QUESTION: THE LETTER THAT FELL FROM HEAVEN.
I have come across a so called "letter that fell from heaven," in Greek. A lot of people take it seriously. Can you tell me anything about it?
There have been a number of this sort of thing over the centuries. I have ascertained from you that you are speaking about the one that warns that if people continue to break the Sabbath, God will send wild beasts to eat their children, and other miscellaneous unpleasantries. True, like the "aerial toll houses," a lot of people claim to take it seriously, but to nothing at all to change their way of life, keept he Sabbath any better, or follow a more diligent spiritual life. Every year, we receive around 100 enquiries about "the letter that fell from heaven." Indeed, there was just a discussion of it raised a one of my Meleti (spiritual talks). In the past, some Romanians, Greeks and Serbs have even asked us to translate and publish "this extremely important letter that God sent from heaven." It has appeared in every language in Eastern Europe, and is published, sponsored and distributed from Mount Athos. Some of you may have encountered it, others may not have encountered it yet, but sooner or later you will.
Before telling you exactly where this document originated, let me give you the usual (though not consistent) story of its origin (i.e., the one that is about the Sabbath, there are a host of others).
"A pious priest saw a stone fall from heaven. Realising that it must have some great significance, he took it to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Elias. Patriarch Elias place the stone on the Holy Table and during Vespers it popped open. Inside was a letter from God. The letter warned that if people did not keep the Sabbath, bad things would happen.
`Earthquakes, famine, fire, locusts, ravens, mice, hailstorms and numerous ward. I have sent all this to you because you have not kept the Sabbath holy. Since you will not hearken to the words of my voice, I will send you much pain and trouble, and allow wild animals to devour your children. I swear to you by My right hand, by My divine power and greatness, that I will completely wipe you out if you not keep the Sabbath....'
"This warning is sent to all so that they might hear the threats of the Lord God and begin to keep the Sabbath, and all the other things that are commanded, and so escape from the horrible wrath of God.."
And this comes from the people who give us the Gnostic myth of the Aerial Toll Houses as if it was a dogma of the faith.
Now, let us see exactly where this "document" actually did come from. During the Middle Ages, and particularly following the Black Plague, self-flagellation became popular among monks and nuns in Western Europe. Indeed, flagellation was the source of many of the "spiritual ecstasies" claimed by Western saints. This is reasonable since flagellation is a form of masturbation. It very quickly becomes a form of sexual addiction. There are many contemporary accounts of the ecstasies aroused by flagellation, especially among nuns. Often, monks would flagellate themselves into a trance and, wounded and bleeding, begin to proclaim revelations they thought they had received from God. A chronicler in Strasbourg left us the message above, which was delivered by a mendicant monk, dripping with the blood of his flagellation, in 1349. It is this message that somehow found its way to Mount Athos and was re-labelled as "The Letter that fell from heaven."