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Author Topic: Oriental Orthodoxy and the Toll houses.  (Read 7035 times) Average Rating: 0
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GOCTheophan
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« on: August 24, 2007, 09:17:39 AM »

Greetings,

Do the Oriental Orthodox accept the Orthodox teaching on the particular judgement that after it's parting from the body the soul is confronted by the demons who accuse it of various sins in order to lay claim to it while it is defended by its guardian angel who attempts to guide it to Heaven, God of course being the ultimate judge?

Theophan.
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2007, 09:44:04 AM »

I don't think we speculate on such matters.
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2007, 10:09:54 AM »

Do the Oriental Orthodox accept the Orthodox teaching on the particular judgement that after it's parting from the body the soul is confronted by the demons who accuse it of various sins in order to lay claim to it while it is defended by its guardian angel who attempts to guide it to Heaven, God of course being the ultimate judge?
You may be surprised to learn that not all Eastern Orthodox accept this teaching. Things such as the Toll Houses are theologumena, not dogma.
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2007, 10:41:31 AM »

I, also, think we do not speculate on such matters; however, it is interesting to note that the concept is at least hinted at in at least one prayer.

As part of my thesis research (a comparison of Byzantine and West Syriac funeral rites), I came across this prayer from my own tradition (West Syriac).  It is the prayer said before the holy oil is poured over the body of the deceased:

O Lord God, by Whose Godhead's command and Lordship's authority this Your servant N. has departed from this temporal life, send unto him from above the succor of Your angelic hosts, and by means of this oil which is to be poured on his body, grant that he may become slippery and unrestrainable by the adverse powers and the hosts of the enemies who lie in wait in the air to wage war against the souls of men.  Bring him safe to the heavenly abodes of light and exultation among the saints, so that, rejoicing and exceedingly glad, he may offer glory and give thanks to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.   (Emphases mine)

I always liked it.   Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2007, 10:44:37 AM »

P.S.  It's a nice image, and lends itself to the liturgical action of pouring the oil over the body, and obviously the idea came from somewhere, but based on that one prayer, I don't think one can dogmatise anything about an OO teaching on toll houses.       
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2007, 11:01:37 AM »

Yes, we don't speculate, but I have heard a teaching from many clerics who wanted to emphasize the idea of not being prideful.  I'm only sharing this out of memory, but I think this story comes from the Paradise of the Fathers (which the Coptic Church loves to use a lot).  There was a story of a monk who was always embattled by this demon, but never gave in.  The demon would even say things like "Oh Father so and so (I forgot the name), you are so perfect now, you can ease yourself from fasting or from some ascetic lifestyle."  And the monk would reply in humility, "I am not perfect, and I have not made it to the Father yet."  And so, he was attacked all the time in this manner, trying to give the monk pride in his perfect and humble asceticism (which he was doing very well in).

Finally, the monk died, and I think there's a ladder he has to climb.  And he's pretty much on his way to heaven, as he is judged perfect.  So, the demon comes again and tries to give the monk even an inkling of pride, "Oh Monk, you are an amazing saint now, you're just perfect."  And the monk replied, "No, I'm not, and I still haven't made it to my heavenly Father yet."  When such an attitude was displayed by the monk in his final battle against the demon, angels came and took the monk above.

Some may say this is just an overemphasis of the teaching of anti-pride not necessarily taken literally, but others may say this can be a sign that some believed if not in "toll houses," the idea that you will be tempted even after death.

God bless.
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2007, 02:32:26 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

I could be mistaken, but I believe that story is about St. Macarius the Great.  I remember stumbling across it one time and finding it a bit 'troubling' (for lack of a better word) that the devil would still be tempting us after we die.  I would have thought our transition would have been more 'instantaneous'.  Perhaps that is just wishful thinking on my part.
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2007, 02:51:15 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

I could be mistaken, but I believe that story is about St. Macarius the Great.  I remember stumbling across it one time and finding it a bit 'troubling' (for lack of a better word) that the devil would still be tempting us after we die.  I would have thought our transition would have been more 'instantaneous'.  Perhaps that is just wishful thinking on my part.

