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Author Topic: Did the Church Fathers support the doctrine of purgatory?  (Read 2703 times) Average Rating: 0
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Kerdy
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« Reply #90 on: August 16, 2013, 01:21:56 AM »

Maybe we have approached this from the wrong angle.  It may be better, at least for my understanding, to clearly stated and provide supporting references for what the Orthodox Church does teach rather than what it does not.  It certainly would aid in my understanding.

That approach was already tried at the beginning of the thread, when Asteriktos posted quotes from St. Mark of Ephesus and the Confession of Dositheus. However, some controversialists forced us to differentiate between what we believe, and particular Latin beliefs about purgatory, which we hold to be false.

Can we ignore the controversialists and get back to that? 

I don't know about others, but I frequent this forum in the hope I can learn more about Orthodoxy.  It is understandably difficult to do this with the constant onslaught of rabbit holes.  What I have learned of late is, there is very little clearly defined and a lot of people ignore the whole of what is clarified and its implications and believe what they want. 

Somehow, I don't think this is Orthodoxy so I decline at this time to blame it on the Church.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #91 on: August 16, 2013, 07:52:04 AM »

Here are a couple more texts on the topic:

Quote
372. In what state are the souls of the dead till the general resurrection?

The souls of the righteous are in light and rest, with a foretaste of eternal happiness; but the souls of the wicked are in a state the reverse of this.

373. Why may we not ascribe to the souls of the righteous perfect happiness immediately after death?

Because it is ordained that the perfect retribution according to works shall be received by the perfect man after the resurrection of the body and God's last judgment.

The Apostle Paul says: 'Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.' (2 Tim. 4:8). And again: 'We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.' (2 Cor. 5:10(.

374. Why do we ascribe to the souls of the righteous a foretaste of bliss before the last judgment?

On the testimony of Jesus Christ himself, who says in the parable that the righteous Lazarus was immediately after death carried into Abraham's bosom. (Luke 16:22).

375. Is this foretaste of bliss joined with a sight of Christ's own countenance?

It is so more especially with the saints, as we are given to understand by the Apostle Paul, who had a desire to depart, and to be with Christ. (Phil. 1:23).

376. What is to be remarked of such souls as have departed with faith, but without having had time to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance?

This: that they may be aided towards the attainment of a blessed resurrection by prayers offered in their behalf, especially such as are offered in union with the oblation of the bloodless sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, and by works of mercy done in faith for their memory.

377. On what is this doctrine grounded?

On the constant tradition of the Catholic Church; the sources of which may be seen even in the Church of the Old Testament. Judas Maccabæus offered sacrifice for his men that had fallen (2 Macc. 12:43). Prayer for the departed has ever formed a fixed part of the divine Liturgy, from the first Liturgy of the Apostle James. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: Very great will be the benefit to those souls for which prayer is offered at the moment when the holy and tremendous Sacrifice is lying in view. (Catechetical Lectures, 5.9)

St. Basil the Great, in his prayers for Pentecost, says that the Lord vouchsafes to receive from us propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for those that are kept in Hades, and allows us the hope of obtaining for them peace, relief, and freedom.

-- St. Philaret of Moscow, The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church

Quote
Q. 57. Which is the seventh article of faith?

R. "Who will come again with glory in order to judge the living and the dead, of whose kingdom there will be no end."

Q. 58. What does this article of faith teach?

R. It teaches three things. First, that Christ will return in order to judge the living and the dead, as he describes himself: "And when the Son of man shall come in his Majesty, and all the angels with him . . . And he will come as swiftly as "lightning comes out of the east and appears even in the west." "But of that day and hour nobody knows, not even the Angels." Nevertheless, these things should precede that day: the gospel is to be preached to all nations; the Anti-Christ will come; great wars will occur along with famines, plagues and other kindred things. One might express this succinctly in accord with Christ's words: "For there shall be then great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be." The Apostle speaks expressly of this judgment with these words: "I charge you before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and dead, by his coming, and his kingdom."

Q. 59. Secondly, what does this article teach?

R. It teaches of the last judgment, when men will give an account of their thoughts, words and deeds, according to Scripture: "But I say to you that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it on the day of judgment." And the Apostle says: "Therefore, judge not before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then every men shall have praise from God.

Q. 60. Thirdly, what does this article teach?

R. It teaches that on that day everyone will receive eternal and perfect payment for their deeds. Some will hear the verdict "Come, you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." But others will hear this verdict: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels." "Where their worm does not die and the fire is not extinguished."

Q. 61. Will all men then give an account of their works, each one individually giving an account, and will there be a particular judgment?

