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Author Topic: Indulgences, Temporal Punishment, Purgatory, etc  (Read 179812 times) Average Rating: 5
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Irish Hermit
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« Reply #1170 on: April 13, 2010, 12:59:44 AM »

Please give us a single, coherent doctrine to debate.
Here is a single question:
According to your tradition, what happens to a person who dies with a lesser, but still unforgiven sin on his soul?
Christ is Risen, Alleluia
 
Answer given here. 
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13820.msg421412.html#msg421412
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« Reply #1171 on: April 13, 2010, 01:36:42 AM »

^^Well of course. May I add that they are not just becoming more "Orthodox" in theology, but also more Protestant in worship and practise. I would rather let them go their way while we watch from a distance and pick up the rubble.

Rufus,

I am not sure I would agree.  Metropolitan Philaret, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthoodx Church Abroad, was a vehement anti-ecumenist and you will be familiar with his two "Sorrowful Epistles" on this theme.  

Nevertheless Mertropolitan Philaret and the Synod of Bishops of ROCA sent an official delegation to Vatican II and he spoke approvingly of inter-church dialogue.   One of the dissenting Old Calendarist groups has recently canonised the Metropolitan; I can't help but wonder what they think of his approval of such ecumenical meetings.

Metropolitan Philaret wrote to Patriarch Athenagoras in 1965:

"Of course, we are not against amicable relations with the
representatives of other faiths, since this does not betray the truth
of Orthodoxy. For this reason our Church at one time accepted the
friendly invitation to send an observer to the Second Vatican Council,
just as it had sent an observer to the Protestant conference of the
World Council of Churches. . . ."


The letter, in the original Russian, can be found here:

http://www.romanitas.ru/content/filaret-vozn/epistles/athenag1.htm

Metropolitan Philaret said he was not against "amicable relations with the representatives of other faiths, since this does not betray the truth of Orthodoxy" and explained that this was the reason the ROCOR sent observers to Vatican II just as it had sent observers to the Protestant Conferences of the WCC.


Actually, there were more than one official observer representing the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia at the Second Vatican Council. There was a full delegation, led by Archbishop Anthony of Geneva, and including Archimandrite Amvrossy (Pogodin), Archpriest Alexander Troubnikoff and Archpriest Igor Trojanoff.

All of them participated in the ceremonial Procession into St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome, together with the official delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate, headed by Archbishop Nikodim (Rotov), and representatives of seventeen Orthodox and Oriental churches, to pay their respects to the Pope and the Council.

Historical fact, and in my opinion this is a great example of following the example of Saint Mark of Ephesus - be open to talking, but no compromise.
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« Reply #1172 on: April 13, 2010, 01:50:54 AM »

Please give us a single, coherent doctrine to debate.
Here is a single question:
According to your tradition, what happens to a person who dies with a lesser, but still unforgiven sin on his soul?
Christ is Risen, Alleluia
 
Answer given here. 
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13820.msg421412.html#msg421412
Your answer is not much different from the RC teaching. For example, you quote:
"During the time, moreover, which intervenes between a man's death
 and the final resurrection, the soul dwells in a hidden retreat, where it enjoys rest
or suffers affliction just in proportion to the merit it has earned by the life which it led on earth."
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« Reply #1173 on: April 13, 2010, 07:07:31 AM »

But I ask you, if purgatory is a sanctifying process rather than a juridical punishment, then how is it possible to grant a plenary indulgence? Mustn't one be purified, whether one has given an indulgence or not, either in this life or the next? Or do plenary indulgences actually purge the soul, while the mere acts of repentence and confession do not?

All I can do at this point is to refer you to the several texts I have referenced.  You need to read them carefully and charitably.  The "punishment" of purgatory is not judicial or punitive punishment, a punishment extrinsic to the sinner.  As John Paul makes clear, the temporal punishment of sin simply is the negative psychological and spiritual effects upon the believer, effects and bondages that need to be healed either during this life or the life after.  Sin itself is its own punishment.  The older tradition refers to these negative consequences upon the sinner as stains or remains.  Don't let the legal language of remission mislead you into thinking that this has anything whatsoever to do with divine vengeance or retribution.  Purgatory is purification, sanctification, cleansing, healing, liberation, theosis.  We all know that sacramental absolution, while authoritatively and reliably communicating to us the love and forgiveness of God does not magically liberate us from all of our sinful bondages and attachments.  We can only be delivered from these through ongoing conversion and penitence, and if this conversion is not perfected in this life, it will be perfected in the next. 

Does this healing involve suffering.  Yes, of course.  We do not let go of our sins and attachments easily; but as the 15th century mystic  St Catherine of Genoa makes clear, the suffering occurs within the embrace of the fire of God's love; hence the profound joy and happiness of purgatory:

Quote
I believe no happiness can be found worthy to be compared with that of a soul in Purgatory except that of the saints in Paradise; and day by day this happiness grows as God flows into these souls, more and more as the hindrance to His entrance is consumed. Sin's rust is the hindrance, and the fire burns the rust away so that more and more the soul opens itself up to the divine inflowing. A thing which is covered cannot respond to the sun's rays, not because of any defect in the sun, which is shining all the time, but because the cover is an obstacle; if the cover be burnt away, this thing is open to the sun; more and more as the cover is consumed does it respond to the rays of the sun.  It is in this way that rust, which is sin, covers souls, and in Purgatory is burnt away by fire; the more it is consumed, the more do the souls respond to God, the true sun.  As the rust lessens and the soul is opened up to the divine ray, happiness grows; until the time be accomplished the one wanes and the other waxes. Pain however does not lessen but only the time for which pain is endured. As for will: never can the souls say these pains are pains, so contented are they with God's ordaining with which, in pure charity, their will is united.


The suffering of Purgatory is caused by the soul's encounter with the fiery love of God and his own self-purification:

Quote
When with its inner sight the soul sees itself drawn by God with such loving fire, then it is melted by the heat of the glowing love for God, its most dear Lord, which it feels overflowing it. And it sees by the divine light that God does not cease from drawing it, nor from leading it, lovingly and with much care and unfailing foresight, to its full perfection, doing this of His pure love. But the soul, being hindered by sin, cannot go whither God draws it; it cannot follow the uniting look with which He would draw it to Himself. Again the soul perceives the grievousness of being held back from seeing the divine light; the soul's instinct too, being drawn by that uniting look, craves to be unhindered. I say that it is the sight of these things which begets in the souls the pain they feel in Purgatory. Not that they make account of their pain; most great though it be, they deem it a far less evil than to find themselves going against the will of God, whom they clearly see to be on fire with extreme and pure love for them.

Purgatory is thus purification, a burning away of all self-will so that the redeemed soul may perfectly enjoy the Beatific Vision:

Quote
Look at gold: the more you melt it, the better it becomes; you could melt it until you had destroyed in it every imperfection. Thus does fire work on material things. The soul cannot be destroyed in so far as it is in God, but in so far as it is in itself it can be destroyed; the more it is purified, the more is self destroyed within it, until at last it is pure in God.

