The Byzantine Forum
Newest Members
LionHippo44, Evan Gallagher, Lizzy VH, thomisticgamer, DesertPrayer
5,708 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
0 members (), 113 guests, and 72 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Latest Photos
Church of St Cyril of Turau & All Patron Saints of Belarus
Byzantine Nebraska
Byzantine Nebraska
by orthodoxsinner2, December 11
Church of the Holy Trinity (UGCC) - Brazil
Church of the Holy Trinity (UGCC) - Brazil
by Santiago Tarsicio, March 17
Papal Audience 10 November 2017
Papal Audience 10 November 2017
by JLF, November 10
Upgraded Russian icon corner
Upgraded Russian icon corner
by The young fogey, October 20
Forum Statistics
Forums26
Topics34,957
Posts413,415
Members5,708
Most Online3,380
Dec 29th, 2019
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5
#339593 12/19/09 03:19 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 115
P
Member
OP Offline
Member
P
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 115
Query:

Could anyone elaborate on this lesser-known idea in Patristic theology of praying souls out of hell?

I am not implying the apokatastasis, or Bishop Puhalo's emphasis on the indeterminate nature of a presently fixed ethereal realm, or St. Silhouan's "pray as if you are in hell"; rather I am curious as to this "praying-souls-out-of-hell" teaching and its dogmatic quality in the Eastern Church.

Thank you.

Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Originally Posted by Predanije
Query:

Could anyone elaborate on this lesser-known idea in Patristic theology of praying souls out of hell?

I am not implying the apokatastasis, or Bishop Puhalo's emphasis on the indeterminate nature of a presently fixed ethereal realm, or St. Silhouan's "pray as if you are in hell"; rather I am curious as to this "praying-souls-out-of-hell" teaching and its dogmatic quality in the Eastern Church.

Thank you.


In the Third Kneeling Prayer which we read Pentecost Sunday we pray to the Lord Almighty that he will release those who are held in the bondage of Hell.

"...who also on this all-perfect and saving feast, art graciously pleased to accept propitiatory prayers for those who are imprisoned in Hell, promising unto us and unto those held in bondage great hope of release from the vileness that doth hinder us and hinder them... We who are living will bless thee, and will pray, and offer unto thee propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for their souls."

Admittedly the Church is diffident about praying for souls in hell and in its public liturgy it restricts such prayer to this one day of the Year - Pentecost.

The dogmatic teaching of the Eastern Church is, in a large sense, determined by its liturgical deposit, or perhaps it would be better to say that the two are intercomplementary.


Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Praying for those in hell...

I was reading an article recently by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev called "Orthodox Worship as a School of Theology", and I came across the following:-

Bishop Hilarion: "Several years ago I came across a short article in a journal of the Coptic Church where it stated that this Church had decided to remove prayers for those held in hell from its service books, since these prayers “contradict Orthodox teaching”. Puzzled by this article, I decided to ask a representative of the Coptic Church about the reasons for this move. Recently I had the possibility to do so, and a Coptic Metropolitan replied that the decision was made by his Synod because, according their official doctrine, no prayers can help those in hell.

"I told the metropolitan that in the liturgical practice of the Russian Orthodox Church and other local Orthodox Churches there are prayers for those held in hell, and that we believe in their saving power. This surprised the Metropolitan, and he promised to study this question in more detail."

Here is the original article ...

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/12/1.aspx

Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,710
Likes: 8
Moderator
Member
Offline
Moderator
Member
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,710
Likes: 8
Quote
to remove prayers for those held in hell from its service books


Father Ambrose:

Father bless!!

This seems to be an interesting move since it would seem that the earlier practice of the Coptic Orthodox Church parallels that of the Russian Orthodox Church (and presumably the Greek Orthodox Church). So it would seem that the practice is of great antiquity. That said, it seems interesting to me given the very conservative stance of the Coptic Orthodox Church in its liturgical life.

Asking for your blessing and continued holy prayers,

BOB

Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Remember that Pope Saint Gregory the Great prayed for the Emperor Trajan and his prayer was heard...Trajan was saved: the Roman emperor, he who was a pagan, he who killed Christians in the Colosseum!

Why did this great Pope of Rome pray for Trajan?

Because there was a time when the holy Church of Rome was joined with her sister Churches and there was a time when the Romans believed that God would deliver souls from hell. But in later centuries this teaching has been lost.

We see the belief in the great prayer which still remains in the Roman liturgy for the dead:

"Libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum de poenis inferni et de profundo lacu."

