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Author Topic: 40 days after death...  (Read 5325 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: July 03, 2012, 09:47:42 AM »

Can someone explain this to me?  Where do we get the idea that for 40 days after death, the soul is tested and we must pray for it.

I know that we know very little about exactly what happens immediately after death.  Would it be enough to admit that we do not know for sure and that the best thing for us to is to pray?

Any other thoughts on what happens immediately after death? Do we lay in the ground until the resurrection? Do we go to be with God immediately? Toll houses? Purgatory?
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« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2012, 10:03:48 AM »

Some Church Fathers talked about this... toll houses
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2012, 10:06:24 AM »

Some Church Fathers talked about this... toll houses

Ive always found the toll houses thing to be a little odd.  If I understand correctly, most Orthodox dont believe in them.  Is that true?
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2012, 10:11:27 AM »

Some Church Fathers talked about this... toll houses

Ive always found the toll houses thing to be a little odd.  If I understand correctly, most Orthodox dont believe in them.  Is that true?

I am, personally, quite convinced there will be a purgation, though not a Purgatory.  Saying the Fathers talked about toll houses or that it is certain they exist, says nothing at all.  The concept of toll houses, to one person, can not even remotely resemble another person's concept of the term. 
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2012, 10:14:11 AM »

But I think the idea of toll house is quite... frightening...
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2012, 10:17:51 AM »

Some Church Fathers talked about this... toll houses

Ive always found the toll houses thing to be a little odd.  If I understand correctly, most Orthodox dont believe in them.  Is that true?

It depends what you mean by 'believe in them'. If you mean literally, I think you're right but there is talk of the Toll Houses from various Fathers. There's more than one vision recounted of them etc. I don't think the idea can be discounted completely as some seem want to do but nor do I think they should be taken literally. Many (most?) Orthodox view them as metaphorical but that doesn't make them mythological. I personally believe that they teach a spiritual but not literal truth.

James
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2012, 10:18:33 AM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 10:19:00 AM »

Some Church Fathers talked about this... toll houses

Ive always found the toll houses thing to be a little odd.  If I understand correctly, most Orthodox dont believe in them.  Is that true?

I am, personally, quite convinced there will be a purgation

Have I missed something? I thought that this is standard Orthodox teaching.
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2012, 10:22:38 AM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

And yet we offer prayers for the deceased and believe they can be of avail to them. Whilst not discounting what you say of this side of death I think there is more to it than that and I see the toll houses as a metaphorical telling of that continuing process after death.

James
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2012, 10:32:48 AM »

I personally dont have an issue with the teaching, but this is something that I havent looked into very much.  I certainly trust the Church's teaching on this subject.  Any references from the fathers that mention this 40 day period that you could link?

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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2012, 10:37:16 AM »

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Aerial_Toll-Houses

The Fathers supporting this idea are listed I think
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2012, 10:38:15 AM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

And yet we offer prayers for the deceased and believe they can be of avail to them. Whilst not discounting what you say of this side of death I think there is more to it than that and I see the toll houses as a metaphorical telling of that continuing process after death.

James
Totally right. Please dont misunderstand. I totally believe in praying for the soul of someone. My priest in my catechism said, "It helps". Thats all, and I think that is all that needed to be said for my benefit. I will pray for the soul of someone, but I dont need the exact reason why.

I just find the tool house concept really odd. Especially since you would think that something so vital as that would be pretty spelled out in scripture. But I wont attack someone who believes in them. Not my place Smiley

PP
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« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2012, 10:40:39 AM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

And yet we offer prayers for the deceased and believe they can be of avail to them. Whilst not discounting what you say of this side of death I think there is more to it than that and I see the toll houses as a metaphorical telling of that continuing process after death.

James
Totally right. Please dont misunderstand. I totally believe in praying for the soul of someone. My priest in my catechism said, "It helps". Thats all, and I think that is all that needed to be said for my benefit. I will pray for the soul of someone, but I dont need the exact reason why.

I just find the tool house concept really odd. Especially since you would think that something so vital as that would be pretty spelled out in scripture. But I wont attack someone who believes in them. Not my place Smiley

PP


In a way it leads (a toll-house believer) in a very pure way of life ! It can be a good thing to.... "motivate" you.
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« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2012, 10:51:22 AM »

And yet we offer prayers for the deceased and believe they can be of avail to them.