I've heard other stories that sorta "troubled" me as well.  Like the story of the monk who went to heaven simply because he perfected in "not judging others," even though others judged him in not practicing his asceticism (and rightfully so).  God said, "since he did not judge others, I will not judge him."  But again, perhaps it's just an "overemphasis," not to be taken literally.
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2007, 10:19:02 PM »

being a young ignorant fool all I am going to say here is a paraphrase of something a priest said about the readings of the Saints of the church that made me think a different way about these seemingly impossible stories. The Saints stories speak of amazing events (e.g 80 years old St John from the bible ship breaking down mid sea and capsizing and pulling people to sure who were unconscious) and that are a mix between literal and metaphorical and as Orthodox Christians we tend to slip away from legalism and look at everything from a case to case basis (like a story about a neptic father who saw some men sinning and a sinful thought popped in to his head that said "look at those men how sinful they are" and the saint stated back to this thought "these men may sin today but repent but I a sinner will continue to sin all my life" then after this thought an angel came to him carrying a sword with blood on it and the angel said "I have been sent by the lord to decapitate those that judge other and you are lucky you passed the lord's test) so all we do is not to worry about the physical constraints or spiritual constraints of a story but rather learn from what it is teaching us.   
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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2007, 04:10:32 AM »

As part of my thesis research (a comparison of Byzantine and West Syriac funeral rites), I came across this prayer from my own tradition (West Syriac).  It is the prayer said before the holy oil is poured over the body of the deceased:


Dear Mor,

Was the text of this service completed before the schism?

Thank you,
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2007, 04:15:44 AM »

You may be surprised to learn that not all Eastern Orthodox accept this teaching. Things such as the Toll Houses are theologumena, not dogma.

All the Orthodox do...but many who call themselves Orthodox dont.

Theophan.
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« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2007, 04:51:15 AM »

All the Orthodox do...but many who call themselves Orthodox dont.

Theophan.
Thanks for sharing your personal opinion. Now hear the opinion of the Church:
The toll houses are a theologumen, not dogma.
If you want to think that you are going to be judged by demons after you die, and that God somehow has to justify Himself and His Mercy to demons, then go right ahead and think that.
I, on the other hand, hold that I will be judged:
1) once
2) by Christ
3) on the Day of Judgement.
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« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2007, 09:40:08 AM »

It is my understanding that the particular judgment and last judgment are not the same thing in Orthodox teaching.

It is also my understanding that toll houses are not saying we are judged *by* demons but rather we are confronted by the demons that we confronted on earth; the ones that we conquered on earth are conquered and the ones we did not will conquer us.  In other words, it is a spiritualized and final view of the course of our life. And even Fr Seraphim Rose makes it clear that all of the details of the toll houses found in the fathers are imagery of something beyond our comprehension.

That being said, given that we pray in compline every night that the Virgin Mary will keep away from us the sight of the demons at the hour of death, it's pretty clear we believe that demonic attack at death is the Orthodox teaching, but I think what is unclear or imagery is the details of this.
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2007, 11:49:08 AM »

Thanks for sharing your personal opinion. Now hear the opinion of the Church:
The toll houses are a theologumen, not dogma.
If you want to think that you are going to be judged by demons after you die, and that God somehow has to justify Himself and His Mercy to demons, then go right ahead and think that.
I, on the other hand, hold that I will be judged:
1) once
2) by Christ
3) on the Day of Judgement.

What you have written shows what happens when people start messing around with what has been handed down in the Orthodox Church to her faithful childern.

If we will all be judged once at the Last Judgement than where are the saints now? How come they here our prayers? How come when the Church glorifies someone it means that she most certainly regards them as saved i.e. Judged and found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven?


Theophan.

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« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2007, 12:03:10 PM »

OK let's keep this thread clear what EO's believe about the toll houses. The pot is simmering, let's all calm down and discuss the original question, what do OO believe about toll houses.

In my experience, a Coptic priest seemed puzzled when I mentioned them but when I explained that the idea was demons are around tempting at the time of death he agreed with the idea and said that was his understanding but not sure if that was representative or not.
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« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2007, 12:55:59 PM »

Thank you, Anastasios.  I would hate to have to do yet another topic split, especially since I seem to be so bad at naming the new topics.   Tongue

This thread is about whether OO's believe in toll houses.  If anyone wants to discuss toll houses more generally, click on the "toll house" tag below and you can revive a past thread about that subject.

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« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2007, 01:01:52 PM »

In the Armenian Church, I've never heard toll houses mentioned. 

