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Author Topic: Do Catholics believe in the "intermediate state?"  (Read 5547 times) Average Rating: 0
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Heorhij
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« on: June 16, 2008, 05:49:17 PM »

Dear Knowledgeable Ones,

Does the (Roman) Catholic Church teach that the *FINAL* destiny of a human being ("lake of fire" vs. "New Jerusalem") is decided only during the Final Judgment?

AFAIK, that's what we, the Orthodox, believe; our Church does not teach that once you die, you immediately go to "hell" for all eternity, or to "heaven" for ever and ever; you actually are in an "intermediate state," having a kind of "pre-taste" of your future (either torment, or bliss); yet, neither the righteous have the FULL bliss before the Judgment Day, nor the unrighteousness feel the final degree of torment.

Are we on the same page in this issue, or not?

Thanks!

G.
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2008, 08:06:24 PM »

Fwiw, the Catechism of the Catholic Church seems to speak of the particular judgment, as differentiated from the last judgement. From the CCC: "The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith." (1021)  I'm still unclear how closely this is to the Orthodox position, though.

Quote
Does the (Roman) Catholic Church teach that the *FINAL* destiny of a human being ("lake of fire" vs. "New Jerusalem") is decided only during the Final Judgment?

From the CCC: "Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately,--or immediate and everlasting damnation." (1022)
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2008, 09:22:10 PM »

Fwiw, the Catechism of the Catholic Church seems to speak of the particular judgment, as differentiated from the last judgement. From the CCC: "The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith." (1021)  I'm still unclear how closely this is to the Orthodox position, though.

From the CCC: "Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately,--or immediate and everlasting damnation." (1022)

Thanks, Asteriktos, but I would like to know, do Catholics believe that the "lake of fire" and the Kingdom of Heaven=Paradise exist right now or, rather, that they do not exist yet - that they will be only established after the Last Judgment?
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2008, 08:31:21 AM »

Thanks, Asteriktos, but I would like to know, do Catholics believe that the "lake of fire" and the Kingdom of Heaven=Paradise exist right now or, rather, that they do not exist yet - that they will be only established after the Last Judgment?

The official position of the Catholic Church is actually not very different from what the Orthodox believe, especially when you consider that Catholicism views Heaven, Hell, and *gasp* Purgatory  Wink as states of being rather than physical places (although they are often spoken of as places despite this, and the idea that there may also be a place assigned to souls in each state is not necessarily excluded). Let me lay it out and see if I can make it clear.

When people die they face a particular judgement which determines their eternal fate. Those who have died without repenting of serious sins will find themselves in a state of eternal damnation. Those who have repented will find themselves in a state of eternal bliss, either immediately or after experiencing a transitional state called Purgatory. We do not know the nature of purgatory, or even if it can be measured in time. All we know is that it is a transitional state which some souls must undergo, and that these souls can be helped by prayers from the living during this state. Anything else is pure speculation and not official doctrine, depsite how popular a certain opinion may be at any given time.

Back to the main topic; all those in the afterlife are already experiencing either joy or suffering in accordance with their judgement, but this joy/suffering will not be "complete" until after the final judgement. The reason is because now they are only experiencing spiritual joy or suffering. After the last day, when souls are reunited with their bodies, all suffering or joy will be felt both spiritually and physically. Therefore while the damned and saved are already experiencing what they are supposed to, it's going to get either a lot better or a lot worse later on. So, Catholics do believe in the "intermediate state", we just word it and approach it in a very different manner from the Orthodox. Regrettably, sometimes our different approach results in such poor catechesis that many Catholics aren't even aware that this is what the Church teaches.

I guess the best answer to your question would be that Heaven and Hell do exist, but no one will experience them completely until after the final judgement. I hope that answered your question rather than confusing you even more.

Eric

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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2008, 09:10:23 AM »

We do not know the nature of purgatory, or even if it can be measured in time. All we know is that it is a transitional state which some souls must undergo, and that these souls can be helped by prayers from the living during this state. Anything else is pure speculation and not official doctrine, depsite how popular a certain opinion may be at any given time.
Hey Eric!

Good to see you here!

Slava Isusu Christu!

If there is so much speculation in regards to purgatory, why do you think Rome felt that it was necessary to define it as doctrine?
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Fuerza
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2008, 09:45:13 AM »

Hey Eric!

Good to see you here!

Slava Isusu Christu!

If there is so much speculation in regards to purgatory, why do you think Rome felt that it was necessary to define it as doctrine?

Hey Mickey,

Sometimes you just need a little change of venue... Wink

You have to keep in mind that Purgatory itself is not a question for us. The concept is seen as an essential part of the Catholic faith. Rome only defined what it viewed as essential, which is more or less only the part that I stated above. Since the doctrine is so vaguely defined, and since the Church has no desire to squash theological discussion, it sees no reason to interfere with private interpretations that don't contradict the core teaching. I do wish, however, that the Church would do more to emphasize that all the speculation is, in fact, speculation, and that the official teaching is not nearly as specific.

Now to answer your question more directly, the Latin culture is legalistic. That's just the way it is. We like to set things out clearly so that everyone knows what is expected of him. If we believe something to be true, we state it. Also, I think that dogmatic definitions (again, in the Latin culture in which the Roman Church developed) help to give more emphasis to a specific point. In the case of purgatory, the emphasized point is the value of prayer for the dead.
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2008, 10:06:06 AM »

The concept is seen as an essential part of the Catholic faith.
Does Rome teach that purgatory consists of pain and fire?
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« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2008, 10:23:23 AM »

Does Rome teach that purgatory consists of pain and fire?

Certainly many theologians, not least Pope St. Gregory the Great among them, have written of a cleansing fire. And there is St. Paul in 1 Cor 3:13-15:

Every man's work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

Catholics often interpret this as pointing to Purgatory.

However, no one is required to view Purgatory as a fire. The required belief is what Fuerza stated above.
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« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2008, 10:25:53 AM »

Does Rome teach that purgatory consists of pain and fire?

Not officially. While the catechism does use the term "cleansing fire", it is not included in the part officially defining purgatory, and Catholics are not required to take it literally (although they may do so without contradicting the core doctrine, and many, including several popes and theologians, have taken it that way). Notice that the entire doctrine of Purgatory is contained within section 1030 and is very vague. The remainder of the sections deal with the tradition and some of the sources from which the doctrine is derived.