And we keep offering prayers long after the 40 days are up. One doesn't need to accept the relatively late extrapolations of the toll houses as anything more than one possible extended metaphor to justify the Church's practice with regards to prayer for the dead--the author of 2 Maccabees only needed one fact, 'in light of the resurrection of the dead', to explain the practice.
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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2012, 11:18:15 AM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

And yet we offer prayers for the deceased and believe they can be of avail to them. Whilst not discounting what you say of this side of death I think there is more to it than that and I see the toll houses as a metaphorical telling of that continuing process after death.

James
Totally right. Please dont misunderstand. I totally believe in praying for the soul of someone. My priest in my catechism said, "It helps". Thats all, and I think that is all that needed to be said for my benefit. I will pray for the soul of someone, but I dont need the exact reason why.

I just find the tool house concept really odd. Especially since you would think that something so vital as that would be pretty spelled out in scripture. But I wont attack someone who believes in them. Not my place Smiley

PP

I don't believe in them as such, but I do believe that the Toll Houses are a useful metaphor and teach a spiritual truth. I think discounting them because they seem rather out there (and they do) is rather throwing the baby out with the bath water. I don't believe that everything valuable in what the Fathers wrote need be understood literally any more than I believe everything in Scripture should be. I don't think it's vital (this is the reason I've quoted you, not to argue but to ask what makes you think they are vital?) but I do believe they serve a pedagogical purpose.

As to the question about the 40 days, I suspect that it's pious myth derived from the fact that we have a parastas on the 40th day rather than the reason that we have it. My understanding was that the 40th day was related to the 40 days between Christ's Resurrection and Ascension. I certainly don't believe that the souls of the dead linger here for 40 days or any of the other myths (opening windows, covering mirrors, etc.) that I've heard from pious but frankly superstitious Orthodox in the past.

James
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« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2012, 11:22:34 AM »

And yet we offer prayers for the deceased and believe they can be of avail to them.

And we keep offering prayers long after the 40 days are up. One doesn't need to accept the relatively late extrapolations of the toll houses as anything more than one possible extended metaphor to justify the Church's practice with regards to prayer for the dead--the author of 2 Maccabees only needed one fact, 'in light of the resurrection of the dead', to explain the practice.

I don't disagree with you in the slightest. I was responding only to the 'purgation is this side of eternity' comment. To me the Toll Houses are a useful, but certainly not a necessary, pedagogical metaphor.

James
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« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2012, 11:39:43 AM »

Granting that the Orthodox don't believe in Latin ideas of Purgatory, isn't it pretty clear that there is some kind of after-death pre-heaven experience for some whose ultimate destination is heaven? After all, the Orthodox pray for the souls of the dead, and then stop praying for a person's soul when he's glorified, right?
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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2012, 11:52:52 AM »

Granting that the Orthodox don't believe in Latin ideas of Purgatory, isn't it pretty clear that there is some kind of after-death pre-heaven experience for some whose ultimate destination is heaven?
Thats actually the crux of it. Some think yes, othes (like myself) think no.

PP
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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2012, 12:00:16 PM »

Can someone explain this to me?  Where do we get the idea that for 40 days after death, the soul is tested and we must pray for it.

I know that we know very little about exactly what happens immediately after death.  Would it be enough to admit that we do not know for sure and that the best thing for us to is to pray?

Any other thoughts on what happens immediately after death? Do we lay in the ground until the resurrection? Do we go to be with God immediately? Toll houses? Purgatory?

It is significant that you asked this the day after the Feast of St. John the Wonderworker.  He has a homily on the subject that perhaps you should read:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/death/lifeafterdeath.aspx
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« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2012, 12:07:33 PM »

Granting that the Orthodox don't believe in Latin ideas of Purgatory, isn't it pretty clear that there is some kind of after-death pre-heaven experience for some whose ultimate destination is heaven? After all, the Orthodox pray for the souls of the dead, and then stop praying for a person's soul when he's glorified, right?