In fact, the first time I heard about them was when I was listening in on a conversation going on between some EO's I was sitting with at a Bible study.  I thought they were talking about cookies.  It seemed amazing to me that they had this belief that associated cookies with the afterlife.  Then someone explained to me what they were.  That didn't seem nearly as fun.   Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2007, 01:42:39 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

Okay, so here's my question.  Suppose we are en route (as it were) towards Paradise.  We are confronted by these demons who continue to tempt us as we head upwards.  Suppose further that we succumb to the temptation.  Does that somehow mean that our upwards movement (towards Paradise) is suddenly diverted and we start going to Hades?  This is what really bugs me, that there is still the possibility of a change of direction, as it were.
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« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2007, 02:00:37 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

Okay, so here's my question.  Suppose we are en route (as it were) towards Paradise.  We are confronted by these demons who continue to tempt us as we head upwards.  Suppose further that we succumb to the temptation.  Does that somehow mean that our upwards movement (towards Paradise) is suddenly diverted and we start going to Hades?  This is what really bugs me, that there is still the possibility of a change of direction, as it were.

Whether you would succumb to that temptation or not would be dependent on whether you had overcome that temptation in your earthly life, etc; basically I see toll houses as an extension and culmination of our earthly struggle and a way of expressing the particular judgment.
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« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2007, 03:23:41 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

Thank you for the response, but that begs another question.  In life, we are faced with temptations that come from all fronts and in all forms.  Thus, I think it is reasonable to say, that we may not be capable of overcoming all temptations.  I thought the beauty of Orthodoxy was that salvation was not so much about overcoming (if that happens, then certainly that is well and good) but struggling to overcome.  Perhaps I'm just unclear about what is meant by 'particular' judgment.
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« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2007, 12:55:13 AM »

Greetings,

Do the Oriental Orthodox accept the Orthodox teaching on the particular judgement that after it's parting from the body the soul is confronted by the demons who accuse it of various sins in order to lay claim to it while it is defended by its guardian angel who attempts to guide it to Heaven, God of course being the ultimate judge?

Theophan.

All the Orthodox do...but many who call themselves Orthodox dont.

Theophan.

What you have written shows what happens when people start messing around with what has been handed down in the Orthodox Church to her faithful childern.

If we will all be judged once at the Last Judgement than where are the saints now? How come they here our prayers? How come when the Church glorifies someone it means that she most certainly regards them as saved i.e. Judged and found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven?


Theophan.
Theophan,

Just what do you hope to accomplish by asking the OO what they believe about the tollhouses only to later assert that those who don't accept the doctrine of the tollhouses are not Orthodox?  Don't you think this a rather poor way to encourage discussion of your OP?  It looks to me as if you're trying to lure some OO into an ambush, or else you're trying to find another reason to personally condemn the OO as heretics.
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« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2007, 05:05:15 AM »

Dear Mor,

Thanks for that information. Dr. Paulos Mor Athanasius Kadavil's "The Syrian Orthodox Church: Its Religion and Philosophy" (Kottayam: D.C. Press, 1973) gives an alternate translation of the prayer you quote:

"By this oil which is poured on his dead body, Lord give him escape so that he may not be caught by the opposing forces and camp of the enemy who are lurking in the air to wage war with the souls of men."

In the footnote, references are given to two works of Mor Gregorios Bar Hebraeus: his Zalgae and Nomocanon. The author then goes on to mention that "before the dead body is placed in the grave, according to the practice in Kerala, they offer incense in the grave" (76); a practice which is purposed towards the same end mentioned in the above prayer with respect to the anointing of the dead body.
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« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2007, 05:14:06 AM »

Dear GOCTheophan,

Was the text of this service completed before the schism?

Thank you,
Theophan.

As I mentioned in my above response to Mor Ephrem, Dr. Paulos Mor Athanasius Kadavil references the prayer Mor provides to the great Syrian Orthodox Saint Mor Gregorios Bar Hebraeus, who was a post-schism Saint of the 13th century. Given that no information is provided beyond the specific works of Mor Gregorios Bar Hebraeus, I am only making the reasonable assumption, but an assumption nevertheless, that the references are indeed references to the origins of the prayer.
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« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2007, 05:27:30 AM »

Theophan,

Just what do you hope to accomplish by asking the OO what they believe about the tollhouses only to later assert that those who don't accept the doctrine of the tollhouses are not Orthodox?  Don't you think this a rather poor way to encourage discussion of your OP?  It looks to me as if you're trying to lure some OO into an ambush, or else you're trying to find another reason to personally condemn the OO as heretics.

