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Surnaturel
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« on: May 30, 2013, 02:13:02 AM »

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There is also the idea that this state can involve purification and healing which mature the soul for communion with God. The early Church took up these concepts, and in the Western Church they gradually developed into the doctrine of Purgatory. Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.
- Pope Benedict XVI on purgatory in Spe Salvi.

This is the contemporary Catholic understanding of purgatory in case any one is unclear. Furthermore when he says that some 'recent theologians' understand purgatory in relation to judgment he is including himself which is evidenced in his Eschatology book. The biblical evidence is clear insofar as Jesus also refers to the trying fire of judgment when gold/silver is yielded (or not). In this sense, the recollection of one's failures is confronted with Christ's love at our individual judgment and in this event one is sanctified and refined. It is worth noting that Pope Benedict shows consideration of Eastern Christian theology by mentioning them by name in this encyclical with regard to purgatory.

So, what do my Orthodox brethren make of Benedict's theology of purgatory?
Also, in what way do Orthodox believe that Christian prayer and alms help the departed?
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2013, 11:06:34 AM »

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There is also the idea that this state can involve purification and healing which mature the soul for communion with God. The early Church took up these concepts, and in the Western Church they gradually developed into the doctrine of Purgatory. Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.
- Pope Benedict XVI on purgatory in Spe Salvi.

This is the contemporary Catholic understanding of purgatory in case any one is unclear. Furthermore when he says that some 'recent theologians' understand purgatory in relation to judgment he is including himself which is evidenced in his Eschatology book. The biblical evidence is clear insofar as Jesus also refers to the trying fire of judgment when gold/silver is yielded (or not). In this sense, the recollection of one's failures is confronted with Christ's love at our individual judgment and in this event one is sanctified and refined. It is worth noting that Pope Benedict shows consideration of Eastern Christian theology by mentioning them by name in this encyclical with regard to purgatory.

So, what do my Orthodox brethren make of Benedict's theology of purgatory?
Also, in what way do Orthodox believe that Christian prayer and alms help the departed?
That is interesting, but the references to 1 Corinthians 3 still do not coordinate with the teaching of St. John Chrysostom in his homilies on the text.

There really is no need for "purgatory" in Eastern Christian theology.
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2013, 11:21:25 AM »

Also, in what way do Orthodox believe that Christian prayer and alms help the departed?

We have a mechanism for that. It's called "God".

That is we don't have any specific explanation or doctrine because there's no revelation about that or need for that. Our tradition is to pray, give alms and sacrifice for the dead and we believe in forgiving God but that's about it.
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2013, 02:16:54 PM »

Purgatory

Purgatory is a condition of the departed before the final judgment. According to Roman Catholic theology, those souls destined for heaven (with a few exceptions) must endure a state of purgation, or purification. They must be cleansed of the sins committed on earth. The rest go to hell for eternal punishment.

Moreover, from a "treasury" of merits or extra grace accumulated by the virtue of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the saints, "indulgences" may be granted. The grace is applied to those in purgatory in order to shorten their time there.

Orthodoxy teaches that, after the soul leaves the body, it journeys to the abode of the dead (Hades). There are exceptions, such as the Theotokos, who was borne by the angels directly into heaven. As for the rest, we must remain in this condition of waiting. Because some have a prevision of the glory to come and others foretaste their suffering, the state of waiting is called "Particular Judgment."

When Christ returns, the soul rejoins its risen body to be judged by Him. The "good and faithful servant" will inherit eternal life, the unfaithful with the unbeliever will spend eternity in hell. Their sins and their unbelief will torture them as fire.
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2013, 02:31:05 PM »

Also, in what way do Orthodox believe that Christian prayer and alms help the departed?

We have a mechanism for that. It's called "God".

That is we don't have any specific explanation or doctrine because there's no revelation about that or need for that. Our tradition is to pray, give alms and sacrifice for the dead and we believe in forgiving God but that's about it.
If the implication is that 'God' is separate from the purgatorial process then I firmly disagree since the context is situated in the Judging fire of Christ.

I will respectfully disagree that there is no scriptural revelation or patristic teaching on post-death purification. The apokatastasis doctrine of Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Clement of Alexandria, for example, all mention rehabilitation through purgatorial fire.

St. John Chrysostom, too, situates prayer for the dead in terms of purification: ""Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice (Job 1:5), 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." http://gratefulforpurgatory.blogspot.com/2010/09/st-john-chrysostom-offerings-for.html?m=1

Purgatory, as Pope Benedict XVI taught, is the purgation of residual effects of sin on the soul which occurs at the Judgment seat of Christ when "on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter" (Matt. 12:26). It is the suffering that follows when the Lord "will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives" (1 Cor 4).  Prayers, then, provide some consolation and assistance to the dead as their life work is examined before God.
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2013, 02:32:57 PM »

Purgatory

Purgatory is a condition of the departed before the final judgment. According to Roman Catholic theology, those souls destined for heaven (with a few exceptions) must endure a state of purgation, or purification. They must be cleansed of the sins committed on earth. The rest go to hell for eternal punishment.

Moreover, from a "treasury" of merits or extra grace accumulated by the virtue of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the saints, "indulgences" may be granted. The grace is applied to those in purgatory in order to shorten their time there.

Orthodoxy teaches that, after the soul leaves the body, it journeys to the abode of the dead (Hades). There are exceptions, such as the Theotokos, who was borne by the angels directly into heaven. As for the rest, we must remain in this condition of waiting. Because some have a prevision of the glory to come and others foretaste their suffering, the state of waiting is called "Particular Judgment."

When Christ returns, the soul rejoins its risen body to be judged by Him. The "good and faithful servant" will inherit eternal life, the unfaithful with the unbeliever will spend eternity in hell. Their sins and their unbelief will torture them as fire.

So, all of theOrthodox churches believe that the dead immediately go to Sheol and not to heaven or hell after death and judgment?
« Last Edit: May 30, 2013, 02:34:26 PM by Surnaturel » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2013, 03:39:57 PM »

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There is also the idea that this state can involve purification and healing which mature the soul for communion with God. The early Church took up these concepts, and in the Western Church they gradually developed into the doctrine of Purgatory. Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.
- Pope Benedict XVI on purgatory in Spe Salvi.

This is the contemporary Catholic understanding of purgatory in case any one is unclear.
Has the Roman Church changed its traditional teaching on Purgatory. Because if you look at material posted at EWTN, you find a different description. For example, posted there is the book Read me or Rue it, by Father Sullivan. A brief excerpt from the book:
"CHAPTER 1 : WHAT IS PURGATORY?

It is a prison of fire in which nearly all [saved] souls are plunged after
death and in which they suffer the intensest pain.

Here is what the great Doctors of the Church tell us of Purgatory:

So grievous is their suffering that one minute in this awful fire seems
like a century.

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, says that the fire of
Purgatory is equal in intensity to the fire of Hell, and that the slightest
contact with it is more dreadful than all the possible sufferings of this
Earth!"
http://www.ewtn.com/library/SPIRIT/READRUE.TXT
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2013, 05:19:20 PM »

So, all of theOrthodox churches believe that the dead immediately go to Sheol and not to heaven or hell after death and judgment?

We believe that we do not fully participate in our eternal destiny until after the final judgement.
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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2013, 07:01:20 PM »

So, all of theOrthodox churches believe that the dead immediately go to Sheol and not to heaven or hell after death and judgment?

We believe that we do not fully participate in our eternal destiny until after the final judgement.
Thank you for clarifying. We (RCs) believe that too. The 'bosom of Abraham' or Sheol we believe was abolished after Christ's salvific work was complete and that now humans go either to heaven or hel, but the fullness of our destiny is experienced only after the General Resurrection and Final Consummation.

Do you agree with the other poster about going to Sheol after individual judgment?
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« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2013, 07:13:36 PM »

The 'bosom of Abraham' or Sheol we believe was abolished after Christ's salvific work was complete and that now humans go either to heaven or hel, but the fullness of our destiny is experienced only after the General Resurrection and Final Consummation.