I think St. Mark of Ephesus' commentary (from the orthodoxwiki linked above) is pretty comprehensive:
Quote
But if souls have departed this life in faith and love, while nevertheless carrying away with themselves certain faults, whether small ones over which they have not repented at all, or great ones for which – even thought they have repented over them – they did not undertake to show fruits of repentance: such souls, we believe, must be cleansed from this kind of sin, but not by means of some purgatorial fire or a definite punishment in some place (for this, as we have said, has not been handed down to us). But some must be cleansed in they very departure from the body, thanks only to fear, as St. Gregory the Dialogist literally shows; while others must be cleansed after the departure from the body, either while remaining in the same earthly place, before they come to worship God and are honored with the lot of the blessed, or – if their sins were more serious and bind them, for a longer duration – they are kept in hell [i.e., Hades], but not in order to remain forever in fire and torment, but as it were in prison and confinement under guard

Maybe it's at the point of death, maybe it's afterwards, maybe it goes on until final judgment. A lot of maybes because it 'has not been handed down to us'
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« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2012, 12:40:05 PM »

Can someone explain this to me?  Where do we get the idea that for 40 days after death, the soul is tested and we must pray for it.

I know that we know very little about exactly what happens immediately after death.  Would it be enough to admit that we do not know for sure and that the best thing for us to is to pray?

Any other thoughts on what happens immediately after death? Do we lay in the ground until the resurrection? Do we go to be with God immediately? Toll houses? Purgatory?

It is significant that you asked this the day after the Feast of St. John the Wonderworker.  He has a homily on the subject that perhaps you should read:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/death/lifeafterdeath.aspx


Thanks for that! I will check it out when I have more time.  My parish is actually named after him!
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« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2012, 01:59:54 PM »

Granting that the Orthodox don't believe in Latin ideas of Purgatory, isn't it pretty clear that there is some kind of after-death pre-heaven experience for some whose ultimate destination is heaven?
Thats actually the crux of it. Some think yes, othes (like myself) think no.

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« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2012, 06:27:17 PM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

You should hope your purgation is limited to this life.
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« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2012, 04:32:23 AM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

You should hope your purgation is limited to this life.
Wait you believe in purgation after death or in this life or both?

Sorry I'm just very confused because I have never been told about purgation in my catechesis nor any of the theologumen on the topic.

This really does fascinate me and I'm curious on why you are so certain there will be a purgation of some sort. And how do you define "purgation"?

For me I think the toll house idea, or atleast my understanding of it, makes sense but I also see how some think it's almost "heretical". I think what scares me the most is not knowing what happens after death on this Earth.
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« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2012, 12:18:47 PM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

You should hope your purgation is limited to this life.
Wait you believe in purgation after death or in this life or both?

Sorry I'm just very confused because I have never been told about purgation in my catechesis nor any of the theologumen on the topic.

This really does fascinate me and I'm curious on why you are so certain there will be a purgation of some sort. And how do you define "purgation"?

For me I think the toll house idea, or atleast my understanding of it, makes sense but I also see how some think it's almost "heretical". I think what scares me the most is not knowing what happens after death on this Earth.

I believe that most people will experience at least some purgation after death, but I don't rule out the possibility of a person experiencing purgation.  As far as what purgation is, I agree with St. Mark of Ephesus that it is a cleansing of the soul after death (and I think it can happen during life, I'm not aware of anything he wrote requiring a person experience purgation after death in order to be counted among the saints) from the sins committed in this life.  I also believe that it will probably cause an immense deal of pain to those undergoing it.
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« Reply #25 on: July 04, 2012, 02:42:34 PM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

You should hope your purgation is limited to this life.
Wait you believe in purgation after death or in this life or both?

Sorry I'm just very confused because I have never been told about purgation in my catechesis nor any of the theologumen on the topic.

This really does fascinate me and I'm curious on why you are so certain there will be a purgation of some sort. And how do you define "purgation"?

For me I think the toll house idea, or atleast my understanding of it, makes sense but I also see how some think it's almost "heretical". I think what scares me the most is not knowing what happens after death on this Earth.

I believe that most people will experience at least some purgation after death, but I don't rule out the possibility of a person experiencing purgation.  As far as what purgation is, I agree with St. Mark of Ephesus that it is a cleansing of the soul after death (and I think it can happen during life, I'm not aware of anything he wrote requiring a person experience purgation after death in order to be counted among the saints) from the sins committed in this life.  I also believe that it will probably cause an immense deal of pain to those undergoing it.
A few questions about that, and I haven't read what St. Mark of Ephesus said about it but..