For such a scenario, the Toll Houses would have to be Orthodox Dogma- which they are not for anyone, neither EO nor OO.
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« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2007, 05:45:34 AM »

Theophan,

Just what do you hope to accomplish by asking the OO what they believe about the tollhouses only to later assert that those who don't accept the doctrine of the tollhouses are not Orthodox?  Don't you think this a rather poor way to encourage discussion of your OP?  It looks to me as if you're trying to lure some OO into an ambush, or else you're trying to find another reason to personally condemn the OO as heretics.

Dear Peter,

Since you have gone on the attack with your paranoid assertion I will be blunt.

All the Orthodox under Bishops who accept the 7 Ecumenical Councils I have met accept the Church's teaching on the aerial toll-houses. I believe that the 7 Ecumenical councils are the measuring stick of some one's Orthodoxy and well obviously because the Oriental Orthodox reject the 4th and 6th ones I can only consider them as heretical. They are clear in their rejection of them so there is no need to ask further questions. I appreciate their clarity and did not ask any questions or make statements on those subjects. Stavros here as been quite clear that he believes that there is absolutely no salvation outside of the Oriental Orthodox Church and I appreciate his frankness. It is refreshing in this world of demonic ambiguity and soft inquity. If I had problemns with the 4th and 6th Ecumenical councils than I would have to leave my Church.

I would expect them to consider me a heretic and would not be offended if they asserted such.

To be honest I have a lot more respect for them then I do for "World Orthodoxy".  Seeing as especially the Copts have retained so much basic Christianity it puzzles me why they would want to have anything to do with OCA, the EP, etc but thats another question.

I asked a simple question about what THEY believe on a subject unrelated to the 4th and 6th Ecumenical councils. A simple request for information which was hijacked in a polemnical manner by Ozgeorge and now by yourself. I simply replied to his assertions showing how off the mark they were. If anyone is trying to lead anyone into an ambush it is you and George trying to do so with me.

I am grateful to all the Oriental Orthodox who have answered my question and I hope God Blesses them for their efforts in this regard.

In Christ,
Theophan.

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« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2007, 10:17:18 AM »

I asked a simple question about what THEY believe on a subject unrelated to the 4th and 6th Ecumenical councils.

Codswhollop.
You asserted that if someone does not accept the Toll Houses, they are not Orthodox. Here is what you said:
All the Orthodox do...but many who call themselves Orthodox dont.

Theophan.
Well guess what? I don't accept them as dogma. So tell me: does that mean I am still Orthodox and that the OO who do not accept this as Dogma are also Orthodox?
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« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2007, 10:52:05 AM »

Codswhollop.
You asserted that if someone does not accept the Toll Houses, they are not Orthodox. Here is what you said:Well guess what? I don't accept them as dogma. So tell me: does that mean I am still Orthodox and that the OO who do not accept this as Dogma are also Orthodox?

It is a fact that all the Orthodox under Bishops who accept the Seven Ecumenical councils believe in the reality of the toll houses- thats all I stated. I just wanted to know whether the Oriental Orthodox accept them aswell. I had other questions to ask about Oriental Orthodoxy but im wondering now should I bother given that you and Peter will just use it as an excuse to go on the attack in all likelihood.

The Byzantine Orthodox have always asserted since the 7 th Ecumenical council was completed that you most hold all seven in order to be Orthodox, that might come as a surprise to you but it is really old news.

The Oriental Orthodox make no bones about the fact that they reject the 4th and 6th Ecumenical councils. Pope Shenouda states clearly that it is his Faith that Christ has only One Will. Therefore we dont consider them Orthodox. Your Bishops dont accept them either, but they are more sneaky in their rejection as befits their faith- Antichrist Freemasonary (http://mymartyrdom.com/orthomason.htm). Again old news.

In Christ,
Theophan.

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« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2007, 11:07:49 AM »

I think all Peter wants you to do is that if you have a question, ask it, but without saying whether we are heretics or not.  Such rhetoric is left for the private forums.  As for debate on whether toll houses are dogma or not as George is arguing, that's something that you EO's have to face among yourselves, again, away from the OO forum here.

Otherwise, you will keep opening more can of worms that you didn't even expect.

