Posted 22 March 2003 - 08:20 PM
Posted 25 March 2003 - 06:57 PM
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.
Posted 27 March 2003 - 06:45 PM
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?
Posted 28 March 2003 - 02:30 AM
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
Posted 29 March 2003 - 05:28 PM
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
Posted 10 April 2003 - 11:05 AM
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.
Posted 10 April 2003 - 11:10 AM
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.
Guest_Priest David Moser
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
Guest_Razhden Irakli Guriadz
Posted 27 June 2003 - 07:09 AM
I don't remember who published it.
God bless us all to find the truth.
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???
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!
Posted 20 April 2006 - 10:57 PM
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).
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!
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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