1) So when you say it can cause an immense deal of pain being cleansed of sins committed in this life, can that also be equated to Hell or a foretaste of Hell?

2) Can one's soul reject the soul cleansing?
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« Reply #26 on: July 04, 2012, 03:11:38 PM »

Father Seraphim Rose was probably the biggest modern day proponent of the idea of Toll Houses.  If you read his works you will get a better idea of what the concept is.  From my understanding it is not widely accepted.
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« Reply #27 on: July 04, 2012, 04:13:36 PM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

You should hope your purgation is limited to this life.
Wait you believe in purgation after death or in this life or both?

Sorry I'm just very confused because I have never been told about purgation in my catechesis nor any of the theologumen on the topic.

This really does fascinate me and I'm curious on why you are so certain there will be a purgation of some sort. And how do you define "purgation"?

For me I think the toll house idea, or atleast my understanding of it, makes sense but I also see how some think it's almost "heretical". I think what scares me the most is not knowing what happens after death on this Earth.

I believe that most people will experience at least some purgation after death, but I don't rule out the possibility of a person experiencing purgation.  As far as what purgation is, I agree with St. Mark of Ephesus that it is a cleansing of the soul after death (and I think it can happen during life, I'm not aware of anything he wrote requiring a person experience purgation after death in order to be counted among the saints) from the sins committed in this life.  I also believe that it will probably cause an immense deal of pain to those undergoing it.
A few questions about that, and I haven't read what St. Mark of Ephesus said about it but..

1) So when you say it can cause an immense deal of pain being cleansed of sins committed in this life, can that also be equated to Hell or a foretaste of Hell?

2) Can one's soul reject the soul cleansing?

Well, from what I understand, St. Isaac of Nineveh/Syria (sometimes referred to as Isaac the Syrian, though I believe there's also a saint who was from Syria and went to Rome who has the same title) certainly seemed to think the purgation to be hell, and - as I don't believe he necessarily taught that all people WILL be saved but rather seemed to think it likely, I would suppose a person could reject the cleansing of their sins.  So, it seems to me that the answer is yes, the purgation is essentially hell, and yes a person probably can reject the purgation of their soul.
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« Reply #28 on: July 04, 2012, 08:33:11 PM »

Forgive me, but it seems to me that those who believe in the aerial toll-houses as a "metaphor" do the same thing that the protestants do with John 6: that is, they take a symbol (which is intended to stand for a greater reality) and then say it stands for some reality which is totally divorced from and bears almost no resemblance to the symbol.

To wit: "oh, when Jesus said we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, he really meant we must have a relationship with him or lead a good, ethical life".

Or: "when St So-And-So said that we will be tested and judged by the demons at various toll-houses which really exist in the air and can be perceived by those with spiritual eyes, what he/she really meant is that we will be tempted by the demons after death in almost, if not precisely, the same manner as we are in this life".

It seems to me that metaphors are not meant to be used this way.
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« Reply #29 on: July 04, 2012, 08:33:37 PM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

You should hope your purgation is limited to this life.
Wait you believe in purgation after death or in this life or both?

Sorry I'm just very confused because I have never been told about purgation in my catechesis nor any of the theologumen on the topic.

This really does fascinate me and I'm curious on why you are so certain there will be a purgation of some sort. And how do you define "purgation"?

For me I think the toll house idea, or atleast my understanding of it, makes sense but I also see how some think it's almost "heretical". I think what scares me the most is not knowing what happens after death on this Earth.

I believe that most people will experience at least some purgation after death, but I don't rule out the possibility of a person experiencing purgation.  As far as what purgation is, I agree with St. Mark of Ephesus that it is a cleansing of the soul after death (and I think it can happen during life, I'm not aware of anything he wrote requiring a person experience purgation after death in order to be counted among the saints) from the sins committed in this life.  I also believe that it will probably cause an immense deal of pain to those undergoing it.

What does this mean for the efficacy of the mysteries of the Church?
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« Reply #30 on: July 04, 2012, 08:55:46 PM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

You should hope your purgation is limited to this life.
Wait you believe in purgation after death or in this life or both?

