I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse;
therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live - Deuteronomy
God created human beings to have free will. He honored them with reasoning
and wisdom and placed before their eyes the choice between life and death.
If by their free choice they walk the way of life, they can live for ever.
But if by choosing evil they tread the road to death, they will be punished
The features of our human nature that we cannot alter deserve neither
praise nor blame. No one was ever accused in court of being white or black
skinned, or tall rather than short, because we have no choice in these
matters. It is to what we can freely choose that punishment and praise
In either case there is need, on the one hand, of our choice and our
will, and on the other hand, of God's liberty. Our free will is never over-ridden
or crushed. Furthermore, we have received from God commandments which can
make us to be like him, by helping us to lead sinless lives and become
like angels among our fellow human beings [See Deuteronomy 30:19].
[excerpt from The Spiritual Paradise, 2, translated by Paul Drake]
Niceta Stethatus (1005-1090) was a Byzantine monk and writer. As a
young man he entered the monastary of Studios in Constantinople. He was
devoted to the teaching of St. Simeon the New Theologian, a monk who died
in 1022. Niceta collected Simeon's works and wrote a biography entitled
of Simeon as well. Niceta earned the name "Stethatus" which in Greek