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#1 Guest_Michelle

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 03:10 AM

What's the churchs stand on ghosts?


#2 Edward Henderson

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 07:23 AM

Dear Michelle,

"Ghosts" can either be two things. Most of the time, they are demons. That is the best attitude. Perhaps, this is the wrong word or terminology to use but we see in the lives of the saints that they will appear to people. This is seen throughout the lives of the saints. I would not call them 'ghosts'. But, in secular terminology, I guess that is what it would be called. Remember, ghost is often synonymous with sprit. The KJV Bible and older Christian prayer books, will say "Holy Ghost" instead of Holy Spirit. Spirit is a better translation.


#3 Guest_Michelle

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Posted 10 December 2005 - 05:25 AM

so when we die do we go straight to the afterlife or can our souls stick around, according to the church?


#4 Guest_eleni

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 12:39 PM

Hi Michelle.......

so when we die do we go straight to the afterlife or can our souls stick around, according to the church?


From what i can remember, it is 40 days that the soul is in need of prayers and church service. I know that the afterlife is not fully experienced until JUDGEMENT DAY..when all the bodies will rise and be judged....

As for Ghosts, as some of the others here have said....many , many, times, they are demons , as also aliens are demons..

Usually the soul in the first three days(not exactly sure)does try to be with those it was close to...

As seen in "Ghost" with the Demi Moore....when the bad guy dies, demons or the dark shadows(as potrayed in the movie)come for him... go into the link below....there are various subjects on the soul after death....

in Christ
helen

Click here to visit link

#5 Father David Moser

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 05:27 PM

Actually we don't know the particulars of what happens when we die. There are a number images which try to express the need and benefit of prayers for the departed as well as the particular judgement, but no "specifics" are known. In the Church we traditionally make special prayers for the departed on the 3rd, 9th and 40th days after death as well as the anniversary of the death each year, however, these "timeframes" are more for our benefit. (although they are certainly given some significance by those same images of what happens when we die) The prayers are effective and important no matter when we say them.

There are some very good books that talk about "what happens when we die" - two of them are "Life After Death" by Hierotheos Vlachos and "How Our Departed Ones Live" by the Monk Mitrophan. Both are available in English (the latter is only available through certain ROCOR bookstores, Holy Trinity Cathedral, SF and Holy Trinity Monastery for example, due to distribution limitations imposed on the publisher).

Fr David Moser


#6 Guest_S. John

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 05:27 PM

Greetings,

Just so happens I was reading in Fr.Seraphim's biography and it is written that the Sisters at the St. Xenia Skete had seen St. Xenia blessing the property as well as two seperate sightings of Fr. Seraphim after his death by two Sisters there.

What can we take these sightings for?

God Bless,
Stephen

#7 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 11:46 AM

I would say not a "ghost". Our Lord also appeared to His disciples after the Resurrection. He certainly was not a "ghost". Moses and Elijah appeared to the Lord and His disciples during His Transfiguration. I don't think they were "ghosts" as the word is traditionally defined.

I don't know what the sighting were, but they were probably not of St. Seraphim's "ghost".

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 05 September 2012 - 11:46 AM.


#8 Alec Lowly

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 01:12 AM

Stephen writes:

"Just so happens I was reading in Fr.Seraphim's biography and it is written that the Sisters at the St. Xenia Skete had seen St. Xenia blessing the property as well as two seperate sightings of Fr. Seraphim after his death by two Sisters there.

What can we take these sightings for?"


Certainly not "ghosts." Either these are genuine supernatural manifestations made possible by the grace and power of God or they are pious fantasies. We have no reason to doubt that the sisters indeed saw what they reported so I think we should accept their testimony in all humility. But the point is that they did not see "ghosts," they saw the promise of the Kingdom.

In XC,
Alec

#9 Guest_S. John

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 01:38 AM

Herman thanks for the reponse.

Peace,
Stephen


#10 Guest_Michelle

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 03:57 AM

i was thinking about this the last few days. here is where my thoughts are going...
when we die we leave our flesh, and it is our flesh that causes us to sin. we are also not here living for us or for anybody else, we are living for Christ. so why would our souls, after leaving our flesh, no longer able to sin, have any purpose for sticking around? something just isn't adding up with all that...in my mind at least.