Sorry I'm just very confused because I have never been told about purgation in my catechesis nor any of the theologumen on the topic.

This really does fascinate me and I'm curious on why you are so certain there will be a purgation of some sort. And how do you define "purgation"?

For me I think the toll house idea, or atleast my understanding of it, makes sense but I also see how some think it's almost "heretical". I think what scares me the most is not knowing what happens after death on this Earth.

I believe that most people will experience at least some purgation after death, but I don't rule out the possibility of a person experiencing purgation.  As far as what purgation is, I agree with St. Mark of Ephesus that it is a cleansing of the soul after death (and I think it can happen during life, I'm not aware of anything he wrote requiring a person experience purgation after death in order to be counted among the saints) from the sins committed in this life.  I also believe that it will probably cause an immense deal of pain to those undergoing it.

What does this mean for the efficacy of the mysteries of the Church?

I think I know what you are getting at, but if my answer doesn't seem to address your question, please let me know more specifically what you're referring to.

Assuming I know what you're asking, I would say that those who partake of the sacraments (or mysteries or whatever other word one wishes to use) of the Church, and partakes of them properly, rightly, then there should be a whole lot less, if any, purgation necessary after death.
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« Reply #31 on: July 04, 2012, 09:34:44 PM »

Forgive me, but it seems to me that those who believe in the aerial toll-houses as a "metaphor" do the same thing that the protestants do with John 6: that is, they take a symbol (which is intended to stand for a greater reality) and then say it stands for some reality which is totally divorced from and bears almost no resemblance to the symbol.

To wit: "oh, when Jesus said we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, he really meant we must have a relationship with him or lead a good, ethical life".

Or: "when St So-And-So said that we will be tested and judged by the demons at various toll-houses which really exist in the air and can be perceived by those with spiritual eyes, what he/she really meant is that we will be tempted by the demons after death in almost, if not precisely, the same manner as we are in this life".

It seems to me that metaphors are not meant to be used this way.

Do you believe in the toll-houses literally or not at all? Your post admits of either interpretation.
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« Reply #32 on: July 04, 2012, 10:29:32 PM »

Forgive me, but it seems to me that those who believe in the aerial toll-houses as a "metaphor" do the same thing that the protestants do with John 6: that is, they take a symbol (which is intended to stand for a greater reality) and then say it stands for some reality which is totally divorced from and bears almost no resemblance to the symbol.

To wit: "oh, when Jesus said we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, he really meant we must have a relationship with him or lead a good, ethical life".

Or: "when St So-And-So said that we will be tested and judged by the demons at various toll-houses which really exist in the air and can be perceived by those with spiritual eyes, what he/she really meant is that we will be tempted by the demons after death in almost, if not precisely, the same manner as we are in this life".

It seems to me that metaphors are not meant to be used this way.

Do you believe in the toll-houses literally or not at all? Your post admits of either interpretation.

I'm not sure, to be honest.
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« Reply #33 on: July 04, 2012, 10:30:04 PM »

I think the toll houses are a silly concept.

There is a purgation, but I believe it is on this side of eternity.

PP

You should hope your purgation is limited to this life.
Wait you believe in purgation after death or in this life or both?

Sorry I'm just very confused because I have never been told about purgation in my catechesis nor any of the theologumen on the topic.

This really does fascinate me and I'm curious on why you are so certain there will be a purgation of some sort. And how do you define "purgation"?

For me I think the toll house idea, or atleast my understanding of it, makes sense but I also see how some think it's almost "heretical". I think what scares me the most is not knowing what happens after death on this Earth.

I believe that most people will experience at least some purgation after death, but I don't rule out the possibility of a person experiencing purgation.  As far as what purgation is, I agree with St. Mark of Ephesus that it is a cleansing of the soul after death (and I think it can happen during life, I'm not aware of anything he wrote requiring a person experience purgation after death in order to be counted among the saints) from the sins committed in this life.  I also believe that it will probably cause an immense deal of pain to those undergoing it.

What does this mean for the efficacy of the mysteries of the Church?

I think I know what you are getting at, but if my answer doesn't seem to address your question, please let me know more specifically what you're referring to.

Assuming I know what you're asking, I would say that those who partake of the sacraments (or mysteries or whatever other word one wishes to use) of the Church, and partakes of them properly, rightly, then there should be a whole lot less, if any, purgation necessary after death.

