosts,
of the blessed.
There they shall be received into the bosom of Abraham who here have
borne tribulations, as the poor Lazarus was once received. There
the treasury of My graces shall stand for ever open; there, in that
Jerusalem which is above; the mother of the firstborn (Gal. iv. 26).
There is the blessed land of the meek. Come to me, all of you, and
I will refresh you. There where all things are at rest, and there
is no discord, and all things are revealed. Where there is no tyrant,
no oppressor, no sin, no spot or blemish, where there is light
inaccessible, and joy that cannot be told.
Blessed are they that mourn. Mourn, do penance, be converted,
and come to Me and I will refresh you; where there are waters of refreshment
and a place of green grass, and wine that is prepared by the Lord of all
things; to that blessed land of the meek, in which I the True Vine,
and my Father is the husbandman, as you know (Jn. xv. 1).
Come to Me all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh
you; where there is immortal life and the fount of every mercy. Come
to me, all of you, and I will refresh you; where there is love alone, perennial
joy, and everlasting happiness, where the light does not fade, nor the
sun go down. Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened, and
I will refresh you; where there is perfect life, and the fount of every
good. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, because I am meek and
humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls; where there is
ever the sound of festival days, and where the hidden treasures of wisdom
and knowledge shall be revealed.
Come to Me, all of you, and I will refresh you; where there are wondrous
gifts, and joy without compare, rest unchanging, happiness without end,
unceasing melody, perpetual glory, unwearied giving of thanks, loving absorption
in divine things, infinite riches, a kingdom without end, through all ages
and ages, deeps of compassion, an ocean of mercy and kindness, which the
human tongue cannot describe, but makes known only through figures.
There shall be the myriads of the Angels, the multitudes of the Firstborn,
the Thrones of the Apostles, the dignities of the prophets, the sceptre
of the Patriarchs, the crowns of the Martyrs, the praises of the Just.
And there is laid up the reward of every order, of every Power and Principality.
Come to Me all you that hunger and thirst after justice, and I will
fill you with all that you desire, and which the eye has not seen, nor
the ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man to conceive.
These things have I prepared for those who love Me. These things
I have prepared for those who have done penance for their wayward life.
I have prepared them for the merciful; for the poor in spirit; for those
who mourn in repentance. I have prepared them for the peacemakers.
I have prepared them for those who suffer persecution, hate, reproaches,
for My Name’s sake.
Come to Me all you that labour; and shake off and cast from you the
burden of your sins. For no one who comes to Me remains burdened,
but casts off his evil way of life, and unlearns the conduct he had evilly
learned from the devil, and learns of Me a new way of life. Those
that deal in witchcraft, coming to Me they cast away their abject arts
and learn the secrets of God in the knowledge of Him. The public
farmers of taxes leaving their customs booths build churches. Persecutors
ceasing from persecuting others suffer persecution themselves. Harlots
ceasing from fornication have become lovers of continence and modesty.
The Thief, putting an end to killing, putting away his life of robbery,
received a true faith and became a dweller in paradise.
Come therefore to Me; for he who comes to Me I shall not cast forth.
You have heard, Dearest Brethren, the perfect hope, the sweet promises,
the words of the Saviour of our souls. Who has ever seen so kind
a Father to His children? Who has seen so good a Physician?
Come, therefore, let us adore and fall down before Him (Ps. xciv. 6), and
let us confess our sins. Glory to His goodness! Glory to His
loving kindness! Glory to His longanimity! Glory to His care
for us, to His tenderness! Glory to His words of pity! Glory
to His Kingdom! Glory, honour, adoration to His Holy Name for ever
Again I say to you: I shall not cease from saying it: Let us not lie
slothful in our sins lest we perish in our sloth. Let us not delay.
Let us not cease from crying out with tears to the Lord, in the day and
in the night. For He is merciful, and lieth not (Tit. i. 2);
the Defender of those that call upon him by day and by night. For
He is the God of those who repent: to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost be
glory and honour throughout all ages. Amen.