1030
All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.


1031
The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607


As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608


1032
This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:


Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

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« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2008, 10:29:14 AM »

And there is St. Paul in 1 Cor 3:13-15:

Every man's work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

I thought this verse was in reference to the last judgement?
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2008, 10:38:26 AM »

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.

This is how I understand prayers for the dead:

The idea of purgatory is based on the legalistic notion that the soul must pay for what it owes. Orthodox have not viewed forgiveness in legalistic terms but in terms of healing. Sin is seen as ‘sickness’ and repentance and forgiveness as the cure.

Orthodox  beliefs about the dead are that they are in a state of rest (not sleep) in anticipation of the Last Day (1 Thess 4:13-17) experiencing a foretaste of eternal reward or punishment. Praying for those souls is seen as an act of love preparing them better for the judgement. (See 2 Tim 1:18 Paul"s prayer for Onesiphorus).


http://australianorthodox.org.au/resources.php?selected=Teaching%20Spot&recordID=1


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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2008, 10:44:02 AM »

This is how I understand prayers for the dead:

The idea of purgatory is based on the legalistic notion that the soul must pay for what it owes. Orthodox have not viewed forgiveness in legalistic terms but in terms of healing. Sin is seen as ‘sickness’ and repentance and forgiveness as the cure.

Orthodox  beliefs about the dead are that they are in a state of rest (not sleep) in anticipation of the Last Day (1 Thess 4:13-17) experiencing a foretaste of eternal reward or punishment. Praying for those souls is seen as an act of love preparing them better for the judgement. (See 2 Tim 1:18 Paul"s prayer for Onesiphorus).


http://australianorthodox.org.au/resources.php?selected=Teaching%20Spot&recordID=1




Before getting into that, which might be taking this thread even further off topic than it has already gotten, do you at least now understand what the official doctrine of purgatory is?
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« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2008, 11:04:03 AM »

Before getting into that, which might be taking this thread even further off topic than it has already gotten, do you at least now understand what the official doctrine of purgatory is?
Yes. I suppose I feel it is unfortunate that Rome felt the need to legalistically define something that was never taught in the early Church. There are a handful of ECF's that are taken out of context in an attempt to prove the doctrine.

St Gregory of Nyssa comes closest to writing about it. He is but one.

Carry on my friend.
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« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2008, 11:32:07 AM »

Mickey

Quote
I thought this verse was in reference to the last judgement?

Fwiw, some Fathers (e.g. John Chrysostom and Mark of Ephesus) seem to think that this passage spoke of the present life, and that being "saved" meant that we were saved so as to face judgment in the afterlife.

EDIT--Actually, I partially take that back. After reading again what St. John wrote in his commentary on 1 Cor. 3, I'm not quite sure what exactly he was trying to say.
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« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2008, 11:50:28 AM »

Yes. I suppose I feel it is unfortunate that Rome felt the need to legalistically define something that was never taught in the early Church. There are a handful of ECF's that are taken out of context in an attempt to prove the doctrine.

St Gregory of Nyssa comes closest to writing about it. He is but one.

Carry on my friend.

I don't understand how the need to pray for the dead, and the idea that there is a transitional state weren't taught in the early church? Your own tradition says that there are people in hell (or possibly more accurately, the "hellish" side of the intermediate state) who will be saved by prayer. Those people who are prayed over can be said to have been in a transitional state. We come at it from very different perspectives, but in essence it is the same teaching. This is why the Church does not object to ECs (or LCs for that matter)who hold to the Orthodox perspective of the afterlife. St. Augustine, one of the great Latin Fathers, himself wrote in support of such a view, all without a single word of condemnation from Rome.

Aside from that, the Confessions of Dositheus from the Synod of Jerusalem seem to support an extremely legalistic, literal view of purgatorial fire. Have those declarations ever officially been condemned, by the way?

Eric
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« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2008, 12:37:34 PM »

We come at it from very different perspectives, but in essence it is the same teaching.
Holy Orthodoxy does not have the same teaching on purgatory because we know of no such doctrine. You may have guessed that we are not very receptive to legalistic definitions.  Undecided
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« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2008, 12:39:12 PM »

Eric, Mickey, Luberti, - many thanks! Tha was most educational!
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« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2008, 12:53:23 PM »

Holy Orthodoxy does not have the same teaching on purgatory because we know of no such doctrine. You may have guessed that we are not very receptive to legalistic definitions.  Undecided

Yes I can see that  Smiley. We're probably going to have to agree to disagree on this one. You don't approach it the same way, but from the Catholic side your view is acceptable and can be seen as consistent with our notion of purgatory. Most Eastern Catholics from whom I've heard share the Orthodox perspective, and St. Augustine apparently did as well.

Back to my question though. Were the Confessions of Dositheus ever condemend as heretical by the EOC since they contain many Latin concepts (including, as I stated earlier, an incredibly literal view of purgatorial fire to which Catholics themselves are not even bound)? I'm not trying to be argumentative or prove a point. I am sincerely curious. Thanks.
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« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2008, 12:55:49 PM »

Eric. Mickey, Luberti, - many thanks! Tha was most educational!

You're welcome. I'm glad that we could be of service.
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« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2008, 01:02:28 PM »

The Confession of Dositheus has not been condemned, and as I look at it (Decree 18) I can see what you mean about a purgatory-like teaching.
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« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2008, 01:21:02 PM »

The Confession of Dositheus has not been condemned, and as I look at it (Decree 18) I can see what you mean about a purgatory-like teaching.

Thanks, that's what I was wondering. What struck me most about the Patriarch's description was that he mentioned the souls as being aware that they will be released. I had previously thought that, in Orthodox theology, the souls who are eventually saved by prayer are left unsure about there ultimate fate until it occurs. This is what I had seen as the only real difference between our theology, as in Catholicism the soul is aware that it will eventually be saved. Is it common Orthodox teaching that these souls know that they will be saved?
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« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2008, 01:43:37 PM »

The Dositheus Confession has a very Western tone--at times (especially Decree 18). 