Thanks, James. You interpreted me correctly.
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« Reply #34 on: July 05, 2012, 09:55:59 PM »

Forgive me, but it seems to me that those who believe in the aerial toll-houses as a "metaphor" do the same thing that the protestants do with John 6: that is, they take a symbol (which is intended to stand for a greater reality) and then say it stands for some reality which is totally divorced from and bears almost no resemblance to the symbol.

To wit: "oh, when Jesus said we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, he really meant we must have a relationship with him or lead a good, ethical life".

Or: "when St So-And-So said that we will be tested and judged by the demons at various toll-houses which really exist in the air and can be perceived by those with spiritual eyes, what he/she really meant is that we will be tempted by the demons after death in almost, if not precisely, the same manner as we are in this life".

It seems to me that metaphors are not meant to be used this way.

The difference, though, is that the rather elaborate teaching on toll-houses that we now have is a relatively modern one, based only on a rather scant collection of obscure references to demonic encounters at the point of death. We are not, as is the case with the Gospels, starting with a concrete statement and then trying to undermine its clear meaning by reducing it to a metaphor. We are starting with a rather vague notion of demonic encounter after death, and building upon that an increasingly elaborate metaphor in an attempt to make sense of it.
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« Reply #35 on: July 05, 2012, 09:58:36 PM »

40 days after death is not found in any prayer service, memorial service, funeral service nor in the canons of the church. I know St John Chrysostom rejected the idea and I know quite a few saints that are adamant that the soul and body cannot function without the other. Which means that the soul is static until it is joined again to the body in the Last Judgement?
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« Reply #36 on: July 05, 2012, 10:05:44 PM »

Forgive me, but it seems to me that those who believe in the aerial toll-houses as a "metaphor" do the same thing that the protestants do with John 6: that is, they take a symbol (which is intended to stand for a greater reality) and then say it stands for some reality which is totally divorced from and bears almost no resemblance to the symbol.

To wit: "oh, when Jesus said we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, he really meant we must have a relationship with him or lead a good, ethical life".

Or: "when St So-And-So said that we will be tested and judged by the demons at various toll-houses which really exist in the air and can be perceived by those with spiritual eyes, what he/she really meant is that we will be tempted by the demons after death in almost, if not precisely, the same manner as we are in this life".

It seems to me that metaphors are not meant to be used this way.

The difference, though, is that the rather elaborate teaching on toll-houses that we now have is a relatively modern one, based only on a rather scant collection of obscure references to demonic encounters at the point of death. We are not, as is the case with the Gospels, starting with a concrete statement and then trying to undermine its clear meaning by reducing it to a metaphor. We are starting with a rather vague notion of demonic encounter after death, and building upon that an increasingly elaborate metaphor in an attempt to make sense of it.

That is even more perturbing. By what authority do we do this?
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« Reply #37 on: July 05, 2012, 10:07:10 PM »

That is even more perturbing. By what authority do we do this?

Such is folkodoxy.
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« Reply #38 on: July 05, 2012, 10:22:10 PM »

40 days after death is not found in any prayer service, memorial service, funeral service nor in the canons of the church. I know St John Chrysostom rejected the idea and I know quite a few saints that are adamant that the soul and body cannot function without the other. Which means that the soul is static until it is joined again to the body in the Last Judgement?

Depends what you mean by "static." It can't exclude prayer, since we continually ask the saints to pray for us.
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« Reply #39 on: July 05, 2012, 10:38:25 PM »

40 days after death is not found in any prayer service, memorial service, funeral service nor in the canons of the church. I know St John Chrysostom rejected the idea and I know quite a few saints that are adamant that the soul and body cannot function without the other. Which means that the soul is static until it is joined again to the body in the Last Judgement?

Depends what you mean by "static." It can't exclude prayer, since we continually ask the saints to pray for us.
We can pray to the departed souls, yes, so I think it's safe we can believe that they are not literally static, however there is nowhere in the Church that the soul lingers on for 40 days after death.
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« Reply #40 on: July 06, 2012, 03:37:46 AM »

Forgive me, but it seems to me that those who believe in the aerial toll-houses as a "metaphor" do the same thing that the protestants do with John 6: that is, they take a symbol (which is intended to stand for a greater reality) and then say it stands for some reality which is totally divorced from and bears almost no resemblance to the symbol.