When gold has been purified up to twenty-four carats, it can no longer be consumed by any fire; not gold itself but only dross can be burnt away. Thus the divine fire works in the soul: God holds the soul in the fire until its every imperfection is burnt away and it is brought to perfection, as it were to the purity of twenty-four carats, each soul however according to its own degree. When the soul has been purified it stays wholly in God, having nothing of self in it; its being is in God who has led this cleansed soul to Himself; it can suffer no more for nothing is left in it to be burnt away; were it held in the fire when it has thus been cleansed, it would feel no pain. Rather the fire of divine love would be to it like eternal life and in no way contrary to it.

I well understand that in popular Catholic teaching Purgatory has often been presented in crude juridical terms; but the essential doctrine is grounded on a fundamental apprehension, shared by Catholics and Orthodox alike, of our need for sanctification, cleansing, liberation, and healing if we are to see and enjoy God perfectly in Heaven.  This process of purification is aided by the prayers of the Church.   

Disagree with the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, if you must, but please, please try to understand it as it is now understood today by the Catholic Church.   

 
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« Reply #1174 on: April 13, 2010, 08:04:52 AM »


Disagree with the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, if you must, but please, please try to understand it as it is now understood today by the Catholic Church.   

Christ is Risen, Alleluia

Is it worth the bother to examine the modern Roman Catholic interpretation?  The doctrine is so unstable at this point in time.  It may well change again. It may well have a fresh revamping with the next generation of Catholics who may choose to return to the traditional Roman Catholic belief about Purgatory or to continue down the path of transmogrifying the new teaching into something different again.

Pope Paul VI issued his "Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences" Indulgentiarum Doctrina in 1967.  This traditional understanding of Purgatory was proclaimed by Peter a mere 43 years ago.   But already less then 50 years later, speculative theologians are presenting a reconstructed understanding which differs radically from the Pope's.  Purgatory Lite.

Now this theological instability is something of a worry for Orthodoxy.   On the one hand there is no doubt that the modern teaching of Purgatory as Fr Kimel proposes in line with contemporary progressive theologians is a welcome change to Orthodoxy since it represents a revamping of the older and unacceptable traditional version of the Popes and Western Saints and it is deconstructing Purgatory in a manner quite acceptable to the Orthodox.  With the passage of time we may hope that the conscious belief in Purgatory may become as vitiated in the Catholic West as Limbo is becoming and, in many areas, has already become.

On the other hand we have concerns about the reconstruction theology which is at work within Catholicism because of the bizarre attempt to make out that this reconstruction is not taking place and that the modern theology is the same as the traditional theology.  This problem is spoken of here
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13820.msg421044.html#msg421044


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« Reply #1175 on: April 13, 2010, 08:42:17 AM »

For the past several decades the theologians of the Catholic theologian have been seeking to clarify the dogmatic meaning Purgatory and its "temporal punishments."  This clarification, or doctrinal development, is occurring at every level of the Catholic Church, including the papal office, as evidenced by the two papal documents I have already cited, both of which strongly support the construal of Purgatory that I have advanced. 

The re-tooling of the doctrine of purgatory may be referred to as "clarification" or "doctrinal development"---but the fact of the matter is---the doctrine has changed over time.  And as Fr Ambrose points out---how many more times will it change? ---or will it revert to the original RC understanding? 

This goes to the very heart of the doctrine of "papal infallibility".
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« Reply #1176 on: April 13, 2010, 08:48:36 AM »

Christ is Risen, Alleluia

Do we have any of the Byzantine Catholic Churches represented on the Forum?

It would be interesting to hear their contribution.

As I understand it, they do not believe in Purgatory and the agreement they reached with Rome at the Union of Brest in the late 1500s guarantees that Rome will not force a belief in Purgatory upon them.

And if memory serves the Melkite Catholics say they have an agreement with Rome that they shall not be required to believe anything which was not part of their religious beliefs prior to their union with Rome.  Sadly, I have never been able to sight a copy of this particular Agreement.
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« Reply #1177 on: April 13, 2010, 09:47:02 AM »


Is it worth the bother to examine the modern Roman Catholic interpretation?  The doctrine is so unstable at this point in time.  It may well change again. It may well have a fresh revamping with the next generation of Catholics who may choose to return to the traditional Roman Catholic belief about Purgatory or to continue down the path of transmogrifying the new teaching into something different again.

Of course it is worth the bother ... unless, of course, you are simply in this for the polemics.  It is always worthwhile to know one's opponent as he really is. 

The simple fact is, the Catholic Church does believe in the development of doctrine.  This means that it is always possible to refine, clarify, correct, and improve doctrinal statements of the past.  You may see this as a liability and defect, but that is the Catholic way of doing doctrine, and if you are going to persist in debating Catholic doctrine with Catholics, then you might as well try to understand the way Catholics do doctrine.

Quote
Pope Paul VI issued his "Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences" Indulgentiarum Doctrina in 1967.  This traditional understanding of Purgatory was proclaimed by Peter a mere 43 years ago.   But already less then 50 years later, speculative theologians are presenting a reconstructed understanding which differs radically from the Pope's.  Purgatory Lite.

Purgatory lite or not--it's not your call.  You're not a Catholic.  You are not in a position to make any judgments whatsoever about what is and is not authentic Catholic teaching.  Whether you like it or not, a doctrinal development regarding Purgatory is occurring at every level of the Catholic Church.  Pope Paul VI's constitution on indulgences must be interpreted in light of the full breadth of Catholic teaching, both past and present.  Read simply on its own, detached from the totality of Catholic belief and praxis, its presentation of Purgatory is remarkably unbalanced, which is no doubt one reason why Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have sought to clarify Catholic teaching on Purgatory in their own writings.  Not all Popes are particularly good theologians, nor do all of their enunciations stand the test of time.  As in Orthodoxy, there is an element of reception involved when it comes to papal teachings.  Orthodoxy should understand this.  For a couple of hundred years, the Orthodox considered the Confession of Dositheus to be a reliable and authoritative statement of fundamental Orthodox belief.  Now it seems to have become an embarrassment to many, in light of the now popular neo-patristic synthesis.  Only 8 years ago it was identified on the GOA website as "one of the major pronouncements of the Orthodox Faith, and an important source of Church teaching."  Reference to the Synod of Jerusalem and the Confession of Dositheus was deleted in the 2004 revision of the webpage.  Apparently even Orthodoxy is permitted to re-evaluate inherited doctrinal statements.  We all live in glass houses, and we need to be careful about which stones we choose to throw. 

Everyone loves to focus on indulgences, as if they were somehow the key to understanding the Catholic Church and its doctrine of Purgatory; but in fact, as Lutheran theologian Michael Root has observed, this simply is not the case.  Indulgences do not play a significant role in the spiritual and ecclesial lives of most Catholics.  I invite the readers of this thread to read Root's article "The Indulgence Controversy, Again."  If Lutheran theologians can make the effort to understand Catholic teaching and practice, surely the Orthodox can do so, too.   

What is required in any kind of ecumenical dialogue is a sincere and genuine effort to understand the other community on its own terms, in the best possible light.  Both charity and honesty, I believe, requires this.

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« Reply #1178 on: April 13, 2010, 10:44:27 AM »

You may see this as a liability and defect, but that is the Catholic way of doing doctrine, and if you are going to persist in debating Catholic doctrine with Catholics, then you might as well try to understand the way Catholics do doctrine. 

I see it as a liability.  The constantly changing (development of doctrine) keeps the Roman Catholics in a constant state of confusion.