Roman scholars will say that this prayer means exactly what it says. Roman theologians will say that this was an error in the belief of the ancient Church and they have corrected it. They have retained the prayer but they no longer understand it as their ancestors in the faith understood it.

-oOo-

There is no doubt that our ancestors in the faith, from the Emerald Isle, during the first millennium believed that souls could be released from hell.

Take Saint Samthann of Clonbroney. We actually celebrate her memory today, 19th December.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints/message/3660

She was well known for the ability to get a soul out of hell. Saint Aidan of Ferns was also known for this. Praying a soul out of hell was, however, not an uncommon accomplishment for Irish saints; one scholar Lisa Bitel has claimed it to be an "almost exclusively Celtic motif."

So, certainly in the early days when Christianity was fresh and strong they thought that they could pray a man out of hell. Now it may be seen as rather questionable theology in our days, for either Church. Maybe the early Christians were wrong. Who can say? Once again, their old belief places a gentle question mark over some of the things that we have declared certain.

Here is something from the Rule of Saint Maelruain, from the holy monastery of Tallaght. It is 8th century:

"There is nothing which a person does for a soul that has departed that does not help it, both vigil and abstinence, and singing the intercession and frequent blessings. Filii pro mortuis parentibus debent poenitere.

A whole year therefore was Saint Maidoc of Ferns, with all his people, living on water and biscuit so as to ransom the soul of Brandubh, son of Eochaidh, from hell."

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,217
L
Member
Offline
Member
L
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,217

As late as the 1530's in the Latin Church, St Derfel in North Wales was believed to rescue souls from Hell. Thomas Cromwell acting on behalf of Henry VIII was put in charge of destroying images of the Saint, of which one wooden one was used as firewood to burn Blessed John Forrest.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,712
T
Member
Offline
Member
T
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,712
Thanks for the reminder about the kneeling prayer and I thought of the Offertory in the Roman Rite Requiem too.

Praying people out of hell seems loving — it's obviously appealing — but logically it has the same problem as apocatastasis and universalism in general. It violates free will. So it seems to be heresy.

Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Originally Posted by The young fogey
Thanks for the reminder about the kneeling prayer and I thought of the Offertory in the Roman Rite Requiem too.

Praying people out of hell seems loving — it's obviously appealing — but logically it has the same problem as apocatastasis and universalism in general. It violates free will. So it seems to be heresy.


The Russian Orthodox, as you see from the words of Archbishop Hilarion, believe in it.

One more heresy to our account. smile But it is a kind of positive and kind heresy!

And, given the Kneeling Prayers at Vespers, I imagine that Eastern Catholics believe it also? Would that be the case?

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,759
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,759
Father Ambrose,

I thought that I would have remembered
Quote
"...who also on this all-perfect and saving feast, art graciously pleased to accept propitiatory prayers for those who are imprisoned in Hell, promising unto us and unto those held in bondage great hope of release from the vileness that doth hinder us and hinder them... We who are living will bless thee, and will pray, and offer unto thee propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for their souls."
from the kneeling prayers, so I pulled out my Trebnyk (as compliled by Fr Demetrius Wysochansky, OSBM, Basilian Press, Etobicoke, Ontario 1986). It reads as follows:

On this perfect and salutary feast, make us worthy to utter supplications in favor of those imprisoned in PURGATORY, O Lord, for you promised to grant relief to the dead from the afflictions besetting them, and to send down consolation and repose upon them. Accept then, our prayers, give rest to the souls of your departed servants, in a place of joy and happiness, where there is no pain, sorrow, or sighing; establish them in peace and joy in the mansions of the Saints.
O Lord, the dead send up no praise to You, but we the living will bless You, and send up our prayers, and sacrifices for their souls and our own; for You are the peace of our souls and bodies, and we give glory to You, Father Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever.


Maybe I'm not clear on what "praying people out of hell" means? If you mean that our intercessory prayers for a living or dieing person who we believe is destined for hell....for example Osama BinLadin, or Stalin or Hitler before they died, or even Judas before he committed suicide ....then I agree with the statement. But if you mean a person who has died and his soul committed to Hell ....I would disagree.

Could some of the perceived conflict with the early Church be due to terminology? The Apostle Creed is sometimes prayed "(Christ) was crucified, died and buried, He descended into hell, the third day He rose again from the dead..."
The more appropriate wording would be to substitute "Hades" for "Hell," with Hades being the world of the dead, or Sheaol.


Or is Archbishop Hilarion taking the position that there is not a "purgatory" and the "hell" of which he (and the kneeling prayer)speaks is actually the state of souls awaiting Final Judgment?

I look forward to your comments.