Tell that to my Ninth Hour!  Tongue

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Receive, Lord, the souls of your servants in tabernacles of light, and make them to dwell in the harbor of blessedness.  Give them rest in the glorious bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the patriarchs, that on the great day of your glorious manifestation, we may stand with them at your right hand, and offer fitting praise to you, and to your Father, etc.

Ninth Hour, slutho d'shuroyo

Sheol/Hades has none of its power anymore; Christ has destroyed all that.  But because it is powerless to keep souls, we can go there to wait and eventually be delivered out of it, at the resurrection, to our "full destiny". 
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« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2013, 07:18:19 PM »

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There is also the idea that this state can involve purification and healing which mature the soul for communion with God. The early Church took up these concepts, and in the Western Church they gradually developed into the doctrine of Purgatory. Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.
- Pope Benedict XVI on purgatory in Spe Salvi.

This is the contemporary Catholic understanding of purgatory in case any one is unclear.
Has the Roman Church changed its traditional teaching on Purgatory. Because if you look at material posted at EWTN, you find a different description. For example, posted there is the book Read me or Rue it, by Father Sullivan. A brief excerpt from the book:
"CHAPTER 1 : WHAT IS PURGATORY?

It is a prison of fire in which nearly all [saved] souls are plunged after
death and in which they suffer the intensest pain.

Here is what the great Doctors of the Church tell us of Purgatory:

So grievous is their suffering that one minute in this awful fire seems
like a century.

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, says that the fire of
Purgatory is equal in intensity to the fire of Hell, and that the slightest
contact with it is more dreadful than all the possible sufferings of this
Earth!"
http://www.ewtn.com/library/SPIRIT/READRUE.TXT
First, I'd like to see the actual quote from St. Thomas. Second, St. Thomas' teaching is not doctrine unless ratified in a council. Third, I agree that purgatorial judgment must be extremely painful, but this is a consequence of facing Christ in judgment in light of a history of sins. That is, it is not the purpose or goal of the purgatorial 'fires' (understood metaphorically as it was by many ancient Fathers) to inflict pain but to rehabilitate and sanctify the person.
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« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2013, 07:20:03 PM »

The 'bosom of Abraham' or Sheol we believe was abolished after Christ's salvific work was complete and that now humans go either to heaven or hel, but the fullness of our destiny is experienced only after the General Resurrection and Final Consummation.


Tell that to my Ninth Hour!  Tongue

Quote
Receive, Lord, the souls of your servants in tabernacles of light, and make them to dwell in the harbor of blessedness.  Give them rest in the glorious bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the patriarchs, that on the great day of your glorious manifestation, we may stand with them at your right hand, and offer fitting praise to you, and to your Father, etc.

Ninth Hour, slutho d'shuroyo

Sheol/Hades has none of its power anymore; Christ has destroyed all that.  But because it is powerless to keep souls, we can go there to wait and eventually be delivered out of it, at the resurrection, to our "full destiny". 
Interesting. Out of curiousity, do you know of any Church Fathers that held this view?
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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2013, 07:26:52 PM »

My understanding about the Orthodox view of purgatory is that it's both an unnecessary and potentially dangerous doctrine to promote. While it may be true that there is a "cleansing" period before "reception" into heaven, we shouldn't proclaim dogmas on the matter. God saves us, and the means by which he does this are a mystery. If we tell people that there's a "consolation prize" waiting for them, and that there are ways to quantitatively lessen their time in this state by reading the Bible for x amount of hours, or by saying x number of Hail Mary's, they might approach salvation in a mechanical and worldly way, and may not aspire to become saints in this life, which we are all called to be.
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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2013, 08:01:52 PM »

ANY practice, even Orthodox practices, can be taken in a worldly and mechanical way. Praying, fasting, almsgiving, reading scripture, receiving the sacraments, and living a Godly life do draw us closer to God and have a purifying effect on the soul when done properly.
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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2013, 08:15:59 PM »

ANY practice, even Orthodox practices, can be taken in a worldly and mechanical way. Praying, fasting, almsgiving, reading scripture, receiving the sacraments, and living a Godly life do draw us closer to God and have a purifying effect on the soul when done properly.

I agree.
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« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2013, 08:31:50 PM »

My understanding about the Orthodox view of purgatory is that it's both an unnecessary and potentially dangerous doctrine to promote. While it may be true that there is a "cleansing" period before "reception" into heaven, we shouldn't proclaim dogmas on the matter. God saves us, and the means by which he does this are a mystery. If we tell people that there's a "consolation prize" waiting for them, and that there are ways to quantitatively lessen their time in this state by reading the Bible for x amount of hours, or by saying x number of Hail Mary's, they might approach salvation in a mechanical and worldly way, and may not aspire to become saints in this life, which we are all called to be.
I am not sure that I follow brother. If you accept at it is a truth that there is some sort of post-mortem cleansing and that Christian prayers aid in this process of sanctification then why should this not be proclaimed dogmatically? That is absolutely the essence of Purgatory.

 The teaching by Pope Benedict and others (as personal belief), however, situates this process in the individual judgment which seems to me to have a strong scriptural basis. In fact, leading Protestant theologians, the Reformers being the most hostile to Purgatory, like Wolfhart Pannenberg who have cited then Cardinal Ratzinger's (Pope Benedict) teaching approvingly and said that it is no longer a dividing issue.
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« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2013, 08:57:39 PM »

One question I´ve wondered about regarding purgatory is:

Does not purgatory mean suffering judgement in some way from God? In this sense, doesn´t purgatory and its effect, with Gods final judgement and his grace shown in forgiveness, become the one and same act?
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« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2013, 08:59:34 PM »

My understanding about the Orthodox view of purgatory is that it's both an unnecessary and potentially dangerous doctrine to promote. While it may be true that there is a "cleansing" period before "reception" into heaven, we shouldn't proclaim dogmas on the matter. God saves us, and the means by which he does this are a mystery. If we tell people that there's a "consolation prize" waiting for them, and that there are ways to quantitatively lessen their time in this state by reading the Bible for x amount of hours, or by saying x number of Hail Mary's, they might approach salvation in a mechanical and worldly way, and may not aspire to become saints in this life, which we are all called to be.
I am not sure that I follow brother. If you accept at it is a truth that there is some sort of post-mortem cleansing and that Christian prayers aid in this process of sanctification then why should this not be proclaimed dogmatically? That is absolutely the essence of Purgatory.

 The teaching by Pope Benedict and others (as personal belief), however, situates this process in the individual judgment which seems to me to have a strong scriptural basis. In fact, leading Protestant theologians, the Reformers being the most hostile to Purgatory, like Wolfhart Pannenberg who have cited then Cardinal Ratzinger's (Pope Benedict) teaching approvingly and said that it is no longer a dividing issue.

I don't think I was clear. The Orthodox do not proclaim the specific dogma of purgatory. This does not mean that we do not believe in some sort of a cleansing, just that we have not proclaimed any dogma on that matter. The same goes for the "toll houses." The idea itself isn't inherently incompatible with Orthodoxy, but it's the way in which its declared (i.e. that it's declared at all) that's objectionable. And no, I can't provide any solid reasons why it's objectionable, other than the speculation I stated above.
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« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2013, 09:00:16 PM »

I always thought the cross was life-giving, not the fire...

With great love for all my brothers and sisters, remember me, the greatest sinner, in your prayers.
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« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2013, 09:22:53 PM »

One question I´ve wondered about regarding purgatory is:

Does not purgatory mean suffering judgement in some way from God? In this sense, doesn´t purgatory and its effect, with Gods final judgement and his grace shown in forgiveness, become the one and same act?
I am not sure if I am understanding you correctly, but Purgatory, as held by recent popes, is understood as the mercy of God in our individual judgment and the rehabilitative (not redemptive) suffering as we are searched and revealed by the fire of Christ's judgment.
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« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2013, 09:23:28 PM »

I always thought the cross was life-giving, not the fire...

