Life after Life in the Orthodox Hymnographical Theology
The Christian Revelation encompasses the history of salvation not just as past, but also as future, as accomplishment of the creation in the eschaton. For this reason, the Church does not preach only what God has done for our salvation, but also what He has prepared for those who believe in Him. In this way, the creation, and especially man, has its whole life put under the sign of the hope of resurrection, of wakefulness / watchfulness (nepsis) and of the preparation for the celestial life. The eschaton must surely have been on the mind of the Christian hymnographers, the Holy Fathers who created the beauties included in the Orthodox cult books, especially the multitude of troparia, stichera, stichoi, kontakia and oikoi, prayers etc.; in them we find expressed with extraordinary artistry and special power of synthesis, the entire teaching of faith of our rightly-glorifying Church, the entire Eastern theology, starting with her cosmology, continuing with her anthropology, Christology, ecclesiology, pneumatology and ending with the eschatology or the new creation. The existence of eschatological ideas even since the first centuries in the cult books of the Church, proves the fact that the orientation to the future world and the hope in the universal resurrection was the living phenomenon that animated the life of the first Christian communities. The Christian’s expressed desire to unite heaven and earth, to live the angelic life even since now, shows that the eschaton was, is and will always be conceived as a reality which is not foreign to the present life. Life after life can only be a life in communion with God, as it has been revealed by our Saviour Christ and preached by the Holy Apostles and by the Church to this day.