Christ is amongst us!
Fr Deacon Paul

Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Originally Posted by Paul B
Father Ambrose,

I thought that I would have remembered
Quote
"...who also on this all-perfect and saving feast, art graciously pleased to accept propitiatory prayers for those who are imprisoned in Hell, promising unto us and unto those held in bondage great hope of release from the vileness that doth hinder us and hinder them... We who are living will bless thee, and will pray, and offer unto thee propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for their souls."
from the kneeling prayers, so I pulled out my Trebnyk (as compliled by Fr Demetrius Wysochansky, OSBM, Basilian Press, Etobicoke, Ontario 1986). It reads as follows:

On this perfect and salutary feast, make us worthy to utter supplications in favor of those imprisoned in PURGATORY, O Lord, for you promised to grant relief to the dead from the afflictions besetting them,


Dear Father Deacon, at my age I am immune to shock or so I thought, but this has set me back on my heels smile shocked

The Slavonic most definitely prays for their deliverance from Hell.

I do not have a copy of the original Greek but I would be 99.9% certain that it too speaks of Hell.

So your Trebnik has been subjected, I would think, to latinisation. A latinisation on two counts - the deliberate mistranslation of your ancient Greek and Slavonic liturgical text, and the introduction of the word "Purgatory" which I understand is not used by Eastern Catholics?

Do you have any way of referring to earlier Eastern Catholic Trebniks?

Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Originally Posted by Paul B
Or is Archbishop Hilarion taking the position that there is not a "purgatory" and the "hell" of which he (and the kneeling prayer)speaks is actually the state of souls awaiting Final Judgment?


Father, as you can see from Archbp Hilarion's conversation with the Coptic Metropolitan he is speaking about deliverance from Hell per se. The Copts, to his amazement, have ceased to pray for souls in hell seeing their deliverance from there as impossible.

He is not speaking about the state of souls awaiting judgement since both we and the Copts are in full agreement about the efficacy of prayers for them.

Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 672
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 672
I have often heard that many monks on Mount Athos pray for the devil's conversion. If that is so, wouldn't that be the ultimate in "praying someone out of hell?"

Ray

Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Originally Posted by Paul B
Maybe I'm not clear on what "praying people out of hell" means? If you mean that our intercessory prayers for a living or dieing person who we believe is destined for hell....for example Osama BinLadin, or Stalin or Hitler before they died, or even Judas before he committed suicide ....then I agree with the statement. But if you mean a person who has died and his soul committed to Hell ....I would disagree.
<snip>....

Could some of the perceived conflict with the early Church be due to terminology? The Apostle Creed is sometimes prayed "(Christ) was crucified, died and buried, He descended into hell, the third day He rose again from the dead..."
The more appropriate wording would be to substitute "Hades" for "Hell," with Hades being the world of the dead, or Sheaol.


Father,

Linguistically we cannot make in Russian the distinction which we can in English between Hades and Hell. That is why when they are speaking English Russian speakers will use either term, interchangeably.


Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna, Russian Orthodox Church's Representative for the EU (now Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk and head of the Department of External Church Relations.

"The Descent of Christ into Hades in Eastern and Western Theological Traditions"

A lecture delivered at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, Minneapolis, USA,
on 5 November 2002

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/5.aspx
[For full article]

Extract:
__________________________________________
The descent of Christ into Hades is one of the most mysterious, enigmatic
and inexplicable events in New Testament history. In today's Christian
world, this event is understood differently. Liberal Western theology
rejects altogether any possibility for speaking of the descent of Christ
into Hades literally, arguing that the scriptural texts on this theme should
be understood metaphorically. The traditional Catholic doctrine insists that
after His death on the cross Christ descended to hell only to deliver the
Old Testament righteous from it. A similar understanding is quite widespread
among Orthodox Christians.

On the other hand, the New Testament speaks of the preaching of Christ in
hell as addressed to the unrepentant sinners: 'For Christ also died for sins
once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to
God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which
he went and preached to the spirit in prison, who formerly did not obey,
when God's patience waited.

However, many Church Fathers and liturgical texts of the Orthodox Church
repeatedly underline that having descended to hell, Christ opened the way to
salvation for all people, not only the Old Testament righteous. The descent
of Christ into Hades is perceived as an event of cosmic significance
involving all people without exception. They also speak about the victory of
Christ over death, the full devastation of hell and that after the descent
of Christ into Hades there was nobody left there except for the devil and
demons.