You are not in a position to make any judgments whatsoever about what is and is not authentic Catholic teaching

And yet the Roman Catholics seem unsure as to "authentic Catholic teaching".

PS--As Orthodox Christians, we are thoroughly Catholic.

For a couple of hundred years, the Orthodox considered the Confession of Dositheus to be a reliable and authoritative statement of fundamental Orthodox belief.  Now it seems to have become an embarrassment to many, in light of the now popular neo-patristic synthesis. 

Unfortunately, Peter Moghila and Dositheus of Jerusalem both produced confessions that were based on Roman Catholic manuals and Latin sources.

“Faced by the Calvinism of Cyril Lukaris, Dositheus used the weapons which lay nearest to hand — Latin weapons (under the circumstances it was perhaps the only thing that he could do); "
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« Reply #1179 on: April 13, 2010, 11:15:02 AM »

You may see this as a liability and defect, but that is the Catholic way of doing doctrine, and if you are going to persist in debating Catholic doctrine with Catholics, then you might as well try to understand the way Catholics do doctrine. 

I see it as a liability.  The constantly changing (development of doctrine) keeps the Roman Catholics in a constant state of confusion.

You are not in a position to make any judgments whatsoever about what is and is not authentic Catholic teaching

And yet the Roman Catholics seem unsure as to "authentic Catholic teaching".

PS--As Orthodox Christians, we are thoroughly Catholic.

For a couple of hundred years, the Orthodox considered the Confession of Dositheus to be a reliable and authoritative statement of fundamental Orthodox belief.  Now it seems to have become an embarrassment to many, in light of the now popular neo-patristic synthesis. 

Unfortunately, Peter Moghila and Dositheus of Jerusalem both produced confessions that were based on Roman Catholic manuals and Latin sources.

“Faced by the Calvinism of Cyril Lukaris, Dositheus used the weapons which lay nearest to hand — Latin weapons (under the circumstances it was perhaps the only thing that he could do); "
Bishop Kallistos Ware

For Dositheus and the Synod of Jerusalem it was appropriate, as it was dealing with theological problems steming from the Vaticans fight with its Protestant progeny, and not with anything that appeared from within the Church.
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« Reply #1180 on: April 13, 2010, 11:19:31 AM »

For Dositheus and the Synod of Jerusalem it was appropriate, as it was dealing with theological problems steming from the Vaticans fight with its Protestant progeny

Yes--specifically, Calvinism.
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« Reply #1181 on: April 13, 2010, 11:24:08 AM »

Fr. Kimel is right - indulgences are not a factor in the everyday prayer life of Catholics. The only time I have ever seen them in play is during the octave of Easter, during "Divine Mercy Week." There's a "plenary indulgence" associatted with the nine-day novena (Good Friday to Thomas Sunday) in conjunction with confession. That's pretty much the only time I've encountered that.. The truth of the matter is that in the post-Vatican II church - they memorialize the dead (one can purchase a prayer intention for a midweek mass) but they never, ever mention purgatory from the pulpit or the church bulletins. It's amazing if you go back even fifty years and look at the Reformer/Roman Catholic polemics on the issue. Now, there is just a great silence.

I was never comfortable with private revelations, including Sr. Faustina's Divine Mercy, but on the other hand, found that that the later's focus on the love and mercy of God during Easter is something that has been healthy for the Latin church. The jettisoning of speculative teachings such as limbo (a halfway point created by theologians with an unease with pure Augustininsm) - is a welcome change as well.

Issues important to the history of the East/West schism such as filioque, frankly, are a blip on most Catholic radars. It all boils down to, "we have the pope, you don't." Most of the other differences between Reformers and Roman Catholics have blurred over the past forty years, especially with the "reform" of the Mass. It's almost as if the Pope is the only thing left.
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« Reply #1182 on: April 13, 2010, 12:44:02 PM »

Well, I think this has devolved into the classic problem of defining 'official teaching.'

The Orthodox Church follows the idea that, unless the idea is embraced by all the bishops of the Church (a.k.a. Great or Ecumenical Council), then it is subject to being questioned.  Other than that, local bishops and clergy are free to produce their own local works that are variously accepted or condemned.

In the Roman Church, we see a dizzying array of offical pronouncements, levels of authority, etc. which leave us just as mystified as to what exactly is offical RCC doctrine in precisely the same way RCC folks are puzzled by how we can agree on anything at all with so little in the way of 'official' (a.k.a. universally approved) pronouncements.

The fact that no Great Council has tackled the issue of the mystery of death should tell us something in big letters.

Death is a mystery, so just about anything that you say about it is going to be wrong in some way once you abandon the firm territory of the Creed and the Scriptures.

There are certain things we can say about it based upon a 'preponderance of the evidence,' but that also means tossing out some ancient teachings that we have to call ancient errors and even saying that some favorite Fathers were wrong on this topic.

I think we (Orthodox and Roman) can agree on some points:

1 ) in the period following earthly death, the soul/spirit of the person engages in a particular judgment of the conscience.

2 ) this process may be longer for those persons who love God but have not repented of their sins.

3 ) those who hate God are taken quickly to a 'place' they find tormenting.

4 ) the spiritual realm cannot be defined by space or material (The RCC agreed with St. Mark of Ephesus at Florence by not insisting on material fire).

5 ) the dead find benefit from prayers, acts of mercy and offerings made for them.

6 ) in certain instances, God allows the dead to manifest themselves to ask for assistance in this process.

7 ) demons do appear to torment the dead just as they do the living, though God permits this in various ways and at various levels just as He does for the living.

8 ) the Virgin Mary and the Saints appear to play a critical role in the judgment of the soul be means of encouragement and bearing witness to the good deeds of the person in life.

9 ) the dead can no longer pray to God for themselves, and so the Church is necessary to make this process.

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« Reply #1183 on: April 13, 2010, 01:20:16 PM »

Fr. Kimel is right - indulgences are not a factor in the everyday prayer life of Catholics. The only time I have ever seen them in play is during the octave of Easter, during "Divine Mercy Week." There's a "plenary indulgence" associatted with the nine-day novena (Good Friday to Thomas Sunday) in conjunction with confession. That's pretty much the only time I've encountered that.. The truth of the matter is that in the post-Vatican II church - they memorialize the dead (one can purchase a prayer intention for a midweek mass) but they never, ever mention purgatory from the pulpit or the church bulletins. It's amazing if you go back even fifty years and look at the Reformer/Roman Catholic polemics on the issue. Now, there is just a great silence.

I was never comfortable with private revelations, including Sr. Faustina's Divine Mercy, but on the other hand, found that that the later's focus on the love and mercy of God during Easter is something that has been healthy for the Latin church. The jettisoning of speculative teachings such as limbo (a halfway point created by theologians with an unease with pure Augustininsm) - is a welcome change as well.

Issues important to the history of the East/West schism such as filioque, frankly, are a blip on most Catholic radars. It all boils down to, "we have the pope, you don't." Most of the other differences between Reformers and Roman Catholics have blurred over the past forty years, especially with the "reform" of the Mass. It's almost as if the Pope is the only thing left.

That's basically about it.

As for indulgences, I listen to Relevant Radio a lot, etc. and I've heard/seen a often instructions about obtaining indulgences, so some of them have it as a regular part.