God bless.
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« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2007, 11:09:00 AM »

GOCTheophan,
There is a private forum which is unmoderated in which EO/OO polemical issues such as Chalcedon etc are discussed and which is unmoderated. You simply need to pm FrChris in order to access it. See this post in Board News: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9368.msg161681.html#msg161681

Antichrist Freemasonary (http://mymartyrdom.com/orthomason.htm). Again old news.
Ahhh, Mr. Alden's site. You will find the thread discrediting it here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12241.msg171063.html#msg171063
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« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2007, 11:25:10 AM »

GOCTheophan,
There is a private forum which is unmoderated in which EO/OO polemical issues such as Chalcedon etc are discussed and which is unmoderated. You simply need to pm FrChris in order to access it. See this post in Board News: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9368.msg161681.html#msg161681
Ahhh, Mr. Alden's site. You will find the thread discrediting it here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12241.msg171063.html#msg171063


I didnt want to discuss Chalcedon, or even debate the tollhouses. I just wanted some information...is that so hard for you and Peter to accept?

All I wanted to know was what the Oriental Orthodox thought about the toll houses. It appears that in the 13 th century they did accept them. Some still do but most under the influence no doubt of modernist Byzantine "Orthodoxy"  do not anymore.

The links provided on that page dont come from him.

Theophan.

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« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2007, 11:32:15 AM »

I didnt want to discuss Chalcedon, or even debate the tollhouses. I just wanted some information...is that so hard for you and Peter to accept?

All I wanted to know was what the Oriental Orthodox thought about the toll houses. It appears that in the 13 th century they did accept them. Some still do but most under the influence no doubt of modernist Byzantine "Orthodoxy"  do not anymore.

The links provided on that page dont come from him.

Theophan.

When talking about the 13th Century, I want you to consider the Indian Church, not the whole OO Church.  Such influence may have not reached the others OO churches.  Also, don't assume that just because something started to appear in the liturgy doesn't mean it wasn't believed before.  I'm sure you wouldn't say that Christians did not believe in the divinity of Christ until Nicea.

The real answer to your question overall is that we don't speculate on these things.  Thus, there can be other traditions or explanations.  We cite as an explanation to the mystery of the afterlife, "Neither eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor heart can contemplate."

God bless.
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« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2007, 11:49:14 AM »

Dear Theophan,

All I wanted to know was what the Oriental Orthodox thought about the toll houses. It appears that in the 13 th century they did accept them. Some still do but...

You seem to be suggesting that because this Syrian Orthodox prayer dates back to the 13th century, that there was some sort of universal OO consensus on "toll houses" back then which has since changed.

First of all, i'm not even sure that the prayer in question is even specific or clear enough so as to be taken to allude to anything which sufficiently corresponds to this concept of "toll houses" that you have in mind (I tried to do an internet search for a concise and clear definition of the concept, but failed to find anything helpful). Secondly, the Syrian Orthodox prayer in question remains a Syrian Orthodox prayer; it does not seem to be reflected in any of the funerary prayers of any of the other OO traditions (certainly not the Coptic tradition). Nothing has changed for the Syrians, and nothing has changed for the rest of the OO Churches. Like I said, we neither postively accept or deny this concept you speak of because it has never been an issue for discussion or speculation within our Communion to begin with. What is affirmed by the Syrian Orthodox funerary prayer can, by virtue of the doctrinal authority of that Liturgical tradition, be assumed to be affirmed by the rest of the OO in spite of any positive reference in any of the other OO traditions of what is affirmed therein, but again I question whether what is affirmed in that prayer is specific and clear enough to correspond to the concept of "toll houses" you have in mind.

Quote
...most under the influence no doubt of modernist Byzantine "Orthodoxy"  do not anymore.

 Huh I'd really love to know what the basis is of your assertion that there has been any change within our Communion over this issue (which presumes that our Communion had and has any position on it to begin with), let alone a change influenced by the EO. I think you're pushing your inferences way beyond what can be reasonably argued and evidenced.
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« Reply #32 on: August 28, 2007, 11:27:09 AM »

GOCTheophan, would rather not talk long a subject I don't know much about but can say we agree with the forty days but are not sure about the forty toll booths as they developed (or perhaps were revealed?) later.
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« Reply #33 on: August 28, 2007, 07:55:47 PM »

Dear EA,

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to return to this topic until now.  I've never seen Metropolitan Athanasius' book, so I'm happy for the information.  Is it possible for you to include the text of the footnote? 