With great love for all my brothers and sisters, remember me, the greatest sinner, in your prayers.
That is correct, from an RC perspective.
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« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2013, 09:24:28 PM »

My understanding about the Orthodox view of purgatory is that it's both an unnecessary and potentially dangerous doctrine to promote. While it may be true that there is a "cleansing" period before "reception" into heaven, we shouldn't proclaim dogmas on the matter. God saves us, and the means by which he does this are a mystery. If we tell people that there's a "consolation prize" waiting for them, and that there are ways to quantitatively lessen their time in this state by reading the Bible for x amount of hours, or by saying x number of Hail Mary's, they might approach salvation in a mechanical and worldly way, and may not aspire to become saints in this life, which we are all called to be.
I am not sure that I follow brother. If you accept at it is a truth that there is some sort of post-mortem cleansing and that Christian prayers aid in this process of sanctification then why should this not be proclaimed dogmatically? That is absolutely the essence of Purgatory.

 The teaching by Pope Benedict and others (as personal belief), however, situates this process in the individual judgment which seems to me to have a strong scriptural basis. In fact, leading Protestant theologians, the Reformers being the most hostile to Purgatory, like Wolfhart Pannenberg who have cited then Cardinal Ratzinger's (Pope Benedict) teaching approvingly and said that it is no longer a dividing issue.

I don't think I was clear. The Orthodox do not proclaim the specific dogma of purgatory. This does not mean that we do not believe in some sort of a cleansing, just that we have not proclaimed any dogma on that matter. The same goes for the "toll houses." The idea itself isn't inherently incompatible with Orthodoxy, but it's the way in which its declared (i.e. that it's declared at all) that's objectionable. And no, I can't provide any solid reasons why it's objectionable, other than the speculation I stated above.
Ahh I gotcha. Thanks for the clarification.
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« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2013, 12:11:28 AM »

Quote
There is also the idea that this state can involve purification and healing which mature the soul for communion with God. The early Church took up these concepts, and in the Western Church they gradually developed into the doctrine of Purgatory. Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.
- Pope Benedict XVI on purgatory in Spe Salvi.

This is the contemporary Catholic understanding of purgatory in case any one is unclear.
Has the Roman Church changed its traditional teaching on Purgatory. Because if you look at material posted at EWTN, you find a different description. For example, posted there is the book Read me or Rue it, by Father Sullivan. A brief excerpt from the book:
"CHAPTER 1 : WHAT IS PURGATORY?

It is a prison of fire in which nearly all [saved] souls are plunged after
death and in which they suffer the intensest pain.

Here is what the great Doctors of the Church tell us of Purgatory:

So grievous is their suffering that one minute in this awful fire seems
like a century.

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, says that the fire of
Purgatory is equal in intensity to the fire of Hell, and that the slightest
contact with it is more dreadful than all the possible sufferings of this
Earth!"
http://www.ewtn.com/library/SPIRIT/READRUE.TXT
First, I'd like to see the actual quote from St. Thomas.
“Augustine says in a sermon (xli De Sanctis): "This fire of Purgatory will be more severe than any pain that can be felt, seen or conceived in this world." …In Purgatory there will be a twofold pain; one will be the pain of loss, namely the delay of the divine vision, and the pain of sense, namely punishment by corporeal fire. With regard to both the least pain of Purgatory surpasses the greatest pain of this life.”
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/6002.htm
“Gregory says [The quotation is from St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei i, Cool]: "Even as in the same fire gold glistens and straw smokes, so in the same fire the sinner burns and the elect is cleansed." Therefore the fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of hell: and hence they are in the same place. “
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/7001.htm
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« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2013, 12:22:01 AM »

Quote
There is also the idea that this state can involve purification and healing which mature the soul for communion with God. The early Church took up these concepts, and in the Western Church they gradually developed into the doctrine of Purgatory. Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.
- Pope Benedict XVI on purgatory in Spe Salvi.

This is the contemporary Catholic understanding of purgatory in case any one is unclear.
Has the Roman Church changed its traditional teaching on Purgatory. Because if you look at material posted at EWTN, you find a different description. For example, posted there is the book Read me or Rue it, by Father Sullivan. A brief excerpt from the book:
"CHAPTER 1 : WHAT IS PURGATORY?

It is a prison of fire in which nearly all [saved] souls are plunged after
death and in which they suffer the intensest pain.

Here is what the great Doctors of the Church tell us of Purgatory:

So grievous is their suffering that one minute in this awful fire seems
like a century.

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, says that the fire of
Purgatory is equal in intensity to the fire of Hell, and that the slightest
contact with it is more dreadful than all the possible sufferings of this
Earth!"
http://www.ewtn.com/library/SPIRIT/READRUE.TXT
First, I'd like to see the actual quote from St. Thomas.
“Augustine says in a sermon (xli De Sanctis): "This fire of Purgatory will be more severe than any pain that can be felt, seen or conceived in this world." …In Purgatory there will be a twofold pain; one will be the pain of loss, namely the delay of the divine vision, and the pain of sense, namely punishment by corporeal fire. With regard to both the least pain of Purgatory surpasses the greatest pain of this life.”
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/6002.htm
“Gregory says [The quotation is from St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei i, Cool]: "Even as in the same fire gold glistens and straw smokes, so in the same fire the sinner burns and the elect is cleansed." Therefore the fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of hell: and hence they are in the same place. “
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/7001.htm

Thank you. From the summa on newadvent.com:

Quote
Reply to Objection 2. The punishment of hell is for the purpose of affliction, wherefore it is called by the names of things that are wont to afflict us here. But the chief purpose of the punishment of Purgatory is to cleanse us from the remains of sin; and consequently the pain of fire only is ascribed to Purgatory, because fire cleanses and consumes.  

I answer that, Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question.
St. Thomas opens by saying that this cannot be known, but he thinks it more plausible the the fires of purgatory are the same as hell but with a different end: rehabilitation (purgatory) and punishment (hell).

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« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2013, 12:32:15 AM »

David Bentley Hart raises a key question here:

"The Eastern church believes in sanctification after death... but Rome has also traditionally spoken of it as 'temporal punishment', which the pope may in whole or part remit [cf. indulgences]...

"[theosis in Orthodoxy is not] merely a forensic imputation of sinlessness to a sinful creature; it is a real glorification and organic transfiguration of the creature in Christ, one which never violates the integrity of our creatureliness, but which - by causing us to progress from sin to righteousness - really makes us partakers of the divine nature.

"Very well then: what then could it mean to remit purgation? Why, if it is sanctification, would one want such remission, and would it not then involve instead the very magical transformation of the creature into something beyond itself that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both deny? These... are questions as yet unanswered"
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« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2013, 12:40:19 AM »

David Bentley Hart raises a key question here:

"The Eastern church believes in sanctification after death... but Rome has also traditionally spoken of it as 'temporal punishment', which the pope may in whole or part remit [cf. indulgences]...

[theosis in Orthodoxy is not] merely a forensic imputation of sinlessness to a sinful creature; it is a real glorification and organic transfiguration of the creature in Christ, one which never violates the integrity of our creatureliness, but which - by causing us to progress from sin to righteousness - really makes us partakers of the divine nature.

Very well then: what then could it mean to remit purgation? Why, if it is sanctification, would one want such remission, and would it not then involve instead the very magical transformation of the creature into something beyond itself that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both deny? These... are questions as yet unanswered"
Traditional formulations have included a punitive dimension of purgatory, which is true insofar as the process of purgation is painful to the degree of our actions and words in this life. Benedict XVI has dispensed entirely with any language of Punishment. In light of that I am not sure that Hart's contention has much bite to it.
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« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2013, 12:44:53 AM »

David Bentley Hart raises a key question here:

"The Eastern church believes in sanctification after death... but Rome has also traditionally spoken of it as 'temporal punishment', which the pope may in whole or part remit [cf. indulgences]...

[theosis in Orthodoxy is not] merely a forensic imputation of sinlessness to a sinful creature; it is a real glorification and organic transfiguration of the creature in Christ, one which never violates the integrity of our creatureliness, but which - by causing us to progress from sin to righteousness - really makes us partakers of the divine nature.