I like parts of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, but for some its is almost cultish, as are Fatima and most "private" revelations.  Try saying in public you don't believe in Fatima:you'll get an earful.
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« Reply #1184 on: April 13, 2010, 01:29:41 PM »

Having read the Confession of Dositheos twice before, I think that aside from a couple of blips, it is indeed a reliable exposition of Orthodox doctrine. The particular "blips" I have in mind would be:
1) It says that infats wo die witout baptism will suffer torments
2) It cites Augustine as a doctrinal reference
3) Its explanation of the Eucharist comes, in my opinion, to close to Transubstantiation.
You have to admit that these items cannot even be outright faulted. I don't think anyone is going back on the validity of the council's statements. The explanation for the slight Augustinian bend of the council is that the bisops were educated in theology in Venice.
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« Reply #1185 on: April 13, 2010, 02:26:38 PM »

Thanks, Father, for your thoughtful post.

Well, I think this has devolved into the classic problem of defining 'official teaching.'

Yep, always a fun, and frustrating, problem to debate, whether within one's own Church or between Churches.  Smiley

Quote
The fact that no Great Council has tackled the issue of the mystery of death should tell us something in big letters. Death is a mystery, so just about anything that you say about it is going to be wrong in some way once you abandon the firm territory of the Creed and the Scriptures.

Excellent point.  Magisterial Catholic teaching on the after-life is actually quite limited--hence the proliferation of opinions and speculations.

Quote
I think we (Orthodox and Roman) can agree on some points:

1 ) in the period following earthly death, the soul/spirit of the person engages in a particular judgment of the conscience.

Yes.

Quote
2 ) this process may be longer for those persons who love God but have not repented of their sins.

Yes, whatever "longer" means within this context.  What does time mean for the intermediate stage?  How does the time for the intermediate stage coordinate with our historical time?    

Quote
3 ) those who hate God are taken quickly to a 'place' they find tormenting.

Yes.

Quote
4 ) the spiritual realm cannot be defined by space or material (The RCC agreed with St. Mark of Ephesus at Florence by not insisting on material fire).

Yes.  I do not know of many contemporary Catholic theologians who would speak of the purgatorial fire as a material fire, and as Pope Benedict noted in his encyclical Spe Salvi, many Catholic theologians identify this "fire" with God himself.

Quote
5 ) the dead find benefit from prayers, acts of mercy and offerings made for them.

Yes.  This, I think, is the fundamental dogmatic datum.

Quote
6 ) in certain instances, God allows the dead to manifest themselves to ask for assistance in this process.

I do not recall much, if any, discussion of this among Catholic writers.  I have to plead ignorance.  

Quote
7 ) demons do appear to torment the dead just as they do the living, though God permits this in various ways and at various levels just as He does for the living.

I don't know about this either.  Again I have to plead ignorance.  My sense, though, is that contemporary Catholic thinkers might be uncomfortable with this, at least regarding the souls in the condition of purification.  But if God permits such torment, it is by way of assisting purification.  According to Catholic understanding, those in purgatory are firmly settled in the love of God and thus beyond temptation.  The assurance that one is now beyond the possibility of turning away from God through sin grounds the profound joy and happiness of Purgatory.

Quote
8 ) the Virgin Mary and the Saints appear to play a critical role in the judgment of the soul be means of encouragement and bearing witness to the good deeds of the person in life.

Yes, absolutely.

Quote
9 ) the dead can no longer pray to God for themselves, and so the Church is necessary to make this process.

Yes, that sounds right, too.

I can think of one point on which Catholics and Orthodox might disagree--namely, the possibility that a given soul might alter his orientation to God, from hostility to love, in response to the prayers of the Church.  It is Catholic teaching that one's fundamental orientation toward or away from God is definitively established through one's moral decisions throughout one's life, culminating in death.  In the words of Pope Benedict:  "With death, our life-choice becomes definitive--our life stands before the judge."  But precisely what this means no one can say.  It does not mean that a Catholic cannot hope and pray for the salvation of each and every human being.  We are not given to know if even one person has eternally rejected God; we do not know if any persists in mortal sin in that final eschatological encounter with the risen Christ (see Hans Urs von Balthasar, Dare We Hope 'That All Men Be Saved'?; Richard John Neuhaus, "Will All Be Saved?").  And so Catholics, with the Orthodox, pray and hope for the salvation of all; but we do believe that if a person definitively chooses against God in this life, he is beyond repentance in the next.  If an incorrigibly unrepentant soul can be converted back to God through the prayers of the Church, then why does not God convert all souls?  Perhaps this represents a point of disagreement between the two communions, but perhaps further analysis would reveal that the disagreement is only apparent, not substantive.   Any thoughts on this, Father?    
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« Reply #1186 on: April 13, 2010, 05:01:31 PM »

<snip>
I can think of one point on which Catholics and Orthodox might disagree--namely, the possibility that a given soul might alter his orientation to God, from hostility to love, in response to the prayers of the Church.  It is Catholic teaching that one's fundamental orientation toward or away from God is definitively established through one's moral decisions throughout one's life, culminating in death.  In the words of Pope Benedict:  "With death, our life-choice becomes definitive--our life stands before the judge."  But precisely what this means no one can say.  It does not mean that a Catholic cannot hope and pray for the salvation of each and every human being.  We are not given to know if even one person has eternally rejected God; we do not know if any persists in mortal sin in that final eschatological encounter with the risen Christ (see Hans Urs von Balthasar, Dare We Hope 'That All Men Be Saved'?; Richard John Neuhaus, "Will All Be Saved?").  And so Catholics, with the Orthodox, pray and hope for the salvation of all; but we do believe that if a person definitively chooses against God in this life, he is beyond repentance in the next.  If an incorrigibly unrepentant soul can be converted back to God through the prayers of the Church, then why does not God convert all souls?  Perhaps this represents a point of disagreement between the two communions, but perhaps further analysis would reveal that the disagreement is only apparent, not substantive.   Any thoughts on this, Father?    



Thank you for your kind compliment.

I don’t really see where most Orthodox would argue for salvation against the will of those who reject God.  I think the Orthodox would agree that many reject God because of heresy that has been preached to them or the ill-treatment they have received at the hands of those who proclaim ‘god’ while committing sin.  In such a case, prayer might indeed be helpful.

I’ve heard it variously argued and disputed that St. Gregory of Nyssa taught what is considered a form of universalism (i.e. all mankind, and even the demons, will be saved) but I think the Orthodox stand overall does not line up with such a teaching.

Orthodoxy hinges on the unimpeded self-will, which is why the Orthodox reject predestinationism and Ex-Cathedra infallibility.  At all times the self-will must not be influenced by Divine favor, lest Christ’s work on the Cross be undercut and the whole means of salvation be contradicted (i.e. that God compelled Jesus Christ to ascend the Cross, making it no longer an act of love but a robotic response to external stimuli).

I think that the Scriptures answer the question for us: read Jeremiah 6:16-30, particularly the end...
I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.  They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.  The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.  Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.

In the case of the terminology regarding ‘intermediate states,’ I think the Orthodox Church teaches that all of life in an ‘intermediate state’ prior to the General Resurrection.  This is certainly the teaching of the Desert Fathers in their calls to monasticism and the abandonment of ‘temporary pleasures.’  Therefore, the Orthodox view is much more that life in the flesh is as much about the writing of the conscience as it is the purging of it through repentance.  All ‘purgational fire’ is to be found in asceticism and hardship.