The funeral rites are certainly post-schism (i.e., after the separation of the Chalcedonians in 451); the funeral rites--indeed, most liturgical texts and rites--do not get solidified until much later.  I've never heard the prayer of the oil attributed to Barhebraeus; is that information from the footnote?  I had to consult the Nomocanon for my thesis work, but as it is only available in Syriac, and that's not my first language, I didn't have time for an extensive study, but only focused on a particular aspect, and this wasn't it.  Whether or not it's by Barhebraeus, it's post-schism. 

The rite of pouring the oil over the body exists in other traditions (e.g., Byzantine), and has a long history.  Pseudo-Dionysius discusses it in the context of his discussion on the funeral rites in his Ecclesiastical Hierarchy.  The original oil used in this anointing was the oil used to anoint candidates for baptism--in other words, the funerary anointing was an image of the pre-baptismal anointing, and just as the person was anointed in preparation for their death, burial, and resurrection in baptism, they were again being anointed with the same oil in preparation for their burial and resurrection on the last day.  Even when the baptismal oil was not used for this, the imagery is still there in the act.  The prayer currently in use develops the imagery of oil to show how it makes the person "slippery", unable to be caught by the demons.  One could read toll-houses into this easily, but given the origin of the rite, it's also likely that the final anointing (note: the body is always washed with water first...practical matters aside, sound familiar?), performed by pouring oil in the form of the cross, reminds us that those who have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ, and have no need to fear death: death can't take hold of or "grasp" those who are alive in Christ.  It's possible that both ideas are present in the prayer.  But it's probably not best to take the "toll-house" reading and develop a kind of dogmatic theology out of it.   

Re: the incensing of the grave in India, I'm not sure if that has to do with warding off demons as much as it has to do with sanctifying/purifying the grave into which the person is about to be interred.  It should be remembered that incense has always been associated with prayer for the departed.  There isn't a tradition I'm familiar with that doesn't offer incense in conjunction with the commemoration of the departed.  This is present in the Byzantine tradition: the offering of incense during the hymn Axion Estin in the Chrysostom anaphora is not in honour of the Mother of God, but is part of the commemoration of all the faithful departed that occurs around that time (Taft discusses this in his work on the Diptychs).  Incense features prominently in other instances related to the commemoration of the departed in this tradition, and in the Syriac tradition, and I'm sure in the others as well.  It is one type of sacrifice offered to God on their behalf.  So I would understand the incensing of the grave in our Church's practice with that general principle, as well as the particular need to "bless" the grave. 
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« Reply #34 on: August 29, 2007, 08:41:43 AM »

Dear Mor,

Quote
I've never seen Metropolitan Athanasius' book, so I'm happy for the information.

I'm happy to know that Dr. P.M.A.K is a Metropolitan. What diocese does he serve?

I ordered the book directly from the Mor Adai centre in Kerala, India. It's a nice little "Orthodox catechism" style type book. I appreciate first and foremost the insights it gives into the thoughts and writings of prominent Syrian Orthodox Fathers that we non-Syrians do not, unfortunately, hear very much about. The Fathers he most frequently refers to are: St Ephrem the Syrian (who I guess is the exception to what I've just stated), St Moses Bar Keepho (10th Century), St Gregorios Bar Hebraeus (13th Century), St Dionysius Bar Salibi (12th Century).

Quote
I've never heard the prayer of the oil attributed to Barhebraeus; is that information from the footnote?


Yes. The footnote reads: Bar Hebraeus, Zalgae, p. 154; Nomocanon, Ch. Iv, ii.

In the Bibliography, the Metropolitan gives the full details of the works in question: Nomocanon, (Syr.), MSS, Malelcruz Monastery, 1854. Zalgae, (Syr.) MSS, M.I. Dayarah, Omalloor, (N.D.)

Quote
Re: the incensing of the grave in India, I'm not sure if that has to do with warding off demons.

The Metropolitan seems to suggest that it is. He states that incensing the grave is performed "with the same intention" as the anointing.

