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Andreas
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« on: May 17, 2004, 02:03:55 PM »

Are toll houses real as described in chapter 6 of The Soul After Death by Fr. Seraphim (Rose)?
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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2004, 02:06:10 PM »

HA! Quick, someone call Constantine Wright!
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2004, 02:08:10 PM »

HA! Quick, someone call Constantine Wright!

Is that anything like calling Batman? Huh


 Wink
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2004, 02:14:48 PM »

Ha..kinda. Mentioning "Toll Houses" is kind of like putting the batman symbol in the sky. His special 6th sense will detect it...
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« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2004, 02:20:29 PM »

Ha..kinda. Mentioning "Toll Houses" is kind of like putting the batman symbol in the sky. His special 6th sense will detect it...

LOL I don't know who he is, but that was funny. Grin
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2004, 12:07:02 AM »

Not to long ago I read a very interested and detailed decription of Toll Houses, and their reality, by St. John Maximovitch (sp?). I'll try to find a link.
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2004, 12:08:56 AM »

I love him, thanks!
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2004, 12:18:57 AM »

Life After Death
by St. John Maximovitch

A description of the first 40 days after death.

Limitless and without consolation would have been our sorrow for close ones who are dying, if the Lord had not given us eternal life. Our life would be pointless if it ended with death. What benefit would there then be from virtue and good deed? Then they would be correct who say: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!"

But man was created for immortality, and by His resurrection Christ opened the gates of the Heavenly Kingdom, of eternal blessedness for those who have believed in Him and have lived righteously. Our earthly life is a preparation for the future life, and this preparation ends with our death. "It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb 9:27). Then a man leaves all his earthly cares; the body disintegrates, in order to rise anew at the General Resurrection. Often this spiritual vision begins in the dying even before death, and while still seeing those around them and even speaking with them, they see what others do not see. [1]

But when it leaves the body, the soul finds itself among other spirits, good and bad. Usually it inclines toward those which are more akin to it in spirit, and if while in the body it was under the influence of certain ones, it will remain in dependence upon them when it leaves the body, however unpleasant they may turn out to be upon encountering them. [2]

For the course of two days the soul enjoys relative freedom and can visit places on earth which were dear to it, but on the third day it moves into other spheres. [3] At this time (the third day), it passes through legions of evil spirits which obstruct its path and accuse it of various sins, to which they themselves had tempted it.

According to various revelations there are twenty such obstacles, the so-called "toll-houses," at each of which one or another form of sin is tested; after passing through one the soul comes upon the next one, and only after successfully passing through all of them can the soul continue its path without being immediately cast into gehenna. How terrible these demons and their toll-houses are may be seen in the fact that Mother of God Herself, when informed by the Archangel Gabriel of Her approaching death, answering her prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared from heaven to receive the soul of His Most Pure Mother and conduct it to heaven. Terrible indeed is the third day for the soul of the departed, and for this reason it especially needs prayers then for itself. [4]

Then, having successfully passed through the toll-houses and bowed down before God, the soul for the course of 37 more days visits the heavenly habitations and the abysses of hell, not knowing yet where it will remain, and only on the fortieth day is its place appointed until the resurrection of the dead. [5] Some souls find themselves (after the forty days) in a condition of foretasting eternal joy and blessedness, and others in fear of the eternal torments which will come in full after the Last Judgment. Until then changes are possible in the condition of souls, especially through offering for them the Bloodless Sacrifice (commemoration at the Liturgy), and likewise by other prayers. [6]

How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov [7], the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: "I thank you for laboring with me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents" -- and he gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria). "How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God's mercy?" the priest-monk asked. "Yes, that is true," replied St. Theodosius, "but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer."

Therefore, panikhidas (i.e., Trisagion Prayers for the Dead) and prayer at home for the dead are beneficial to them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose. In the Church prayers are ever offered for the repose of the dead, and on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, in the kneeling prayers at vespers, there is even a special petition "for those in hell."

Every one of us who desires to manifest his love for the dead and give them real help, can do this best of all through prayer for them, and particularly by commemorating them at the Liturgy, when the particles which are cut out for the living and the dead are let fall into the Blood of the Lord with the words: "Wash away, O Lord, the sins of those here commemorated by Thy Precious Blood and by the prayers of Thy saints."

We can do nothing better or greater for the dead than to pray for them, offering commemoration for them at the Liturgy. Of this they are always in need, and especially during those forty days when the soul of the deceased is proceeding on its path to the eternal habitations. The body feels nothing then: it does not see its close ones who have assembled, does not smell the fragrance of the flowers, does not hear the funeral orations. But the soul senses the prayers offered for it and is grateful to those who make them and is spiritually close to them.