The problem of purgation after death is that the soul/spirit of the departed is incomplete without the body, which bears an equal share of any ‘debt’ of sin because only the three together represent a complete Person and thus sin together.  Punishment of the soul without the body is like being thrown into half of a prison.  In Orthodoxy, all three components of Personhood are necessary for prayer, even when one part is active the others either assist or at least do not interfere.

This is also why eternal damnation requires resurrection, therefore the General Resurrection applies to all.  The soul cannot be more guilt than the body or the spirit, because all are necessary for complete Personhood.

I apologize if this sounds a bit perplexing, but if you think about it, you can see why we oppose Purgatory as a punitive state, whereas the unrest of the dead involves not punishment but mental reconciliation which is less involving of the body.  Of course, there is a physical reconciliation, which is why funeral rites are important and so much post-death unrest is associated with improperly buried corpses.




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« Reply #1187 on: April 13, 2010, 05:36:13 PM »


I don’t really see where most Orthodox would argue for salvation against the will of those who reject God.

Christ is Risen!

Dear Father,

The danger in the above statement is that it is misused by the West as an affirmation that there is no remission of sins and no salvation from Hell after death.

Of course God will not save a man against his will, but that statement must not be used, as Catholics do, to obscure the fact a man may still exercise his will afer death and choose repentance. It is this latter point which the Catholics strenuously deny.  But the human will is not placed in a state of frozen inactivity at death.  

Salvation from Hell remains a possibility until the time of the Last Judgement.  The Partial Judgement at the time of death is just that - a partial judgement and not the complete and final one which will take place with the second appearance of Christ.

In various places on the Forum there are threads dealing with the Orthodox teaching and that of the Saints, and one or two statements from Archbishop Hilarion of Volokalamsk, dealing with salvation from Hell.
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« Reply #1188 on: April 13, 2010, 05:41:10 PM »


I think that the Scriptures answer the question for us: read Jeremiah 6:16-30, particularly the end...
I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.  They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.  The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.  Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.

I also like "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: Therefore choose life."  Deuteronomy 30:19. 

That kind of sets hyper-Calvinism back on its heels.  laugh
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« Reply #1189 on: April 13, 2010, 05:43:59 PM »


Of course, there is a physical reconciliation, which is why funeral rites are important and so much post-death unrest is associated with improperly buried corpses.

You have really piqued my curiosity.   Smiley  Would you explain?
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« Reply #1190 on: April 13, 2010, 05:59:23 PM »


I don’t really see where most Orthodox would argue for salvation against the will of those who reject God. 

Christ is Risen!

Dear Father,

This danger in the above statement is that it is misused by the West as an affirmation that there is no remission of sins and no salvation from Hell after death.

Of course God will not save a man against his will, but that statement must not be used, as Catholics do, to obscure the fact a man may still exercise his will afer death and choose repentance. It is this latter point which the Catholics strenuously deny.  But the human will is not placed in a state of frozen inactivity at death. 

Salvation from Hell remains a possibility until the time of the Last Judgement.  The Partial Judgement at the time of death is just that - a partial judgement and not the complete and final one which will take place with the second appearance of Christ.

In various places on the Forum there are threads dealing with the Orthodox teaching and that of the Saints, and one or two statements from Archbishop Hilarion of Volokalamsk, dealing with salvation from Hell.




Truly He is Risen!

I thought the whole context of my post was sufficient.  I guess it wasn't.

Frankly, there really is no such thing as 'hell' the way you are implying to begin with (i.e. some 'place' to be saved out of, read St. Mark of Ephesus).  Sure, we can speak of it in a poetic sense that way, but its the same way we say the spring sun 'smiles' on us.

Eternal Damnation does not occur until the Last Judgment and the General Resurrection.  In the meantime, souls experience their unveiled consciences, which either torments them or brings them peace.  The torments end when the conscience is reconciled with the love of God, not when God 'shuts off the flames.'

I am not familiar with Archbishop Hilarion, so I cannot say one way or another. 

The saints know the positive effect of prayer for those who are suffering from their consciences as they move towards rest in God, but the collective witness of the Church definitely does not imply that those who have chosen eternal damnation can be 'saved' against their wills.
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« Reply #1191 on: April 13, 2010, 06:04:58 PM »


Of course, there is a physical reconciliation, which is why funeral rites are important and so much post-death unrest is associated with improperly buried corpses.

You have really piqued my curiosity.   Smiley  Would you explain?

The body remains your body after death.  It is part of who you are as a Person.  The Church affirms this in relics and in funerals (a.k.a. rites of the body at death).  You notice we don't do funerals when there is no body...

Most cultures bear witness to the fact that the dead do indeed care about how their bodies are treated, which is why all cultures have 'death taboos.'

Platonism and Buddhism that the soul is in exile in the body, but we affirm that the soul is exiled when separated from the body.

Hope this clears up my confusing answers! Wink
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« Reply #1192 on: April 13, 2010, 06:12:17 PM »


Frankly, there really is no such thing as 'hell' the way you are implying to begin with


The question of terminology has become extremely muddled in Orthodox America since the time of Father Seraphim Rose and also Fr Panteleimon of Jordanville.  The terminology was always imprecise in the Old World and varies from Saint to Saint, country to country and century to century.   It is only with the advent of Father Seraphim Rose et alii  that a passion has developed to pinpoint and categorise the afterdeath state.  Foolish attempt!

Certainly in the teaching of the Russian Church Hell already exists.  I have seen American Orthodox dispute that and they say that Hell has not yet been created and it will come into existence only at the time of the Last Judgement.

However if you wish to leave the Russian belief aside, then we could say that that those whom the Partial Judgement has set on the path to future damnation and the as yet non-existent Hell, may still find repentance, forgiveness of sin and salvation in the afterlife.
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« Reply #1193 on: April 13, 2010, 06:15:56 PM »

The body remains your body after death.  It is part of who you are as a Person.  The Church affirms this in relics and in funerals (a.k.a. rites of the body at death).  You notice we don't do funerals when there is no body...


I have done funerals without a body.  Sometimes relatives will deny a person an Orthodox funeral.

Funerals without the body present were also a common occurrence during the years of atheistic communion in the Soviet Union.
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« Reply #1194 on: April 13, 2010, 06:30:10 PM »


Frankly, there really is no such thing as 'hell' the way you are implying to begin with


The question of terminology has become extremely muddled in Orthodox America since the time of Father Seraphim Rose and also Fr Panteleimon of Jordanville.  The terminology was always imprecise in the Old World and varies from Saint to Saint, country to country and century to century.   It is only with the advent of Father Seraphim Rose et alii  that a passion has developed to pinpoint and categorise the afterdeath state.  Foolish attempt!

Certainly in the teaching of the Russian Church Hell already exists.  I have seen American Orthodox dispute that and they say that Hell has not yet been created and it will come into existence only at the time of the Last Judgement.

However if you wish to leave the Russian belief aside, then we could say that that those whom the Partial Judgement has set on the path to future damnation and the as yet non-existent Hell, may still find repentance, forgiveness of sin and salvation in the afterlife.

Well, hell certainly does exist now, but in what I would call and "unfulfilled state." Same for the kingdom of God: there are several NT passages that make it clear that the Kingdom was established on earth by Christ; but the Kingdom will be consummated, or fulfilled, in the Final Judgment. So I think that to say that hell already exists is compatible with saying that hell will only exist at the Last Judgment. Never run away from a paradox  Smiley!