R. Although there will not be rendered an account of one's life on that day of last judgment, since God knows all things, yet anyone knowing his sins at the time of death will recognize even more so after his death what he has merited. For if indeed one's works will be known to a man, even also will he be aware of the verdict of God, as St. Gregory of Nazianzus says: "I am persuaded by the words of the wise to believe that every fair and God-beloved soul, when freed from the chains of the body, departs hence and immediately rejoices in the total perception and contemplation of the good which awaits it (in as much as that which covered the mind with darkness has been wiped away or cast aside of whatever other word this reality should be called I don't know) and experiences a wonderful pleasure and happily flies to the Lord, this life having been fled, as from a grave prison, and having shaken off the fetters by which the wings of the mind were accustomed to be held down, and enters into the happiness concealed in the image which it now perceives; and later when it receives its recognized flesh from the earth, which both gave it and accepted it in faith (how this happens is known to him who joined them together and dissolved them) and then it also will be allowed to enter the inheritance of the heavenly glory." So also in regard to the souls of the sinners, it is to be thought that certainly they themselves are aware of the damnation that they are to receive. Although both good and evil do not have perfect payment for their deeds before the last judgment, nevertheless, because they are not in the same state, they are not sent to the same place. But, it is clear that this would be impossible before the last judgment without a particular judgment. Therefore, there is a particular judgment. And when we say that God does not demand from us an account of our life, it must be understood that an account of our life will not be given according to our manner.

Q. 62. Are the souls of the blessed in equal rank after death?

R. Just as the souls depart from the world in unequal grace, so too they are not found to be in the same rank after their departure from the world, in accord with the teaching of Christ: "In my Father's house there are many mansions.'' And elsewhere: "Many Sins are forgiven her because she has loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loves ." And the Apostle says: "Who will render to every man according to his works.''

Q. 63. How must one consider those who die in the wrath of God?

R. One must consider them in the same fashion, that some will suffer less punishment and some greater after the last judgment, as it is said: "And that servant who knew the will of his lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes."

Q. 64. Are there intermediate souls, between the blessed and the damned?

R. No men of this type are found; nevertheless, many sinners are freed from the prisons of hell, but not though their own penitence or confession, just as Scripture says: "Who shall confess to you in hell?" And elsewhere: "The dead shall not praise you, O Lord, nor any of them that go down to hell." But they are freed through the good works of the living and the Church's prayers for them, most of all through the unbloody sacrifice, which is offered on certain days for all the living and the dead, even as Christ the Lord died for the very same. That such souls are not freed by their own power, St. Theophylactus, in explaining those words of Christ, speaks thus: "'But that you may know that the Son has power on earth to forgive sin.' But see," he says, "that on this earth sins are forgiven. For as long as we are on earth, we will be able to blot out our sins: after we shall have traveled from this earth, we shall no longer be able to wipe away our sins through confession, for the gate is closed." And elsewhere before those words: "Our hands and feet have been tied; that is, his powers alone", he says, "are in operation. For in the present age we can function, but in the future age all the operative powers of the soul are bound, and nothing good can come about through the forgiveness of sinners." And elsewhere: "After this very life there is no time for penance and works." It is evident from these words that the soul after death can neither free itself, nor do penance, nor do any good, by means of which it might be delivered from the prisons of hell, but only through the unbloody sacrifice, the prayers of the Church and almsgiving, which the living are accustomed to perform for them. It is by means of these that the souls receive the greatest aid and are freed from the prisons of hell.

Q. 65. If, indeed, prayers and pious works are customarily performed for the dead, how is one to regard them?

R. The same Theophylactus speaks about this in explaining the words of Christ the Lord: "'Fear him who has power to cast into hell.' Be mindful", he say, "that he did not say: 'Fear him, whom after he has killed, I will send into hell,' but that he has the power to send. For the sinners who die are not cast into hell; but it rests in the power of God such that he may even pardon them. But I say this because of the sacrifices and almsgivings made for the sake of the dead, which works are of no small benefit even for those who have died in grave sins. It is not so certain, therefore, that God sends to hell one who has killed, but rather that he does have the power to send him. And so let us not cease working hard through almsgiving and prayers to win over him, who has indeed the power of sending, so that he may not use this power fully but be able to pardon." And so, it is deduced from the teaching of Sacred Scripture and this Father that we are obliged to pray to God certainly for such deceased, to offer the unbloody sacrifices and give alms, since they cannot do the same for themselves.

Q. 66. How must one consider the purgatorial fire?

R. No Scripture makes mention of the fact that after death there is a temporal punishment that cleanses souls; what is more, the opinion of Origen was condemned by the Church at the second Council of Constantinople because of this. Also, the soul can receive no sacraments after death; and if it were then to make satisfaction for its sins, it would have to perform a part of the sacrament of holy Penance, which would be contrary to the orthodox teaching. Therefore, the Church rightly performs for them the unbloody sacrifice and prayers, but they do not cleanse themselves by suffering something. But, the Church never maintained that which pertains to the fanciful stories of some concerning the souls of their dead, who have not done penance and are punished, as it were, in streams, springs and swamps.

Q. 67. Which particular place is intended for the souls of those who die in the grace of God?

R. The Hand of God is the place of those souls that depart from this life in the grace of God after having done penance for their sins. For so says Sacred Scripture: "But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment (of death) shall not touch them." Their place is also called "Paradise", as Christ himself the Lord says to the thief on the cross: "Amen I say to you, this day you shall be with me in paradise." Their place is also called the "Bosom of Abraham". Finally, it is known as the "Kingdom of heaven", even as Christ the Lord taught: "And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." And so, one will not err if he calls this place by any of the above names, as long as he knows that the souls are in the grace of God and the kingdom of heaven, and just as the church hymns repeatedly sing "and in heaven".