O relatives and close ones of the dead! Do for them what is needful for them and within your power. Use your money not for outward adornment of the coffin and grave, but in order to help those in need, in memory of your close ones who have died, for churches, where prayers for them are offered. Show mercy to the dead, take care of their souls. [8]

Before us all stands the same path, and how we shall then wish that we would be remembered in prayer! Let us therefore be ourselves merciful to the dead.

As soon as someone has reposed, immediately call or inform a priest, so he can read the Prayers appointed to be read over all Orthodox Christians after death.

Try, if it be possible, to have the funeral in Church and to have the Psalter read over the deceased until the funeral.

Most definitely arrange at once for the serving of the forty-day memorial, that is, daily commemoration at the Liturgy for the course of forty days. (NOTE: If the funeral is in a church where there are no daily services, the relatives should take care to order the forty-day memorial wherever there are daily services.) It is likewise good to send contributions for commemoration to monasteries, as well as to Jerusalem, where there is constant prayer at the holy places.

Let us take care for those who have departed into the other world before us, in order to do for them all that we can, remembering that "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

- http://www.orthodox.net/articles/life-after-death-john-maximovitch.html

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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2004, 12:24:35 AM »

Andreas,

To my understanding, the concept of toll houses are a theologoumena (theological opinion) within the Church, not a dogma, so you will find a variety of opinions within the EO community.  The most famous books on this topic are both entitled The Soul After Death, one by Fr. Seraphim Rose(pro-THs), and the other by Abp Lazar Puhalo(anti-THs).
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2004, 01:16:20 AM »

Ben, that was a great article, thanks. Smiley

David, it's odd that such an issue would be a debate. I hope one day the Church will be given the full answer to this question. Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2004, 01:20:08 AM »

*shrugs*

There are many issues that are not dogma.  I think that the Orthodox Church has never felt the need to have every single point of the faith dogmatically articulated as in the west.
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« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2004, 01:25:57 AM »

Well I don't think we need a Dogma. I would just love to see more of consensus on the issue. Wink
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« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2004, 06:00:13 AM »

Well I don't think we need a Dogma. I would just love to see more of consensus on the issue. Wink

Why?
Consensus or no, the path for us is the same.  No?

Demetri
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« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2004, 06:09:23 AM »

This is an issue that sparks a lot of debate. When in 2001 I asked my pastor about it, he smiled and said "join the club". If I remember correctly, he had written a denunciation of a pro-toll house volume which he said was written by people who "would think they would go to paradise if they crashed an airplane into the World Trade Center". He said the book was 300 pages of "nothing" and didn't believe that the Toll Houses were true as described by traditional writings. He thought the text in "The Life of St. Basil the New" about the journey of St. Theodora through the Toll Houses contained things which are not Orthodox and that it was a forgery probably written to teach young monks that they would go to hell if they didn't behave themselves!!! Since then, I've read and been told stuff that would diametrally disagree with all that Father said above. Maybe it is all Orthodox, maybe it's just hard to see it right.

I've read varying positions on the Toll Houses. Some people (Eg. Fr. Seraphim Rose) accept it all; others accept the basic idea, but don't accept some story (eg. the one of St. Theodora). Still others refute it. I suspect it may have something to it, as the Toll Houses are mentioned in the "Sayings" of the 4th century desert Fathers - an angel is reported as having told a Father about them, and St. Anthony the Great is described as having experienced something like it, then having returned. So I really don't know.
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« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2004, 11:51:04 AM »

I guess it really doesn't matter. I mean an Orthodox Chrisitan can surely support the idea of "Toll Houses" or reject it and remain in good standing with the Church. Despite the deabte, "Toll Houses" aren't contrary to Orthodox teaching, if so then we have great saints, like St. John Maximovitch, teaching heresy!
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« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2004, 12:32:08 PM »

I guess it really doesn't matter. I mean an Orthodox Chrisitan can surely support the idea of "Toll Houses" or reject it and remain in good standing with the Church.

Very good, Ben!
You hit the old nail right on the head there Cheesy. The less that interferes with our path to theosis, the better.

Demetri
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« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2004, 05:02:10 PM »

The report about the Aerial Toll-Houses of St.Theodora can be read at http://orthodoxinfo.com/death/theodora.htm

Maybe you also have heard about the Mitarstva? Father Mitrophan mentions them in his book about his journeys through Russia in the chapter about the Lawra at Kiew.  (The original title of the book is in Serbic SVETA RUSIJA U SOVJETSKOM SAVESU and was published by Manastir Hilandarac, Sveta Gora 1987.)

After reading the book in 1989, I wrote to Fr.Mitrophan asking about the mitarstva and he wrote me back and also included two little booklets, one in Greek and one in Serbic, with detailed explanations about them.

