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Prayers for Judas Iscariot

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#41 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 07:06 AM

>I hope from the bottom of my heart that we all would be saved.<<<

 

The yearning for universal salvation (apokatastasis) seems to be a trait of an Orthodox consciousness while the opposite attraction toward minimal salvation is characteristic of an Augustinian Protestant soul. 

 

Many Church Fathers believed in universal salvation.  St Augustine laments that it was the majority Christian belief in his days (unwittingly bearing witness to something he condemned.)  Saint Martin assures the Devil he will be saved if he repents.  Saint Isaac is an out and out preacher of apokatastasis for both demons and man..  Saint Silouan says that Love could not bear to see a soul in Hell.....

 

By the time of Saint Maximos the belief was universally condemned but he cannot resist commenting. "One should pray that apokatastasis is true, but it would be foolish to preach it as doctrine."



#42 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 09:58 AM

It is said that a soul cannot repent after death.  Does anyone know why?



#43 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 11:08 AM

It is said that a soul cannot repent after death.  Does anyone know why?

 

I have seen this on some Greek American sites.  But I think the more widespread thinking in the Church is that a person may repent after death.  It was explained to me by my spiritual father that this possibility of after-death repentance highlights a significant difference with Western thought.  At the "Particular" Judgement Catholics believe the fate of the soul is determined irrevocably and for all eternity, either hell or heaven (even if heaven entails a preliminary period of purging and paying off the temporal punishment due to sin in Purgatory.)

 

In contrast, and it is a major contrast, Eastern thought is that the "Partial" Judgement at death is NOT a moment which fixes your state for eternity.  There may still be change, repentance, God's forgiveness, God's compassion, the prayers of the Church especially the Divine Liturgy, etc.



#44 petruska

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 11:20 AM

And I just wanted to add that I am most sorry if my silly comments made anyone feel that I thought that I would know better than anyone of you here. Just because that is not the truth and I respect all comments of you all here a lot. I probably should not have said anything!

#45 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 11:48 AM

And I just wanted to add that I am most sorry if my silly comments made anyone feel that I thought that I would know better than anyone of you here. Just because that is not the truth and I respect all comments of you all here a lot. I probably should not have said anything!

 

Petrushka, I appreciated your comments.    I think we agree on a lot.



#46 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 12:36 PM

If we are judged according to our deeds, and deeds cannot be done after death, then it seems to follow that we cannot repent after death.  St John of Kronstadt said there is no repentance after death.  There is this from the GOARCH site:

 

"JUDGMENT of the soul according to its faith and deeds on earth, is an unquestioned teaching of the Gospel. It is also a self-evident demand of human nature and reasoning. The Christian Church places this judgment at the very moment of the death of the individual for two reasons:
1.
Any moral progress of the soul is excluded after its separation from the body; and

2.
there is no hope of repentance or betterment after death.


The moral progress of the soul, either for better or for worse, ends at the very moment of the separation of the body and soul; at that very moment the definite destiny of the soul in the everlasting life is decided. (see Androutsos Dogmatics p. 409). It will be judged not according to its deeds one by one, but according to the entire total results of its deeds and thoughts. The Orthodox Church believes that at this moment the soul of the dead person begins to enjoy the consequences of its deeds and thoughts on earth - that is, to enjoy the life in Paradise or to undergo the life in Hell. There is no way of repentance, no way of escape, no reincarnation and no help from the outside world. Its place is decided forever by its Creator and judge."

 

However, commemoration (for the Orthodox faithful) and prayers and almsgiving for a soul (any soul) can alleviate and even cancel its suffering.   See Kosta's post #23 on the thread Commemoration of the non-Orthodox.
 


Edited by Andreas Moran, 17 August 2013 - 12:42 PM.


#47 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 01:52 PM

"The Church knows that evil is neither co-eternal with God nor equal to Him. That the devil rebelled against God and even became the king and ruler of hell does not mean that his kingdom will last for ever. On the contrary, Christian eschatology, as we shall see later, is profoundly optimistic and strongly holds faith in the final victory of good over evil, God over the devil, Christ over the Antichrist. Yet, what this victory will entail and what the final outcome of the existence of evil will be still remains unclear in Christian teaching. Pondering on this, the human mind once more falls silent in the presence of the mystery, powerless to delve into the depths of Divine destinies. As God says in the book of Isaiah, 'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways' (Is.55:8-9 in Septuagint translation)."