Q. 68. But where is the place of those souls that leave the body in the wrath of God?

R. There place is called various names. First, it is called "hell", to which the devil was chased from heaven, as the Prophet says: "I will be like the most High," the devil said; "but yet you shall be brought down to hell, into the depth of the pit." It is called "eternal fire", for Scripture says: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels." It is called "darkness", for the Lord said in the same place: "And cast out the unprofitable servant into the exterior darkness; there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth." It is also called other names, all of which indicate that it is a place of God's wrath and condemnation, where all those souls go that leave this life in the wrath of God without hope of salvation. Nevertheless, it might well be declared that the souls of the just, granted that they are in heaven, have not received the perfect crown before the last judgment, just as the souls of the condemned do not suffer perfect punishment; but, after the last judgment, these souls together with their bodies will have received the crown of glory and perfect punishment.

-- St. Peter Mogila, Orthodox Confession of Faith: Part 1, Questions 57-68
« Last Edit: August 16, 2013, 07:52:27 AM by Asteriktos » Logged

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Kerdy
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« Reply #92 on: August 16, 2013, 08:08:03 AM »

The Orthodox Church has a Catechism with all of this information contained within it?  I knew the Catholic Church did, but was unaware we did as well.  This should be part of the Catechumen process.  I never even thought to look.  Are there hard copies available?
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« Reply #93 on: August 16, 2013, 08:13:08 AM »

The Orthodox Church has a Catechism with all of this information contained within it?  I knew the Catholic Church did, but was unaware we did as well.  This should be part of the Catechumen process.  I never even thought to look.  Are there hard copies available?

I have this one:

http://www.stspress.com/products-page/books/catechism-of-the-orthodox-church/

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« Reply #94 on: August 16, 2013, 08:22:00 AM »

Here are some texts that come to mind and which Amazon currently sells:

The Law of God: For Study at Home and School, by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoi
Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers, by Fr. Stanley S. Harakas
These Truths We Hold, by St. Tikhon's Monastery
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« Reply #95 on: August 16, 2013, 08:24:38 AM »

Here are some texts that come to mind and which Amazon currently sells:

The Law of God: For Study at Home and School, by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoi
Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers, by Fr. Stanley S. Harakas
These Truths We Hold, by St. Tikhon's Monastery


I cannot recommend The Law of God highly enough. Fantastic book. That along with the red catechism is what I am teaching my children from.
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« Reply #96 on: August 16, 2013, 08:27:18 AM »

Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers, by Fr. Stanley S. Harakas

I wouldn't recommend this one. Let's just say it hasn't aged well.
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Kerdy
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« Reply #97 on: August 16, 2013, 08:53:56 AM »

Here are some texts that come to mind and which Amazon currently sells:

The Law of God: For Study at Home and School, by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoi
Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers, by Fr. Stanley S. Harakas
These Truths We Hold, by St. Tikhon's Monastery


I cannot recommend The Law of God highly enough. Fantastic book. That along with the red catechism is what I am teaching my children from.
The Red Catechism?  I didn't find that on a Google search.

Edit:  the one you already posted, right?
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« Reply #98 on: August 16, 2013, 08:58:20 AM »

Asteriktos, have these all been vetted thoroughly and pretty much universally accepted?
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Kerdy
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« Reply #99 on: August 16, 2013, 09:00:53 AM »

Here are a couple more texts on the topic:

Quote
372. In what state are the souls of the dead till the general resurrection?

The souls of the righteous are in light and rest, with a foretaste of eternal happiness; but the souls of the wicked are in a state the reverse of this.

373. Why may we not ascribe to the souls of the righteous perfect happiness immediately after death?

Because it is ordained that the perfect retribution according to works shall be received by the perfect man after the resurrection of the body and God's last judgment.

The Apostle Paul says: 'Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.' (2 Tim. 4:Cool. And again: 'We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.' (2 Cor. 5:10(.

374. Why do we ascribe to the souls of the righteous a foretaste of bliss before the last judgment?

On the testimony of Jesus Christ himself, who says in the parable that the righteous Lazarus was immediately after death carried into Abraham's bosom. (Luke 16:22).

375. Is this foretaste of bliss joined with a sight of Christ's own countenance?

It is so more especially with the saints, as we are given to understand by the Apostle Paul, who had a desire to depart, and to be with Christ. (Phil. 1:23).

376. What is to be remarked of such souls as have departed with faith, but without having had time to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance?

This: that they may be aided towards the attainment of a blessed resurrection by prayers offered in their behalf, especially such as are offered in union with the oblation of the bloodless sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, and by works of mercy done in faith for their memory.