Very well then: what then could it mean to remit purgation? Why, if it is sanctification, would one want such remission, and would it not then involve instead the very magical transformation of the creature into something beyond itself that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both deny? These... are questions as yet unanswered"
Traditional formulations have included a punitive dimension of purgatory, which is true insofar as the process of purgation is painful to the degree of our actions and words in this life. Benedict XVI has dispensed entirely with any language of Punishment. In light of that I am not sure that Hart's contention has much bite to it.
That is not the issue Hart is focusing on here.

His question is: what could it mean to *remit* [e.g. by indulgences] theosis?

If it *isn't* punishment, but purification/sanctification, why would one want to remit it?
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« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2013, 12:53:29 AM »

David Bentley Hart raises a key question here:

"The Eastern church believes in sanctification after death... but Rome has also traditionally spoken of it as 'temporal punishment', which the pope may in whole or part remit [cf. indulgences]...

[theosis in Orthodoxy is not] merely a forensic imputation of sinlessness to a sinful creature; it is a real glorification and organic transfiguration of the creature in Christ, one which never violates the integrity of our creatureliness, but which - by causing us to progress from sin to righteousness - really makes us partakers of the divine nature. The purification is the final and absolute 'remission,' I suppose, of one's old self which in turn works towards the sanctification of the person.

Very well then: what then could it mean to remit purgation? Why, if it is sanctification, would one want such remission, and would it not then involve instead the very magical transformation of the creature into something beyond itself that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both deny? These... are questions as yet unanswered"
Traditional formulations have included a punitive dimension of purgatory, which is true insofar as the process of purgation is painful to the degree of our actions and words in this life. Benedict XVI has dispensed entirely with any language of Punishment. In light of that I am not sure that Hart's contention has much bite to it.
That is not the issue Hart is focusing on here.

His question is: what could it mean to *remit* [e.g. by indulgences] theosis?
Just as the East understands prayers and alms as aiding in the consolation of the dead, so too would prayers alms indulgences help the departed Christian face himself, full of faults, in the light or 'fire' of Christ.

The idea of 'remission' used by Hart here is not entirely clear to me. The 'forensic imputation' is a Protestant belief, RCs see an actual change in the ontology of the Christian.
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« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2013, 12:57:56 AM »

David Bentley Hart raises a key question here:

"The Eastern church believes in sanctification after death... but Rome has also traditionally spoken of it as 'temporal punishment', which the pope may in whole or part remit [cf. indulgences]...

[theosis in Orthodoxy is not] merely a forensic imputation of sinlessness to a sinful creature; it is a real glorification and organic transfiguration of the creature in Christ, one which never violates the integrity of our creatureliness, but which - by causing us to progress from sin to righteousness - really makes us partakers of the divine nature. The purification is the final and absolute 'remission,' I suppose, of one's old self which in turn works towards the sanctification of the person.

Very well then: what then could it mean to remit purgation? Why, if it is sanctification, would one want such remission, and would it not then involve instead the very magical transformation of the creature into something beyond itself that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both deny? These... are questions as yet unanswered"
Traditional formulations have included a punitive dimension of purgatory, which is true insofar as the process of purgation is painful to the degree of our actions and words in this life. Benedict XVI has dispensed entirely with any language of Punishment. In light of that I am not sure that Hart's contention has much bite to it.
That is not the issue Hart is focusing on here.

His question is: what could it mean to *remit* [e.g. by indulgences] theosis?
Just as the East understands prayers and alms as aiding in the consolation of the dead, so too would prayers alms indulgences help the departed Christian face himself, full of faults, in the light or 'fire' of Christ.

The idea of 'remission' used by Hart here is not entirely clear to me. The 'forensic imputation' is a Protestant belief, RCs see an actual change in the ontology of the Christian.
Hart is referring to *remission* as it is used in Roman Catholic theology, viz. an *indulgence is a remission of temporal punishment.*  

If purgation is not punishment, but sanctification/purification, what does it mean to remit it, and why would one want it to be remitted?

http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/what.htm

Also I do not think David Bentley Hart's remark was intended to have "bite" -he is otherwise very conciliatory with regard to Roman Catholic positions. This is an honest question.






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From http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c2a4.htm

Catechism of the Catholic Church
1471 "...An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin. The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead."

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« Reply #29 on: May 31, 2013, 06:32:56 AM »

I am not sure if I am understanding you correctly, but Purgatory, as held by recent popes, is understood as the mercy of God in our individual judgment and the rehabilitative (not redemptive) suffering as we are searched and revealed by the fire of Christ's judgment.
[/quote]

Yeah thanks for the clarification dear brother/sister, I meant something in that line.

Just to repeat my question in the light of your clarification.

How can we stand on the final judgment if that judgment has already occurred during purgatory? Doesn´t the final judgement just become a replay of what has happened during purgatory?

I´ve always had the understanding that these 2 acts, purgatory and the final judgement, are the same in essence. So either one of them just becomes a replay of the first act, or the second one just becomes a test where everybody passes because they are already cleansed from sin.

Please forgive if my use of words are a bit colloquial, I´m a bit tired after work.
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« Reply #30 on: May 31, 2013, 08:06:27 AM »

I am not sure if I am understanding you correctly, but Purgatory, as held by recent popes, is understood as the mercy of God in our individual judgment and the rehabilitative (not redemptive) suffering as we are searched and revealed by the fire of Christ's judgment.

Yeah thanks for the clarification dear brother/sister, I meant something in that line.

Just to repeat my question in the light of your clarification.

How can we stand on the final judgment if that judgment has already occurred during purgatory? Doesn´t the final judgement just become a replay of what has happened during purgatory?

I´ve always had the understanding that these 2 acts, purgatory and the final judgement, are the same in essence. So either one of them just becomes a replay of the first act, or the second one just becomes a test where everybody passes because they are already cleansed from sin.

Please forgive if my use of words are a bit colloquial, I´m a bit tired after work.
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« Reply #31 on: May 31, 2013, 09:40:45 AM »

David Bentley Hart raises a key question here:

"The Eastern church believes in sanctification after death... but Rome has also traditionally spoken of it as 'temporal punishment', which the pope may in whole or part remit [cf. indulgences]...

[theosis in Orthodoxy is not] merely a forensic imputation of sinlessness to a sinful creature; it is a real glorification and organic transfiguration of the creature in Christ, one which never violates the integrity of our creatureliness, but which - by causing us to progress from sin to righteousness - really makes us partakers of the divine nature. The purification is the final and absolute 'remission,' I suppose, of one's old self which in turn works towards the sanctification of the person.

Very well then: what then could it mean to remit purgation? Why, if it is sanctification, would one want such remission, and would it not then involve instead the very magical transformation of the creature into something beyond itself that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both deny? These... are questions as yet unanswered"
Traditional formulations have included a punitive dimension of purgatory, which is true insofar as the process of purgation is painful to the degree of our actions and words in this life. Benedict XVI has dispensed entirely with any language of Punishment. In light of that I am not sure that Hart's contention has much bite to it.
That is not the issue Hart is focusing on here.

His question is: what could it mean to *remit* [e.g. by indulgences] theosis?
Just as the East understands prayers and alms as aiding in the consolation of the dead, so too would prayers alms indulgences help the departed Christian face himself, full of faults, in the light or 'fire' of Christ.

The idea of 'remission' used by Hart here is not entirely clear to me. The 'forensic imputation' is a Protestant belief, RCs see an actual change in the ontology of the Christian.
Hart is referring to *remission* as it is used in Roman Catholic theology, viz. an *indulgence is a remission of temporal punishment.*  

If purgation is not punishment, but sanctification/purification, what does it mean to remit it, and why would one want it to be remitted?

http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/what.htm

Also I do not think David Bentley Hart's remark was intended to have "bite" -he is otherwise very conciliatory with regard to Roman Catholic positions. This is an honest question.






_________________
From http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c2a4.htm

Catechism of the Catholic Church
1471 "...An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin. The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead."


