For the First Monday in Advent: St. Basil on the Second Advent
From Faith and Life: Readings compiled from ancient writers comes this excerpt from St. Basil:
II. THE SECOND ADVENT.
Picture in your thoughts that final catastrophe of the life of all men, when the Son of God will come in His glory with His angels. For “He will come, and will not keep silence;” that is, when He will come to judge the quick and the dead, and to render to every man according to his work; when that trumpet with its great and terrible sound will awaken those who have slept since the world began, and they will “come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation.” Remember the heaven-sent vision of Daniel, how it brings the judgment before our eyes. “I beheld,” he says, “until thrones were set, and the Ancient of days did sit; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool, and his wheels a burning fire. A river of fire was rolling before Him. Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him; a judgment was set, and books were opened;” books openly unfolded, things good, things bad, things manifest, things hidden, acts, words, thoughts, all things at once, so as to be heard by all, both men and angels. And those who have led evil lives, with what feeling must they needs face all this? Where then will their soul hide itself, when, filled with shame, it is suddenly exposed to the gaze of so many beholders? How will their bodies endure those endless and intolerable plagues, where are fire unquenchable, and the ceaselessly punishing worm, and the dark and horrible pit of Hades, and bitter wailings, and extreme lamentations, and weeping and gnashing of teeth?—and these horrors have no end. From these there comes no relief with death, nor is there any device or method of escaping that bitter punishment. We are able to avoid it now. While we are able, let us raise ourselves up from our fall, and not despair of ourselves if we depart from evil. “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” The Word, calling us to repentance, cries aloud, “Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” There is then a way of salvation, if we choose to be saved.
–St Basil, Epistle xlvi.
We are able to avoid this now, and there is a way of salvation, if we choose to be saved.