377. On what is this doctrine grounded?

On the constant tradition of the Catholic Church; the sources of which may be seen even in the Church of the Old Testament. Judas Maccabæus offered sacrifice for his men that had fallen (2 Macc. 12:43). Prayer for the departed has ever formed a fixed part of the divine Liturgy, from the first Liturgy of the Apostle James. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: Very great will be the benefit to those souls for which prayer is offered at the moment when the holy and tremendous Sacrifice is lying in view. (Catechetical Lectures, 5.9)

St. Basil the Great, in his prayers for Pentecost, says that the Lord vouchsafes to receive from us propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for those that are kept in Hades, and allows us the hope of obtaining for them peace, relief, and freedom.

-- St. Philaret of Moscow, The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church

Quote
Q. 57. Which is the seventh article of faith?

R. "Who will come again with glory in order to judge the living and the dead, of whose kingdom there will be no end."

Q. 58. What does this article of faith teach?

R. It teaches three things. First, that Christ will return in order to judge the living and the dead, as he describes himself: "And when the Son of man shall come in his Majesty, and all the angels with him . . . And he will come as swiftly as "lightning comes out of the east and appears even in the west." "But of that day and hour nobody knows, not even the Angels." Nevertheless, these things should precede that day: the gospel is to be preached to all nations; the Anti-Christ will come; great wars will occur along with famines, plagues and other kindred things. One might express this succinctly in accord with Christ's words: "For there shall be then great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be." The Apostle speaks expressly of this judgment with these words: "I charge you before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and dead, by his coming, and his kingdom."

Q. 59. Secondly, what does this article teach?

R. It teaches of the last judgment, when men will give an account of their thoughts, words and deeds, according to Scripture: "But I say to you that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it on the day of judgment." And the Apostle says: "Therefore, judge not before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then every men shall have praise from God.

Q. 60. Thirdly, what does this article teach?

R. It teaches that on that day everyone will receive eternal and perfect payment for their deeds. Some will hear the verdict "Come, you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." But others will hear this verdict: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels." "Where their worm does not die and the fire is not extinguished."

Q. 61. Will all men then give an account of their works, each one individually giving an account, and will there be a particular judgment?

R. Although there will not be rendered an account of one's life on that day of last judgment, since God knows all things, yet anyone knowing his sins at the time of death will recognize even more so after his death what he has merited. For if indeed one's works will be known to a man, even also will he be aware of the verdict of God, as St. Gregory of Nazianzus says: "I am persuaded by the words of the wise to believe that every fair and God-beloved soul, when freed from the chains of the body, departs hence and immediately rejoices in the total perception and contemplation of the good which awaits it (in as much as that which covered the mind with darkness has been wiped away or cast aside of whatever other word this reality should be called I don't know) and experiences a wonderful pleasure and happily flies to the Lord, this life having been fled, as from a grave prison, and having shaken off the fetters by which the wings of the mind were accustomed to be held down, and enters into the happiness concealed in the image which it now perceives; and later when it receives its recognized flesh from the earth, which both gave it and accepted it in faith (how this happens is known to him who joined them together and dissolved them) and then it also will be allowed to enter the inheritance of the heavenly glory." So also in regard to the souls of the sinners, it is to be thought that certainly they themselves are aware of the damnation that they are to receive. Although both good and evil do not have perfect payment for their deeds before the last judgment, nevertheless, because they are not in the same state, they are not sent to the same place. But, it is clear that this would be impossible before the last judgment without a particular judgment. Therefore, there is a particular judgment. And when we say that God does not demand from us an account of our life, it must be understood that an account of our life will not be given according to our manner.

Q. 62. Are the souls of the blessed in equal rank after death?

R. Just as the souls depart from the world in unequal grace, so too they are not found to be in the same rank after their departure from the world, in accord with the teaching of Christ: "In my Father's house there are many mansions.'' And elsewhere: "Many Sins are forgiven her because she has loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loves ." And the Apostle says: "Who will render to every man according to his works.''

Q. 63. How must one consider those who die in the wrath of God?

R. One must consider them in the same fashion, that some will suffer less punishment and some greater after the last judgment, as it is said: "And that servant who knew the will of his lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes."

Q. 64. Are there intermediate souls, between the blessed and the damned?

R. No men of this type are found; nevertheless, many sinners are freed from the prisons of hell, but not though their own penitence or confession, just as Scripture says: "Who shall confess to you in hell?" And elsewhere: "The dead shall not praise you, O Lord, nor any of them that go down to hell." But they are freed through the good works of the living and the Church's prayers for them, most of all through the unbloody sacrifice, which is offered on certain days for all the living and the dead, even as Christ the Lord died for the very same. That such souls are not freed by their own power, St. Theophylactus, in explaining those words of Christ, speaks thus: "'But that you may know that the Son has power on earth to forgive sin.' But see," he says, "that on this earth sins are forgiven. For as long as we are on earth, we will be able to blot out our sins: after we shall have traveled from this earth, we shall no longer be able to wipe away our sins through confession, for the gate is closed." And elsewhere before those words: "Our hands and feet have been tied; that is, his powers alone", he says, "are in operation. For in the present age we can function, but in the future age all the operative powers of the soul are bound, and nothing good can come about through the forgiveness of sinners." And elsewhere: "After this very life there is no time for penance and works." It is evident from these words that the soul after death can neither free itself, nor do penance, nor do any good, by means of which it might be delivered from the prisons of hell, but only through the unbloody sacrifice, the prayers of the Church and almsgiving, which the living are accustomed to perform for them. It is by means of these that the souls receive the greatest aid and are freed from the prisons of hell.