First, as Pope Benedict has clarified, the Catechism is only as binding as the sources that particular sections are drawn from. To my knowledge, Florence is the only dogma on purgatory and its relatively short. Second, sins are absolved in Christ. The elect are not being saved from sin by purgation and the assistance of indulgences or prayers but rather they assist in the cleansing of the deleterious effects of sin on the soul. This is how I, and Pope Benedict, view the process of purgation. The medieval, scholastic emphasis on the remission of sins could still be used according to the above model, but I find personalist rather than juridical categories more useful for Christians today.
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« Reply #32 on: May 31, 2013, 09:48:54 AM »

I am not sure if I am understanding you correctly, but Purgatory, as held by recent popes, is understood as the mercy of God in our individual judgment and the rehabilitative (not redemptive) suffering as we are searched and revealed by the fire of Christ's judgment.

Yeah thanks for the clarification dear brother/sister, I meant something in that line.

Just to repeat my question in the light of your clarification.

How can we stand on the final judgment if that judgment has already occurred during purgatory? Doesn´t the final judgement just become a replay of what has happened during purgatory?

I´ve always had the understanding that these 2 acts, purgatory and the final judgement, are the same in essence. So either one of them just becomes a replay of the first act, or the second one just becomes a test where everybody passes because they are already cleansed from sin.

Please forgive if my use of words are a bit colloquial, I´m a bit tired after work.

No worries brother, you phrased your response just fine! I don't think that the issue here is so much between Final Judgment and purgatory as it is Individual Judgment and Final Judgment. From an RC view, which on this point seems similar to EO, the individual judgment sentences one to hell or heaven, of which the joys or pains are experienced immediately but the fullness of one's destiny still awaits them in the Final Judgment when we will all be resurrected. Purgatory, then, is the cleansing of the soul so that it is prepared to see God in the beatific vision and subsequently receive a glorified body.

Let me know if you any more questions. Peace and blessings in Christ.
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« Reply #33 on: May 31, 2013, 10:29:40 AM »

I am not sure if I am understanding you correctly, but Purgatory, as held by recent popes, is understood as the mercy of God in our individual judgment and the rehabilitative (not redemptive) suffering as we are searched and revealed by the fire of Christ's judgment.

Yeah thanks for the clarification dear brother/sister, I meant something in that line.

Just to repeat my question in the light of your clarification.

How can we stand on the final judgment if that judgment has already occurred during purgatory? Doesn´t the final judgement just become a replay of what has happened during purgatory?

I´ve always had the understanding that these 2 acts, purgatory and the final judgement, are the same in essence. So either one of them just becomes a replay of the first act, or the second one just becomes a test where everybody passes because they are already cleansed from sin.

Please forgive if my use of words are a bit colloquial, I´m a bit tired after work.

No worries brother, you phrased your response just fine! I don't think that the issue here is so much between Final Judgment and purgatory as it is Individual Judgment and Final Judgment. From an RC view, which on this point seems similar to EO, the individual judgment sentences one to hell or heaven, of which the joys or pains are experienced immediately but the fullness of one's destiny still awaits them in the Final Judgment when we will all be resurrected. Purgatory, then, is the cleansing of the soul so that it is prepared to see God in the beatific vision and subsequently receive a glorified body.

Let me know if you any more questions. Peace and blessings in Christ.

Suffice it to say, that we will all find out for sure who is correct in the end......
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« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2013, 10:38:07 AM »

Agree brothers and sisters, remember me please, the greatest sinner, in your humble prayers.
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« Reply #35 on: May 31, 2013, 04:31:35 PM »

Surnaturel,

When we read in II Maccabees about the prayers and alms offered by Judas on behalf of the fallen warriors who were caught in idolatry, we are told that "he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection.  For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.  But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin" (cf. II Mac. 12.43-44). 

I really don't believe that we, as Orthodox, define how our prayers, sacrifices, alms, good works, etc. help the departed.  We just do it and let God handle it because we are assured that there is some way in which these help: in this, we don't really go beyond what is revealed in Scripture.  If you read the texts of the Eucharistic liturgies, not only do we invoke the prayers of Mary and the other saints in our synaxis, but we offer the Eucharistic sacrifice for them; that makes no sense if you believe that they're already "safe" and therefore could not benefit from the extra prayer offered for them, but we do it for those we accept as "saints" as well as for those who are departed, and in much the same way.  We love them: they are not separated from us by physical death, because God is a God of the living, "for all live to him" (cf. Lk. 20.38).  This is intimately linked to our belief in the resurrection of Christ and the general resurrection, but we tend to leave it at that. 

Ideas like "toll houses", "purgatory", etc. are interesting theologoumena that help us wrap our heads around things of which we have no real experience or revelation.  Scripture speaks about what happens before death and what happens after the resurrection, but the mechanics of what happens in between are barely hinted at.  The fathers try to address this "grey area" in different ways and with different models, but they can only go so far: "dogmatizing" a model, or even strongly emphasizing one particular model over all others as if it's the only real possibility (as some Orthodox do with "toll houses") tends to lead us down inappropriate paths, and so the fathers generally stay close to Scripture on this question, as does our liturgical piety. 

You proposed a quote in the first post from Pope Benedict as the current RC understanding of "purgatory"; personally, I don't see anything wrong with it as far as it goes, but I also think it's a stretch to apply it to purgatory when it could also serve as a more general statement on ascesis in the life of the Christian (the references to "fire" could just as well be omitted and it would still make sense, but it looks as if Ratzinger has to add it in both to make his point clearer and to maintain the substance of the Latin teaching).  But why is this one passage from an encyclical regarded as the current understanding?  After all, you claimed that the official teaching is that which is ratified by a council, and what Florence had to say about it was very short--and yet I don't recall seeing the quote from Florence in this thread.  Why should Benedict's expressed view be taken as "the current understanding" rather than his own?  I like Benedict, I think in many ways he's the most "Orthodox" pope in centuries, but his view was not ratified in council but merely expressed in a letter of lesser "authority". 

I'm an amateur, so perhaps I'm missing something, but this is how it looks to me.  Christians have an interest in what happens between death and the general resurrection, how our prayers benefit the departed, etc.  The Eastern fathers propose some models and ideas, more as an intellectual exercise than anything else, but in the end we don't worry so much about how all this works, we just do what we ought to do.  The Western fathers propose their own ideas and models, but eventually these get amplified and snowball into a dogmatic definition that widens the gap between "East" and "West", or between "Orthodoxy/orthopraxy" and whatever you want to call what the West is doing.  In our own day, theologians like Ratzinger and others propose a return to a more Scriptural, more patristic understanding of this question, which brings them closer to Orthodoxy, but without really addressing the ways in which the teaching developed until it was defined dogmatically in its amplified form.  But, because it's the Pope's understanding, this is the "current" understanding, even if it's not "ratified in council", even if an existing ratified council would beg to differ.

Personally, I think this is the real problem behind a lot of the "other" problems: the nature of authority in the Church.  In another post, I mentioned that a Catholic canonist, responding to the canonical prohibition against prayer with heretics, proposed that the canon cited was no longer in force, and that we should look to "current" law to answer the question.  But how can a papal fiat overrule ancient canons accepted by East and West?  How can a papal fiat overrule a council?  The RC's have 21 "ecumenical councils", but the only ones that influence the lives of RC's today are Vatican II and, if you're of a traditionalist bent, Trent.  Other than those two, it's like nothing ever happened.  All kinds of stuff that was ordained in the canons of the ecumenical councils we all accept is routinely disregarded by Rome and by RC's.  In the end, it seems that it's the Pope who determines the truth at any given time: even if he has access to all sorts of history and documents to form his mind, or even if Popes generally "maintain" a status quo, he's still "calling the shots" and that is "the teaching", even if it seems to be or is at odds with previous administrations.  Just look at the ways in which "faithful" RC's responded to the last few Popes: as much continuity as there might be among them, the mind of the people perceives the differences, and with each new Pope comes "the current teaching" or "the current view".  It's a more vivid and contemporary illustration of the tendency that I think was always there, to let the Pope as Pope define the truth.  We don't operate like that.  We may accumulate canons over time, but they aren't abrogated, they remain "in effect" because their foundation is in the faith, while their application is an exercise of the "power of the keys" which all the bishops possess.  Our councils and their decrees, the writings of our fathers, the liturgical prayers, all of this is taken into account in formulating and reformulating the truth; our "current teaching" seems, to me, to be more an application of "the teaching" to our time and place, and not "the current understanding" in some "development of doctrine" sense, or as if one bishop is the criterion of truth. 

