from Spiritual Counsels I: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man
published by the Holy Monastery of the Evangelist John the Theologian, Sourot, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Page 238: Geronda, will the mentally impaired be well in the next life? Will they have a normal mind?
Elder Paisios’ answer:
No matter how much mind one carries, lots of it or just a small amount, in the end it will turn into pulp. When it reaches Heaven the mind will become intellect. [translated from the Greek “nous”] In Heaven, the theologian Saints and the mentally impaired will not differ in their knowledge of God. God may even be more generous to the latter, because they were deprived of so many things in this life.
A person may not be very good looking, or they may have some handicap. God knows that such flaws will help people spiritually because God is interested more in our soul than in our body. All of us have our qualities and shortcomings- small crosses to bear, nothing big- that help us save our soul.
For information on this book:
Also, from my thesis, “St. John Chrysostom and the Socialization of Persons with Developmental Disability: Patristic Inspiration for Contemporary Application, P. 2: Elder Paisios says this of persons with [severe and profound] developmental disability:
their souls are already saved [. . .] without making any efforts [they] have earned Paradise.”
(from Ageloglou, Priestmonk Christodoulos, Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain (Mt. Athos, Greece: Holy Mountain, 1998) 138.)
I interpret this saying as referring to individuals who are more severely developmentally disabled. For I would think that the corollary to “to him to whom much is given, much is required,” would be that to those persons to whom less, or little, or very neglible abilities have been given, less, or little, or next to nothing- and for some, even nothing- is required.” And there are those who are really given next to nothing at all- those with profound developmental disabilities.
This will be explored in an upcoming response to a book by Hans S. Reinders, Receiving the Gift of Friendship, later this month.
But as to those who are more mildly or moderately disabled, according to St. John Chrysostom’s homilies on The Rich Man and Lazarus, they may have a gentle reckoning before the Lord, in regard to how they have exercised their faith through love with the modest share of abilities and gifts they have been given in this life. (Galatians 5:6) As some are given more, some less, St. John asserts that there would certainly be different standards of judgment for each. He preached this in regard to the rich and the poor; but there are numerous kinds of riches and poverty. “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (St. Luke 12:15)
What I think about these weighty matters is of little account, but the words of the Holy Scriptures, St. John Chrysostom, and Elder Paisios on these things are certainly worth earnest consideration.
for more from Elder Paisios: http://www.pigizois.net/agglika/paisios/paisios.htm