By the way, I agree completely that it is important for us to remember that whenever we talk about the state of the departed, we can only use figures of speech--we don't know exactly what happens!
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« Reply #1195 on: April 13, 2010, 06:39:21 PM »

The body remains your body after death.  It is part of who you are as a Person.  The Church affirms this in relics and in funerals (a.k.a. rites of the body at death).  You notice we don't do funerals when there is no body...


I have done funerals without a body.  Sometimes relatives will deny a person an Orthodox funeral.

Funerals without the body present were also a common occurrence during the years of atheistic communion in the Soviet Union.


Well, I don't think we really want to say that accommodations for genuine persecution thus set the 'new rule.'  After 300 or so years of continued persecution (I calculate the Russian Persecution from the interference of Peter the Ingrate that forbade the Church to elect a new Patriarch which subjected the Church to the whims of the State until the Kerensky government, followed quickly by 70 years of Bolshevism).

The Typikon calls for the body to be present, and it is clear from the rite that it involves a body.  If you have a blessing from your Bishop to perform a modified rite, that is between him and his Synod and so I won't comment.

But, it is clear that the rite requires a body.

Nothing I have in my library ever indicates 'body optional.'  Wink

On the other hand, we have the Parastasis, moleibens, canons and general intercessions for the dead that do not require a body to be present.

Sorry, father, but Iw would have addressed you as a priest if I had know.  Please don't take offense at my ignorance.  Cry

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« Reply #1196 on: April 13, 2010, 07:12:41 PM »

The Church gives the name "Purgatory" to this final act of purification of the elect...

CCC 1030/1031

I really don't pay attention to the term indulgence myself...



I never got the gist of indulgences either.  I dont know what indulgences have to do with salvation.  Is this not an innovation of the west?  Did not indulgences pay for most of St. Peters Cathedral in Rome?

How can a man issue something like this?  Do people believe in this?




Why rely on a "sin" like indulgence to keep a house of Christ alive when we try to rid ourselves of it?

I guess it would depend on what you mean by the term indulgence, what genre of indulgence do you refer to?
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« Reply #1197 on: April 13, 2010, 07:17:54 PM »

The Church gives the name "Purgatory" to this final act of purification of the elect...

CCC 1030/1031

I really don't pay attention to the term indulgence myself...



I never got the gist of indulgences either.  I dont know what indulgences have to do with salvation.  Is this not an innovation of the west?  Did not indulgences pay for most of St. Peters Cathedral in Rome?

How can a man issue something like this?  Do people believe in this?




Why rely on a "sin" like indulgence to keep a house of Christ alive when we try to rid ourselves of it?

I guess it would depend on what you mean by the term indulgence, what genre of indulgence do you refer to?
That's not what we mean by indulgence. It comes from a Latin word and not have anything to do with "indulging in sin".
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« Reply #1198 on: April 13, 2010, 08:06:00 PM »


But, it is clear that the rite requires a body.

Nothing I have in my library ever indicates 'body optional.'  Wink
Christ is Risen, Alleluia

May I offer a concrete example.   The ancient choirmaster of a Russian parish, long retired from the position, passes away.   His wife is Polish Catholic, his children are Polish Catholic and his grandchildren are Catholic.  They insist on a Catholic funeral. The body goes to the Catholic Church. His Russian Orthodox parish decides that they are obliged out of love and respect to serve an Orthodox funeral for him, one not unimportant element being the sacramental absolution which completes it.

What do you do in Antioch when there is no body?  Lost at sea.... murdered by terrorists in Iraq.... blown to smithereens in a bombing?

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« Reply #1199 on: April 13, 2010, 08:17:54 PM »


Sorry, father, but Iw would have addressed you as a priest if I had know.  Please don't take offense at my ignorance.  Cry


Not a problem and if anything it is my fault for choosing the anonymous screen name of Irish Hermit which carries not a hint of sacerdotal airs. laugh
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« Reply #1200 on: April 13, 2010, 08:47:19 PM »


But, it is clear that the rite requires a body.

Nothing I have in my library ever indicates 'body optional.'  Wink
Christ is Risen, Alleluia

May I offer a concrete example.   The ancient choirmaster of a Russian parish, long retired from the position, passes away.   His wife is Polish Catholic, his children are Polish Catholic and his grandchildren are Catholic.  They insist on a Catholic funeral. The body goes to the Catholic Church. His Russian Orthodox parish decides that they are obliged out of love and respect to serve an Orthodox funeral for him, one not unimportant element being the sacramental absolution which completes it.

What do you do in Antioch when there is no body?  Lost at sea.... murdered by terrorists in Iraq.... blown to smithereens in a bombing?

Frankly, I have never had to deal with a bodiless funeral issue.

However, there is an absolution prayer in the Office for the Parting of the Soul which does not require the body to be present.

The big problem you bring up is that our people have not learned that an estate can be tied to funeral rites.  For example, if the deceased leaves a will stating that his estate should go to charity if he does not receive a funeral according to his instructions, then the family will move heaven and earth to make sure those instructions are followed.  Trust me, I've seen it happen.

Of course, if your spouse is of low character and you are afraid he or she simply won't respect your wishes, then chalk it up to your own foolishness in marrying someone like that to begin with.  You made the choice.

I have warned my parishioners that this will happen if they don't write it down and give me a copy, but most are too superstitious to take care of this matter before they die, in which case I feel they have made their decision to not have a proper funeral.

In the next few weeks, this is the form I am distributing to my parish to help overcome this problem:

Request for Orthodox Christian Funeral

I, _______________________, am an Orthodox Christian.  Therefore, I desire to be buried according to the Tradition of the Church.  To accomplish this, I am asking my family, funeral directors, friends and clergy to respect my wishes and follow the Tradition of the Church for my funeral and burial as follows:

1. I request a minimal amount of embalming.  Embalming is unnecessary, and I desire to save the expense and humiliation of embalming when my body can just as well be refrigerated until the Funeral.  Cremation is not an option.

2. Any blood removed from my body should be bottled and placed in the coffin.  It is the blood I share with Jesus Christ, and it should not be flushed down the drain.

3. I require a minimal coffin.  It is a temporary box until I am resurrected to be with the Lord.  Nothing fancy or expensive is necessary.

4. The Funeral should be conducted according the Service Book of the Orthodox Church.  I ask my family and friends to listen to the instructions of the clergy, who will give me a traditional, appropriate and dignified Funeral.

5. The Funeral should be in the Church, not at the funeral home or mortuary chapel.  If you are concerned about the expense of a hearse, spending less on unneeded embalming or ornate coffins will help defray costs.

6. Anyone wishing to speak after my Funeral may do so after the graveside service.  Until the clergy finish the service, they will follow the Service Book's instructions.

7. Music is not appropriate for Funerals, and so do not bring records or CDs to play before, during or after the funeral service.  If someone wants to read psalms while the mourners gather, this would be appropriate.

8. The clergy do not charge for the services of the Church, so please do not be concerned about asking for their help.  You can make a donation if you like, but it is not required.

9. I ask _________________ to make all of the arrangements for my Funeral in keeping with these instructions.

I am keeping a copy of this document at St. XXXX parish (additional copies may be on file with my records, relatives or a contracted mortuary).