I don't say all that to derail the topic, though I recognize that danger that my "little rant" might do that.  It's just that it seems to me this is hardly a topic that needs to be so controversial if we just admitted that there isn't a solid "revelation" or "dogma" about this matter, there are different local traditions that are merely theologoumena to try and make sense of it, but none of that really changes the basic point, which is that we need to offer prayers and sacrifices for the departed out of our love for them because they help them--it is entirely Scriptural and the constant teaching and practice of the Church.  But it became so controversial because Popes and their councils and theologians made it so, and even if Popes and their councils and theologians backtrack on all that, we still need to deal with the presuppositions about authority in the Church which helped bring about this divergence.

I don't have access to my library, so I am not able to look up patristic quotes about "the bosom of Abraham", "Sheol", etc., as you asked in response to my previous post.  Perhaps some of the other posters will oblige.  My understanding of the basic teaching is that we can't really "go to heaven or hell" without the body, so it is at the final judgment, after the general resurrection, when that occurs.  Until then, we wait in Sheol.  Sheol is bereft of the power it once had because Christ entered its depths and destroyed its power.  No longer does it hold anyone permanently, but is more of a "waiting area".  Sheol, as a name, is an umbrella term for this waiting area, which has a "good neighbourhood" and a "bad neighbourhood", so to speak.  "The bosom of Abraham", or "Paradise", is the place where the heaven-bound wait, while the hell-bound wait in a place known by no other name than Sheol (this is basically the "geography" described by Christ in Luke 16.19-31).  There exists a boundary between the two areas, so that, ordinarily, no one can move from one section to the other--their "fate", so to speak, is sealed by the conclusion of their earthly life and how they ended it.  But we believe that the prayer of the Church is efficacious to help those in Sheol even to the point of "saving" them if God wills, while those in Abraham's bosom/Paradise benefit from the same prayers as God wills.  At the resurrection and the judgment, people will go to heaven or hell in the flesh, and presumably there'll be no need for Sheol, so it will be destroyed. 

Now, does that mean heaven, hell, paradise, and sheol are physical locations or metaphysical states or what?  How can we speak of the saints as being "in heaven" if the resurrection hasn't occurred yet?  Is it more appropriate to simply say that, after death, the departed are in the presence of God, and "respond" to that according to the state of their soul, and whether or not the resurrection has occurred?  Since God exists outside of time, has the resurrection already occurred?  Tradition seems to have differing answers for each of these questions and others, which I think is a way of keeping us humble and concentrated only on what we definitely know. 
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« Reply #36 on: May 31, 2013, 08:20:12 PM »

ANY practice, even Orthodox practices, can be taken in a worldly and mechanical way. Praying, fasting, almsgiving, reading scripture, receiving the sacraments, and living a Godly life do draw us closer to God and have a purifying effect on the soul when done properly.
I agree.

So if a person doesn't benefit from something that has the potential and intention to be beneficial, the problem isn't with what is meant to be beneficial.
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« Reply #37 on: May 31, 2013, 08:54:59 PM »

I am not sure if I am understanding you correctly, but Purgatory, as held by recent popes, is understood as the mercy of God in our individual judgment and the rehabilitative (not redemptive) suffering as we are searched and revealed by the fire of Christ's judgment.

Yeah thanks for the clarification dear brother/sister, I meant something in that line.

Just to repeat my question in the light of your clarification.

How can we stand on the final judgment if that judgment has already occurred during purgatory? Doesn´t the final judgement just become a replay of what has happened during purgatory?

I´ve always had the understanding that these 2 acts, purgatory and the final judgement, are the same in essence. So either one of them just becomes a replay of the first act, or the second one just becomes a test where everybody passes because they are already cleansed from sin.

Please forgive if my use of words are a bit colloquial, I´m a bit tired after work.

No worries brother, you phrased your response just fine! I don't think that the issue here is so much between Final Judgment and purgatory as it is Individual Judgment and Final Judgment. From an RC view, which on this point seems similar to EO, the individual judgment sentences one to hell or heaven, of which the joys or pains are experienced immediately but the fullness of one's destiny still awaits them in the Final Judgment when we will all be resurrected. Purgatory, then, is the cleansing of the soul so that it is prepared to see God in the beatific vision and subsequently receive a glorified body.

Let me know if you any more questions. Peace and blessings in Christ.

Suffice it to say, that we will all find out for sure who is correct in the end......
Yes we will brother.
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« Reply #38 on: May 31, 2013, 10:08:38 PM »

Surnaturel,

When we read in II Maccabees about the prayers and alms offered by Judas on behalf of the fallen warriors who were caught in idolatry, we are told that "he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection.  For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.  But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin" (cf. II Mac. 12.43-44).  

I really don't believe that we, as Orthodox, define how our prayers, sacrifices, alms, good works, etc. help the departed.  We just do it and let God handle it because we are assured that there is some way in which these help: in this, we don't really go beyond what is revealed in Scripture.  If you read the texts of the Eucharistic liturgies, not only do we invoke the prayers of Mary and the other saints in our synaxis, but we offer the Eucharistic sacrifice for them; that makes no sense if you believe that they're already "safe" and therefore could not benefit from the extra prayer offered for them, but we do it for those we accept as "saints" as well as for those who are departed, and in much the same way.  We love them: they are not separated from us by physical death, because God is a God of the living, "for all live to him" (cf. Lk. 20.38).  This is intimately linked to our belief in the resurrection of Christ and the general resurrection, but we tend to leave it at that.  

Catholics have traditionally interpreted 1 Cor 13 as the definitive scriptural support for purgatorial fires which has been situated in Jesus' statements about a 'trying' fire in the Judgment which yields gold/silver just like 1 Cor 3:15. This is furthe established in light of the Fact that Second Temple Jewish schools of Hillel and Shaamaite who basically taught a Jewish conception of purgatory which corresponds to the Kadesh prayer.
Quote
Ideas like "toll houses", "purgatory", etc. are interesting theologoumena that help us wrap our heads around things of which we have no real experience or revelation.  Scripture speaks about what happens before death and what happens after the resurrection, but the mechanics of what happens in between are barely hinted at.  The fathers try to address this "grey area" in different ways and with different models, but they can only go so far: "dogmatizing" a model, or even strongly emphasizing one particular model over all others as if it's the only real possibility (as some Orthodox do with "toll houses") tends to lead us down inappropriate paths, and so the fathers generally stay close to Scripture on this question, as does our liturgical piety.  

You proposed a quote in the first post from Pope Benedict as the current RC understanding of "purgatory"; personally, I don't see anything wrong with it as far as it goes, but I also think it's a stretch to apply it to purgatory when it could also serve as a more general statement on ascesis in the life of the Christian (the references to "fire" could just as well be omitted and it would still make sense, but it looks as if Ratzinger has to add it in both to make his point clearer and to maintain the substance of the Latin teaching).  But why is this one passage from an encyclical regarded as the current understanding?  After all, you claimed that the official teaching is that which is ratified by a council, and what Florence had to say about it was very short--and yet I don't recall seeing the quote from Florence in this thread.  Why should Benedict's expressed view be taken as "the current understanding" rather than his own?  I like Benedict, I think in many ways he's the most "Orthodox" pope in centuries, but his view was not ratified in council but merely expressed in a letter of lesser "authority".  

I'm an amateur, so perhaps I'm missing something, but this is how it looks to me.  Christians have an interest in what happens between death and the general resurrection, how our prayers benefit the departed, etc.  The Eastern fathers propose some models and ideas, more as an intellectual exercise than anything else, but in the end we don't worry so much about how all this works, we just do what we ought to do.  The Western fathers propose their own ideas and models, but eventually these get amplified and snowball into a dogmatic definition that widens the gap between "East" and "West", or between "Orthodoxy/orthopraxy" and whatever you want to call what the West is doing.  In our own day, theologians like Ratzinger and others propose a return to a more Scriptural, more patristic understanding of this question, which brings them closer to Orthodoxy, but without really addressing the ways in which the teaching developed until it was defined dogmatically in its amplified form.  But, because it's the Pope's understanding, this is the "current" understanding, even if it's not "ratified in council", even if an existing ratified council would beg to differ.