Is this Confession equivalent to doctrine (dogma)?

Must it be adhered to in its entirety by Holy Orthodoxy?

If you reject Decree 18--- will you be excommunicated or anathematized?

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« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2008, 02:00:08 PM »

Fuerza

Quote
Is it common Orthodox teaching that these souls know that they will be saved?

I don't believe that Decree 18 is common Orthodox teaching. But as for those who do believe what Decree 18 says, I'm not sure what they generally believe about the souls being cleansed, and whether they know that they'll be saved. I'm not sure what else to say other than that, I probably shouldn't have stuck my nose in on this one to begin with. Wink


Mickey,

Quote
Must it be adhered to in its entirety by Holy Orthodoxy?

While Met. Kallistos listed the Confession of Dositheus among the "chief Orthodox doctrinal statements since 787," you can still disagree with certain points of the Confession and be Orthodox. It's not something that has to be taken in it's entirety as the doctrine of the Church.
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« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2008, 02:29:04 PM »

If nobody reaches his final destination until after the last judgement then the saints aren't really in heaven?

BTW, good, balanced discussion without polemics.
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« Reply #24 on: June 17, 2008, 03:11:34 PM »

If nobody reaches his final destination until after the last judgement then the saints aren't really in heaven?
Are you saying that you believe that the saints are experiencing the fulness of the heavenly realm in their resurrected bodies right now?
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« Reply #25 on: June 17, 2008, 03:22:34 PM »

Well played.
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« Reply #26 on: June 17, 2008, 03:34:28 PM »

Well played.

 Grin
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« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2008, 04:11:20 PM »

Fuerza

I don't believe that Decree 18 is common Orthodox teaching. But as for those who do believe what Decree 18 says, I'm not sure what they generally believe about the souls being cleansed, and whether they know that they'll be saved. I'm not sure what else to say other than that, I probably shouldn't have stuck my nose in on this one to begin with. Wink


Mickey,

While Met. Kallistos listed the Confession of Dositheus among the "chief Orthodox doctrinal statements since 787," you can still disagree with certain points of the Confession and be Orthodox. It's not something that has to be taken in it's entirety as the doctrine of the Church.

Being able to disagree with something is different from having to disagree with it. Does this mean that Orthodox Christians are free to accept all 18 decrees? If so, why is it heretical for a Catholic to believe them?

Thanks,

Eric
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« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2008, 04:58:24 PM »

I don't know the answers to these questions. I know that I disagree with certain parts of the Confession (e.g. the answer to Question 1), but I don't know if it's allowable to accept all of it if an Orthodox Christian wishes to do so. I also don't know enough about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory to compare it with what is in the Confession.
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« Reply #29 on: June 19, 2008, 12:49:15 PM »

I also don't know enough about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory to compare it with what is in the Confession.
Yes. It has always been vaguely defined and interpolated through the years.
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« Reply #30 on: July 22, 2008, 03:23:12 PM »

Quote
I don't understand how the need to pray for the dead, and the idea that there is a transitional state weren't taught in the early church? Your own tradition says that there are people in hell (or possibly more accurately, the "hellish" side of the intermediate state) who will be saved by prayer. Those people who are prayed over can be said to have been in a transitional state. We come at it from very different perspectives, but in essence it is the same teaching. This is why the Church does not object to ECs (or LCs for that matter)who hold to the Orthodox perspective of the afterlife.
No, that's not the same. To the Orthodox, Gehenna is not both Purgatory and Hell. It is a fortaste of hell but some souls can be delivered from it through prayers.
When you think of purgatory you find saved souls who are temporarily excluded from the eternal bliss to purge themselves and prepare to the meeting with Christ. Those who are in Hell, according to RC doctrine, can't get saved from its fire.
In Orthodox doctrine, on the contrary, Gehenna is the state of all those who died in condition of sin. It doesn't matter how much they sinned... no one of them is saved until prayers on their behalf help them get saved.
Now you could say this vision is strongly "unjust", i.e. that a killer can't be judged on the same level of a liar or drunkard. But this is due to your RC formation, maybe. I'm not judging - I grew RC and I know this! RCC tends to stregthen the difference between venial and mortal sins. But from an Orthodox perspective, all sins equally separate from God - obviously there are more or less serious sins, but all of them weaken our communion with God so that we can't access to the bliss of Paradise. That's why many Church Fathers and mystics of the OC prefer the image of the Toll-Houses to express the way we pay for our bad deeds with our good works... this way to judge is not only more "balanced", but explains that not all sinners go directly to Gehenna: if they can pay for their sins (through good deeds and the prayers of the living) they can pass through the Toll-Houses without falling in the pit of fire (metaphorically, I guess, but who knows?). Evidently those who sinned in a very terrible manner will find it more difficult to put off their sinful condition and denial of God, so maybe they won't be saved de facto
Quote
St. Augustine, one of the great Latin Fathers, himself wrote in support of such a view, all without a single word of condemnation from Rome
Obviously he could'nt be condemned. At the time the Latin Church was still Orthodox! And of course, RC theologians always stressed so much those passages of blessed Augustine's works and even manipulated its meanings to substain the doctrine of Filioque that they tried to ignore the positions of the Bishop of Hippo on many other subjects (For example, his Orthodox interpretation of the "rock of Peter" which is contrary to the official claims of the Pope).

I'm not judging nor condemning though.  Smiley Just trying to put an evidence to this kind of distinction (which is the subject of our topic).

In Christ,     Alex
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« Reply #31 on: July 23, 2008, 02:11:48 PM »

Thank you everyone for this thoughtful discussion. I too was wondering about Purgatory and this thread has been very helpful!

Question: Purgatory seems hopelessly enmeshed with Western Juridical Theology (venial and mortal sins), satisfaction as opposed to 'mercy' and the distinction between cleansing and punitive fire (if one can even argue a 'true' eternal punitive fire with a Good God i.e. St. Gregory of Nyssa seems to dismiss this altogether). My question is isn't Purgatory assuming just far too much for Orthodoxy to ever accept it as a 'consensual' teaching?