Q. 65. If, indeed, prayers and pious works are customarily performed for the dead, how is one to regard them?

R. The same Theophylactus speaks about this in explaining the words of Christ the Lord: "'Fear him who has power to cast into hell.' Be mindful", he say, "that he did not say: 'Fear him, whom after he has killed, I will send into hell,' but that he has the power to send. For the sinners who die are not cast into hell; but it rests in the power of God such that he may even pardon them. But I say this because of the sacrifices and almsgivings made for the sake of the dead, which works are of no small benefit even for those who have died in grave sins. It is not so certain, therefore, that God sends to hell one who has killed, but rather that he does have the power to send him. And so let us not cease working hard through almsgiving and prayers to win over him, who has indeed the power of sending, so that he may not use this power fully but be able to pardon." And so, it is deduced from the teaching of Sacred Scripture and this Father that we are obliged to pray to God certainly for such deceased, to offer the unbloody sacrifices and give alms, since they cannot do the same for themselves.

Q. 66. How must one consider the purgatorial fire?

R. No Scripture makes mention of the fact that after death there is a temporal punishment that cleanses souls; what is more, the opinion of Origen was condemned by the Church at the second Council of Constantinople because of this. Also, the soul can receive no sacraments after death; and if it were then to make satisfaction for its sins, it would have to perform a part of the sacrament of holy Penance, which would be contrary to the orthodox teaching. Therefore, the Church rightly performs for them the unbloody sacrifice and prayers, but they do not cleanse themselves by suffering something. But, the Church never maintained that which pertains to the fanciful stories of some concerning the souls of their dead, who have not done penance and are punished, as it were, in streams, springs and swamps.

Q. 67. Which particular place is intended for the souls of those who die in the grace of God?

R. The Hand of God is the place of those souls that depart from this life in the grace of God after having done penance for their sins. For so says Sacred Scripture: "But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment (of death) shall not touch them." Their place is also called "Paradise", as Christ himself the Lord says to the thief on the cross: "Amen I say to you, this day you shall be with me in paradise." Their place is also called the "Bosom of Abraham". Finally, it is known as the "Kingdom of heaven", even as Christ the Lord taught: "And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." And so, one will not err if he calls this place by any of the above names, as long as he knows that the souls are in the grace of God and the kingdom of heaven, and just as the church hymns repeatedly sing "and in heaven".

Q. 68. But where is the place of those souls that leave the body in the wrath of God?

R. There place is called various names. First, it is called "hell", to which the devil was chased from heaven, as the Prophet says: "I will be like the most High," the devil said; "but yet you shall be brought down to hell, into the depth of the pit." It is called "eternal fire", for Scripture says: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels." It is called "darkness", for the Lord said in the same place: "And cast out the unprofitable servant into the exterior darkness; there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth." It is also called other names, all of which indicate that it is a place of God's wrath and condemnation, where all those souls go that leave this life in the wrath of God without hope of salvation. Nevertheless, it might well be declared that the souls of the just, granted that they are in heaven, have not received the perfect crown before the last judgment, just as the souls of the condemned do not suffer perfect punishment; but, after the last judgment, these souls together with their bodies will have received the crown of glory and perfect punishment.

-- St. Peter Mogila, Orthodox Confession of Faith: Part 1, Questions 57-68

Thank you!
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« Reply #100 on: August 16, 2013, 09:02:05 AM »

There's another book called Entering the Orthodox Church that my priest gave me.

http://www.amazon.com/Entering-The-Orthodox-Church-Catechism/dp/9607070526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376658816&sr=8-1&keywords=Entering+the+Orthodox+Church
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« Reply #101 on: August 16, 2013, 09:41:59 AM »

Asteriktos, have these all been vetted thoroughly and pretty much universally accepted?

Not that I am aware of. Don't get me wrong, whether you're dealing with a modern Orthodox catechism or an ancient text like the Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith of St. John of Damascus, there is going to be complete agreement in all dogmatic points, and even most doctrinal points. But since, on various subjects, there are a range of acceptable positions, there isn't really any one universally recognized and authoritative text.
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« Reply #102 on: August 16, 2013, 11:07:18 AM »

Asteriktos, have these all been vetted thoroughly and pretty much universally accepted?

As far as I know, the only catechism to gain universal or near universal acceptance in the Orthodox Church is St. Peter Mogila's catechism. It appears that this catechism is not used much nowadays. St. Philaret's catechism supplanted it in Russia and possibly other places as well.

I heard a couple of years ago that the Patriarchate of Moscow was working on a new catechism but I haven't heard anything since then about it.
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« Reply #103 on: August 16, 2013, 09:00:54 PM »

Asteriktos, have these all been vetted thoroughly and pretty much universally accepted?

As far as I know, the only catechism to gain universal or near universal acceptance in the Orthodox Church is St. Peter Mogila's catechism. It appears that this catechism is not used much nowadays. St. Philaret's catechism supplanted it in Russia and possibly other places as well.

