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Toll houses


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#41 Guest_Jeff Taylor

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 08:20 PM

I recently read Athos: travels on the Holy Mountain by Matthew Spencer, recounting his stay of a few weeks at the Grand Lavra in 1993. A novice there told him about the "toll houses," so apparently this idea is being taught on Mt. Athos, or at least it was at the Grand Lavra 10 years ago.


#42 Guest_demetrios karaolanis

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 06:27 PM

I would like to know what church tradition has to say about the toll houses if anyone can find it, I do think it is a traditional view though if the athonite monks are teaching it.


#43 Guest_Mark Flory

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 06:57 PM

Demetrios,

This is a discussion that I have promised myself not to get sucked into. However, your comment that "I do think it is a traditional view...if the athonite monks are teaching it" needs to be addressed. We would do well to remember that the primary supporters of Origen and Evagrius were the monks, and yet their teachings were (at least in part) rejected by the Church (hence, while they are very influential on the spirituality of the Orthodox Church, they are not considered saints). The teaching is "traditional" if it is TRUE, not just because some group of people whom we (rightfully) respect uphold it. Which is not to say anything at all one way or the other about the validity of the toll house teaching.


#44 Guest_demetrios karaolanis

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 03:10 PM

oops! I once again showed myself to have limited knowledge of some topics, but it is ok I always learn from this forum but I sometimes speak rather rashly, thanks for the correction.


#45 Guest_Marvin Vann

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 06:45 PM

Back to the issue of the Tollhouses: There is an interesting passage somewhere in one of Fr. Thomas Hopkos's published addresses on this. He points out the major points on each side of the debate: On the one, hand, the Church has always clearly held that one must atone for ones sins in this life, an opportunity not afforded one in the hereafter; on the other hand, prominent Fathers of the Church have held a position like this, and allusions to something like the Tollhouse idea are to be found in some of the ancient prayers in our liturgies and prayer books. The issue is imbricated with the question of why we pray for the dead.

If I understand him correctly, Father Thomas Hopko proposes as a solution that, while atonement and sufferings surely are not "spread out" in time after death, a kind of judgment is undergone at the time of death, itself. However, God, for Whom every moment is present in the eternal nunc stans, is not confined to the successive flow of time in the way that we are. Therefore, we may still entertain hope that our prayers for the dead, even during what to our experience occurs after the moment of a person's death, are of avail. And, the moment of death and of judgment may appear to the departing soul as if prolonged, as is depicted in the Tollhouse idea.

It seems to be that Father Hopko may have spoken, too, of a first and second judgment, but my memory is fuzzy. Anyone have clearer ideas on this?


#46 Fr Averky

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Posted 28 March 2003 - 02:30 AM