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« Reply #32 on: July 23, 2008, 03:24:46 PM »

Quote
My question is isn't Purgatory assuming just far too much for Orthodoxy to ever accept it as a 'consensual' teaching?
Well, I think so. In truth, it's not consensual; it's the theological opinion of the Latin Church since the time they departed from Orthodoxy; and their belief, as you noticed, is now too far from our Orthodox Faith. If you consider all those "Holy Indulgences" stuffs and things like that you can clearly recognize how the doctrinal understanding of the intermediate state is even more distinguished from ours.

I also read somewhere on the Internet of the main oppositions the Greeks showed at the reunion councils (13th and 15th centuries) before the Emperor of Constantinople brought pressure on them to sign for an agreement (all but one, i.e. saint Mark of Ephesus, accepted the compromise) to allow an alliance between the two Christian empires against the Moslims. Among the differences there was also the point on how is to be defined bliss after death for the saints, damnation after death for the wicked, and even on how the saints will enjoy the presence of God.
These are very important questions.
The Orthodox clearly affirmed that those that, in the intermediate state, are foretasting Paradise, are in a state of joy but don't possess the fullness of bliss, as well as the damned are not experiencing the fullness of hellfire before the Resurrection. This is due to the fact that the soul alone is in bliss or in damnation, but man is both soul and flesh, and flesh also must be glorified or damned too. At the same time the Orthodox Fathers at the Councils of Basil, Ferrara and Florence put in evidence how they believed that the bliss of Paradise consists in the sharing of the divine energies alone. This is what we call theosis, i.e. becoming gods by grace (and not by nature, which was the error of Satan, Adam and Eve when they fell). As in the divine nature we divide between the substance of God, which is invisible, and the energies of God, which compenetrate our world, the problem didn't even exist for the Greek Fathers.

On the contrary, the Latin Church advanced a new interpretation. Only Purgatory was an intermediate state. Those in the afterlife have been given the fullness of their joy or damnation. Those who are in Purgatory are already saved, yet. In conclusion, the Final Judgment is nothing but an act to ratify what has already been decided at Personal Judgment! The resurrection of the flesh is believed by RC's but I think they fail to explain why it should occur. About the bliss of Paradise, RC's still use the expression "beatific vision of God" (give a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church by then cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI). As they believed his energies are created (while the Orthodox consider them as an uncreated or spontaneous production of the substance of God), they thought that the saints can see God directly in his substance! This is completely absurd: if they could they would have died, like Moses said to indicate that "seeing" God's substance is like "melting" in his essence and losing one's identity (a sort of Nirvana, so to say). Only God can see Himself; from a certain point of view, the Glory of God (i.e. his energies) are a veil that keep the Holy of holies separate from the world, and only the man Jesus Christ, like the high priest of Israel, could access it (as he did, as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews wrote) being God himself.

I think this is everything we should know to understand how the gap between the legalistic theology of the Roman Catholic Church and the mystic theology of the Orthodox Churches is truly deep and can't be reconciled.

In Christ,    Alex
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« Reply #33 on: July 23, 2008, 04:01:10 PM »

Well, I think so. In truth, it's not consensual; it's the theological opinion of the Latin Church since the time they departed from Orthodoxy; and their belief, as you noticed, is now too far from our Orthodox Faith.

Pardon me for suggesting, Alexander, but since GiC, I seem to have become the resident moniker-checker---under your name you have Faith: Actually Catholic, but going to become Orthodox.

I assumed that you still had some lingering doubts about breaking communion with the Catholic Church.

But from your statements, it seems that you have already renounced the Catholic Church and consider yourself Orthodox. Though you have not made the official jump, in your heart you have, and that is where it counts---after all, both of our Churches have Communion-centered ecclesiologies, and at your present state, you can no longer in good conscience receive Communion in a Catholic church. That is as clear sign as any that you have already left Catholicism.

So perhaps an update might be in order? "Orthodox catechumen" would be a good choice.
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« Reply #34 on: July 23, 2008, 04:22:49 PM »

I'm sorry for the uncertanty of my expression, and yeah, you're right, the expression I used is inappropriate.
I don't feel "Roman Catholic" anymore. I feel so heavily attracted by Orthodoxy that I can't consider myself a RC.
Why don't I call myself a "catechumen", then? Because I'm in a transitional period. I'm collecting info on Orthodoxy and I'm also looking in the next-door Orthodox realities to choose where I should ask for my Illumination. As such, I can't call myself a "catechumen" until I haven't talked seriously of this with an Orthodox priest. The main reason for this is that there are many Orthodox parishes in Bergamo, the town where I live, but many of them are unknown: I know they exist but can't trace their jurisdiction or their address as they are not registered on Internet sites. The only parish I know is a little community of Russian believers which celebrates in a RC chapel. I think that would be my possible destination, though. At the moment I'm praying God to help me take the final step, leaving my past life back and taking on the new one. I'm only 24, after all... this decision must be taken seriously (and I must also let my parents "understand" my conversion).

In Christ,    Alex

PS: I'm following your suggestion and changing my profile right now! Thanks for everything...
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« Reply #35 on: August 12, 2008, 08:32:52 AM »

Well, I think so. In truth, it's not consensual; it's the theological opinion of the Latin Church since the time they departed from Orthodoxy; and their belief, as you noticed, is now too far from our Orthodox Faith. If you consider all those "Holy Indulgences" stuffs and things like that you can clearly recognize how the doctrinal understanding of the intermediate state is even more distinguished from ours.

I also read somewhere on the Internet of the main oppositions the Greeks showed at the reunion councils (13th and 15th centuries) before the Emperor of Constantinople brought pressure on them to sign for an agreement (all but one, i.e. saint Mark of Ephesus, accepted the compromise) to allow an alliance between the two Christian empires against the Moslims. Among the differences there was also the point on how is to be defined bliss after death for the saints, damnation after death for the wicked, and even on how the saints will enjoy the presence of God.
These are very important questions.
The Orthodox clearly affirmed that those that, in the intermediate state, are foretasting Paradise, are in a state of joy but don't possess the fullness of bliss, as well as the damned are not experiencing the fullness of hellfire before the Resurrection. This is due to the fact that the soul alone is in bliss or in damnation, but man is both soul and flesh, and flesh also must be glorified or damned too. At the same time the Orthodox Fathers at the Councils of Basil, Ferrara and Florence put in evidence how they believed that the bliss of Paradise consists in the sharing of the divine energies alone. This is what we call theosis, i.e. becoming gods by grace (and not by nature, which was the error of Satan, Adam and Eve when they fell). As in the divine nature we divide between the substance of God, which is invisible, and the energies of God, which compenetrate our world, the problem didn't even exist for the Greek Fathers.