                                                                                          
Signature      Date   



Anyone who wants to use this, with or without modification, is certainly welcome.


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« Reply #1201 on: April 13, 2010, 08:54:07 PM »


The big problem you bring up is that our people have not learned that an estate can be tied to funeral rites.  For example, if the deceased leaves a will stating that his estate should go to charity if he does not receive a funeral according to his instructions, then the family will move heaven and earth to make sure those instructions are followed.  Trust me, I've seen it happen.

It is interesting/shocking that in this country, New Zealand, the family and executors are NOT legally obliged to carry out the wishes of the deceased as regards funeral rites.   I do not know if this is peculiar to New Zealand or applies in the UK and maybe throughout the rest of the Commonwealth.

Apropos... normally we will not perform a church funeral for a Russian Orthodox who has asked for cremation, but if it was not his stated intention but the family insists on it after death, then we may perform a funeral without the body.
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« Reply #1202 on: April 13, 2010, 09:01:49 PM »


The big problem you bring up is that our people have not learned that an estate can be tied to funeral rites.  For example, if the deceased leaves a will stating that his estate should go to charity if he does not receive a funeral according to his instructions, then the family will move heaven and earth to make sure those instructions are followed.  Trust me, I've seen it happen.

It is interesting/shocking that in this country, New Zealand, the family and executors are NOT legally obliged to carry out the wishes of the deceased as regards funeral rites.   I do not know if this is peculiar to New Zealand or applies in the UK and maybe throughout the rest of the Commonwealth.

Apropos... normally we will not perform a church funeral for a Russian Orthodox who has asked for cremation, but if it was not his stated intention but the family insists on it after death, then we may perform a funeral without the body.


Well, you Kiwis are a different lot.  Wink

Anyway, my default answer still lies with obedience to the Bishop and his Synod.  If he says it is OK, then it is OK.  They make the rules, and we 'humble' clergy do what we are told.  They rule on appropriate economia.

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« Reply #1203 on: April 13, 2010, 09:52:40 PM »


Of course, there is a physical reconciliation, which is why funeral rites are important and so much post-death unrest is associated with improperly buried corpses.

You have really piqued my curiosity.   Smiley  Would you explain?

The body remains your body after death.  It is part of who you are as a Person.  The Church affirms this in relics and in funerals (a.k.a. rites of the body at death).  You notice we don't do funerals when there is no body...

Most cultures bear witness to the fact that the dead do indeed care about how their bodies are treated, which is why all cultures have 'death taboos.'

Platonism and Buddhism that the soul is in exile in the body, but we affirm that the soul is exiled when separated from the body.

Hope this clears up my confusing answers! Wink


Not at all, says the Irish Hermit with a laugh.  laugh  You haven't said a word about what "post-death unrest" is associated with "improperly buried corpses."

And more to the point, what is it that must be done to deal with such "post-death unrest"?

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« Reply #1204 on: April 13, 2010, 10:05:11 PM »

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

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.  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:

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.

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."  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.  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.

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« Reply #1205 on: April 13, 2010, 11:04:25 PM »


The big problem you bring up is that our people have not learned that an estate can be tied to funeral rites.  For example, if the deceased leaves a will stating that his estate should go to charity if he does not receive a funeral according to his instructions, then the family will move heaven and earth to make sure those instructions are followed.  Trust me, I've seen it happen.

It is interesting/shocking that in this country, New Zealand, the family and executors are NOT legally obliged to carry out the wishes of the deceased as regards funeral rites.   I do not know if this is peculiar to New Zealand or applies in the UK and maybe throughout the rest of the Commonwealth.

Apropos... normally we will not perform a church funeral for a Russian Orthodox who has asked for cremation, but if it was not his stated intention but the family insists on it after death, then we may perform a funeral without the body.

We have noted an increase of non-Orthodox children and family attempting to minimize the ritual of the funeral for their loved ones. This has caused something of a 'scandal' among the parishioners who find it troubling that one can be a loyal, faithful church member and communicant and be denied the proper rites. I don't think that it is unique to the UK etc...The only sure way to get what you want when you die is to pre-plan your funeral with the funeral director and pastor, pay for it in advance and leave the instructions with the director and pastor in writing.
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« Reply #1206 on: April 13, 2010, 11:17:52 PM »

Not at all, says the Irish Hermit with a laugh.  laugh  You haven't said a word about what "post-death unrest" is associated with "improperly buried corpses."

And more to the point, what is it that must be done to deal with such "post-death unrest"?

It is mentioned in “Akathist for the repose for those who have fallen asleep.” Orthodox Life, Vol 6, No. 5, Sept-Oct.,1955, p. 3-11.

There are instances in several other books (Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave mentions a few if I am not mistaken) where souls of the dead appear to the living in regards to their burial.  Of course, if you read about ancient Greek and Roman culture, then you can get your fill of dead sailors' ghosts and the accursed state of those who are not properly buried.

In cases where proper burial is possible, then it is a good thing to do if the dead are permitted to inform us about it.

In other cases I have familiarity with, remembrance of the dead through the Akathist and the Saturday Office for the Departed are very helpful once demonic operation is ruled out.

 
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« Reply #1207 on: April 13, 2010, 11:41:29 PM »

It is mentioned in “Akathist for the repose for those who have fallen asleep.” Orthodox Life, Vol 6, No. 5, Sept-Oct.,1955, p. 3-11.

Christ is Risen, Alleluia

A glorious Akathist and printed at Jordanville Monastery with the blessing of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

It speaks of the forgiveness of sins after death even for those who died without repentance. 

This is from Ikos 5:

And we believe that even beyond the grave Thy loving kindness, which is merciful even

to all rejected sinners, does not fail. We grieve for hardened and wicked blasphemers of

Thy Holiness. May Thy saving and gracious will be over them. Forgive, O Lord, those

who have died without repentance. Save those who have committed suicide in the

darkness of their mind, that the flame of their sinfulness may be extinguished in the ocean

of Thy grace.

O Lord of unutterable Love, remember Thy servants who have

fallen asleep.



And Ikos 6 speaks of the redemption of those in the infernal regions:

Descend into the infernal

regions of the earth, O Lord, and bring out into the joy of grace Thy children who have

been separated from Thee by sin but who have not rejected Thee.




I've added the whole Akathist as an attachment at the bottom of this message.
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« Reply #1208 on: April 13, 2010, 11:44:00 PM »


There are instances in several other books (Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave

Seal up that book and place it in your attic.  laugh
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« Reply #1209 on: April 13, 2010, 11:49:32 PM »


The big problem you bring up is that our people have not learned that an estate can be tied to funeral rites.  For example, if the deceased leaves a will stating that his estate should go to charity if he does not receive a funeral according to his instructions, then the family will move heaven and earth to make sure those instructions are followed.  Trust me, I've seen it happen.

It is interesting/shocking that in this country, New Zealand, the family and executors are NOT legally obliged to carry out the wishes of the deceased as regards funeral rites.   I do not know if this is peculiar to New Zealand or applies in the UK and maybe throughout the rest of the Commonwealth.

Apropos... normally we will not perform a church funeral for a Russian Orthodox who has asked for cremation, but if it was not his stated intention but the family insists on it after death, then we may perform a funeral without the body.