I was going to do a little more substantial research into to this, but Have been quite ill, and just came home from the hospital. I ask all of you to pray for me. The reference to the first and second judgemenmt is corect.According to Tradition, when I person first dies, his soul is permitted to go to those places on earth where his lived, had joys, sorrows, happy occasions, and so on. On the 40th day he stands befoe God for the first Judgement, and that's where the Toll Houses comes in. Christ is present in His Angels, and the demons are also there. The Gaurdian angel of the person's soul is there particularly. Before his temporary fate is decided (and you shall see what I mean by temporary) the demons rush forth with all his sins and evil deeds, and the angels bring forth his faith and good works. The First Toll House is Idle Chatter, and every foolish remark, every bit of gossip and so and so are brought up. And, every kind word is brought up. I don't remember them all or their order, but there is the Toll House of Sins of the Flesh, etc. When all the good has been weighed against the evil, and one has committed more good, then his soul will have the blessedness of knowing that he will be with God, but not forever. If the person has commited many sins, crimes and evil deeds, than he will have the anguish of knowing that he will be separated from God, but not forever. Thus the Toll Houses are more figurative, in that the various deeds, both good and bad are divided into disticnt groups. This is called the Immediate Judgement. From this comes the Chuirch's teaching praying for the dead. We know that the Final Judgement of all of mankind from the creation of Adam and Eve until the end time will take place at the Second Coming of Christ Our Lord. Then, those who have gained Salvation will be united to their glorified bodies, and will be on the Right Side as Christ's sheep - forever rejoicing with God. But woe to those who have lost Him, for on the Day of Judgement, not only will they be cast away with Satan and his demons forever, but they too will be joined with their bodies, but their bodies will not be glorified - no, they will suffer the torments of Hell forever. While the Orthodox Church does not teach that there is Purgatory, the souls of those who have passed through the Immediate Judgement, and who are experiencing joy or suffering great anguish have not been judged Finally, therefore, the faithful offer up good works prayers, and serve memorial services for the souls of the departed, asking God to show them mercy and grant them salvation. When we read stories of pious people in all Orthodox Nations, we see that people built entire churches or whole monasteries in memory of their parents or relatives. Any of you who belong to a long established parish might see chalices, Gospels, icons, and other church appointments with an engraved tag or painted in the corner, Given by the Papadopolis Family in memory of thir Father Demitrios, June 11, 1890. In the Book of Tobis or Tobit, it says that The giving of alms covers many sins, so in giving these "alms relatives and friends of the reposed beg God to cover.or forgive their sins before the Dread Judgement and grant them Salvation. Purgatory, on the other hand is that place where something similar, but not quite the same, and not quite the same thing takes place: Purgatory is the place where the souls of the departed go who are neither good enough to go to Heaven, not bad enough go to Hell. Their souls burn in fire like Hell, but after a time known to God, they will eventually be freed and go to Heaven. When Christ died on the Cross for the sins of mankind, He received so much Grace that there was more than enough to go around for all of Mankind then and for all eternity. Since the Mother of God was standing at the Cross, She too received an over-abundance of Grace. As the Centuries wore on, and there were numerous Martyrs, Confessors, Doctors,*Fathers, and so on, they too had produced much more grace than they needed. All of this "Amazing Grace" was kept in sort of Heavenly Bank Account and who alone had the "Keys" to all of the Grace÷ Of Course, The Holy Father-The Pope of Rome. For saying Novenas, for going on a pilgrimage, for saying so many Rosaries, one could receive an Indulgence, that is time off from the dicomfort and inconvenience Purgatory. If any of you has seen a pre-Vatican Holy Card, or Prayer Book, or other pios material, you often see the words "365 Days Indulgence. When you see a "jubilee Year in Rome, when the Pope of Roman opens the Holy Door, everyone who walks through that door receives a Papal Indulgence forgiving all of his sins for all of his life (!) Since the Blessed Virgin Mary was born without Original Sin, and therefore could not sin, she has and abundance of Grace, and since she was standing at the Cross and received so much of God's Grace, by some she is considered to be The Mediatrix of All Graces, and Co-Redemptrix With Jesus Christ. Forgive me for going on. Now, while ther are those who the think that idea of the Toll Houses is heretical, like the pseudo-theologian M. Azkoul,[some people proudly show their PhD, but what if it is in an un-related subject? If I had a PhD in electrical engineering, would that make me a theologian?] there are many Fathers of the Early Church who attest to its teaching. I don't think that the Church has ever put them into the light of Doctrine, or Dogma, but uses them as a sobering "visual" lesson of what many sins and vices we have, and the virtues we can receive from God which will save us. Now, I might not be a great "theologian" like The Rev Puhalo, who believes that souls go into a "Death Sleep," and who told some that there really isn't a place called Hell, I am much more comfortable with the view of the Toll Houses than that of Purgatory. Imagine Tetzel, the Dominican sent out to gather the monies for the building the New St. Peter's in the 15th Century saying "Even if a person were to lie with the Dear Holy Virgin Herself, the Holy Father has the authority to set him free." Luther was so narrow-minded to be offendced by such words!

Allow me to call to your attention Archimandrite Panteleimon's "Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave,' Jordanville. I must caution anyone who reads it that Fr. Paantleimon, who founded Holy Monastery in 1930, was a simple Ukrainian peasant, who nevertheless was a great struggler and a phenomenal man of prayer. Being a sincere missionary, he used the real "cut and paste" method to print his books - he would cut out articles from various 19th century books in Russian, print them and give them to those newly arrived from Russia. The caution part come in where he makes use of typical pious tales of the time, and some of them sound to an American's ears like something more out of "para-normal experiences", but even in these there is something to be learned

Fr.A.

#47 Guest_Hermit

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 05:28 PM

For the sake of accuracy, here is the official teaching of the Catholic Church on Purgatory, found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church at http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm Please note that ALL in Purgatory are saved, but must undergo purification before entering the presence of God. There's a difference between the temporal and eternal aspects of sin.

III. THE FINAL PURIFICATION, OR PURGATORY

1030 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.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607


As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:


Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611




#48 Fr Averky

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 07:37 PM

Dear Hermit,

Thank you for the information.

Fr.A.