#11 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 03:36 PM

From the time of Christ the word flesh has been used to refer to sin or human weakness. According to the Holy Frs however what is meant is not the body but rather the state of the soul. Without being enlivened by the soul the body would be dead & would feel nothing. Why the word 'flesh' was used for the state of the soul which sins is because when sinning we incline downwards spiritually towards things of this earth rather than towards what is heavenly. So it is not our flesh which causes us to sin but rather the state of our soul.

According to tradition the soul often remains for a certain period of time in the vicinity of its body and the places it knew before because the soul has a natural affinity for its body and the place where it dwelt. The body was not its enemy but rather its temple or friend. And even if the soul finds peace in Christ after departing it still will not be complete until it is united with its recreated body at the culmination of all things.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#12 Antonios

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 04:07 PM

Dear Michelle,

I don't believe we regard the flesh as the cause of our sin. It is when we wilfully allow the passions and temptations to 'control' us and our flesh which then leads us to sin. The flesh by itself is a gift given to us by God to be as a temple of the Holy Spirit in gloryfing Him, and not to be desecrated and defiled and a cause for sin.

I hope someone else can better explain this and expound on this. Anyone?


#13 Guest_Michelle

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Posted 18 December 2005 - 07:58 PM

ok...but i still don't understand why a soul would stick around, if we are looking for and living for Christ why would we wait to fulfill what we are working towards?


#14 Guest_Guest

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 04:21 PM

In Greece, (just as here) at the sights of tragic deaths and troubling history, ghosts are often manifest. Orthodox priests will be summoned to bless the sight, and the ghosts go away. I have experienced ghosts a few times. I can only say, without knowing, that these souls seem troubled and they seem as if they do not want to leave the earth to move on to the after life. A holy blessing at a haunted sight usually takes care of this. I don't know that they are demons, unless they are souls that have already gone to hell.


#15 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 10:35 AM

This may seem like a silly question, but I wonder if anyone knows whether ghosts in the folk tradition of Roman Catholic countries are supposed to be souls of the deceased which return to earth from purgatory to undo wrongs?

In particular, a literature student recently wrote in an essay which my father (who teaches literature)is correcting that the return from the dead of the ghost of Hamlet's father is an instance of the Roman Catholic belief that ghosts are souls sent from purgatory to end unfinished business on earth. Hamlet does seem to initially react in the traditional Christian way to the apparition, asking it whether it is really his father or a demon (though if it were a demon, there wouldn't seem much point in asking it I guess, since demons are not known for their sincerity). But the question is, could Hamlet have been influenced by the belief that his father really could return from purgatory over unfinished business on earth? Is there such a Roman Catholic belief, or perhaps even doctrine? Perhaps Roman Catholic monachosnet members like Theophilus might be able to help here.

A further question which arises for me out of this issue is what we Orthodox ultimately believe about the condition of the soul immediately after death. I have a copy of Fr Seraphim Rose "The Soul after Death", but I know the toll-house theory is not accepted as Orthodox doctrine by all Orthodox. The Ecumenical Patriarch nevertheless referred to "a condition of waiting" for souls before they enter Heaven or Hell. What is Orthodox teaching about souls after death? Are visions of saints etc. the manifestations of souls of the deceased (when they are not just demons appearing in this way in order to deceive the faithful, that is)?

Sorry about all the questions. I'm afraid there's more, but this will do for now!

ICXC
Byron


#16 Guest_Kevin Teo

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 03:52 PM

Hi Byron,

I am looking through my copy of Hamlet which I took as part of a seminar in Renaissance literature years back right now. Hamlet's father was indeed confined to "fast in fires" as a part of the purgatorial experience, until "foul crimes done in" his "days of nature" are "burnt and purged away". But the real problem I find in terms of consistency is that the Ghost claims that in being poisoned secretly, he was "cut off in the blossoms of [his] sins". Official Catholic doctrine is very likely to hold that those who die this way--in an unrepented state of sin--would not be promised heaven, as opposed to those who are in a state of grace and friendship with God. Clause number 1030 in the Catholic Catechism states thus - "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven."