Since I cannot read either one language, I asked the Greek Orthodox priest at the parish I was attending then, and he translated the 'headers' for me, which I wrote down as follows:

1. Slanderous speech
2. Presumption
3. Envy
4. Lying
5. Anger
6. Pride
7. Blasphemy
8. Gossip
9. Usury
10. Slothfullness
11. Greed
12. Drug addiction
13. Resentment
14. Witchcraft
15. Gluttony
16. Idolatry
17. Homosexuality
18. Vanity
19. Adultery
20. Murder
22. Fornication
23. Mercilessness

24. The gate to Heaven

Father Mitrophan says that he saw a painting of those toll stations on the first wall going down into the catacombs where there was still daylight getting to it. He says that the holy monks had overcome those Mitarstva by their ascetic life and having already here on earth been partakers of the eternal life.

I am very glad that the orthodox tradition and doctrine has not been 'fixed' about these matters. We always want to be in control of everything and pass judgment, but it is the Lord Who really is in control and He can pass His judgment whichever way He pleases. I am glad no orthodox 'council' has tried to limit God yet.

I personally believe that if we die 'in the Lord', and have put on Christ in baptism, we will have safe passage. If we consider the Body of Christ as being the Church Triumphant as well as the Church Militant, then we as cell or part of that Body cannot be harmed by the harassments of the unseen world, because the Body of Christ is a resurrected body which has passed from death to life already. Our accuser who accuses us now daily, will also try to accuse us on Judgment Day, but the blood of Christ has already atoned for our sins and will speak for us. When we daily repent for our trespasses and ask God's forgiveness, there is nothing left that the accuser can hold against us.

At times I have prayed for some deceased friends and relatives and still do, because our God is a God of the Living and to Him all are alive ( Mt.22:32 and  Lk.20:38 ). They pray for us, we pray for them, and we ask them to pray for us, and sometimes I think they ask us to pray for them, too.

In Christ we are indeed already partakers of the eternal life, but may I also remind of Malachi chapter 3 in which we read about the One who is like a refiner's fire. I recommend to read the entire chapter. The refiner is the silver smith who turns up the heat underneath the metal and all the impurities come to the surface. He discards those and keeps purifying. In the end, when he can see his own face in the liquid surface like in a mirror, all the impurities are gone. Then we will be in the image of Christ  Smiley

Shiloah, thankful for His Grace and Mercy

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« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2010, 12:39:00 AM »

Are toll houses real as described in chapter 6 of The Soul After Death by Fr. Seraphim (Rose)?

My home priest said that there's no any statement regarding toll-house clearly stated on the Bible, BUT I found that many liturgical evidences that proves the IDEA of the toll-houses has always been part of the Tradition of the Church.

There may be argument about how the toll-house idea is expressed. I think what if more important is the larger issue that Blessed Seraphim Rose is adressing and that is the lack of belief among modern Christians. That is his REAL issue. The toll-houses are really secondary.
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« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2010, 02:09:51 AM »

Here is an Illuminated Heart podcast with Fr. Thomas Hopko on the subject of Toll Houses. I enjoyed it when I listened to it sometime ago.

Here is the page with description and various options of listening to the podcast:

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/toll_houses_after_death_reality_or_heresy


Here is a direct link to the podcast to listen to immediately:


http://audio.ancientfaith.com/illuminedheart/hopko_tolls.mp3
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« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2010, 11:03:12 PM »

Not to long ago I read a very interested and detailed decription of Toll Houses, and their reality, by St. John Maximovitch (sp?). I'll try to find a link.

St. John Maximovitch, St. Seraphim Rose, my priest in the ROCOR Church where I was baptized, and my current Serbian Priest all believe in the Toll Houses.  Leaves no doubt in my mind.
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« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2010, 12:02:07 AM »

I believe in the existence of the tollhouses.  However, I am uncomfortable with Fr. Seraphim Rose's book.  I feel like he made too much of it all and sometimes made it seem like they were literal boxes floating in the sky, despite his instances that this was not the case.  I believe in the tollhouses, but are they of primary, secondary, or even tertiary importance?  No.  The fact is that we all die and it is a less than comfortable process and we will be confronted by all our sins and held to account. 
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« Reply #21 on: August 12, 2010, 01:08:09 AM »

Not to long ago I read a very interested and detailed decription of Toll Houses, and their reality, by St. John Maximovitch (sp?). I'll try to find a link.

St. John Maximovitch, St. Seraphim Rose, my priest in the ROCOR Church where I was baptized, and my current Serbian Priest all believe in the Toll Houses.  Leaves no doubt in my mind.
What you mean is that there is a diversity of strong authorities. But in fact ROCOR had extremely close relations to prewar Serbia while isolated from almost all other churches until 2007. Rose was never canonized, I believe saint John Maximovich was ROCOR. In fact it is ROCOR that is the strongest on this idea.

I have not looked into it deeply.
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