I heard a couple of years ago that the Patriarchate of Moscow was working on a new catechism but I haven't heard anything since then about it.

We Orthodox can't even systematize the Faith and its two centuries of tradition into a single volume that we all agree on? What sort of "apostolic" religion are we!? Better get a supreme bishop to turn our disjointed confederacy of ethnic cabals into a finely tuned, well-greased evangelical machine.
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« Reply #104 on: August 16, 2013, 09:50:55 PM »

Asteriktos, have these all been vetted thoroughly and pretty much universally accepted?

As far as I know, the only catechism to gain universal or near universal acceptance in the Orthodox Church is St. Peter Mogila's catechism. It appears that this catechism is not used much nowadays. St. Philaret's catechism supplanted it in Russia and possibly other places as well.

I heard a couple of years ago that the Patriarchate of Moscow was working on a new catechism but I haven't heard anything since then about it.

We Orthodox can't even systematize the Faith and its two centuries of tradition into a single volume that we all agree on? What sort of "apostolic" religion are we!? Better get a supreme bishop to turn our disjointed confederacy of ethnic cabals into a finely tuned, well-greased evangelical machine.
Thank you, SarcasmSupreme.  This has been most helpful to those of us attempting to increase our understanding of Orthodoxy.  Accidentally, I am sure, you do bring up an interesting point, but one for later discussion.  As of right now, I'd prefer not to derail the thread again.
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« Reply #105 on: August 16, 2013, 09:51:24 PM »

Asteriktos, have these all been vetted thoroughly and pretty much universally accepted?

As far as I know, the only catechism to gain universal or near universal acceptance in the Orthodox Church is St. Peter Mogila's catechism. It appears that this catechism is not used much nowadays. St. Philaret's catechism supplanted it in Russia and possibly other places as well.

I heard a couple of years ago that the Patriarchate of Moscow was working on a new catechism but I haven't heard anything since then about it.
Any idea why if felt out of use?
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« Reply #106 on: August 16, 2013, 09:52:18 PM »

Asteriktos, have these all been vetted thoroughly and pretty much universally accepted?

Not that I am aware of. Don't get me wrong, whether you're dealing with a modern Orthodox catechism or an ancient text like the Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith of St. John of Damascus, there is going to be complete agreement in all dogmatic points, and even most doctrinal points. But since, on various subjects, there are a range of acceptable positions, there isn't really any one universally recognized and authoritative text.
Thanks!  It seems my library needs to increase.
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« Reply #107 on: August 16, 2013, 10:04:00 PM »

Asteriktos, have these all been vetted thoroughly and pretty much universally accepted?

As far as I know, the only catechism to gain universal or near universal acceptance in the Orthodox Church is St. Peter Mogila's catechism. It appears that this catechism is not used much nowadays. St. Philaret's catechism supplanted it in Russia and possibly other places as well.

I heard a couple of years ago that the Patriarchate of Moscow was working on a new catechism but I haven't heard anything since then about it.

We Orthodox can't even systematize the Faith and its two centuries of tradition into a single volume that we all agree on? What sort of "apostolic" religion are we!? Better get a supreme bishop to turn our disjointed confederacy of ethnic cabals into a finely tuned, well-greased evangelical machine.
Thank you, SarcasmSupreme.  This has been most helpful to those of us attempting to increase our understanding of Orthodoxy.  Accidentally, I am sure, you do bring up an interesting point, but one for later discussion.  As of right now, I'd prefer not to derail the thread again.

SarcasmSupreme. That's a new, and accurate, one! Anyway, sorry for the derail, although I usually expect my comments to be given the white noise treatment and for the conversation to go on.
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« Reply #108 on: August 17, 2013, 07:39:12 AM »

All I know is that our Purgatory (EO) is better than their Purgatory (RC). Grin

How can you have a purgatory if you guys claim you don't believe in it? Tongue

You did see the grinning face, right? (Which means I was being tongue-in-cheek).

Ok, ok, I should've put the first "Purgatory" in quotation marks; since we just call it "the intermediate state".

Both names, "Purgatory" and "Intermediate state", come from the early Church Fathers. They taught that:

-There is an INTERMEDIATE STATE between heaven and hell.
 
-Those people who die without bearing the fruits of repentance for mortal sins, or who have small sins unconfessed, are confined in hell temporarily (not to be tormented but as if in jail) to be PURGED (cleansed) of their passions. After a time, and through the prayers of the Church, and good deeds done on earth in their name, they enter heaven.

-The Old Testament Patriarchs and prophets were confined in a similar way, and were released by Christ after the Crucifixion.

-At the last judgement, the INTERMEDIATE STATE will be abolished, and those in it will go to heaven.

-This doesn't help the unrepentant sinners, of course. They stay in hell.

BTW, unbaptised babies who die go to heaven. Those who are unbaptised and old enough to know good from evil (starting around age 6-7) when they die, their fate is in God's hands. But we Orthodox trust in God's love. Surely He can find some room in the intermediate state for the good ones.