On the contrary, the Latin Church advanced a new interpretation. Only Purgatory was an intermediate state. Those in the afterlife have been given the fullness of their joy or damnation. Those who are in Purgatory are already saved, yet. In conclusion, the Final Judgment is nothing but an act to ratify what has already been decided at Personal Judgment! The resurrection of the flesh is believed by RC's but I think they fail to explain why it should occur. About the bliss of Paradise, RC's still use the expression "beatific vision of God" (give a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church by then cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI). As they believed his energies are created (while the Orthodox consider them as an uncreated or spontaneous production of the substance of God), they thought that the saints can see God directly in his substance! This is completely absurd: if they could they would have died, like Moses said to indicate that "seeing" God's substance is like "melting" in his essence and losing one's identity (a sort of Nirvana, so to say). Only God can see Himself; from a certain point of view, the Glory of God (i.e. his energies) are a veil that keep the Holy of holies separate from the world, and only the man Jesus Christ, like the high priest of Israel, could access it (as he did, as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews wrote) being God himself.

I think this is everything we should know to understand how the gap between the legalistic theology of the Roman Catholic Church and the mystic theology of the Orthodox Churches is truly deep and can't be reconciled.

In Christ,    Alex


Alexander,

You are advancing quite a few misconceptions about the Latin understanding of Purgatory. The only thing which has been defined is that there is a transitional state which some souls must undergo after death, and that prayers are beneficial for those in this state. Even the seemingly contradictory view of the Orthodox is acceptable under this vague definition, and this is the view to which many Eastern Catholics hold with the full knowledge of Rome. The only real difference that I can see between our beliefs is that in Catholicism the soul is aware of his eventual release, whereas in Orthodoxy he is not. I don't see why this should be such a big deal.

With regard to the intermediate state, the bolded and underlined portion of your post above is also the Catholic view. As our bodies will not be returned until the final judgement, the fullness of our salvation or damnation will not be experienced until that point. Therefore, the state of all souls after death, whther saved or damned, is necessarily intermediate. The fact that Latin Catholics do not typically use the terms "foretaste" or "intermediate state" does not mean that we don't believe in these things.
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« Reply #36 on: August 25, 2008, 08:39:36 AM »

Sorry if I'm so late to answer your post, but I was on vacation and had no Internet...
As far as I know, this is not MY misconception. Look at what the Latins and Greeks discussed in the fake-synod of Florence and Ferrara during the 15th century. I'll quote directly from the text you can find at this link http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/stmark_purg.aspx This is a text present on many web pages so I think and do hope I'm not violating copyright...

Quote
In the fifth sitting (June 4) Cardinal Julian gave the following definition of the Latin doctrine on purgatory: "From the time of the Apostles," he said, "the Church of Rome has taught, that the souls departed from this world, pure and free from every taint,—namely, the souls of saints,—immediately enter the regions of bliss. The souls of those who after their baptism have sinned, but have afterwards sincerely repented and confessed their sins, though unable to perform the epitimia laid upon them by their spiritual father, or bring forth fruits of repentance sufficient to atone for their sins, these souls are purified by the fire of purgatory, some sooner, others slower, according, to their sins; and then, after their purification, depart for the land of eternal bliss. The prayers of the priest, liturgies, and deeds of charity conduce much to their purification. The souls of those dead in mortal sin, or in original sin, go straight to punishment. [2]

The Greeks demanded a written exposition of this doctrine. When they received it, Mark of Ephesus and Bessarion of Nice each wrote their remarks on it, which afterwards served as a general answer to the doctrine of the Latins. [3]

When giving in this answer (June 14th), Bessarion explained the difference of the Greek and Latin doctrine on this subject. The Latins, he said, allow that now, and until the day of the last judgment, departed souls are purified by fire, and are thus liberated from their sins; so that, he who has sinned the most will be a longer time undergoing purification, whereas he whose sins are less will be absolved the sooner, with the aid of the Church; but in the future life they allow the eternal, and not the purgatorial fire. Thus the Latins receive both the temporal and the eternal fire, and call the first the purgatorial fire. On the other hand, the Greeks teach of one eternal fire alone, understanding that the temporal punishment of sinful souls consists in that they for a time depart into a place of darkness and sorrow, are punished by being deprived of the Divine light, and are purified—that is, liberated from this place of darkness and woe—by means of prayers, the Holy Eucharist, and deeds of charity, and not by fire. The Greeks also believe, that until the union of the souls to the bodies, as the souls of sinners do not suffer full punishment, so also those of the saints do not enjoy entire bliss. But the Latins, agreeing with the Greeks in the first point, do not allow the last one, affirming that the souls of saints have already received their full heavenly reward. [4]

Truly hope this could help. Look also at the other parts of this passage, too... there are many clarification on WHEN the bliss or damnation begins according to the Latins and the Greeks.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #37 on: August 25, 2008, 09:01:51 AM »

Sorry if I'm so late to answer your post, but I was on vacation and had no Internet...
As far as I know, this is not MY misconception. Look at what the Latins and Greeks discussed in the fake-synod of Florence and Ferrara during the 15th century. I'll quote directly from the text you can find at this link http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/stmark_purg.aspx This is a text present on many web pages so I think and do hope I'm not violating copyright...

Truly hope this could help. Look also at the other parts of this passage, too... there are many clarification on WHEN the bliss or damnation begins according to the Latins and the Greeks.

In Christ,   Alex


First, could you provide a different source? I don't trust anything I see on orthodoxinfo.com.
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« Reply #38 on: August 25, 2008, 09:46:50 AM »

First, could you provide a different source? I don't trust anything I see on orthodoxinfo.com.

You can still check out the footnotes from the linked article, at least!

Here they are, so you don't have to sully your computer screen by completing actual investigation:

Quote
Endnotes
1. Syr. v. 7, 8. Synod. Flor. p. 30.