Purgatory is actually a state that is seen as a precursor to heaven for those promised heaven, and not necessarily the intermediary state between heaven and hell many of us have now come to think of it as. In that case, it is the process where souls are seen to be purged of their "dross" of sins which they have not been able to shake off fully--that stain of sin--even before they come face-to-face with God. In Catholic doctrine, they must thus be fully purged of their sins and arrive at perfect sinlessness before attaining entry to heaven. In this case, the purgatorial souls must remain in purgatory(state/place) until they are 'released' in the sense of being 'fit' to enter heaven in perfected sinlessness. Jacques Le Goff, the French historian, has contended in "Le Naissance de Purgatoire", that the concept of "purgatory" was specifically a phenomenon of the medieval period in the years between AD 1000 to 1300 in Western Europe, especially the 12th century.

I was checking online in all my ignorance of this issue. I came across this link, which does seem to suggest that purgatory would at least be seen as a 'place' or 'locus' for some Catholics, other than just a process. http://www.7dolors.c...g9purgatory.htm

Also, in the medieval vita of Catherine of Siena, pronounced as a Doctor of the Roman Catholic church, it was written that she could achieve the deliverance of a few hundred souls from purgatory with one prayer of hers. (I cannot recall the exact reference, and have to find that out though.)As suggested here in the vita and other medieval vitae of a similar slant(which MAY or MAY NOT AFFIRM what is official Catholic doctrine), it seems to be that a prayer of a living Catholic believer or Catholic believers have an ability to deliver a purgatorial soul from the state and pains of purgatory sooner(hence the office of prayers for the dead in the Catholic Mass). Do correct me if this understanding that is gleaned from what medieval vitae I have read do not match with official Catholic doctrine. Also, see the clause in the Council of Trent which officially declares Purgatory as a doctrine distinguished from Protestantism's absence of one such doctrine:-The Decree on Purgatory of the Council of Trent states:

"The Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Spirit and in accordance with sacred Scripture and the ancient Tradition of the Fathers, has taught in the holy Councils and most recently in this ecumenical Council that there is a purgatory and that the souls detained there are helped by the acts of intercession of the faithful and especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar. Therefore this holy Council commands the bishops to strive diligently that the sound doctrine of purgatory, handed down by the Holy Fathers and the sacred Councils, be believed by the faithful and that it be adhered to, taught, and preached everywhere."


I am not really sure about this idea of souls coming back from purgatory, as to whether it has any warrants in official Catholic doctrines. Shakespeare was after all writing a play in that period of tension between the Anglican Church which maintained its Catholic status as a part of its nature, and the See at Rome which had already excommunicated it for Henry VIII's act of separation from Rome. Is it a dramatic device more than a real Catholic doctrine? None of my Catholic friends ever made such mentions of such beliefs in souls coming back from purgatory to "clear" unfinished business, and as suggested by what little I have read and known about Roman Catholicism, souls kept in purgatory must finish their process of purification before they can even get out of it. This was actually a belief which finds its articulation in Dante's "La Divina Commedia"(Divine Comedy), which, for all of Dante's pro-monarchical stance which also hinted at a possible separation between the Papacy and the Italian city-state political ideal, seems to suggest that since the souls in purgatory which Dante speaks to often ask him to actively pray for them to obtain their release from their state and that they might advance up that 'scale'(Dante uses the image of a mountain here to visualize this state of release from purgatory). What I would like to know is whether in Catholic doctrine, whether there are elements or doctrinal aspects which allow for the idea of a day of a "short respite" even for the souls confined to purgatory. In CS Lewis's "The Great divorce", there was this narrative moment in which he wrote that the grace of God through Christ Incarnate was such that there was this one day of short respite for the souls even in hell, and that has him being taken to task by so many theologians on both the Anglo-Catholic and Protestant side. Strangely, this is not particular to Lewis' 20th century text, but also the apocryphal Visio of Paul, which is arguably written in the 4th century, and has the visionary figure announcing somewhere in the middle that Christ declared a day of short respite for the souls in hell.

I am somewhat apologetic for being so longwinded in my asking of questions. What exactly is Orthodoxy's understanding of the state of the soul after death? Is it an immediate passage to heaven or hell? Or is there a waiting period prior to any entry either way?

#17 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 08:04 PM

Dear Byron,
You wrote:

I have a copy of Fr Seraphim Rose "The Soul after Death", but I know the toll-house theory is not accepted as Orthodox doctrine by all Orthodox.