Source: An Online Orthodox Catechism: http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/10/1.aspx#15
 


Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 17 August 2013 - 01:59 PM.
Extraneous returns removed


#48 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 02:02 PM

It seems that the Slavic and Greek beliefs about some aspects of the afterlife do not coincide completely

Here is Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev speaking of those in hell:-

“Several years ago I came across a short article in a journal of the Coptic Church where it stated that this Church had decided to remove prayers for those held in hell from its service books, since these prayers “contradict Orthodox teaching”. [The specific reference is to the Third Kneeling prayer of Pentecost which we share with the Copts.] Puzzled by this article, I decided to ask a representative of the Coptic Church about the reasons for this move. Recently I had the possibility to do so, and a Coptic Metropolitan replied that the decision was made by his Synod because, according their official doctrine, no prayers can help those in hell. I told the metropolitan that in the liturgical practice of the Russian Orthodox Church and other local Orthodox Churches there are prayers for those held in hell, and that we believe in their saving power. This surprised the Metropolitan, and he promised to study this question in more detail.”

 

My comment:  saving a soul from hell necessarily means repentance by that soul since, I believe, God does not force salvation on an unrepentant soul.

Here is the original article ...

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/12/1.aspx
 



#49 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 02:13 PM

Interesting to see Androutsos' name. He was one of the theologians we had to study in Serbian translation in the old Yugoslavia. Also Dybionotes (sp?)



#50 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 03:05 PM

We are told that those thrown into the furnace of fire will weep (Matthew 13:42) but is such weeping (and gnashing of teeth) the same as repentance?  Is there any authority for saying that the effectiveness of the succour of commemoration and prayers for those departed who may be suffering such torment needs to be accompanied by repentance by those suffering?


Edited by Andreas Moran, 17 August 2013 - 03:08 PM.


#51 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 03:55 PM

We are told that those thrown into the furnace of fire will weep (Matthew 13:42) but is such weeping (and gnashing of teeth) the same as repentance?  Is there any authority for saying that the effectiveness of the succour of commemoration and prayers for those departed who may be suffering such torment needs to be accompanied by repentance by those suffering?

 

Dear Andreas,  we are not speaking of succour for those in hell, if by succour you mean only alleviation from their torments and the unimaginable searing pain of fire.  We are speaking, as the Metropolitan says, of the saving power of prayers, their efficacy in bringing about salvation from hell..



#52 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 04:31 PM

I have always understood that commemorations, prayers and almsgiving console the souls that suffer and bring them some relief: that these things actually save a soul from gehenna and translate it to blessedness is another thing and surely exceptional. 



#53 petruska

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 09:22 PM

I think that perhaps this as well is something of a mystery to us. We do not know what their efficacy is as we can never know how our deeds affect others. We should not think, in my opinion which is worth nothing, that our prayers would be worth anything of that big quality, but we can hope it.

#54 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 12:46 AM

Why did Pope Saint Gregory pray for Trajan?  Why did he even believe that by his prayers Trajan could be delivered from
hell?

.... Because there was a time when the holy Church of Rome was joined with her sister Churches and grace flowed through her in abundance. There was a time when the Romans believed that God would deliver souls from hell.


We see the belief in the great prayer which still remains in the Roman liturgy:

"Libera  animas  omnium  fidelium  defunctorum  de
 poenis  inferni  et  de  profundo  lacu."


Roman scholars will say that this prayer means exactly what it says - deliverance for those in hell.  Roman theologians will say that this was an error in the belief of the ancient Church and they have corrected it. They have retained the prayer but they no longer understand it as their ancestors in the faith understood it.

But there is no doubt that my Irish ancestors in the faith, during the millennium when they were in union with the East and  West believed that souls could be released from hell.  19th December will be the commemoration of Saint Samthann of Clonbroney. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints/message/3274   She was well known for the ability to get a soul out of hell. Saint Aidan of Ferns was also celebrated for this. Praying a soul out of hell was not an uncommon accomplishment for Irish saints; one scholar Lisa Bitel has claimed it to be an "almost exclusively Celtic motif."


So, certainly in the early days when Christianity was fresh and strong they thought that they could pray a man out of hell. Now it may be seen as rather questionable theology. Maybe the early Christians were wrong. Who can say? Once again, their old belief places a gentle question mark over some of the things that we have declared certain.

Here is something from the Rule of Saint Maelruain, from the holy monastery of Tallaght. It is 8th century:

"There is nothing which a person does for a soul that has
departed that does not help it, both vigil and abstinence, and singing the
intercession and frequent blessings. Filii pro mortuis parentibus debent
poenitere. A whole year therefore was Saint Maidoc of Ferns, with all his
people, living on water and biscuit so as to ransom the soul of Brandubh, son of
Eochaidh, from hell."



#55 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 04:21 AM

The online Catholic encyclopedia says that it is not impossible that God may be pleased to free souls from hell, but it does not favour the idea and employs rather tortuous arguments to redefine the intention of the ancient prayer "Free the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of the inferno and from the deep lake."