-oOo-

Bishop Hilarion was also guest speaker at the Divine Mercy Congress last year where his speech was so greatly appreciated that the applause could not be stopped. This is all the more remarkable because it was also applauded by Cardinal Schornberg and yet by Catholic lights the speech contained some notable heresy!!

http://thedivinemercy.org/news/story.php?NID=3132

The [Divine Mercy] Congress Catches Fire!
Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: Christ the Conqueror of Hell
Russian Orthodox Bishop: God's Mercy is immeasurable love of the Father
By Dan Valenti (Apr 6, 2008)




Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,759
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,759
The Trebnyk which I quoted was Ukraninian Greek Catholic because it was the handiest reference which I had.

From the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Pentecostarian the prayer excerpts read:

(First part of Third Kneeling Prayer)
O ever-flowing, living, and enlightening source; O creative Power, co-eternal with the father, who most marvelously fulfilled the entire plan concerning our salvation; O Christ our God, who shattered the indissoluble bonds of Death and the bolts of Hades; You trampled upon a multitude of the evil spirits, offering yourself for us as a blameless Victim and giving your most pure Body, untouched and unapproachable by any sin, as a sacrifice. An through this awesome and inscrutable sacred sacrifice, You have given us eternal life.
For by descending into Hades and smashing the eternal gates, and having shown the way to heaven to those who were sitting in darkness, you ensnared the Prince of evil and the snake of the Abyss with divinely-wise enticements. And you bound him with the chains of gloom by your immeasureable power, and You shackled him In Tartarus, the deepest infernal region of Hades, and through your might confined him to the unquenchable fire and the eternal darkness.


The prayer goes on and then reads....

Also, on this salvific feast on which everything was totally accomplished, You deigned, therefore, to accept supplications in behalf of those who are imprisoned in Hades; and to those being held in bondage, You promised great hopes for their release from the grievous bonds constraining them by sending down your consolation.
Hear us, your humble servants, beseeching You, and grant repose to the souls of your servants who have already departed into a place of light and a place of refreshment and peace from which all illness, sorrow, and sighing have been taken away. Commit their souls to the places of the just, and make them worthy of peace and of repose. For the dead cannot praise You, O Lord, nor do those in Hades venture to offer confession to You. But we, the living, do bless You, and we do pray and offer You supplications and sacrifices for their souls.


Here is the definition of Tarturus according to Wikipedia (it was not listed in OrthodoxWiki):
In classic mythology, below Heaven, Earth, and Pontus is Tartarus, or Tartaros (Greek Τάρταρος, deep place). It is a deep, gloomy place, a pit, or an abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides beneath the underworld. In the Gorgias, Plato (c. 400 BC) wrote that souls were judged after death and those who received punishment were sent to Tartarus. As a place of punishment, it can be considered a hell. The classic Hades, on the other hand, is more similar to Old Testament Sheol.

IMHO Tartarus is synonymous with our understanding of "Hell" (where "the Prince of evil and the snake of the Abyss" dwells) and Hades is synonymous with Sheaol.
Unknown to us mortals is the distinction between the place of purging and/or those awaiting the Final Judgment. More defined IMHO, is Heaven, the place of the Just, and Hell, "the fire that shall never be quesnched-- where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched" (Mk9:43-44).

Awaiting to glorify the virgin birth,
Fr Deacon Paul

Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,505
Back in the 1970s Fr Seraphim and The Orthodox Word had made sure that we all had the schema of the afterlife firmly fixed in our brains, at least according to Fr Seraphim's ideas. I could have rattled off the difference between hell and hades and gehenna in 10 seconds.

But when I learned from my spiritual father at the monastery in Serbia that this schema cannot be found in the Fathers, that they do not teach much about the afterlife very precisely, that they interchange terms constantly and that it is not possible to draw up any consistent schema based on the Fathers - well, what was the point of adopting any one particular schema and insisting that it was *the* one? So it is not a case of "simply not knowing." It is more a case of giving up and admitting, as did Saint Paul, that at the very best we can only "see through a glass darkly" and all our speculative systems about the afterlife are pretty much based on the pride of the human mind which cannot bear to admit that it does not know something and so to fill the vacuum it spins theories of its own.

Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5

Moderated by  Alice, Father Deacon Ed, theophan 

Link Copied to Clipboard
The Byzantine Forum provides message boards for discussions focusing on Eastern Christianity (though discussions of other topics are welcome). The views expressed herein are those of the participants and may or may not reflect the teachings of the Byzantine Catholic or any other Church. The Byzantine Forum and the www.byzcath.org site exist to help build up the Church but are unofficial, have no connection with any Church entity, and should not be looked to as a source for official information for any Church. All posts become property of byzcath.org. Contents copyright - 1996-2020 (Forum 1998-2020). All rights reserved.
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5