It was characteristic of Father Silouan to pray for the dead suffering in the hell of separation from God; but he prayed for the living too, and for the generations to come. His prayer reached out beyond the bounds of time, and all thought of the transitory phenomena of human life, of enemies, vanished. In his distress for the world it was given to him to divide people into those who had come to know God and those who had not. He could not bear to think that anyone would languish in ‘outer darkness’.
I remember a conversation between him and a certain hermit who declared with evident satisfaction: “God will punish all atheists. They will burn in everlasting fire.”
Obviously upset, the Staretz said: ‘Tell me, supposing you went to paradise and there looked down and saw somebody burning in hell-fire – would you feel happy?”
“It can’t be helped. It would be their own fault,” said the hermit.
The Staretz answered him with a sorrowful countenance. “Love could not bear that,” he said. “We must pray for all.”
~ Archimandrite Sophrony, writing about Staretz Silouan in The Monk of Mount Athos