Personally, I think this is the real problem behind a lot of the "other" problems: the nature of authority in the Church.  In another post, I mentioned that a Catholic canonist, responding to the canonical prohibition against prayer with heretics, proposed that the canon cited was no longer in force, and that we should look to "current" law to answer the question.  But how can a papal fiat overrule ancient canons accepted by East and West?  How can a papal fiat overrule a council?  The RC's have 21 "ecumenical councils", but the only ones that influence the lives of RC's today are Vatican II and, if you're of a traditionalist bent, Trent.  Other than those two, it's like nothing ever happened.  All kinds of stuff that was ordained in the canons of the ecumenical councils we all accept is routinely disregarded by Rome and by RC's.  In the end, it seems that it's the Pope who determines the truth at any given time: even if he has access to all sorts of history and documents to form his mind, or even if Popes generally "maintain" a status quo, he's still "calling the shots" and that is "the teaching", even if it seems to be or is at odds with previous administrations.  Just look at the ways in which "faithful" RC's responded to the last few Popes: as much continuity as there might be among them, the mind of the people perceives the differences, and with each new Pope comes "the current teaching" or "the current view".  It's a more vivid and contemporary illustration of the tendency that I think was always there, to let the Pope as Pope define the truth.  We don't operate like that.  We may accumulate canons over time, but they aren't abrogated, they remain "in effect" because their foundation is in the faith, while their application is an exercise of the "power of the keys" which all the bishops possess.  Our councils and their decrees, the writings of our fathers, the liturgical prayers, all of this is taken into account in formulating and reformulating the truth; our "current teaching" seems, to me, to be more an application of "the teaching" to our time and place, and not "the current understanding" in some "development of doctrine" sense, or as if one bishop is the criterion of truth.  

I don't say all that to derail the topic, though I recognize that danger that my "little rant" might do that.  It's just that it seems to me this is hardly a topic that needs to be so controversial if we just admitted that there isn't a solid "revelation" or "dogma" about this matter, there are different local traditions that are merely theologoumena to try and make sense of it, but none of that really changes the basic point, which is that we need to offer prayers and sacrifices for the departed out of our love for them because they help them--it is entirely Scriptural and the constant teaching and practice of the Church.  But it became so controversial because Popes and their councils and theologians made it so, and even if Popes and their councils and theologians backtrack on all that, we still need to deal with the presuppositions about authority in the Church which helped bring about this divergence.
Again, there is a solid Latin exegetical tradition for purgatory in which we see a purgatorial process as revealed in scripture, not merely a theologoumenon. When I said that Pope Benedict's teaching is the modern Catholic position I mean that it is predominant in Catholic theology which he mentions in his encyclical. Benedict's teaching from his encyclical on eschatological is authoritative insofar as it is a truthful expression of purgatory but Catholics can hold a wide range of opinions on the matter (ie more juridical). I just happen to be pretty lock-in-step
With much of Pope Benedict's theology whereas some of my friends identify more with JP II's personalist scholasticism, for example, or not with any recent pope.

You are mistaken about new popes bringing the 'new theological teaching,' but I can see how you might think that given my statement on Pope Benedict. Benedict, however, was one of the foremost leading RC theologians and he largely changed the landscape of RC theology as a professor and cardinal, but his influence, to be sure, is a rarity since there has never been a more systematic or 'theological' pope than Benedict in history (a statement that has been echoed by many RC scholars).

In the East, though, it seems that some theological ideas or what the West would perceive as theologoummen has gained quasi-dogmatic status (such as Palamite theology). EOs can correct me if this is not accurate but I believe that I read it from an Orthodox website (I don't think this is applicable to your church though Mor).

I find your statements about VII or Trent being the only relevant councils for RCs to be way off the mark. All of the councils are intimate and dogmatic for RCs, but it is not surprising that a council that took place ~50 years ago plays such a prominent role in RCs, especially in light of the turbulent cultural crises in the West, we look to recent councils especially for guidance on pertinent issues. I am sure that ecumenical councils in the past had the same if not more of this kind of effect on ancient Christians in the decades that followed after.

I don't find the statement to be sound that we couldn't have the beatific vision (heaven) without a resurrected body or that Sheol is a more fitting place prior to the general resurrection. The parable in Luke does seem to be Sheol, but when Matthew states that after the resurrection 'the saints walked from their graves' and when in the Petrine epistles Christ frees some of the OT souls from Sheol in his descent, we interpret this as Christ's destruction of the barrier that held OT saints from their supernatural end, the beatific vision. Similarly, in the book of Revelation the martyred saints are already in heaven with The Lord.
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« Reply #39 on: June 01, 2013, 12:25:24 AM »

Catholics have traditionally interpreted 1 Cor 13 as the definitive scriptural support for purgatorial fires which has been situated in Jesus' statements about a 'trying' fire in the Judgment which yields gold/silver just like 1 Cor 3:15. This is furthe established in light of the Fact that Second Temple Jewish schools of Hillel and Shaamaite who basically taught a Jewish conception of purgatory which corresponds to the Kadesh prayer.

St Paul's discourse on love (I Cor 13) is the "definitive scriptural support" for purgatory?  How?  Or did you have another passage in mind? 

I Cor 3.15 doesn't appear to me to be a solid proof in favour of purgatorial fire, though I can understand the appeal.  In context, St Paul appears talking about apostolic labours and labourers (vv. 5-11), the "competition" that arises (v. 4), and so on.  It seems to me that he's saying that the "value" of the work each person does will be judged by God (vv. 13.13), therefore the people need not worry too much about it.  Everyone is building on the foundation, which is Christ (vv. 10-11).  If the work survives, great, but if not, the worker will suffer loss (seeing his work "go to waste"), but will himself be saved for his efforts (vv. 13-15).  I think it's a stretch to apply this to the virtue or sinfulness of every person and then say that there's a purification "by fire" for those who are not bad enough to deserve hell.  But if you already have those kinds of presuppositions, I guess you can read Scriptures into them.       

I need to dig out my Siddur...

Quote
Again, there is a solid Latin exegetical tradition for purgatory in which we see a purgatorial process as revealed in scripture, not merely a theologoumenon. When I said that Pope Benedict's teaching is the modern Catholic position I mean that it is predominant in Catholic theology which he mentions in his encyclical. Benedict's teaching from his encyclical on eschatological is authoritative insofar as it is a truthful expression of purgatory but Catholics can hold a wide range of opinions on the matter (ie more juridical). I just happen to be pretty lock-in-step
With much of Pope Benedict's theology whereas some of my friends identify more with JP II's personalist scholasticism, for example, or not with any recent pope.

If Benedict's is the view predominant in Catholic theology, but it is just one of a few truthful expressions of purgatory, and Catholics can hold a wide range of opinions on the matter, how is it not a theologoumenon?  Dogma doesn't operate in this way.   

Quote
In the East, though, it seems that some theological ideas or what the West would perceive as theologoummen has gained quasi-dogmatic status (such as Palamite theology). EOs can correct me if this is not accurate but I believe that I read it from an Orthodox website (I don't think this is applicable to your church though Mor).

Palamism was about a thousand years after we parted ways, so it doesn't really apply to us per se.  But inasmuch as Gregory Palamas synthesized teachings found in the early fathers (e.g., the Cappadocians), I don't see a real "Oriental objection" to it.  In this, it's similar to the teaching on icons.  Iconoclasm wasn't our struggle, but just because it wasn't ours, just because the pro-icon theology was developed by others, doesn't mean that we wouldn't recognize it as our faith also.   

Quote
I find your statements about VII or Trent being the only relevant councils for RCs to be way off the mark. All of the councils are intimate and dogmatic for RCs, but it is not surprising that a council that took place ~50 years ago plays such a prominent role in RCs, especially in light of the turbulent cultural crises in the West, we look to recent councils especially for guidance on pertinent issues. I am sure that ecumenical councils in the past had the same if not more of this kind of effect on ancient Christians in the decades that followed after.

