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Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70319 04/25/03 01:37 AM
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Matheon Offline OP
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Christos Voskrese!

I've been attending a Ruthenian Rite (Byzantine Catholic) Church since 1994, although I was born and raised in the Latin Rite. I took it upon myself during the time of the last Great Fast, to really study the theology and history of the Eastern Churches in a depth I haven't pursued before.

The more I read the more I admired the Eastern perspective. However, I came upon an issue that is now troubling me. That is the issue of purgatory. Being raised Latin Catholic, I've always took purgatory for granted as an article of faith. I have discovered in my reading that it is the Orthodox view that purgatory does not exist, and that our souls all go to hell (with those whose ultimate fate is paradise given a view of paradise that makes their stay in hell more tolerable) until the final judgment when we will all be reunified with our bodies, judged, and sent to our final destination. I apologize if this short description is inaccurate, and certainly open to the wise opinion of fellow Byzantine Forum members on whether the gist of that description is at least correct.

My question to anyone who might care to help me is what opinion a good Byzantine Catholic might with good conscience hold on the existence of purgatory? Are we expected to be more "Roman" or "Orthodox" in this regard?

I've been defending the concept of purgatory against protestants for most of my life, and I now feel quite taken aback.

Any counsel on this issue troubling my sleep would be greatly appreciated.

Matthew, a sinner

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70320 04/25/03 01:58 AM
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Theosis Offline
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Glory to Jesus Christ!
Glory to Him Forever!

Dear Matheon,

Greetings! smile I'll tell you what I know about this topic (very limited though.) I know that the Orthodox teach that the righteous go to paradise if they are worthy of it at death. Although, this "paradise" isn't heaven proper. True heaven and the completeness of our redemption will only occur when we are reunited to our bodies at the resurrection.

The Orthodox traditionally have a teaching that says that if souls die with more serious sins on their soul (that need to be purified in the afterlife) and haven't brought forth enough fruits of repentance, they are confined in hell for a period of time. (Side note: "Fruits of Repentance" seems akin to the Roman Catholic notion of "temporal punishment." Although, the latter is a much more judgmental view of God. The concept seems the same though.) They are purified by this time in hell and are released by the prayers and liturgies of the Church said on their behalf. St. Mark of Ephesus said this in his First homily on "Refutation of the Latin Chapters Concerning Purgatorial Fire." This is of particular interest to me for it is practically the whole doctrine of purgatory. Roman Catholicism generally teaches that the same fire that torments those in hell purifies those in purgatory. St. Augustine himself was of the persuasion that purgatory was an upper chamber of hell, as was St. Thomas Aquinas I think. Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians seem to be in agreement here on the idea of purification after death being done by fire, the same fire in hell, and the whole issue of a "third state" is easily resolved when purgatory is seen as a chamber of hell.

A sinner,

Adam


Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70321 04/25/03 02:11 AM
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Hi, Matthew!

Welcome to The Byzantine Forum.

I'm sure others will post but our Byzantine Catholic Church does not embrace the theology of purgatory and has no developed official doctrine on the matter. The short of it is that there is a journey of the soul after death which can be likened to a purifying ascent to the Father. Pray by those left behind is good and helpful.

Admin

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70322 04/25/03 02:53 AM
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griego catolico Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Administrator:


I'm sure others will post but our Byzantine Catholic Church does not embrace the theology of purgatory and has no developed official doctrine on the matter.
Admin
Dear Administrator,

Christ Is Risen!

Is not purgatory an official doctrine of the Byzantine Catholic Church? While the East and West have different theological views of purgatory, it is a doctrine of the universal Catholic Church, and thus to be believed by all in communion with the Catholic Church.
smile

God bless you,
griego

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70323 04/25/03 03:07 AM
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Tony Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Administrator:

I'm sure others will post but our Byzantine Catholic Church does not embrace the theology of purgatory and has no developed official doctrine on the matter.
Dear Administrator,

I was at the last Otpust in Uniontown that Metropolitan JUDSON was at. At the Liturgy and Panachida in the cemetery (I am sure you know which one I mean, Saturday?) the Metropolitan gave a homily and spoke about praying for the dead. He said that as Catholics BCs believe in Purgatory. I was there, I am sure others on this board were there too. He was unequivocal about it.

What is one to make of that?

Tony

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70324 04/25/03 01:33 PM
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Father Deacon Ed Offline
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To All:

Because of the union of the Eastern Catholic Churches with Rome there have been certain adaptations in our language. While Eastern Christians (both Catholic and Orthodox) never developed a theology about the end-of-life transition we have, in general, picked up the Latin terminology.

The concept of Purgatory that the Latin Church currently uses -- a purgation of our failings during the transition from life to death -- is indeed something that is closely akin to our own unofficial thinking. We look at the entire duration of life as a process of theosis, and that would include the transition from life to death. Consequently, the acceptance of this idea is not inconsistent with our own roots and traditions.

Note, however, that the former Latin understanding of Purgatory as some sort of high-temp waiting room which could be mitigated by prayers and good works is not consistent with our understandings. Fortunately, even that can be described as Rome does today.

So, as with all compromises, it is not the best description -- but at least the current expression is reasonably close to ours.

Edward, deacon and sinner

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70325 04/25/03 05:12 PM
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Dear Friends,

I ran across this passage:

St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote that "after the departure from the body (a soul that is not purified) ...will not be able to participate in divinity, unless the cleansing fire will have purged away all stains on the soul."

My understanding of purgatory is that it is a process, not a place/location.

Comments?

Paul

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70326 04/25/03 09:48 PM
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griego catolico Offline
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Fellow Forum members,

Bishop John Elya, Eparch for Melkite Catholics of the United States, answered a question on praying for the dead and offering indulgences for them. You may read his answer at: www.melkite.org/Questions/W-4.htm

Another question of interest- with a mention about purgatory- is: www.melkite.org/Questions/R-9.htm

Responses?