#49 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 11:05 AM

Dear Gideon, Demetrius and others,

The short take on the notion of 'tollhouses' is that whether or not it is heretical or accurate depends largely (sometimes entirely) on how the term is being used -- i.e., to what the title 'tollhouses' is being applied. Some Orthodox writers, especially modern, have construed the 'tollhouses' to be almost physical (though by definition spiritual) 'places' or endroits of tribulation and provocation by the forces of evil, 'passed through' (again, in a pseudo-physical manner) by souls in a series of intermediate judgements. This is simply not the teaching of the Church.

Others have used the term 'tollhouses' to refer to the particular judgements of departed souls that follow death yet precede the general judgement at the Second Coming of Christ. This is the teaching of the Church, of which the imagery of 'tollhouses' offers a vivid presentation, a spur to activity, and a manner of understanding spiritual realities through a conception manageable by our present intellects.

For those interested in such things, I will recommend again (as I have elsewhere in this community) the short text by Constantine Cavarnos entitled Death and the Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching. One finds herein a well-balanced discussion of the issues at hand, in the larger context of the Church's teaching on the future life.

INXC, Matthew



#50 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 11:10 AM

As an additional comment: In Fr A.'s post earlier in this thread, whilst summarising a certain strand of Roman Catholic thought on the afterlife, he noted:

When Christ died on the Cross for the sins of mankind, He received so much Grace that there was more than enough to go around for all of Mankind then and for all eternity.


I know that the following was intended by Fr A. in his posting, but for those who 'skim' posts it is important to redouble for clarity: the notion of superabundant grace as the source of atonement, is absolutely antithetical to Orthodox thought.

INXC, Matthew

#51 Guest_alexei petrovitch

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Posted 07 May 2003 - 09:09 AM

Christos Voskrese!

Dear brothers in Christ,

I am an Orthodox Christian of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska (OCA) and this is my first time here. I look forward to joining in.

In Christ,

Alexei




#52 Guest_Br Paul Zimmerman

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Posted 07 May 2003 - 09:17 AM

Christ is Risen!
Alexei,

Welcome,I am from Australia. I hope you enjoy and can contribute to the discussions.

Br Paul

#53 Guest_Priest David Moser

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Posted 07 May 2003 - 03:34 PM

Now, while ther are those who the think that idea of the Toll Houses is heretical, ... there are many Fathers of the Early Church who attest to its teaching. I don't think that the Church has ever put them into the light of Doctrine, or Dogma, but uses them as a sobering "visual" lesson of what many sins and vices we have, and the virtues we can receive from God which will save us.


I would like to elaborate a little on Fr Averky's comments (which are already quite complete). The tollhouses are best thought of in terms of a parable or an icon. They are an image which we can understand of a reality that is beyond our comprehension. After our death there is a "particular judgement" - Orthodox doctrine is very clear on that, there is no arguement. OTOH, we cannot even begin to comprehend what that judgement is like or what shape/form it takes and so we are given an icon - a verbal icon - that we can at least grasp. The vision of the "tollhouses" is a verbal icon of the spiritual reality of the particular judgement.

If the "tollhouses" were presented as literally true, then I would have to agree that they are artifacts of the gnostic heresy - but nowhere have I ever seen in all my Orthodox research any indication that states that we have to accept the image of the tollhouses as a literal description of the particular judgement.

Fr Seraphim's book has been mentioned as well as Fr Panteleimon's book. There are now a few others out there which are, in my opinon, better and more organized. Read Bishop Hierotheos' book "Life After Death" and that will give probably the best explanation extant in English that is reliably Orthodox (Fr Seraphim's book - The Soul After Death" is good, however it is not as good as Bp Hierotheos' book) There is btw a new book, a translation of a Russian 19th Century volume by Monk Mitrophan, that has recently been translated and is now in the typesetting process - should be out soon (we hope) which is also a very complete and very good Orthodox work on the life beyond the grave.

Priest David Moser

#54 Guest_Razhden Irakli Guriadz

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Posted 27 June 2003 - 07:09 AM

I am sixty years old and Orthodox from birth. In all of my life and reading I have only encountered the idea of "Tollhouses" in one book entitled "Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave".

I don't remember who published it.
God bless us all to find the truth.