We have noted an increase of non-Orthodox children and family attempting to minimize the ritual of the funeral for their loved ones. This has caused something of a 'scandal' among the parishioners who find it troubling that one can be a loyal, faithful church member and communicant and be denied the proper rites. I don't think that it is unique to the UK etc...The only sure way to get what you want when you die is to pre-plan your funeral with the funeral director and pastor, pay for it in advance and leave the instructions with the director and pastor in writing.
We had the opposite experience at my old parish: one extended family converted to Orthodoxy when they came and saw grandma's funeral.
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« Reply #1210 on: April 14, 2010, 12:21:50 AM »


There are instances in several other books (Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave

Seal up that book and place it in your attic.  laugh

Now, father, really... it's a Russian book!  I thought you'd have a much more positive reaction!   Wink
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« Reply #1211 on: April 14, 2010, 01:24:45 AM »

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1031 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.

Christus Resurrexit, Alleluia
Resurrexit sicut Dixit, Alleluia

Dear Father Deacon,

I remember when this was quoted on CAF, Catholics interpreted it as meaning that mortal sin can be forgiven in the age to come.  I believe there was one lone Catholic protestor who cried out that this was heresy.

Since the belief that mortal sin may be forgiven after death is such a reversal of traditional Catholic teaching, you can imagine that I sat bolt upright in my chair and paid close attention, and cheered mightily.

Now there is not the slightest indication that the text restricts post-mortem forgiveness to venial sin and excludes mortal sin..

How is the Catechism legitimately understood on this matter?
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« Reply #1212 on: April 14, 2010, 12:29:36 PM »

Now Father is onto something.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1031 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.

Christus Resurrexit, Alleluia
Resurrexit sicut Dixit, Alleluia

Dear Father Deacon,

I remember when this was quoted on CAF, Catholics interpreted it as meaning that mortal sin can be forgiven in the age to come.  I believe there was one lone Catholic protestor who cried out that this was heresy.

Since the belief that mortal sin may be forgiven after death is such a reversal of traditional Catholic teaching, you can imagine that I sat bolt upright in my chair and paid close attention, and cheered mightily.

Now there is not the slightest indication that the text restricts post-mortem forgiveness to venial sin and excludes mortal sin..

How is the Catechism legitimately understood on this matter?

Not to mention the fact that the text does not imply that certain sins will be forgiven in the age to come, but rather simply says that blasphemy against the Spirit can never be forgiven. Not to mention that the phrase "age to come" always refers to the general resurrection (c.f. the Nicene Creed). There are so many things wrong with the Catechism's interpretation of this passage that we can only conclude that they have made a habit of reading into the text.
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« Reply #1213 on: April 14, 2010, 02:58:37 PM »

Thank you, Fr Giryus, for your response.

The Catholic understanding of the Last Things is succinctly summarized in this statement by Hans Urs von Balthasar:  "God is the Last Thing of the creature.  Gained, He is its paradise; lost, He is its hell; as demanding, He is its judgment; as cleansing, He is its purgatory."

<snip>
I can think of one point on which Catholics and Orthodox might disagree--namely, the possibility that a given soul might alter his orientation to God, from hostility to love, in response to the prayers of the Church.  It is Catholic teaching that one's fundamental orientation toward or away from God is definitively established through one's moral decisions throughout one's life, culminating in death.  In the words of Pope Benedict:  "With death, our life-choice becomes definitive--our life stands before the judge."  But precisely what this means no one can say.  It does not mean that a Catholic cannot hope and pray for the salvation of each and every human being.  We are not given to know if even one person has eternally rejected God; we do not know if any persists in mortal sin in that final eschatological encounter with the risen Christ (see Hans Urs von Balthasar, Dare We Hope 'That All Men Be Saved'?; Richard John Neuhaus, "Will All Be Saved?").  And so Catholics, with the Orthodox, pray and hope for the salvation of all; but we do believe that if a person definitively chooses against God in this life, he is beyond repentance in the next.  If an incorrigibly unrepentant soul can be converted back to God through the prayers of the Church, then why does not God convert all souls?  Perhaps this represents a point of disagreement between the two communions, but perhaps further analysis would reveal that the disagreement is only apparent, not substantive.   Any thoughts on this, Father?    

I don’t really see where most Orthodox would argue for salvation against the will of those who reject God. 

Perhaps I was not clear.  As I understand these matters, the one point where I see possible Catholic/Orthodox disagreement is on whether it is possible for a soul who has received a negative judgment at the particular judgment to repent of his sins and thus re-orient himself toward God and receive his forgiveness.  By Catholic understanding, a person who dies in a state of mortal sin--i.e., a state of fundamental hostility toward God--is incapable of repentance.  Such a person is incapable of repentance, not because God ceases to be merciful, but because he has definitively and freely established his fundamental orientation against God by his historical decisions and acts and has thus closed himself off to forgiveness and fundamental change.  There is no more "time" to repent.  He is incapable of opening his heart to God, incapable of love.  Like the dwarfs in C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle, he cannot hear the roar of Aslan.  He has freely and irreversibly chosen damnation.  He does not love God, does not desire to be anything but what he has freely become and will eternally be.

The Catholic, therefore, cannot quite understand the Orthodox claim that those who receive a negative judgment from God at the particular judgment are still capable of repentance, still capable of reversing their journey, accepting God's forgiveness, and moving toward God in love.  If during the intermediate period, the damned are capable of repentance, does this also mean that the saved are still capable of sin, still capable of turning to Satan?  Do the saved still live under the threat of losing their salvation?     

Here, I think, is where the Orthodox/Catholic conversation becomes interesting.  Smiley  May I bring to your attention the thread "Conversion After Death" and invite your reflections on the subject and particularly the two quotations from Elder Cleopa and St Mark of Ephesus.  I welcome your thoughts.  Thank you.

Fr Alvin Kimel
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« Reply #1214 on: April 14, 2010, 03:42:35 PM »

<snip>

The Catholic, therefore, cannot quite understand the Orthodox claim that those who receive a negative judgment from God at the particular judgment are still capable of repentance, still capable of reversing their journey, accepting God's forgiveness, and moving toward God in love.  If during the intermediate period, the damned are capable of repentance, does this also mean that the saved are still capable of sin, still capable of turning to Satan?  Do the saved still live under the threat of losing their salvation?     

Here, I think, is where the Orthodox/Catholic conversation becomes interesting.  Smiley  May I bring to your attention the thread "Conversion After Death" and invite your reflections on the subject and particularly the two quotations from Elder Cleopa and St Mark of Ephesus.  I welcome your thoughts.  Thank you.

Fr Alvin Kimel


Dear Fr. Alvin,

I think I need some clarification here.  How does the RCC view the 'Particular Judgment?'

Unless I am grossly misinformed (which happens on occasion!), the Orthodox view is that the 'Particular Judgment' is carried our strictly by the human conscience with the angels, saints and demons are often described as arguing over the acts of the newly departed.  Therefore, the Last Judgment is really the first time we experience Divine Judgment as described in the Creed.

Although there are Lives of Saints descriptions of our Lord personally greeting saints at death, they do not appear to describe a 'Judgment' of the soul per se.  There may be individual exceptions, but I am talking about the balance of the texts describing death.

Come to think of it, this may also constitute a further objection to Purgatory if it indeed represents a 'first' Divine Judgment of the Soul by Christ.
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