2. Syr. v. 13. Synod. Flor. p. 30.

3. Syr. v. 13. The contents of Mark's answer, not published in Greek, are mentioned by Le Quien in one of his treatises, preceding the works of S. John Damascene, edited by him. Dissert. Damas. v. p. 65, et seq. Syropulus, relating the circumstances touching this dispute, refers his readers to the acts and notes of the Council about purgatory (praktika hypomnemata peri tou pyrgatoriou, Syr. v. 5) ; but these are not published separately, and are not even to be found in the Greek manuscripts. The answer of the Greek Fathers to the question on purgatory, given on the 14th of June, 1438, (not to the Basle, but the Florentine Council,) is mentioned in the book of Martin Kruze: Turcograecia, p. 186.

4. Synod. Flor. pp. 33, 35.

5. The answer of the Greeks is usually thought to be the work entitled, peri tou katharteriou pyros biblion hen, edited together with the works of Nilus Cavasilas and the monk Barlaam, without the author's name. (Nili Archiep. Thessalon. de primatu Papae, edit. Salmasii, Hanov. 1603.) As the name of the writer of this answer is not mentioned, it is sometimes referred to Nilus Cavasilas and the monk Barlaam, though the manuscripts give no reason for doing so. (See Fabric. Bibl. Graec. Ed. Harl. t. xi. p. 384 and 678.) From the work itself it is evident that it was written (a) not in the name of one person, but many persons, who had undertaken so long a journey, hemin ponon hypostasi kata ten makran tauten apodemian tosouton; (b) that it was written to persons, who had busied themselves about the arrival of the Greeks to the Council; hymin te toson d’ hyper tes prokeimenes hemon seneleuthesthai prokatabainoumenois spoudes; (c) that it was written at the very commencement of the Council discussions, before other questions were settled. This is the reason why the persons who composed this work try to give a peaceful solution not only of this question but, if possible, of all the other ones, ouk epi tou prokeimenou nyni toutou zetematos, alla kai epi panton isos ton allon. All' ekeinon men heineka melei theo kai melesei, ... . (d) that it was written in reply to the defence (apologian) presented of the Romish doctrine on purgatory. All these circumstances direct our attention to the dispute on purgatory which took place in Ferrara, and not to any other one known to us. The writer of the History of the Florentine Council,—Dorotheus of Mitylene, remarks, that the Latins, in their second answer, adduced many testimonies from the saints, examples and arguments, using also the Apostle's words for this purpose,—saved, yet so as by fire. Synod. Flor. pp. 35, 36. All this found place in the defence also, in answer to which the Latins presented the work we have been examining. Syropulus says that it was Mark of Ephesus who wrote the answer to the Latin defence, v. 15. But this answer, as well as the first one, is not published. Le Quien, examining both these answers in his above-mentioned dissertation, quotes the principal ideas contained in this second answer of Mark. The same ideas, and in the same order, are also to be found in the work "On Purgatorial Fire," as well as the words quoted by Le Quien from Mark's second answer, ti gar koinon aphesei te kai katharsei dia pyros kai kolaseos. Dissert. Damasc. v. pp. 8, 9, 66, 67. All these arguments allow us to conclude that the work on purgatorial fire was either entirely or principally composed by Mark of Ephesus, and that it was brought forward by the Greeks in answer to the Latin defence of the doctrine on purgatory.

6. Syr. v. 16, 18; Syn. Flor. p. 35, 37.

7. Synod. Flor. 37-39.

8. It is worthy of notice, that when the Greeks, seeing the obstinate opposition of the Latins to the truth, wished to terminate all the discussions, Bessarion alone insisted that they should be continued, the subject alone being changed. "We can still say many nice things," were his words. (polla kai kala.) Syr. vii. 6.

9. Mark was commissioned to write the Latins an answer about purgatory, and not Bessarion; but Bessarion did nevertheless give in his answer also.

10. Syr. v. 14-17.

11. Syr. iv. 29.

12. Syr. iv. 32.

13. Syr. vii. 10.

14. Syr. v. 14.

15. Syr. v. 15.

16. The first pay-day of the Greeks was the 2nd of April. 691 florins were given them on one month's account, whereas their pay was due for a month and a half. Syr. iv. 28. On the second pay-day (May 12) they received 689 florins (Syr. v. 9); on the third day (June 30th) 689 florins; on Oct. 21, 1218 florins for two months. The fifth and last pay-day was at Ferrara, Jan. 12th, 1439, when 2412 florins were paid for four months (Syr. vii, 14). Thus, three months and twenty days elapsed between the third and fourth pay-day, and as much between the fourth and fifth.

17. Syr. vi. 1, 2.

18. Syr. vi. 3.

19. History of the Russian Empire by Karamzin. Ernerling’s ed. t. v. pp. 161-165.

From The History of the Council of Florence, by Ivan Ostroumoff, trans. from the Russian by Basil Popoff (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1971), pp. 47-60. The footnotes have been renumbered, the Greek text transliterated, and the Greek letters used for itemizing some of the lines in the body were converted to English letters. All else is as original. This is one of the most important books one can read when trying to sort out the differences between the Latins and the Orthodox Church. Let the reader judge for himself who has maintained the true Faith.

+ + +
See also a superb discussion of the Homilies refuting the purgatorial fire given by St. Mark of Ephesus at this same Synod: The Soul After Death, by Fr. Seraphim Rose, App. I, pp. 196-213. Here are Fr. Seraphim's introductory remarks on these homilies:

The Orthodox teaching on the state of souls after death is one that is often not fully understood, even by Orthodox Christians themselves; and the comparatively late Latin teaching of "purgatory" has caused further confusion in people's minds. The Orthodox doctrine itself, however, is not at all ambiguous or imprecise. Perhaps the most concise Orthodox exposition of it is to be found in the writings of St. Mark of Ephesus at the Council of Florence in 1439, composed precisely in order to answer the Latin teaching on "purgatory." These writings are especially valuable to us in that coming as they do from the last of the Byzantine Fathers, before the modern era with all its theological confusions, they both point us to the sources of the Orthodox doctrine and instruct us how to approach and understand these sources. These sources are: Scripture, Patristic homilies, church services, Lives of Saints, and certain revelations and visions of life after death, such as those contained in Book IV of the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great.