To wit: "oh, when Jesus said we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, he really meant we must have a relationship with him or lead a good, ethical life".

Or: "when St So-And-So said that we will be tested and judged by the demons at various toll-houses which really exist in the air and can be perceived by those with spiritual eyes, what he/she really meant is that we will be tempted by the demons after death in almost, if not precisely, the same manner as we are in this life".

It seems to me that metaphors are not meant to be used this way.

The difference, though, is that the rather elaborate teaching on toll-houses that we now have is a relatively modern one, based only on a rather scant collection of obscure references to demonic encounters at the point of death. We are not, as is the case with the Gospels, starting with a concrete statement and then trying to undermine its clear meaning by reducing it to a metaphor. We are starting with a rather vague notion of demonic encounter after death, and building upon that an increasingly elaborate metaphor in an attempt to make sense of it.

That is even more perturbing. By what authority do we do this?

If it's pedagogical metaphor only (which is, as I've said, how I tend to think of it) do we actually need any authority? If I were teaching kids about the faith and made up a story to illustrate some aspect of it, would I need some specific authority to do so? I don't think so (and I've done exactly that in the past, so I hope not). If someone's teaching the Toll Houses as literal truth that must be believed by all then I agree that they've overstepped the line (and I have seen this occasionally), but if they are using it as an illustration of a continuing process of theosis and (in the case of the more detailed stories that lay out what each toll house is for) the sorts of sins we need to guard against, I can see absolutely no objection to it. And if someone wants to believe in literal Toll Houses as a theologoumenon, that likewise should attract no condemnation.

James
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« Reply #41 on: July 06, 2012, 06:21:09 AM »

And if someone wants to believe in literal Toll Houses as a theologoumenon, that likewise should attract no condemnation.

That depends on how they are understood, even if literal. If they are suggesting such things as "Christ had to carry to soul of the Theotokos through the toll-houses because she was too terrified to go on her own" (yes, there are those who teach this), this is heresy, plain and simple.
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« Reply #42 on: July 06, 2012, 07:25:18 AM »

And if someone wants to believe in literal Toll Houses as a theologoumenon, that likewise should attract no condemnation.

That depends on how they are understood, even if literal. If they are suggesting such things as "Christ had to carry to soul of the Theotokos through the toll-houses because she was too terrified to go on her own" (yes, there are those who teach this), this is heresy, plain and simple.

Never heard that one! It does seem way out there, insanely speculative (how could anyone know?) and to contradict the Tradition of her bodily assumption. But I meant only exactly what I said - if someone was to believe in the literal existence of the Toll Houses, that's up to them. Neither the existence or non-existence of them is dogma. I don't actually think that what you described is a belief on the existence of the Toll Houses per se, but rather a belief about the Theotokos.

James
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« Reply #43 on: July 06, 2012, 07:31:31 AM »

I don't actually think that what you described is a belief on the existence of the Toll Houses per se, but rather a belief about the Theotokos.

It's a particular belief about the nature of the toll houses and the power of demons, which undermines both Christ's victory over evil and His position as the only Judge. To suggests that the demons at the "toll houses" actually stand in judgement over you, rather than simply tempting you or reminding you of past sins (in which case you are judged by your own conscience, which is what happens at the particular judgement), that is flirting with heresy.
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« Reply #44 on: July 06, 2012, 07:50:33 AM »

I don't actually think that what you described is a belief on the existence of the Toll Houses per se, but rather a belief about the Theotokos.

It's a particular belief about the nature of the toll houses and the power of demons, which undermines both Christ's victory over evil and His position as the only Judge. To suggests that the demons at the "toll houses" actually stand in judgement over you, rather than simply tempting you or reminding you of past sins (in which case you are judged by your own conscience, which is what happens at the particular judgement), that is flirting with heresy.

Yes, that is different (though it wasn't clear to me in what you previously wrote). I've genuinely never heard them described in that way, though. To me the idea of demons judging and/or presiding over hell has always seemed like a weird pop Christianity belief and peculiar to the west at that. And I agree that such a view is flirting with heresy.

James
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