Where our beliefs differ from those of the RCC are the following:

1- There is no fire in purga - sorry, the intermediate state. There is only the near-absence of divine light.
        Heaven-------------> Divine Light
        Intermediate State -> Very little Divine Light. Mostly Darkness.
        Hell-----------------> No light, but burning Fire

2- The Divine Light and the fire of hell are not temporal, created things. They are both the uncreated grace/energy/will/activity of God.

3- There is no punishment in purga - sorry, the intermediate state. The people confined there have already been essentially forgiven. God does not forgive and punish at the same time. Its illogical. Also, God does not NEED to be satisfied in any way. He does not NEED anything. He is the only truly FREE Being. In His freedom, He can choose to forgive. Once He forgives, He does not need to punish afterwards. The purpose of purga - sorry, the intermediate state, is not to punish, but to give one some time to distance oneself from the passions which attach us to this life, so he could enter heaven. Its a second chance, not an obstacle.

4- Concerning indulgences, I will quote Fr. John Romanides:

Quote from: Fr. John Romanides
the Orthodox Church vigorously condemned all magical understandings of salvation which might conceive of the saving grace or energy of God as something created, stored quantitatively within a so-called bank of grace, and distributed quantitatively through sacramental acts and indulgences, by proclaiming the biblical and patristic teaching that God Himself saves men directly by His own uncreated energy. The very basis of all Orthodox doctrine concerning Trinity, Christology, Ecclesiology, and Soteriology is the fact that God creates, sustains, and saves creation not by created means, but by His Own life-giving energy. Only God can be the source and subject of His uncreated energies.

The divine energies are neither the essence of God (God is not actus purus), for this would mean that God acts by essence and not by will (pantheism), nor hypostatic (individual entities), for this would either reduce God to a mere platonic conglomeration of ideas, or to a neo-platonic source of emanating creatures, thereby confusing the Son and the Spirit with such creatures. (A good example of such views concerning divine energies may be found in the teachings of the heretics attacked by St. Irenaeus.)

The divine energies are not creatures, but precisely the creating, life-giving, justifying, uncreated energy of God. [ 19 ]

Therefore grace cannot be manipulated and distributed by man who can only partake of this uncreated light of God in the corporate life of selfless love in the flesh of Christ locally manifested and formed by God Himself in real people epi to auto (in the same place).

-The Ecclesiology of St. Ignatios of Antioch (paragraph divisions and emphases are mine)
(http://www.romanity.org/htm/rom.11.en.the_ecclesiology_of_st._ignatius_of_antioch.01.htm)

In the RCC, salvation is a reward for faith and good works, or "merits".
In most Protestant Churches - except Calvinists - salvation is a reward for faith.
In Calvinism, salvation comes by winning a Divine lottery.

In Orthodoxy, God does not save or condemn on a whim, and neither does He work from a reward-and-punishment system. Rather, salvation or damnation are a kind of "tendency" which depends on how we use our free will. If I let go of an object, it will tend to move towards the earth's center faster and faster. The earth is not rewarding it or punishing it. That's simply the nature of gravity. If my free will is always cooperating with God's grace/uncreated light, I will develop a tendency towards heaven. If my free will usually does not cooperate with God's grace, I will develop a tendency towards hell. There is no reward-and-punishment.

Therefore, God does not need to dip into a bank-account of superabundant merits, to withdraw created grace, and give it to us in indulgences. He has an endless supply of uncreated grace from Himself. The way we "complete" the work of Christ is, simply by cooperating with that grace. Nor does He need to remit punishment that would be given after forgiveness, since, as I mentioned above, such punishment does not exist. The penances after confession, and acts of charity or piety (fasting, prayers, etc.) that we do, are not meant to satisfy God's justice or grant us rewards. They simply train us to control our passions by cooperating with God's grace, in order to develop selfless love and acquire a tendency towards heaven.

5- This isn't specific to purgatory, but its still important. The saints in heaven experience plenty of joy and light. But after the resurrection, they will experience still more, once they are reunited with their bodies. Heaven is not static, but dynamic. Saints always move "from Glory to Glory" (St. Gregory of Nyssa). Only hell is static.

(And, yes our purgatory is better than your purgatory. Cheesy)
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« Reply #109 on: August 17, 2013, 09:39:51 AM »

All I know is that our Purgatory (EO) is better than their Purgatory (RC). Grin

How can you have a purgatory if you guys claim you don't believe in it? Tongue

You did see the grinning face, right? (Which means I was being tongue-in-cheek).

Ok, ok, I should've put the first "Purgatory" in quotation marks; since we just call it "the intermediate state".

Both names, "Purgatory" and "Intermediate state", come from the early Church Fathers. They taught that:

-There is an INTERMEDIATE STATE between heaven and hell.
 
-Those people who die without bearing the fruits of repentance for mortal sins, or who have small sins unconfessed, are confined in hell temporarily (not to be tormented but as if in jail) to be PURGED (cleansed) of their passions. After a time, and through the prayers of the Church, and good deeds done on earth in their name, they enter heaven.

-The Old Testament Patriarchs and prophets were confined in a similar way, and were released by Christ after the Crucifixion.