Today's academic theologians tend to mistrust the latter two or three kinds of sources, which is why they are often uneasy when speaking on this subject and sometimes prefer to keep an "agnostic reticence" with regard to it (Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, p. 259). St. Marks writings, on the other hand, show us how much "at home" with these sources genuine Orthodox theologians are; those who are "uncomfortable" with them perhaps reveal thereby an unsuspected infection with modern unbelief.

Of St. Mark's four replies on purgatory composed at the Council of Florence, the First Homily contains the most concise account of the Orthodox doctrine as against the Latin errors, and it is chiefly from it that this translation has been compiled. The other replies contain mostly illustrative material for the points discussed here, as well as answers to more specific Latin arguments.

The "Latin Chapter" to which St. Mark replies are those written by Julian Cardinal Cesarini (Russian translation in Pogodin, pp. 50-57), giving the Latin teaching, defined at the earlier "Union" Council of Lyons (1270), on the state of souls after death. This teaching strikes the Orthodox reader (as indeed it struck St. Mark) as one of an entirely too "literalistic" and "legalistic" character. The Latins by this time had come to regard heaven and hell as somehow "finished" and "absolute," and those in them as already possessing the fullness of the state they will have after the Last Judgment; thus, there is no need to pray for those in heaven (whose lot is already perfect) or those in hell (for they can never be delivered or cleansed from sin). But since many of the faithful die in a "middle" state—not perfect enough for heaven, but not evil enough for hell—the logic of the Latin arguments required a third place of cleansing (''purgatory"), where even those whose sins had already been forgiven had to be punished or give "satisfaction" for their sins before being sufficiently cleansed to enter heaven. These legalistic arguments of a purely human "justice" (which actually deny God's supreme goodness and love of mankind) the Latins proceeded to support by literalistic interpretations of certain Patristic texts and various visions; almost all of these interpretations are quite contrived and arbitrary, because not even the ancient Latin Fathers spoke of such a place as "purgatory," but only of the "cleansing" from sins after death, which some of them referred to (probably allegorically) as by "fire."

In the Orthodox doctrine, on the other hand, which St. Mark teaches, the faithful who have died with small sins unconfessed, or who have not brought forth fruits of repentance for sins they have confessed, are cleansed of these sins either in the trial of death itself with its fear, or after death, when they are confined (but not permanently) in hell, by the prayers and Liturgies of the Church and good deeds performed for them by the faithful. Even sinners destined for eternal torment can be given a certain relief from their torment in hell by these means also. There is no fire tormenting sinners now, however, either in hell (for the eternal fire will begin to torment them only after the Last Judgment), or much less in any third place like "purgatory"; all visions of fire which are seen by men are as it were images or prophecies of what will be in the future age. All forgiveness of sins after death comes solely from the goodness of God, which extends even to those in hell, with the cooperation of the prayers of men, and no "payment" or "satisfaction" is due for sins which have been forgiven.

It should be noted that St. Mark's writings concern primarily the specific point of the state of souls after death, and barely touch on the history of the events that occur to the soul immediately after death. On the latter point there is an abundant Orthodox literature, but this point was not under discussion at Florence.

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« Reply #39 on: August 25, 2008, 02:38:43 PM »

Quote
First, could you provide a different source? I don't trust anything I see on orthodoxinfo.com.
And sorry, why don't you?
Anyway, this very same words are present even on other non-English sites (even on an Italian site; as you're not Italian I thought that an accurate English translation could have been a good choice and orthodoxinfo.com was the first site I found on my favorite search engine). I dunno if they are quoted by the same source or if these non-English sites are translations of the orthodoxinfo.com text, but the fact that Orthodox sites in different languages tend to trust this is just a sign that many Orthodox subscribe the content of the text as their belief. In truth, I'm not apologizing... the question was not "Is Purgatory true or false?" but "What's the difference between the Orthodox and Catholic beliefs concerning Purgatory?" and that's what I was trying to answer...

In Christ,     Alex
PS: if you don't trust orthodoxinfo only because it's an Orthodox and not Catholic site, then I think (nothing personal) you're maybe on the wrong site... while if you reject orthodoxinfo for the fundamentalist attitude it shows on many aspects (creationism, ecumenism and so on) then I'm with you.
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« Reply #40 on: August 25, 2008, 03:14:56 PM »

PS: if you don't trust orthodoxinfo only because it's an Orthodox and not Catholic site, then I think (nothing personal) you're maybe on the wrong site... while if you reject orthodoxinfo for the fundamentalist attitude it shows on many aspects (creationism, ecumenism and so on) then I'm with you.

For many, that is the reason people tend to avoid orthodoxinfo.  Though it has many good articles, it definitely presents an attitude/bias multiple members disagree with.
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« Reply #41 on: August 25, 2008, 04:07:00 PM »

Hello Alex,

And sorry, why don't you?
Anyway, this very same words are present even on other non-English sites (even on an Italian site; as you're not Italian I thought that an accurate English translation could have been a good choice and orthodoxinfo.com was the first site I found on my favorite search engine).

I read Italian, though I need some practice in speaking it. True, it's not my native language (my grandparents, when they came to the US from Italy, insisted their children assimilate). I hope to live some time in Italy soon to remedy that.


PS: if you don't trust orthodoxinfo only because it's an Orthodox and not Catholic site, then I think (nothing personal) you're maybe on the wrong site... while if you reject orthodoxinfo for the fundamentalist attitude it shows on many aspects (creationism, ecumenism and so on) then I'm with you.


I've read quite a few articles on that site, and I think it often reflects very poorly on the Orthodox faith. I finally stopped reading it after discovering an article alleging that St. Francis of Assisi was inspired by the Devil.

-----------

My question is, how in Orthodoxy do souls "wait" when they already exist out of time? How does one wait if temporality does not exist?