Nevertheless, what you've said certainly makes much sense. In the Coptic tradition we have what is known as the "Commemoration of the Saints." At the end of this prayer the priest offers incense, not in honour of all the mentioned Saints, but rather in commemoration of them--that the Lord may "remember" (Coptic: erefmevi) them. I remember being rather shocked when I first realised this, thinking, "in what position are we to ask the Lord to remember the Theotokos, and all the Holy Prophets, Apostles, and Saints?!"
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« Reply #35 on: August 29, 2007, 01:15:24 PM »

Dear Mor,

I'm happy to know that Dr. P.M.A.K is a Metropolitan. What diocese does he serve?

His Eminence passed away some time ago (I believe in 1991); if I'm not mistaken, he was a "Missions" bishop.

Quote
The Metropolitan seems to suggest that it is. He states that incensing the grave is performed "with the same intention" as the anointing.

That may just be his interpretation of the act.  The rite of incensing the grave happens without any prayer or hymn associated with it; in fact, it is not even indicated in the rubrics of the service.  This makes me think it is a simple blessing of the grave, and not a real element of the rite.  In India, where churches have attached cemeteries, the ground is already blessed, but they might do it again for the particular grave at the moment of burial; in the diaspora (America, for example), where common cemeteries are used more often than not, this blessing of the grave becomes even more important. 
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« Reply #36 on: September 18, 2011, 03:42:14 AM »

In the Funeral Service of the Syriac Orthodox Church there is a Madrosho (teaching) Hymn; with the title O'umarod Sabno. This hymn is sung from the perspective of the departed soul. I have translated a section this hymn that refers to the teaching of 'toll houses'.  Please note this is just my own attempt at translation and is not the official translation.

You tempted me with material things.
you trapped me, like a bird is trapped.
Now when I am departing,
you have come and held on to my fingers.
I am agitated, as if I have seen a nigthmare.


With the Holy Cross as my companion,
I have approached this fearful harbor
Let these evil forces of the dark,
be driven away.
With the Holy Cross as the key,
Let me enter thru the doors of Paradise,
and praise Your great mercy.


In the following Youtube video you can listen to this Hymn sung by H.G Mor Osthathesoe  Issac, Metropolitan of Mylapore and Delhi. H.G is chanting the first and last stanza of the hymn in Syriac and the middle stanzas in Malayalam.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOtTPXL6Sdg
In this Youtube video, the hymn is chanted in the traditional tune, but is merged with pop/beats, which takes away some of the original beauty of the chanting.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2011, 03:50:54 AM by dhinuus » Logged

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« Reply #37 on: September 18, 2011, 05:40:12 AM »

This is an old thread and I had not noticed it in the right time to give an answer.

The Armenian Church Fathers DO teach about a post-mortem "struggle" which is somewhat the same as the teaching of "tall houses" of the Eastern Orthodox Church, though without such stories like that of Theodora which is perhaps an apocriphal story.  The Armenian Funeral rites (the unabridged old versions, found in 1905 edition of Mashtots, the official Book of Rites of the Armenian Church), ask to help the departed soul pass through the demonic attacks peacefully, by the help of the accompanying good angel. This teaching can be found in the writings of many Armenian Fathers. Even the songs and the famous prayer of St Nerses the Grace-filled (that which has 24 chapters) mention this, and these songs and prayer are part of our official Book of Common Prayers (the Book of Hours, Zhamagirk).

Just pay attention on the 20th chapter of the above-mentioned prayer of St Nerses:

20. Bounteous Lord,
commit me to a good angel,
who may deliver up my soul with sweetness,
and convey it undisturbed through
the malice of wicked spirits
who are under the heaven.

Have mercy on Your creatures and on me,
a grievous sinner.

St Gregory of Tathev even brings an apocriphal story about the Holy Mother of God Mary who before her dormition or passing away tells those virgins that surrounded her what happens to the soul when it is to depart from this world. How angels come to take the soul, how it passes through the demonic attacks etc.

Nerses of Lambron writes on this topic amply in his Commentary on the Story of Dormition of St John the Evangelist.

Vardan of Aygek writes on this topic too, Sargis Shnorhali, Arakel of Syunik etc.