-At the last judgement, the INTERMEDIATE STATE will be abolished, and those in it will go to heaven.

-This doesn't help the unrepentant sinners, of course. They stay in hell.

BTW, unbaptised babies who die go to heaven. Those who are unbaptised and old enough to know good from evil (starting around age 6-7) when they die, their fate is in God's hands. But we Orthodox trust in God's love. Surely He can find some room in the intermediate state for the good ones.

Where our beliefs differ from those of the RCC are the following:

1- There is no fire in purga - sorry, the intermediate state. There is only the near-absence of divine light.
        Heaven-------------> Divine Light
        Intermediate State -> Very little Divine Light. Mostly Darkness.
        Hell-----------------> No light, but burning Fire

2- The Divine Light and the fire of hell are not temporal, created things. They are both the uncreated grace/energy/will/activity of God.

3- There is no punishment in purga - sorry, the intermediate state. The people confined there have already been essentially forgiven. God does not forgive and punish at the same time. Its illogical. Also, God does not NEED to be satisfied in any way. He does not NEED anything. He is the only truly FREE Being. In His freedom, He can choose to forgive. Once He forgives, He does not need to punish afterwards. The purpose of purga - sorry, the intermediate state, is not to punish, but to give one some time to distance oneself from the passions which attach us to this life, so he could enter heaven. Its a second chance, not an obstacle.

4- Concerning indulgences, I will quote Fr. John Romanides:

Quote from: Fr. John Romanides
the Orthodox Church vigorously condemned all magical understandings of salvation which might conceive of the saving grace or energy of God as something created, stored quantitatively within a so-called bank of grace, and distributed quantitatively through sacramental acts and indulgences, by proclaiming the biblical and patristic teaching that God Himself saves men directly by His own uncreated energy. The very basis of all Orthodox doctrine concerning Trinity, Christology, Ecclesiology, and Soteriology is the fact that God creates, sustains, and saves creation not by created means, but by His Own life-giving energy. Only God can be the source and subject of His uncreated energies.

The divine energies are neither the essence of God (God is not actus purus), for this would mean that God acts by essence and not by will (pantheism), nor hypostatic (individual entities), for this would either reduce God to a mere platonic conglomeration of ideas, or to a neo-platonic source of emanating creatures, thereby confusing the Son and the Spirit with such creatures. (A good example of such views concerning divine energies may be found in the teachings of the heretics attacked by St. Irenaeus.)

The divine energies are not creatures, but precisely the creating, life-giving, justifying, uncreated energy of God. [ 19 ]

Therefore grace cannot be manipulated and distributed by man who can only partake of this uncreated light of God in the corporate life of selfless love in the flesh of Christ locally manifested and formed by God Himself in real people epi to auto (in the same place).

-The Ecclesiology of St. Ignatios of Antioch (paragraph divisions and emphases are mine)
(http://www.romanity.org/htm/rom.11.en.the_ecclesiology_of_st._ignatius_of_antioch.01.htm)

In the RCC, salvation is a reward for faith and good works, or "merits".
In most Protestant Churches - except Calvinists - salvation is a reward for faith.
In Calvinism, salvation comes by winning a Divine lottery.

In Orthodoxy, God does not save or condemn on a whim, and neither does He work from a reward-and-punishment system. Rather, salvation or damnation are a kind of "tendency" which depends on how we use our free will. If I let go of an object, it will tend to move towards the earth's center faster and faster. The earth is not rewarding it or punishing it. That's simply the nature of gravity. If my free will is always cooperating with God's grace/uncreated light, I will develop a tendency towards heaven. If my free will usually does not cooperate with God's grace, I will develop a tendency towards hell. There is no reward-and-punishment.

Therefore, God does not need to dip into a bank-account of superabundant merits, to withdraw created grace, and give it to us in indulgences. He has an endless supply of uncreated grace from Himself. The way we "complete" the work of Christ is, simply by cooperating with that grace. Nor does He need to remit punishment that would be given after forgiveness, since, as I mentioned above, such punishment does not exist. The penances after confession, and acts of charity or piety (fasting, prayers, etc.) that we do, are not meant to satisfy God's justice or grant us rewards. They simply train us to control our passions by cooperating with God's grace, in order to develop selfless love and acquire a tendency towards heaven.

5- This isn't specific to purgatory, but its still important. The saints in heaven experience plenty of joy and light. But after the resurrection, they will experience still more, once they are reunited with their bodies. Heaven is not static, but dynamic. Saints always move "from Glory to Glory" (St. Gregory of Nyssa). Only hell is static.

(And, yes our purgatory is better than your purgatory. Cheesy)

I was also joking with my comment (The tongue sticking out Tongue)

I've tried to distance myself from this thread and the other I'm involved in as I'm spending a bit too much time here.

Anyway thanks for the info on the Orthodox perspective on purgatory/intermediate state. I'll stick with Catholic theology on this one though Grin
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« Reply #110 on: August 17, 2013, 10:09:13 AM »

I think that the most that can be said positively on this topic - from a patristic perspective - is that the Church prays for the dead, and that those prayers are held to be efficacious. Everything else is just speculation.
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