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« Reply #42 on: August 26, 2008, 11:27:21 AM »

First of all, I'm very happy to know there's some Italian blood in your veins.
Secondly... you're right that site seems sometimes to be as blind as many fundamentalists. As a future "convert" to Orthodoxy I still estimate a lot St Francis of Assisi, which I obviously do not consider "a saint" in the meaning given by the Orthodox; I prefer to call him blessed like other servants of God (Augustine of Hippo in primis); these are people whom God gave grace although they were living in their misconceptions.
Back to our discussion, the problem of "time out of time" is very serious, and I think that both Catholicism and Orthodoxy, in their "official" positions, create more problems then solutions.
For Catholicism, there are three states, but technically only two of them, i.e. Paradise and Hell, are experiences of "eternity" as we can understand it. There's no true "waiting time" for them. In Purgatory, on the contrary, there's what I call "the purgatorial paradox". If the afterworld is "eternal", how can time be experienced in Purgatory?
For Orthodoxy the question is different. Dead people don't experience "eternity" until after the Final Judgment, when they'll all be back in their restored bodies. So for the Orthodox time still exists even outside our physical world. The "waiting period" then is a continuous longing for the award (from the perspective of the saints), a hope but not certainty for salvation (for those who experience a so-to-say purgatorial condition) or terror for the damnation (think of a criminal waiting for death penalty in jail, and maybe you'll get a good image).
That the dead are not asleep or in an impassible condition is a certainty for Christians (or at least both Catholics and Orthodox) as:
1) many mystical visions witness a possibility of interection between the dead and the living (proof by private revelation)
2) the Communion of the Saints allows us to pray the saints to intercede for us: how could they if they could not hear us? (proof by Tradition)
3) the Communion of the Saints allows us to pray for the saints and intercede for them - how could they benefit it if they were in a static condition? (proof by Tradition)
4) the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man clearly indicates that both Lazarus in bosom of Abraham and the rich man in Hades were experiencing time and were fully conscious (proof by Scripture).

Waiting for comments, suggestions and other stuff, and also enjoying this interesting discussion,

In Christ,    Alex

PS: the text on orthodoxinfo precedes the website, as it is a translated exctract from the History of the Council of Florence by the Russian author Basil Popoff (1971!) Here you can find the Italian version, if you want (exercise is the best way to learn a language, as I'm doing here on this forum)
http://digilander.libero.it/ortodossia/purgatorio.htm
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"Also in the Catholic Church itself we take great care that we hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and properly Catholic" (St. Vincent of Lérins, "The Commonitory")
lubeltri
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« Reply #43 on: August 26, 2008, 11:53:47 AM »

First of all, I'm very happy to know there's some Italian blood in your veins.
Secondly... you're right that site seems sometimes to be as blind as many fundamentalists. As a future "convert" to Orthodoxy I still estimate a lot St Francis of Assisi, which I obviously do not consider "a saint" in the meaning given by the Orthodox; I prefer to call him blessed like other servants of God (Augustine of Hippo in primis); these are people whom God gave grace although they were living in their misconceptions.
Back to our discussion, the problem of "time out of time" is very serious, and I think that both Catholicism and Orthodoxy, in their "official" positions, create more problems then solutions.
For Catholicism, there are three states, but technically only two of them, i.e. Paradise and Hell, are experiences of "eternity" as we can understand it. There's no true "waiting time" for them. In Purgatory, on the contrary, there's what I call "the purgatorial paradox". If the afterworld is "eternal", how can time be experienced in Purgatory?
For Orthodoxy the question is different. Dead people don't experience "eternity" until after the Final Judgment, when they'll all be back in their restored bodies. So for the Orthodox time still exists even outside our physical world. The "waiting period" then is a continuous longing for the award (from the perspective of the saints), a hope but not certainty for salvation (for those who experience a so-to-say purgatorial condition) or terror for the damnation (think of a criminal waiting for death penalty in jail, and maybe you'll get a good image).
That the dead are not asleep or in an impassible condition is a certainty for Christians (or at least both Catholics and Orthodox) as:
1) many mystical visions witness a possibility of interection between the dead and the living (proof by private revelation)
2) the Communion of the Saints allows us to pray the saints to intercede for us: how could they if they could not hear us? (proof by Tradition)
3) the Communion of the Saints allows us to pray for the saints and intercede for them - how could they benefit it if they were in a static condition? (proof by Tradition)
4) the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man clearly indicates that both Lazarus in bosom of Abraham and the rich man in Hades were experiencing time and were fully conscious (proof by Scripture).

Waiting for comments, suggestions and other stuff, and also enjoying this interesting discussion,

In Christ,    Alex

Hello Alex,

Thanks for the insightful comments. They were very enlightening.

I would add that for us Catholics, the "Purgatorial paradox" could be resolved by seeing Purgatory as a state rather than a place, at which the "waiting" is not resolved in a temporal way. Of course, Catholics are free to see it as a temporal place, or not---that's not defined.

To be honest, my theological interest in the finer details of eschatology is not very great. I'm an agnostic on many of the theologoumenical points of debate (including on the exact nature of Purgatory). I would rather focus more on preparing for eternity than speculate on what it entails.

-

By the way, my family comes from Montefiascone, Viterbo province, on the shores of Lake Bolsena.  Smiley
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AlexanderOfBergamo
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« Reply #44 on: August 26, 2008, 02:52:36 PM »

Quote
I'm an agnostic on many of the theologoumenical points of debate (including on the exact nature of Purgatory). I would rather focus more on preparing for eternity than speculate on what it entails.

That's why I'm no more "Catholic". The Church of Rome, like many Protestant Churches, tends to show to much interest in defining minor aspects through dogmata. The Orthodox Church says everything which is necessary for salvation and stopped defining dogmata 1000 years ago.  Wink
In truth you're right on the fact that the experience on the Afterlife in Orthodoxy is very - very free. The explanation I gave you has become prevalent and more official then others, but as no Ecumenical Council ever gave a final decision on these things, yeah the question must be left open. It is only, or at least mainly, because of the refusal of the indulgencies or the doctrine of original sin "according to Augustine" that the Orthodox Church closed the door for dialogue. I'll never condemn for heresy a brother in the Orthodox Church for believing in purification after death... but I would be very angry if my brother in Christ believes that paying indulgencies to the Church will grant him less years of purification!

In Christ,    Alex
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"Also in the Catholic Church itself we take great care that we hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and properly Catholic" (St. Vincent of Lérins, "The Commonitory")
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