#55 Stephen

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 01:58 PM

Fr Ambrose stated:
>>The great theological problem witrh the toll house theory is that it is impossible to tack down the features of this amorphous "doctrine." No contemporary toll house proponent will ever make the attempt to say precisely what they believe and how it relates to traditional Orthodox soteriology. <<

A couple of thoughts

First is that not only is the "toll house doctrine" difficult to define, but any alternative is equally as "amorphous" The simple fact is that we are all dealing in "images" (or "icons") which reveal a little bit of an incomprehensible reality. We cannot fully and concretely describe the life after death and the nature of the spiritual world because it is beyond our experience in this life (much like the flight of a butterfly would be completely beyond the ability of a caterpillar to comprehend).

Secondly, I think that there is no "toll house doctrine" as such - In my experience those who insist on it being a "doctrine" are those who wish to pin it down so they can refute it. At bit like a "straw man". We do know that the life we live in this world affects the life in the next. We also know that we are in some way accountable for our sins. This is the only "doctrine". How we conceptualize this doctrine is not the doctrine itself, but simply one or another ways of explaining the doctrine. Different explanations or "icons" work for different people.

There is room in the Church for many different descriptions of life after death, it is important to always remember that none of them are "literal" or a true expression of the reality they seek to express.

Fr David Moser



Greetings Fr. Moser,

After reading this thread I am still not clear about what effect baptism, confession and the eucharist has on past sins in relation to the toll houses.

I ask this not to pin the doctrine down and refute it but because I am going to be baptised this Saturday and will be giving a life confession tomorrow. I am told by my priest that whatever I confess will be completely forgiven as if it never happened. How does this - and other future confessed sins and participation in the eucharist during my new Orthodox life - play into what is "owed" at the toll houses? Are not those sins forgiven? Could somebody please explain this???

God Bless,
Stephen

#56 Father David Moser

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 04:34 PM

All your sins are forgiven - there is no question about that. As long as you truly repent and confess your sins, then you need not worry about "toll houses' at all. You "owe" nothing, your sins are forgiven.

Fr David Moser

#57 Stephen

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 05:24 PM

All your sins are forgiven - there is no question about that. As long as you truly repent and confess your sins, then you need not worry about "toll houses' at all. You "owe" nothing, your sins are forgiven.

Fr David Moser


Thank you for answering!

God Bless,
Stephen

#58 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 10:57 PM

Dear Stephen,

I was very happy to see Fr David's reply to your message. Especially in this time of Holy Week and Pascha, the assurance of absolution offered through Christ for the confession of sins must be remembered; it cannot get 'bogged down' in the discussion of 'toll houses', etc.

Especially today, the commemoration of the Passion itself, a reminder that the only sins that surmount God's forgiveness are those for which the sinner refuses to receive that forgiveness (see the hymns regarding Judas as chanted during the antiphons of the twelve passion Gospels).

INXC, Matthew

#59 Ken McRae

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 03:22 AM

"I first heard about Elder Gabriel as a great righteous one of the 20th century, during my last seminary year at Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York. His name was mentioned in connection with the phenomenon of praying to holy men for favors, because they hear just like the saints, and are granted power to intercede before God." (Abbot Herman, of St. Herman's Monastery, in the Preface to 'One of the Ancients: The Life and Struggles of Elder Gabriel, a Russian Man of Prayer', p. 12)


Sorry to interject here, but I was wondering if someone could explain to me where this "third" class or group of souls dwells, if not in heaven with the saints, or in hell with the sinners. Are they "eternally" stuck in the Toll-Houses? If they are not in the Toll-Houses, then where are they? Will they, or can they ever achieve perfection in holiness, like the saints, and ascend fully into heaven? Do our prayers on earth work toward their release from the Toll-Houses and final ascent into heaven? And if our prayers are effectual with God, on their behalf, then how about our penances? Will God receive penances performed by us and offered to Him for their sakes? Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks!

#60 Ken McRae

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 11:02 PM

The angels also taught her a system of utilising the merits of others which can be applied to the soul going through the toll houses where it is short of enough merits of its own. It is redolent of Roman Catholicism's "merits of the Saints" and of indulgences.


Sorry, I missed this statement last night before making my previous post. I see now that if I had read a little more carefully, I would have noticed answers to most of my questions. At any rate, I'd still like to know if Abbot Herman's distinction between saints and holy souls is generally received by all Orthodox believers, or just the "toll-house" adherents? And if the practise of praying to these holy souls for favors is merely another aspect of the "toll-house" teaching, or something generally practised by all Orthodox Christians? Secondly, did all the "toll-house" saints, and particularly Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov, accept this teaching on "utilising the merits of others" to assist these holy souls in their ascent through the toll-houses? Lastly, has Father Seraphim Rose given us a detailed explanation of this practise (of "utilising the merits of others" to assist the toll-house occupants)?




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