Believe me my dear brother in Christ the toll houses are not a theory but rather the actual experience of many who departed or who were departed and then returned to this life to tell others of their experiences. Fr Seraphim is simply relating the many accounts from this experience of the Church spanning Her entire history.

At the same time however the toll houses are experienced in a many different ways by different people- and at times there do not seem to be anything resembling toll houses at all. If I remember correctly Fr Seraphim takes account of this. But what is common- and this is the point- is a trial of some sort from evil spirits at the time of death. For example in the recent book about St Seraphim of Sarov there is a true account of the death of the blessed Elena Manturova (p.99) As she is reposing she cries out to one of the sisters; "Oh, Xenia, Xenia...what are these two horrible creatures?- they are enemies' But then she instantly became quiet. 'Well, the enemy can no longer harm me.'"
Again there is nothing here specifically about toll houses- but the experience of trial by the evil forces as we repose- this is very commonly attested to.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#18 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 07:47 AM

Dear Fr Raphael,

Thank you Fr for your response regarding the toll-houses. I have found an article On the Aerial Toll-House Debate which supports what you said.

Kevin, thank you for your extensive response regarding purgatory. If I am not misinterpreting Fr Raphael's position and the above article, it seems Orthodox Tradition does support the notion of a period of trial immediately after death, not in the manner of purgatory as defined in RC doctrine. It seems to me important that the bishops of the Russian Synod in the above article point out that the demons in no way participate in the Divinely ordained Particular Judgement when trying a deceased soul. Hence the Orthodox teaching, if I understand it correctly, is not that the period of trial by demons is like purgatory, since purgatory in the RC understanding is indeed ordained by God in order to purify souls for entry into heaven. Fr Raphael, correct me if I´m mistaken - might the Orthodox response to this be that we are not so much chastened for our sinfulness after death (though prayers are certainly helpful for forgiveness of sins), as that we are allowed to participate in blessedness according to the degree or extent of holiness we attained in our life on earth?

Regarding the ghost of Hamlet's father, thank you for highlighting the social/religious context of the play Kevin. This website Ghosts, Fairies and Omens does suggest that souls may according to RC teaching be allowed to return from purgatory to call sinners to repentance.

ICXC
Byron


#19 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 02:03 PM

It has been a long time since I read in any detail about the RC teaching on purgatory. The account of St Mark of Ephesus at the Council of Ferrara-Florence has a lot of information on the subject of why the Orthodox reject the teaching on purgatory. But I am sure there is a lot about this I am forgetting that others can add.

In any case my general impression of purgatory is that it is based on the idea of God's justice being affronted by man's sin so that purification in purgatory is needed before man can be in God's presence. More fundamentally behind this stands a false understanding of God- a philosophical understanding of His simplicity- which in its turn spins out into the teachings on filioque & atonement.

I am not sure that we really believe there is a period of trial by demons after death so much as that we as we have lived so we die. Some apparently do undergo a trial from evil spirits- while others apparently do not. The experience of death seems as unique and as personal as the experience of life. As the article you refer to from the Orthodox Info site maintains- there is much in this we do not understand. Perhaps we can say that God allows trials of many sorts that accompany our whole life as well as during the process of dying- just the plain suffering of dying itself- which helps to purify us of sin. But this is not meant to be some sort of outward thing that is done to us from the outside and then we attain salvation. Rather amidst whatever trial is allowed by God- from birth to death- we are to learn to turn our whole selves body, heart & mind, towards God so that by patient trust in Him we may discover our life through Him. In this sense we see both life & death as being an ascetic experience and not just something "we go through". Even if demons do appear at death- we are not just helpless victims whom God is using so that we have the correct ticket to salvation when we die. Rather He in His love is giving us the exact means of salvation each of us needs to find life in Him. And that is partly the mystery-how each person at each moment will be provided with exactly what he needs in order to attain salvation. What human mind could ever understand this? Perhaps in this sense we could say that the teaching on purgatory is a bit too much "figuring things out".

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#20 Guest_Elias Young

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 11:12 PM

There is a more traditional Orthodox view of the Latin "purifying fire" by +Met. Hierotheos (Vlachos).:

http://www.pelagia.o...er_death.00.htm





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