Of course Vatican II would be so prominent for modern RC's, I don't deny that.  But after that, the only council that really seems to register with Catholics (at least based on the ones I know) is Trent.  Most "Vatican II Catholics" aren't thinking too much about Trent, it's more the "traditionalists", but there you go.  Even if the other councils are dogmatic and binding on RC's in theory, it's hard to see it in practice.  Certain general liturgical norms, iconographic norms, ascetic and penitential practices, etc. are all addressed by earlier councils, and yet RC's ignore all that as if it doesn't matter.  What's the use in signing on to an "ecumenical council" if you're not going to abide by its decisions? 

Quote
I don't find the statement to be sound that we couldn't have the beatific vision (heaven) without a resurrected body or that Sheol is a more fitting place prior to the general resurrection. The parable in Luke does seem to be Sheol, but when Matthew states that after the resurrection 'the saints walked from their graves' and when in the Petrine epistles Christ frees some of the OT souls from Sheol in his descent, we interpret this as Christ's destruction of the barrier that held OT saints from their supernatural end, the beatific vision. Similarly, in the book of Revelation the martyred saints are already in heaven with The Lord.

Is the "beatific vision" merely "heaven", or is it the vision of God's essence?  My understanding is that it's more the latter than the former, and unless I'm missing something, that wouldn't be Orthodox. 

When Christ descends into Sheol, he certainly destroys its power, fills it with his light, etc.  But I think it's quite another thing to say that disembodied souls go to heaven.  Body and soul are created at the same time, not at two different times.  Death is the first time a human being experiences an "alienation" of himself from himself, so to speak.  If our "fate" is determined by how we conducted ourselves in this life before that "alienation" (cf. II Cor 5.10), how can we fully experience the reward or the punishment without the resurrection, without becoming "whole" again?  That's not to say that the body dies and the soul takes a nap: the departed souls are alive and already experience something of their ultimate destiny in Sheol.  Christ did not "go to heaven" upon death, and I don't think we say definitively that he went to heaven upon his resurrection or in the forty days between his own resurrection and ascension.  When he ascends, he goes to heaven in his human body and takes his seat at God's right hand; Christ is the first fruits, we follow along at his coming (cf. I Cor 15.23). 

Strictly speaking, I Peter 3 doesn't say Christ set any of the souls in Sheol free, it says that he went and preached to them.  Regarding the opening of the tombs and the resurrection of holy people at the death of Christ in Matthew's Gospel, I'm not really sure what to make of that.  I want to say that it's more like the resurrection of Lazarus than it is the general resurrection: it's a prefiguration, a confirmation, of the general resurrection.  But even Lazarus went on to die later, and I suspect the holy people Matthew's referring to also died eventually. 

Revelation speaks about the martyrs being with the Lord in heaven.  Are we sure that this is a teaching on what happens in between their own deaths and the general resurrection/final judgement?  Or is there so much more to St John's vision that it's difficult to use that idea to support this particular notion?  I'd say the latter. 

But on this, and anything else, I'm willing to admit error if it's pointed out to me.  I will say, though, that insofar as I refer to the (Syriac) liturgical tradition to answer these questions, it is not something utterly foreign to Catholicism: these ideas are contained, in some cases almost exactly, in the liturgical offices and rites of the Syrian Catholic Churches (Syriac, Maronite, Malankara in the West, Chaldean and Malabar in the East).  I don't think they changed their liturgies to reflect Roman teaching.       
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« Reply #40 on: June 01, 2013, 01:54:01 AM »

I thought this was interesting.  When I was researching indulgences I came across this from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"God alone knows what penalty remains to be paid and what its precise amount is in severity and duration. Finally, some indulgences are granted in behalf of the living only, while others may be applied in behalf of the souls departed. It should be noted, however, that the application has not the same significance in both cases. The Church in granting an indulgence to the living exercises her jurisdiction; over the dead she has no jurisdiction and therefore makes the indulgence available for them by way of suffrage (per modum suffragii), i.e. she petitions God to accept these works of satisfaction and in consideration thereof to mitigate or shorten the sufferings of the souls in Purgatory."

So it would seem to suggest that indulgences are actually petitions when applied to the dead, and that the Church can't really guarantee anyone time off from Purgatory.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07783a.htm
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« Reply #41 on: June 01, 2013, 08:22:29 PM »

It was made very clear  by Jesus on several occasions that we immediately go to paradise or hell. When he spoke the parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus, he said when he died he went to heaven ,for Lazarus , and Hell for the rich man. There was no "purgatory".

And when he told the thief on the cross next to him, who incidentally is also the first in heaven with Jesus, He saidTODAY you will be with me in paradise, and The lord knew this man was a good candidate for purgatory, but there is no such thing according to the Son of Man.
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« Reply #42 on: June 01, 2013, 10:10:52 PM »

David Bentley Hart raises a key question here:

"The Eastern church believes in sanctification after death... but Rome has also traditionally spoken of it as 'temporal punishment', which the pope may in whole or part remit [cf. indulgences]...

[theosis in Orthodoxy is not] merely a forensic imputation of sinlessness to a sinful creature; it is a real glorification and organic transfiguration of the creature in Christ, one which never violates the integrity of our creatureliness, but which - by causing us to progress from sin to righteousness - really makes us partakers of the divine nature.

Very well then: what then could it mean to remit purgation? Why, if it is sanctification, would one want such remission, and would it not then involve instead the very magical transformation of the creature into something beyond itself that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both deny? These... are questions as yet unanswered"
Traditional formulations have included a punitive dimension of purgatory, which is true insofar as the process of purgation is painful to the degree of our actions and words in this life. Benedict XVI has dispensed entirely with any language of Punishment. In light of that I am not sure that Hart's contention has much bite to it.

Repackaging the item does not change its nature. RC dogma has been remarketed so many times of late, it's hard to keep up.
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« Reply #43 on: June 01, 2013, 11:56:41 PM »

The RC's dogmatic teachings on Purgatory, to me, seem to be fully compatible with Eastern Orthodoxy. The only parts that are not compatible is the extra beliefs/teachings/opinions on Purgatory that have been expanded upon by RC theologians and saints...which are not required to be believed.
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« Reply #44 on: June 02, 2013, 12:09:53 AM »

David Bentley Hart raises a key question here:

"The Eastern church believes in sanctification after death... but Rome has also traditionally spoken of it as 'temporal punishment', which the pope may in whole or part remit [cf. indulgences]...

[theosis in Orthodoxy is not] merely a forensic imputation of sinlessness to a sinful creature; it is a real glorification and organic transfiguration of the creature in Christ, one which never violates the integrity of our creatureliness, but which - by causing us to progress from sin to righteousness - really makes us partakers of the divine nature.

Very well then: what then could it mean to remit purgation? Why, if it is sanctification, would one want such remission, and would it not then involve instead the very magical transformation of the creature into something beyond itself that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both deny? These... are questions as yet unanswered"
Traditional formulations have included a punitive dimension of purgatory, which is true insofar as the process of purgation is painful to the degree of our actions and words in this life. Benedict XVI has dispensed entirely with any language of Punishment. In light of that I am not sure that Hart's contention has much bite to it.

Repackaging the item does not change its nature. RC dogma has been remarketed so many times of late, it's hard to keep up.
Vatican II is essentially Hegelian; by dialectical method there is very little that might not be in principle -s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d- into encompassing things that looked quite different before thesis/antithesis is incorporated into synthesis, including according to one liberal Roman Catholic blogger in a discussion of Cardinal Newman, even something like voodoo.

It seems to me that union with RC these days would not simply entail union with something that can be made to sound or seem like us along a margin where a large body of practicing RCs might think something else entirely, but would entail approval, tacit or explicit, of the Hegelian/Newman hermeneutic which has become integral to the modern Roman Catholic tradition (not RC of the first millennium any more than papal infallibility) itself.

« Last Edit: June 02, 2013, 12:13:47 AM by xariskai » Logged

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