One must note that the apocriphal story of the Dormition of St John the Evangelist was part of the Armenian Bible for many centuries. And in that story there is a prayer by St John in which he asks the Lord to send the attacking demons away during his departure from this world. St John prays:

"Now, O Lord, when I have accomplished Thy stewardship with which I was entrusted, make me worthy of Thy repose, having wrought that which is perfect in Thee, which is ineffable salvation. And as I go to Thee, let the fire withdraw, let darkness be overcome, let the furnace be slackened, let Gehenna be extinguished, let the angels follow, let the demons be afraid let the princes be broken in pieces, let the powers of darkness fall, let the places on the right hand stand firm, let those on the left abide not, let the devil be muzzled, let Satan be laughed to scorn, let his madness be tamed, let his wrath be broken, let his children be trodden under foot, and let all his root he uprooted; and grant to me to accomplish the journey to Thee, not insulted, not despitefully treated, and to receive what Thou hast promised to those that live in purity, and that have loved a holy life."

It is this prayer that is explained in details by Nerses of Lambron in his above-mentioned Commentary.

In a song for the departed ("Astuats anegh"), found in the Night Service of our official Book of Common Prayers and authored by St Nerses the Grace-filled, there are such words:

Let the princes of the air be shattered,
Let them not be a hindrance to this soul,
Give rest to our reposed
In the mansions of Your Father of Light.
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« Reply #38 on: September 18, 2011, 09:05:18 PM »

Thank you, vasnTearn.  I love praying the 24 prayers of St. Nerses the Grace-filled, and I've sometimes wondered what he was referring to in his 20th prayer.

I didn't know about the Dormition of St. John the Evangelist being a part of the Armenian canon, although I had heard about 3rd Corinthians.  Is there an English translation of the Dormition of St. John available on the internet?
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« Reply #39 on: September 19, 2011, 03:17:15 AM »

I don't think we speculate on such matters.

Wow. Such profundity in simplicity. I wish this would have been the 1st and only response in the EO tollhouse thread.
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« Reply #40 on: September 19, 2011, 03:20:02 AM »

You may be surprised to learn that not all Eastern Orthodox accept this teaching. Things such as the Toll Houses are theologumena, not dogma.

All the Orthodox do...but many who call themselves Orthodox dont.

Theophan.

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« Reply #41 on: September 19, 2011, 05:25:43 AM »

I didn't know about the Dormition of St. John the Evangelist being a part of the Armenian canon, although I had heard about 3rd Corinthians.  Is there an English translation of the Dormition of St. John available on the internet?

The Armenian version of that story (Dormition or Repose of St John), part of the Armenian Bible once, is the last part of the apocriphal "Acts of John" which you can find online, for example, here http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0827.htm. It starts from the 7th paragraph counted from the end ("And what like his end was, or his departure from men, who cannot give an account of?").

You can see the Armenian version published in the appendix of several editions of the Armenian Bible, for example, in the most famous Zohrabian edition (1805), or in the Bagratuni edition (1860).

For the Zohrabian edition, go to http://greenstone.flib.sci.am/gsdl/collect/armbook/books/astvacashunch1805_index.html
Go to page 863. Don't forget to use the magnifier and the other tool that moves the text so you can see the Armenian text well (Հանգիստ սրբոյն Յովհաննու առաքելոյ եւ աւետարանչի).
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« Reply #42 on: September 19, 2011, 01:39:16 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I, also, think we do not speculate on such matters; however, it is interesting to note that the concept is at least hinted at in at least one prayer.


We have speculated just not as elaborately as the EOs have, its the same with the "Essence/Energies" theology.  EO somoetimes just dives in a bit deeper, its that Athenian legacy.  While we may not have "toll houses" surely we have many layers of commemorations, liturgies, petitions, candles, vigils, etc etc on the behalf of the reposed, dead, and Church Triumphant.  That being said, it seems clear that in premise, we seem to have a bit of agreement with the premise of the Toll House teachings, however, yes, the OO fathers have never really seen a reason to go into it.  Though I have read some very very interesting margin commentaries of the Revelation of Saint John regarding the Resurrection, Judgment, etc etc written by the Ethiopian fathers, and while its not Toll Houses, it does get rather elaborate in its discussion of the afterlife before the Final Judgment and Second Coming.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #43 on: September 19, 2011, 01:48:27 PM »

Dear brother in Christ HabteSelassie and the others from our OO Church family.

When speaking about something concerning the Oriental Orthodoxy, let us understand that the sister Churches of the family we belong to, though having almost the same Christology, may differ in their other teachings and tradition. So, it is not correct in such cases to speak on behalf of all Oriental Orthodoxy. It is more correct to speak on behalf of the local Church each of us belongs to and knows better.

Thank you.

With love in the Lord,
vasnTearn
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