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70327 04/26/03 01:58 AM
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Will everyone stop beating around the bush, and please answer Tony's question straight-forward!!

Dan

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70328 04/26/03 03:49 PM
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Matheon,

All we as Catholics are bound by Faith to believe is that

1) There is a place in which souls are purified for Heaven
2) Prayers are efficacious for these souls.

That's all! The rest is non-essential, and in these non-essentials Eastern and Western Christian theology differs; but I see that as a good thing.

Logos Teen

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70329 04/26/03 03:53 PM
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Joe T Offline
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Is Purgatory to be considered a NOUN or a VERB?

If a NOUN, then it is a PLACE.

If a VERB, then it is a PROCESS.

Since many Catholics use the CCC as their final say in matters theological, what is its conclusion: noun or verb?

If a process, then when did the term take on a noun-ish derivative? and why?

It was asked: "... what opinion a good Byzantine Catholic might with good conscience hold on the existence of purgatory?"

The term "good" reminds me of those whites who considered a "good" black to be one who didn't challenge the status quo of racism. I hope that our "good"-ness is not determined by how well we define our faith in Western terminology and concepts. If this is not what is considered "good" by the original poster, then I apologize.

I believe that one of the articles of the Union of Brest was not to debate this particular issue - since it was so meaningful and important to Latins. Correct me if I am wrong.

Joe

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70330 04/26/03 04:03 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by griego catolico:
Is not purgatory an official doctrine of the Byzantine Catholic Church? While the East and West have different theological views of purgatory, it is a doctrine of the universal Catholic Church, and thus to be believed by all in communion with the Catholic Church.
Griego catolico,

But didn't you just admit that East and West have different theological views? How can that be so if they all have to express those theological views according to Medieval Latin theology? Why doesn't the Latin Church accept the universal doctrine of Mary's Dormition? or the universal catholic doctrine of St. Anne's conception as celebrated and expressed in her Catholic Eastern theology?

Latin 'doctrine' makes not a litmust test of my Catholicism; communion does.

Our code states in Canon 28.1:

"A rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, culture and circumstances of history of a distinct people, by which its own manner of living the faith is manifested in each Church sui juris."

Now why is it that we can have our 'differences' but only if those differences agree lock, stock, and barrel with Latin liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony?

Exactly what Catholic Church are you talking about? Eastern Catholics aren't the ones with the problem here. This is a problem that the majority Latin Catholics have to come to terms with. Can the 'catholic' nature of the Church accept orthodox views not stemming from Latin liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony?

It is a problem of ego and loving others. All the words of Vatican II, papal encyclicals and words of support by individual Latin bishops don't mean diddly squat if we can't get past Canon 28.1

Most "good" Eastern Catholics suffered much to maintain that Catholic communion. Their story is written with the blood of martyrs.

Joe

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70331 04/27/03 05:21 AM
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Matheon Offline OP
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Christos Voskrese!
Voistinu Voskrese!

I wish to thank everyone for their enlightening replies. I certainly hope that my first post on these forums doesn't lead to any rancor.

I find a great deal of merit in Logos Teens suggestion that one should focus on the similarities and respect the differences between the Traditions.

As for my wording of "good Byzantine Catholic", I pray that in charity my poor wording can be seen in the best possible light that I originally intended.

I read with great interest the links that Griego catolico posted. What I found most striking was Bishop John's nearly explicit adoption of the "theory of doctrinal development", that is the Roman Catholic concept of a theology that grows in stages, to higher and more clearly defined levels of knowledge. This seems quite different to the theological approach that I understand the Eastern Churches hold. It is my humble interpretation that Eastern Churches believe that Church theology has been "fixed" since the first Church Fathers, and cannot be added to or subtracted from.

It is this philosophic difference, I have been lead to believe, that has allowed the Roman Church to develop the idea of purgatory, indulgences, and other concepts alien to the Eastern Churches.

Again, if my characterizations of these views are mistaken, I apologies, and only ask for clarification.

I am quite interested what other forum members might think of my observations.

Matthew, a sinner.

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70332 05/01/03 08:41 PM
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griego catolico Offline
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Tony:
[QUOTE]
I was at the last Otpust in Uniontown that Metropolitan JUDSON was at. At the Liturgy and Panachida in the cemetery (I am sure you know which one I mean, Saturday?) the Metropolitan gave a homily and spoke about praying for the dead. He said that as Catholics BCs believe in Purgatory. I was there, I am sure others on this board were there too. He was unequivocal about it.

What is one to make of that?


Dear Tony,

As a bishop of the Catholic Church, Metropolitan Judson is upholding Catholic doctrine and teaching the Catholic faith to his flock. The existence of purgatory is a doctrine of the Catholic Church which is to be held by all in communion with the Catholic Church, both East and West.

I have yet to find any official church document which declares that Eastern Catholics are not to believe in so-called "Latin doctrines". In fact, I have found otherwise. A few years ago the Holy Father added new articles to the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches in which it states that Catholics in union with the magisterium of the Church must believe all doctrines that the magisterium teaches.

There are no "Latin doctrines", there are only Catholic doctrines.

griego

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70333 05/01/03 09:21 PM
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Brian Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by griego catolico:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Tony:
[b] [QUOTE]





There are no "Latin doctrines", there are only Catholic doctrines.

griego [/b]
That is why I could not go on calling myself "Orthodox in Communion with Rome" when in the Byzantine Catholic Church. For me, it was non-sensical, if one had to accept Papal Infallibility and other non-Eastern Christian beliefs, how could you say you were Orthodox??

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