 

"In itself, it is no rejection of Catholic dogma
to suppose that God might at times, by way of exception, liberate a soul from
hell. Thus some argued from a false interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19 sq., that
Christ freed several damned souls on the occasion of His descent into hell.
Others were misled by untrustworthy stories into the belief that the prayers of
Gregory the Great rescued the Emperor Trajan from hell.  But now theologians are unanimous in teaching that such
exceptions never take place and never have taken place, a teaching which should
be accepted. If this be true, how can the Church pray in the Offertory of the
Mass for the dead: "Libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum de poenis
inferni et de profundo lacu"
etc.? Many think the Church uses these words
to designate purgatory. They can be explained more readily, however, if we take
into consideration the peculiar spirit of the Church's liturgy; sometimes she
refers her prayers not to the time at which they are said, but to the time for
which they are said. Thus the offertory in question is referred to the moment
when the soul is about to leave the body, although it is actually said some time
after that moment; and as if he were actually at the death-beds of the faithful,
the priest implores God to preserve their souls from hell. But whichever
explanation be preferred, this much remains certain, that in saying that
offertory the Church intends to implore only those graces which the soul is
still capable of receiving, namely, the grace of a happy death or the release
from purgatory."


http://www.newadvent...then/07207a.htm



#56 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 05:14 AM

The Fate of Judas Iscariot

 

 

Looking at the facts and using my steel-trap Irish mind....

 

1.  We  know from Scripture that Judas repented for betraying the Master

 

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented....”Matt.27

 

2. If he repented, then God forgave him

 

3. Judas then hung himself, in an excess of grief over what he had done.

 

4.  This is the sin for which people say he was condemned to hell (not for the betrayal which was forgiven.)

 

5.  Judas' mind was temporarily unhinged by the enormity of what he had done.

 

6.  It is highly likely that, given the circumstances, the sin of suicide was also forgiven.

 

Does that make sense?


Edited by Hieromonk Ambrose, 18 August 2013 - 05:15 AM.


#57 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 08:33 AM

I think that is supposing too much.  We are still stuck with Christ's having described Judas as the son of perdition.  I don't see how we can get past that.  And, as mentioned, we have the words of the Church's hymns in Holy Week. 



#58 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 09:42 AM

>We are still stuck with Christ's having described Judas as the son of perdition.<<

 

Yes, but to take that literally....?  Judas repented.  Surely our Saviour forgave him?.  The depth of the misery of his repentance is fully illustrated by his suicide.

 

Here's a poem by Ruth Etchells

 

The Judas Tree (Ruth Etchells)

In Hell there grew a Judas Tree
where Judas hanged and died
Because he could not bear to see
His master crucified.

Our Lord descended into Hell
and found his Judas there
For ever hanging on the tree
Grown from his own despair

So Jesus cut his Judas down
And took him in his arms
'It was for this I came' he said
'And not to do you harm.

My Father gave me twelve good men
And all of them I kept
Though one betrayed and one denied
Some fled and others slept.

In three days' time I must return
To make the others glad
But first I had to come to Hell
And share the death you had.

My tree will grow in place of yours
Its roots lie here as well
there is no final victory
Without this soul from Hell.

So when we all condemn him
As of every traitor worst
Remember that of all his men
Our Lord forgave him first.

 


Edited by Hieromonk Ambrose, 18 August 2013 - 09:48 AM.


#59 Owen Jones

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 11:40 AM

What is the difference between Hell and Hades?



#60 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 01:42 PM

>What is the difference between Hell and Hades?<

 

I must admit that I  do not always understand when American Orthodox speak of Hades and Hell just exactly what they mean by each term.

Thanks to the need of precision by the Western world we now encounter a whole schema of the afterlife especially among converts -  Hell, Hades, Sheol, Tartarus, Gehenna, Lake of Fire, etc.    In the days of Fr Seraphim Rose many of us could rattle off definitions of these states/places.  But we have to remember that the Fathers would use these terms interchangeably and often with overlapping meanings.   There is really no certain schema of the afterlife and its various states/places.


 

Somebody wrote: I understand Hell and Hades as more-or-less synonymous.  Agreed. If we read the bishop-theologian Hilarion Alfeyev who has a strong interest in these things,  for example his “Christ the Conqueror of Hell,” there is no distinction of hell and hades.  His English translators however will sometimes  translate “ad” as hell and sometimes as “hades” imposing on his thoughts a distinction which is not in the text..  This would be because American writers have begun to make a firm distinction between the two (although the distinction does not exist with any certitude in the church-patristic tradition.)

Edited by Hieromonk Ambrose, 18 August 2013 - 01:50 PM.






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