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Aerial Tollhouses in Prayer Canons


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#21 Matthew

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 04:37 PM

Does "taxing"  mean "judging"?  We know from Scripture that the Father has given all judgement into the hands of His Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.  Neither angels nor demons have authority to judge a human soul nor consign it to suffering or bliss.  Only the Son may do that.

Well said.

 

The idea of toll houses seems to me to give far too much power to demons after death.

 

Having said that, I'm sure I'll have plenty to fear when being judged!

 

Matthew



#22 Jason Hunt

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 04:51 PM

> However, the toll houses are not dogma....<

 

This is becoming a problem.  Major clergy within ROCA have been claiming that it is dogma for around 10 years, and claiming that the bishops of ROCA have proclaimed it dogma in their official journal Tserkovnaya Zhizn'.   This is a major change from labelling it, as we have hitherto, a theologoumenon.  As dogma it moves us into another theological realm entirely.  I don't want to open up this can of worms because it will become a never ending thread.

 

Fr. Ambrose, please can you provide some quotes from saints and Church Fathers which explain the words "dogma" and "theologoumena" and the difference between them?  Also, if by "theologoumena" you mean an opinion that we can feel free to disregard as possibly untrue, can you point out some of the other theologoumena found in our liturgical texts and prayers aside from that of the toll houses?


Edited by Jason Hunt, 14 August 2013 - 04:51 PM.


#23 Father David Moser

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 07:20 PM

> However, the toll houses are not dogma....<

 

This is becoming a problem.  Major clergy within ROCA have been claiming that it is dogma ...  I don't want to open up this can of worms because it will become a never ending thread.

Dear Father,

 

If you didn't want to open the can of worms, then why did you even post on the topic in the first place.  You are an intelligent person and you full well know the kind of response you will receive. 

 

Also, while there are some "outspoken" clergy in ROCOR with whom you have argued this point endlessly elsewhere (and believe me it won't happen here), I think that for the most part you simply choose to hear what you want to hear from ROCOR sources and interpret them in such a way as supports your own ideas.  Again, this discussion about others not on this list will not happen here and if it continues it will be ended. (yes that's threat - I'm not feeling patient enough at the moment to put it any other way).

 

Fr David



#24 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 11:15 PM

According to Pomazansky, it is not given to us to know how the particular judgment occurs after a man's death.

 

Fr Michael sees the toll houses as an allegory of the process of the Partial Judgement at the time of death.  Theodora represents our soul. The angels -our good deeds.  The demons - our sinful deeds.  This is such an attenuated version of the toll house doctrine that evenI can accept it and declare myself a toller



#25 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 11:22 PM

Fr. Ambrose, please can you provide some quotes from saints and Church Fathers which explain the words "dogma" and "theologoumena" and the difference between them?  Also, if by "theologoumena" you mean an opinion that we can feel free to disregard as possibly untrue, can you point out some of the other theologoumena found in our liturgical texts and prayers aside from that of the toll houses?

It is difficult to believe that any of us writing on the tolls is not able to distinguish between dogma and theologoumena.  A theologoumenon is in the nature of: do cats and cows have immortal souls?  Catholics say no.  I don't think the Orthodox pay any attention to it.

 

How do you feel about the theological status of the toll house teaching?  Dogma? No more to be rejected than the dogma of hell?



#26 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 11:34 PM

Dear Father,

 

If you didn't want to open the can of worms, then why did you even post on the topic in the first place. 

I did not desire to name names, but the rise of the toll houses to dogma in ROCA is worrying.  I am happy in a private e-mail to speak more fully and provide citations.

 

Boschanovsky’s toll house article in the Sept-Dec 2001 Tserkovnaya Zhizn'" (a periodical published by the Synod of Bishops) is put foward as the ROCA bishops’ endorsement of the teaching as dogma.  If you cannot access that I am happy to share.


#27 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 11:54 PM

> Again, this discussion about others not on this list will not happen here and if it continues it will be ended. (yes that's threat - I'm not feeling patient enough at the moment to put it any other way<

 

No need to threaten.  It should be clear that I am not naming names. .


Edited by Hieromonk Ambrose, 15 August 2013 - 12:16 AM.


#28 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 12:07 AM

>....simply choose to hear what you want to hear from ROCOR sources and interpret them in such a way as supports your own ideas....<

 

 

What I have sought over the years is the church-patristic definition of the toll house teaching.  It is eminently reasonable to ask for such,  since without it we don't know what we are discussing nor what the faithful are required to accept as intrinsic to their Orthodox faith.  One priest did provide a definition once but he was shot down by fellow toll house believers.  The only definition we could reasonably put forward is Saint Theodora's Revelations.  Saint Justin assesses it as the most complete patristic teaching.  I wonder if people on Monachos.net would accept that?



#29 Lakis Papas

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 12:11 AM

The separation of single psychosomatic entity into two components is a mystery. The tradition for Tollhouses, which were incorporated in hymns, is based on an attempt to express in a realistic manner situations that are not fully covered by the experiences that we live on earth.
 
I think we have to understand three points:
 
1) Because of psychosomatic unity, passions of the body are interconnected and intertwined with the passions of the soul. Indeed, the passions of the soul always operate through the bodily actions. When the soul is separated from the body, then it can not satisfy her passions. This is a suffocating situation. The soul that has passions feels captive and blocked, like being subject to bondage excluding it to act at will. 
 
2) It is a patristic teaching that each nature is attracted from the similar. So the soul is naturally attracted to the divine, since man is akin to God, bringing within the image of divine as its archetype. So after death, the soul is naturally attracted to God (so it is the case before death). But this attraction is compensated by the pull of the passions in the opposite direction. St Gregory of Nyssa presents this situation with the image of a man buried under earthquake debris who instinctively is trying to emerge to the free surface and is punctured by nails and debris in his effort. This is the state where the soul feels her passions to opposing violently the natural ascent towards God. This situation is also happening before death, but then, the connection to the body gives the soul, of man with passions, a distraction from the divine attraction. After death, and separation from the body, this disorientation of the soul ceases. Then, after death, the soul is inevitably experiencing this dual attraction and repulsion, which is stressful and agonizing.
 
3) It is generally considered that the satanic influence over man has a dialectical dimension. The devil and the man "talk" about a topic and finally man takes a position on the issue. This is not the case. St Peter writes (1 Peter 5:8):
 

 

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

 

This illustration overturns the dialectical dimension of diabolic tactics. Another illustration of the devil is as "a wolf in sheep clothing", which also has no dialectic parameter. The proper patristic illustration of devil is that of an "adversary". A christian has to fight against devil. The devil is the one who first attacks and the Christian enters in a position of self-defense. 
 
Ephesians 6:10-17

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
 
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

 

Taking the above three points, we can realize that the shackles of the soul, the anguish, the suffocation, the repulsive force against the attraction to God, the struggle with the adversary devil, are conditions attributable through the narration of Tollhouses. 
 
Now, when we take everything literally we destroy the patristic context. 


#30 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 02:53 AM

>1) Because of psychosomatic unity, passions of the body are interconnected and intertwined with the passions of the soul. Indeed, the passions of the soul always operate through the bodily actions. When the soul is separated from the body, then it can not satisfy her passions. This is a suffocating situation. The soul that has passions feels captive and blocked, like being subject to bondage excluding it to act at will. <<<<

 

If we read Saint Theophan the Recluse, souls which have any attachment at all to the passions will be taken to hell by the toll house demons.  He speaks of this in his Commentary on Psalm 118.  It is published by Jordanville in English.



#31 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 06:31 AM

There is an exhaustive list of patristic commentary here: http://classicalchri...ecluse18151894/



#32 Kosta

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 08:23 AM

Gather the greek and russian theologians who ardently believe in the tollhouses and allow them to explain it, they wont agree with each other on much of the details. It is a tradition but one that has not been dogmatically defined.

Toll stations are simply the expanses in the air where the demons congregate. They are called tax collectors because in ancient times the tax gatherers operated more like unethical loan sharks. They would attack you and beat you and extract more money from you than you owed because it was their 'cut'. Hence the demonic tax collectors wish to seize you and extract as much agony out of you as possible.

The understanding of these attacks vary in the patristic literature. Justin Martyr believed the demons only hinder the souls of the SAINTS from reaching heaven (sinners are already condemned so why bother). Justin Martyr's explanation on why Jesus upon the cross prayed 'Father I commend my Spirit" was so he can be received directly into heaven, as instruction for us to pray the same, at the hour of death. Justin Martyr believed Samual was summoned by the sorceress because his soul was trapped here on earth as the demons blocked and hindered him from his final destination. Thus we should pray the same prayer as Christ, to be received directly by God being 'snatched' away from any demon.

John Chrysostom rejected this mindset, he opposed the belief that the martyrs became demons, meaning they become 'wandering spirits' . Basically the demons hating the martyrs, hinder their souls from ascending, effectively making the martyred soul a demon; it wanders the surface of the earth forever. St John Chrysostom taught that there is no lingering soul after death, neither for 3 days nor 40. Upon death the triumphant christian is carried by angels to the place prepared for it just like the beggar Lazarus in the parable of Luke 16.9 Likewise the same thing happens to the sinners, a specific category of 'dreaded' angels (but NOT DEMONS) which God has appointed carries them to prison. This was also the opinion held by Hippolytus (for some reason the angels appointed to guard the despoiled Hades are now interpreted to be demons by ardent toll house believers)

St Gregory the Dialogist who is basically the earliest writer to speak of various visitations, 'at the hour of death' gives a few different explanations. One of these explanations is that God allows the demonic visions so the christian on his deathbed has one final chance to repent because the accusing demons bring to remembrance the sins he never confessed. The accusing demons bring to mind those minor faults. It is through these fearful visitations that expunge certain sins as this fear is a form of penance .
The second explanation is these demonic visions occur when family and friends surround the deathbed. In instances where the dying person's sin is too severe and penance is too late, God will allow the sin to be known to those present precisely because some who are presently gathered around the deathbed also partake of the same sins. The agony an fear witnessed by the dying christian will allow the living sinner to understand and repent in order to avoid the same sentence

St Mark of Ephesus makes a passing mention of this in the debates over purgatory. He said that some sins are forgiven, "in the trial of death through fear as St Gregory taught". Thus the prayers are a synthesis of two thousand years of christian tradition from the time of Justin Martyr urging us to pray to be received directly so we are not snatched away to the modern times. Granted though in Byzantium there was always an unhealthy and overdone belief on the influence and role that demons play in our lives.

Edited by Kosta, 15 August 2013 - 08:34 AM.


#33 Kosta

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 09:19 AM

1) Because of psychosomatic unity, passions of the body are interconnected and intertwined with the passions of the soul. Indeed, the passions of the soul always operate through the bodily actions. When the soul is separated from the body, then it can not satisfy her passions. This is a suffocating situation. The soul that has passions feels captive and blocked, like being subject to bondage excluding it to act at will. 
 
2) It is a patristic teaching that each nature is attracted from the similar. So the soul is naturally attracted to the divine, since man is akin to God, bringing within the image of divine as its archetype. So after death, the soul is naturally attracted to God (so it is the case before death). But this attraction is compensated by the pull of the passions in the opposite direction. St Gregory of Nyssa presents this situation with the image of a man buried under earthquake debris who instinctively is trying to emerge to the free surface and is punctured by nails and debris in his effort. This is the state where the soul feels her passions to opposing violently the natural ascent towards God. This situation is also happening before death, but then, the connection to the body gives the soul, of man with passions, a distraction from the divine attraction. After death, and separation from the body, this disorientation of the soul ceases. Then, after death, the soul is inevitably experiencing this dual attraction and repulsion, which is stressful and agonizing.

 

This is precisely what St Gregory Describes in his dialogues. He tells the story of a man who was very generous to the poor, constantly giving alms. But struggled with the carnal passions, giving into his urges. Upon the man's death he needed to walk across a bridge where under the bridge ascended noxious fumes.  The noxious fumes would rise up as demons, pulling him under into the muck while angels would pull him back up. St Gregory explains the carnal passions the man suffered from pulled him into the abyss but his compassion in giving alms pulls his soul back towards the opposite direction.

 
 

 

 

This illustration overturns the dialectical dimension of diabolic tactics. Another illustration of the devil is as "a wolf in sheep clothing", which also has no dialectic parameter. The proper patristic illustration of devil is that of an "adversary". A christian has to fight against devil. The devil is the one who first attacks and the Christian enters in a position of self-defense. 
 
Ephesians 6:10-17

 

Taking the above three points, we can realize that the shackles of the soul, the anguish, the suffocation, the repulsive force against the attraction to God, the struggle with the adversary devil, are conditions attributable through the narration of Tollhouses. 
 

 

 
The above explanation, and a knowledge of the underhanded tactics tax gatherers used to extract what they considered was theirs, begins to connect the dots as to why the demons have been labeled tax collectors and their abodes as toll houses in the prayers. 

Edited by Kosta, 15 August 2013 - 09:23 AM.


#34 Lakis Papas

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 11:30 AM

There is an exhaustive list of patristic commentary here: http://classicalchri...ecluse18151894/

 

Thank you.



#35 Jason Hunt

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 12:22 PM

It is difficult to believe that any of us writing on the tolls is not able to distinguish between dogma and theologoumena.  A theologoumenon is in the nature of: do cats and cows have immortal souls?  Catholics say no.  I don't think the Orthodox pay any attention to it.

 

How do you feel about the theological status of the toll house teaching?  Dogma? No more to be rejected than the dogma of hell?

 

First, please respond to my request and provide some quotes from saints and Church Fathers which explain the words "dogma" and "theologoumena" and the difference between them.  I have heard contemporary distinctions and definitions, but I have not seen any quotes from the saints or Fathers explaining what these terms mean and how they are to be distinguished.  If we cannot come up with patristic definitions, how can we agree on the right application of the terms?



#36 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 03:48 PM

There is an exhaustive list of patristic commentary here: http://classicalchri...ecluse18151894/

 

Thank you.  It includes the citation from Saint Theophan the Recluse. 

 

"When, during the course of earthly life, the passions have been banished from the heart and the virtues opposed to them have been planted, then no matter what seductive thing you might present, the soul, having no kind of sympathy for it, passes it by, turning away from it with disgust.

 

"But when the heart has not been cleansed, the soul will rush to whatever passion the heart has most sympathy for; and the demons will take it like a friend, and then they know where to put it. Therefore, it is very doubtful that a soul, as long as there remain in it sympathies for the objects of any passion, will not be put to shame at the toll-houses. Being put to shame here means that the soul itself is thrown into hell"



#37 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 03:56 PM

Yes, I noticed the part in bold, and was afraid.



#38 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 04:27 PM

>First, please respond to my request and provide some quotes from saints and Church Fathers which explain the words "dogma" and "theologoumena" and the difference between them.<<<<

 

I do not know if any Church Fathers have written about the difference between dogma and theologoumena.  Have you encountered anything? 



#39 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 04:29 PM

Yes, I noticed the part in bold, and was afraid.

 

I suspect it will throw all my parishioners into hell, as well as myself.



#40 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 05:19 PM

'Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not.'






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