“The path to paradise begins in hell.”
(Georgios Klontzas, 16th Century icon)
No matter one’s concept of hell, I think most Believers would agree…
Hell is the total absence of God.
An endless, as in never ending, void of the Divine…
ergo no hope, light, joy, love, compassion….
you get the idea…
So leave it to an Orthodox monk to offer an interesting thought concerning
how the demons handle the desire of a condemned’s longing for God….
And yet what an interesting thought it is…that even in hell the demons quake
at the notion of one reaching upward to the Almighty…
One day we met on the site where the construction of the new church had begun,
and the Elder said, “It is a difficult thing today to build a church.
All the demons will rise up.”
And he told me an anecdote that he had heard in Russia:
“Someone went to hell, but he wanted there to be a church there too so that
he could pray. Despite his sinfulness, he loved God and wanted to pray.
He began to measure the site in order to lay foundations.
A devil asked him what he was doing.
He replied: Ί want to build a church so that I can pray.’
The devil was uneasy, because it was impossible for a church to be built in hell,
and he tried to stop him. He did not manage.
He summoned other demons. They could not do anything either.
They reported it to their leader.
Then many demons gathered and they threw him out of hell,
to prevent a church being built.”
And he continued:
“So we build churches to change hell into Paradise,
and if we do not manage to do that,
we will succeed in not being accepted by the devil in hell.”
And he laughed wholeheartedly.
—Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos. I Know a Man in Christ:
Elder Sophrony the Hesychast and Theologian
As seen on Discerning Thoughts: