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Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70334 05/01/03 10:17 PM
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Christ Is Risen!

I come out of voluntary exile for this post and this post only because I feel it is important enough to convey regarding the Orthodox Catholic concept of Purgatory. It is from my files and is an answer to a question I posed in an Orthodox Catholic discussion group -

===========

The following reply is from a convert to Orthodoxy and is probably the most profound and simplest explaination  I have ever read regarding the Orthodox Catholic concept of the soul after death and Purgatory.  I share it with you now -
 
QUESTION:  (Asked by OrthoMan)
 
<<In  'The Complete Book of Orthodoxy' by George W. Grube the following
sentence appears within the explaination of PURGATORY -

"If there is, any suffering in the after life, some Orthodox Catholic
theologians teach, it is of a purifying nature and not punitive."

I find this to be confusing because, isn't this exactly what the Roman
Catholic teaches in regards to Purgatory?  Can someone explain this sentence
and its meaning from an Orthodox Catholic viewpoint?

Bob>>

ANSWER:  (by Reader Tmothy Copple)

Some have already responded to this, and I have not looked at all of today's
post, so if this subject has died out and I am behind the times here, or all
of this has already been said, please excuse me.

Out of the post I have read, it seems there is some confusion about this
issue. So, I will try to give the general differences between RC purgatory
and Orthodox understanding of the soul's purification in the next life.
There are similarities and differences.

First, one must stop and think what the word "punishment" really means. It
is essentially, a corrective measure that is used upon someone for their
ultimate benefit. Originally, the concept of "punishment" had a very
redemptive and healing aspect to it. However, as it tends to be used today
(at least in theological talk), it tends to refer to arbitrary dishing out
of misery, often to "pay back" some wrong or injustice. We see this in our
own laws, one can see a paying back and a hope of it bringing healing when
we send someone to jail. In strict law sense, however, I think the intent is
to ultimate reform the person, or at least keep them out of society so that
they do not harm others. Revenge is more the emotional side of it from the
victim's standpoint.

Due to the above, the concept of punishment has taken on more of a "paying
back" or retribution, and is then a word that people who focus on the
healing aspect like to stay away from. This probably comes from the concept
of satisfaction atonement, where the whole idea of Jesus dying on the cross
was to pay back to the Father a debt of sin that we could not. That is also
why the RC idea sounds so much like they are saying (to a Protestant) that
Christ's forgiveness wasn't good enough, since it didn't entirely pay the
debt, that we by suffering punishment still had something left to pay off
for our sins. Thus, while the RC held to some degree of the satisfaction
theory, and while that did predominate at certain times, they still had the
context of healing, even if it was buried at times and forgotten. The
understanding of "punishment" can be interpreted in either direction.
However, I would tend to stay away from it now if just because its common
connotation does not lend itself to really expressing the reality of what we
believe, and will automatically put forth a picture of God that is
incompatible with Orthodoxy's.

That said, Orthodoxy does understand a purifying to take place in the next
life, which St. Paul also speaks about (and RC uses to support Purgatory as
well), that all our works will be put through the fire, the stone, gold,
etc. will remain while all that is of hay, straw, etc. will be burned away.
Even if it is all burned away, however, if the foundation which has been
laid is Jesus Christ, that person will be saved as through the fire.

Since this is scripture, and the Fathers also speak about the purifying of
the soul in this life and the next, this is something we cannot just toss
aside. However, there are some significant differences between what I have
understood of the RC's concept and Orthodoxy's on this purifying in the next
life.

One of the biggest differences is when this purifying takes place, and the
purpose and reason of the purifying. RC teaches that one must be purified
*before* approaching God. Orthodoxy tends to teach that one is purified
*upon* approaching God.

First, one must understand the need for purification. Keep in mind that this
is a journey. Our movement is towards the likeness of God being instilled in
our life and a growing relationship with Him. The closer we move towards
God-likeness, it basically means the less of this temporal world that we
hold onto and the more of the Spirit that we have. (Read St. Seraphim of
Sarov on acquiring the Holy Spirit as an example of this.) Some folks have
attained to the angelic life in this life. My own patron saint, the Apostle
Timothy, disciple of St. Paul, was said to have been such a person.
Incidentally he was martyred for preaching against the pagan worship in
Ephesus, where he was a bishop of the Church. A mob came and beat him with
stones and clubs. Anyway, most of us will not get there in this life time.
We hold onto too much of this world's treasures. We don't go and "sell all
that we have" to follow Christ. Thus our sins build hay and straw structures
in our lives. We are forgiven for the sins through repentance and
confession, and the relationship to God is kept whole, but we still have
that straw hut over there that we have a hard time tearing down and building
it with something of the virtues. We struggle with that in many areas. We
wish to build things in our lives with our passions instead of the virtues.

Thus, what happens for many is they leave this life with some of our life
built out of gold, silver and other sturdy materials, but we also have some
of our life built out of the straw and hay. What we are doing on this
journey is working on tearing down the straw and hay structures and
replacing them with the stones of virtues.

The need is the same in either communion, that these areas of our life built
by the passions cannot remain in the presence of God. However, the solution
to how those are dealt with varies. RC says that they must be burned away
before entering God's presence. Therefore, there is a place, or time, or
some existence that one has that one goes through this fire and is purified
of these things. Naturally this is not going to be pleasant and does feel
like a "punishment" even though it is for our benefit. When I got punished
as a child for playing in the street, it was to protect my life, not to
cause me pain for the heck of it. Yet, the concept here is that God's
holiness cannot allow any impurity and will automatically be rejected.
Therefore, if one comes into God's presence with some impurity, the idea is
that person will be rejected except that the impurity is cleansed
beforehand.

In Orthodoxy, God is understood as an "All Consuming Fire" that we are
either lighted with or heated by. This fiery presence is in Orthodoxy what
purifies us. Upon coming to God, His very presence burns away all
impurities. All that remains will be the gold, silver and other virtues of
our life, and at that point we will be freed from all that once weighted us
down in this life, and freed to ascend in greater ways to God. For those who
have progressed far with eradicating the passions from their lives and have
attained a great God-likeness through the Spirit, there will be little to
burn away, if any, and their transition into God's presence will be fully
like the three holy Children in Daniel, who when the king threw them into
the furnace heated 7 times greater than normal, all experienced it as a
"dewy cool breeze" instead of a burning fire. There will be many, however,
that will experience this entry to God's presence with some pain and
suffering. Not due to God inflicting punishment on them, but due to the
reaction of bringing impurity into God's holiness. The two cannot mix. It is
like mixing two chemicals together that produce an explosion. Neither
chemical "caused" it to happen, it simply happened by bringing them
together. Thus it will be with the consequences of sin in our lives that we
have yet to clean out in this life, it will get cleaned out in the next for
us.

Therefore, there are two different understandings at work here, one which
says that we cannot come into God's presence without being purified first
because God will reject us as a person otherwise, and one which says that in
coming into His presence, He doesn't reject all those in Christ, but He does
"reject" and burns away all that is incompatible with His presence in us.
Yet, if we have Christ, we hold onto that relationship and the burning is
only temporary (whatever temporary means there), whereas those who do not
have Christ, upon coming into God's presence, experience the second death,
total and unending fire of His presence. That is "hell".

The next difference comes in our prayers for these people. Somehow over time
the RC concept mutated from what we understand as Orthodox to this whole
system of merits and the applying them from one to another. Initially, the
understanding of "merits" simply meant that a particular saint who was close
to God due to their humility and love of God in their life, who had
eradicated much of the passions and established the virtues, had by that
reason acquired the life that has faith which can move mountains. This is of
God's doing, not the saints, and the saint continually keeps this in mind if
he/she does not with to fall. However, Christ says we will be able to do
that, and like the demon that the disciples could not cast out because they
had not fasted and prayed as they should have, one's acquiring the Holy
Spirit in humility does have something to do with how well one is able to
help others with a gift God has given them, whether that is healing,
hospitality, etc. Thus, there are some that have more "merit" in their lives
than others. Doesn't mean one has earned salvation, but simply that one has
acquired a certain relationship with God which allows them to transmit to us
more of God's mercy and grace within our lives. That is why we ask people to
pray for us, in hopes that they have a relationship with God that will aid
us. So one sees the Fathers speaking of merits at times, and some current
Orthodoxy material will also speak of them as well.

However, somehow in the RC circles, this grew into some sort of "thing" that
one can almost measure. So if one did such and such a thing, it would give
them X number of merits from a saints abundant storehouse of merits (he/she
had more than they needed for themselves). I think one can find examples
where this has gone to extremes such as the selling of them (as if the
Church owned them), and the more legalistic "pray this prayer and get 2000
merits" which I read something similar to that in some Catholic literature
once.

In Orthodox understanding, such prayers and gifts of the saints cannot be
moved around like that, nor can you store up a saints merits for when you
get to "purgatory" yourself. All that a saint can help you with in that
regard is to pray for you and help guide you to acquiring the "merits" for
yourself so that when you get to God, you will experience the least amount
of burning possible. Nor are they quantified as something measurable. Yet,
we deem the prayers of the saints as powerful and a great help in time of
need, and they work towards our salvation and redemption of our whole life.
Consequently, Orthodoxy has never built us such a system of merits as the RC
has.

Those are the two main differences between our views of this purifying in
the next life as I have understood things. May others correct my mistakes.
Perhaps there are others, but my post has gone on long enough as it is.

======

Back into exile !

OrthoMan

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70335 05/01/03 11:22 PM
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The aforementioned being said leads me to believe that Eastern Catholics are obligated to accept the Latin interpretation of Purgatory, as the late Metropolitan Judson said several years ago at the Otpust (according to Tony). This, coupled with Bishop John Elya's explanation on Indulgences on the Melkite website: "Ask the Bishop" forum. Bishop John stated that as Eastern Catholics we must accept EVERYTHING the Pope and Rome teaches, including the concept of "Indulgences" as understood in the Catholic Church today (anyone care to elaborate on the official teaching on indulgences today???).

All things considered here, I feel it's a no-win situation. We can tell others we are "Orthodox in communion with Rome" all we want, but there is a great incongruity in this statement when it comes down to the theological issues (ie: I feel we are not being honest with ourselves and others when we label ourselves with this title).

I once told my college professor (a Catholic priest) that I was an Orthodox Christian in Communion with Rome, and he literally laughed me to scorn. He told me that it's a terrible contradiction to call oneself this, as communion between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches is not a reality yet. There are two different theologies here (Orthodox and Catholic respectively), and we are doing a good job in cutting-and-pasteing both together, which, in my humble opinion, is not good (does't the Unitarian-Universalists do something like this in their "theology?"-- a great mix of everything). We are what we are, Eastern Catholics under the rule of the Pope--he has the final say.

This may be harsh, but, I feel, it's the cold reality of our situation.

Christ is Risen!

St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre intercede to God for us!

Dan

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70336 05/02/03 01:42 AM
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Christ is Risen!

Did someone say "Byzantine Catholic Purgatory?"

I would like to quote passages from the Parastas of our Byzantine Burial liturgy that may shed light on the goings-ons of the immediate afterlife and whether there is any mention of a Purgatory:

- - - - - - - - - - -

Litany: &#8220;That he/she/they be numbered with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob &#8230;&#8221;; &#8220;That he/she/they be committed to the region of the living, to the place of light where all the Saints and the Just repose &#8230;&#8221;; That he/she/they inherit the eternal kingdom of heaven &#8230;&#8221;; That he/she/they share the constant joy prepared for the Saints from the beginning of time &#8230;&#8221;

Troparioa: &#8220;&#8230; give rest to the soul(s) &#8230;&#8221;

Hymns for the Deceased: &#8220;Have mercy on Your creature&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; in Your compassion cleanse me&#8221;; &#8220;Grant rest, O God, to Your servant and place him/her/them in Paradise where the choirs of Saints and Righteous shine like stars&#8221;

Canon:

Ode 1: &#8220;The courageous martyrs, in their heavenly mansions continually implore you, O Lord: Deem the faithful, whom You have taken from the earth, worthy to receive Your eternal blessings&#8221;;

[Side Note: Ode 3 states: &#8220;For You exalted the power of Your faithful, O Gracious One, and confirmed us on the rock, the profession of faith in You.&#8221; (ROCK = profession of faith in Christ). Worthy of another thread?]

Ode 3: &#8220;Grant, O Gracious One, the he/she who comes to You &#8230; may dwell joyously in the eternal mansions&#8221;

Ode 4: &#8220;&#8230; receive him/her/them &#8230; and make him/her/them a child/children of Your light, having dispelled the haze of sin from him/her/them&#8221;

Ode 5: &#8220;&#8230; grant a heavenly dwelling-place and the reception of Your gifts to Your faithful servant(s) who has fallen asleep &#8230; grant him/her/them the remission of sins&#8221;; &#8220;Grant to your departed Your heavenly kingdom&#8221;

Ode 6: &#8220;&#8230; favor Your faithful servant(s) who You have taken from the earth, to meet You in Your splendor&#8221;; &#8220;Place now, in the heavenly delight, Your servant(s) who departed to You in faith&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; we have ascended from earth to heaven, freed of the corruption of death&#8221;

Kontakion: &#8220;&#8230; give rest to Your servant(s) where there is no pain, sorrow, nor mourning, but life everlasting&#8221;

Ode 8: &#8220;&#8230; accept the faithful who piously departed from this life and have come to You&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; graciously place in the land of the meek all those who have already fallen asleep &#8230;&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; allow &#8230; the departed, in faith, may enjoy Your bright and divine splendor.&#8221;; Grant him/her/them rest in the bosom of Abraham and impart to him/her/them eternal beatitude &#8230;&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; since You have taken him/her/them from the place of affliction and shadow of death, now place him/her/them where Your light shines&#8221;

Alternate Canon:

Ode 1: &#8220;Disregard the transgressions of youthful days &#8230; remit the sins of Your servant(s) who has just fallen asleep; and number him/her/them among the Chosen Ones&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; grant to Your servant(s), whom You received, the abundant glory and gladness enjoyed by those who already attained the blessed life&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; and called forth those resting in the grave: graciously grant that he/she/they, whom You have accepted, may dwell in the mansions of the Just&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; You remitted the sins of Your servant(s) &#8230;&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; that He may rest the soul(s) of His departed servant(s) among the Saints &#8230;&#8221;

Ode 4: &#8220;You have many mansions, O Savior, which is allotted to all according to their merits and the measure of their virtues &#8230;; &#8220;&#8230; You &#8230; have shown the way of life to us. Grant that same life to the departed &#8230;&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; make him/her a partaker in Your light&#8221;

Ode 5: &#8220;In the mansions of the Saints &#8230; grant to the departed &#8230; Your ineffable glory and Your blessedness &#8230;&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; place Your servant(s) in the bosom of Abraham where the angelic Hosts and the assembly of the Righteous rejoice&#8221;; &#8220;You proved &#8230; to be our purification, our righteousness and deliverance &#8230; place the departed in the joys of paradise&#8221;

Ode 6: &#8220;&#8230; by Your death You destroyed the stronghold of the enemy and freed all captives held therein, bestowing life to them. Grant the same &#8230; to the departed&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; deliver Your servants, detained in the abyss, from their tears and sighing &#8230;&#8221;

Ode 7: &#8220;You give glory of Your divine kingdom to those who departed in faith. Grant also the robe of incorruption to those &#8230;&#8221;

Troparion: &#8220;With the souls of the Just brought to perfection, give rest &#8230; to the soul(s) of Your servant(s), keeping him/her/them for the blessed life &#8230;&#8221;

Litany of the Deceased: &#8220;Let us pray for the repose of the soul(s) of the departed servant(s) of God &#8230; and that his/her/their every transgression &#8230; be forgiven him/her/them&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; that God commit his/her/their soul(s) to the place where the Just repose&#8221;; &#8220;&#8230; for the remission of his/her/their sins&#8221;

Prayer (Collect): &#8220;&#8230; grant rest &#8230; to the soul(s) of the servant(s) &#8230; in a place of light, joy, and peace, where there is no pain, sorrow, nor mourning&#8221;

Dismissal Prayer: &#8220;May Christ &#8230; place the soul of His departed servant(s) &#8230; in the abode of the Saints, grant him/her/them rest in the bosom of Abraham, and number him/her/them among the Just &#8230;&#8221;

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

In reviewing those passages in the Parastas regarding the events/processes of the immediate afterlife, it seems that two things stand out: (1) forgiveness of sins of the departed and (2) granting rest of the departed in the heavenly abode where the Saints are.

Such graphic imagery and color is given to the final destination place: region of the living, place of light-joy-peace, among the chosen ones, blessed life, mansions of the Just, paradise, robe of incorruption, eternal kingdom of heaven, heavenly mansions-kingdom-delight, heaven, land of the meek, bosom of Abraham, place of repose for Saints and the Just, eternal beatitude &#8230;

There seems to be no interest in a halfway "place' or intermediate "process.'

Those who died are considered as only having &#8220;fallen asleep;&#8221; we pray that eternal &#8220;rest&#8221; be granted to them.

This life is considered the stronghold of the enemy, the abyss.

But before we consider the mention of purification as implying a Purgatory, let us note that in the Byzantine theology found in the canons of the burial service are tied into the Descent of Jesus into Hades as well as a few other themes. For instance, the thematic structure of each ode in the Canon sung is thus:

Ode's Structure:
I: [Irmos] Old Testament Canticle / Praise of the Lord
II: Death of Christ / Saints and Martyrs
III: Descent into Hades (Hell) / Heaven
IV: The Departed: Remission of Sins / Partaker of Heaven
V: Theotokos

Any mention of an &#8220;abyss&#8221; or such should be considered in relation to the theme of Christ's descent into Hades.

As for whether Byzantine Catholics should/must/can believe in a Purgatory as defined and understood in the tradition of the Latin patrimony without their &#8220;Catholic&#8221; identity being at stake &#8211; I would suggest that the actual "imbedded' theology be taken into account and not someone's assumptions.

&#8220;For You exalted the power of Your faithful, O Gracious One, and confirmed us on the rock, the profession of faith in You.&#8221;

God bless!
Cantor Joe Thur

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70337 05/02/03 01:58 AM
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Cantor Joe,

A worthy exposition. Thank you for your post, and for the correct answer to "what Byzantine Catholics believe". If we are not our hymns, we are nothing.

Elias

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70338 05/02/03 02:16 AM
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What about toll houses (though some in Orthodox cicles reject this) compared to purgatory?

ruel

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70339 05/02/03 02:26 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Danj:
There are two different theologies here (Orthodox and Catholic respectively), and we are doing a good job in cutting-and-pasteing both together, which, in my humble opinion, is not good (does't the Unitarian-Universalists do something like this in their "theology?"-- a great mix of everything). We are what we are, Eastern Catholics under the rule of the Pope--he has the final say.

This may be harsh, but, I feel, it's the cold reality of our situation.

Dan
Christ is Risen!
(Maligayang Pasko ng Pagkabuhay!)

True, there are two different theologies. But does this two theologies need to clash and compete with one another? My auxiliary bishop once said in his homily in the mass for the graduating class of theology in a seminary that theology is not done by the head but rather theology must be done by the heart, through the heart, and with the heart. He exhort them to do theology with love because if theology is "the science of God" smile it should not be an agent of division. Theology is not a competition.

The two theologies (Orthodox and Catholic) should not compete with each other but if love will be the groundwork the two will complete each each other.

ruel

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70340 05/02/03 01:00 PM
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Dear Orthoman,

You have graced us all at the Byzantine Forum with your presence among us during Bright Week!

Thank you for that truly wonderful exposition on the soul after death from the Orthodox Catholic point of view.

What I found extra special about it is the insight about our purification, in Orthodoxy, "when we approach God."

That is truly a difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism that exists in other theological areas as well!

The Roman doctrine of Purgatory suggests that we can not enter heaven as sinners but need to be purified in a "state" or whatever beforehand. This is why, at the Council of Florence, the Romans asserted separate "states" for souls in the afterlife - and why the Orthodox at that failed union council were shocked to be hearing it for the first time . . .

The Orthodox view is the "better" of the two because it underscores that our purification, even after death, is dependent on the Grace of God.

We see Christ in all His loving and powerful Glory.

We then realize how we have constantly failed to respond properly to this Divine and loving Being in our lives and that is when, as we approach His embrace, that our imperfections are "burned" so as to be healed.

And the prayers of the Church can always aid us in our purifying approach to Christ.

Anyway, please remember that you are cherished, remembered and loved here - always and forever!

Who da man? YOU da man!

You da ORTHOMAN! smile

Your sinful but loving friend,

Alex

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70341 05/02/03 01:04 PM
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Dear Friends,

The whole issue of whether or not we, as Eastern Catholics "must" accept Purgatory and indulgences is one on which there is no agreement.

I know MANY Eastern Catholic priests and a number of bishops who take our acceptance of these Roman doctrines for granted.

And they would be scandalized to hear our "rejection" of them, or at least the rejection of the terminology.

When a bishop, such as my own, and one of YOUR own too, it seems, tell us that we must accept these doctrines, what are we to do?

I respect Hieromonk Elias and Cantor Joseph very much!

But are we to take their word over that of bishops? wink

So, on a very basic level, how are we to respond to our bishops and priests when they tell us we MUST accept the terminology (even if we can give them a "Byzantine twist")?

Who wants to have go at our bishops first? wink

Fr. Elias, you've been absent as a poster here for a long time, why don't you go first?

(You've been teaching DavidB about the Eastern Church have you? wink If so, I see you've been doing a great job! smile )

Alex

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70342 05/02/03 02:06 PM
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This is an interesting thread.

I think an important question to ask from a Catholic perspective is this:

What exactly is required for belief for Catholics regarding the idea of purgatory? Granted, Roman theology has evolved way beyond the Eastern Church on this. But, Roman theology is not required belief for Catholics. What is required is what has been defined. What has been defined so far? Only that there exists for some this purification which is called purgatory.

David Ignatius DTBrown@aol.com

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70343 05/02/03 02:19 PM
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Dear David,

The Roman Church has developed "way beyond" the Eastern Church here?

Is that a good thing necessarily?

Alex

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70344 05/02/03 03:01 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Orthodox Catholic:
I respect Hieromonk Elias and Cantor Joseph very much!

But are we to take their word over that of bishops? wink

So, on a very basic level, how are we to respond to our bishops and priests when they tell us we MUST accept the terminology (even if we can give them a "Byzantine twist")?
Alex,

I don't think the late Archbishop Judson was proclaiming mandatory articulation of Purgatory and/or Indulgences in the way you and other may have thought. Mind you, Pittsburgh was the last to re-institute Infant Communion, the last to drop the Filioque from the Creed, and the last place I know that still talks about Indulgences. It takes time for some areas of the Church to iron out the inconsistencies due to the people he was addressing. Note that the same pilgrim site also has a wide following of Fatima - with the grotto and rosary hour included. But even here we are seeing the reintroduction of the Marian Akathist! It takes time.

Why is it that every time a bishop or the Pope of Rome makes a statement, the Dogma Crowd sends out their police to enforce compulsory belief and install the possibility that some may loose their Catholic identity cards?

Our liturgical calendar used to list the feast of the Immaculate Conception even though we never celebrate the dogma; rather, we HAVE celebrated the feast of St. Anne's Conception to which our Festal Menaion for the day is based. The day has even been moved per the Typicon as it should.

At the pilgrimage site, one can visit the shops and purchase many religious articles rarely promoted in our own churches. The icon shop next door is much smaller in comparison, but is there nonetheless. The gift shop her in Burton did have a box of something Eastern Christian, but it was lying on the floor behind the counter. One would get the impression that the bookstore folks were being permitted to promote another form of religion - just so it wasn't Eastern Christian.

What I am trying to say, Alex, is that some places (and people) have to catch up. There are many pastoral considerations, things you keep reminding us about, that have to be factored in. It is a process; a learning curve.

The treasures have been in a dusty old box in the attic for too long and we forgot what they were for. Even the language is different. Many 'pop' culture religious items and gadgets have replaced those treasures - as well as the thinking that goes with them.

I posted above the many allusions to the goings-ons of the afterlife taken from our Parastas. How can one promote something not celebrated? In turn, we DO remember St. Gregory Palamas and St. Photius the Great, but there is still a hesitancy to come out with it. Some parishes still do not process with icons on the First Sunday of the Great Fast (Triumph of Orthodoxy) because of its connotations. Though a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Grace graces the front lawns of many a church property. My home parish still has Our Lady of Fatima statue with additional statues of the kneeling children before it.

But there ARE those older folks who remember well what we used to do in church before the Era of Deconstruction (call it Latinization, if you will). After this past Sunday's liturgy, one visiting woman (a senior) expressed thanks that I and our schola chanted all the hymns according to the proper tones. To me, this was only sensible because this is how we are supposed to sing, but considering where she was coming from the seriousness of her comment went deep: even in those little things like singing the proper tones have become lost.

How can we make sense of what we believe if we don't even know how to begin to pray and celebrate it? If 'lex orandi, lex credend' means anything, it certainly didn't or doesn't for many even today.

Call my harkening back to our school of worship, the liturgy and the hymns, old fashion or out of touch, but a theology disconnected from its wellspring is a theology from another well. But I remain committed to a 'grass roots' approach to our theology as found in how we worship. The words and rites all have meaning and beauty when done consistently and done well; no abbreviations or short-cuts that disfigure that image.

Many churches do not sing ALL the hymns of the Canon or even consider attempting to do the Hymns of St. John Damascene. This is sad. So much theology and depth, coming from those who seem to know much better than our own 10-second theo-bite understaning will ever attain. People DO listen to the words in our liturgy more than we may think. We do ourselves a dis-service by passing them up to get to "Mass." Usually, by the time I sing the sticheron Tone 5 at the Hymns of St. John Damascene the family of the deceased begins to cry heavily - the words (hopefully not my poor attempt to sing wink ) are affective:

"I recall the Prophet crying out: I am ashes and dust. And again, I looked into the graves and saw bones laid bare and I said: Which is king or soldier, rich or poor, righteous or sinner? Despite all this, O Lord, give rest to Your departed servant with the Just."

What does this mean for the surviving spouse? the children? the rest of the family and friends? the parishioners and pastor?

How can we even begin to consider these questions if the best example of our theology is a closed book, and unsung hymn, and theology never considered or taught? But darn you (fist raised) if you fail to articulate anything and everything according to how the Latins are doing it - for your Catholic nature and communion is at stake! May God have mercy on your soul!!! (wagging head in empathy)

My God, who makes up these rules?

In regards to the Otpust comment about Indulgences and such, consider the audience. Do you think the gravesite liturgy was a time and place to give a dissertation on such things? If so, the people weren't ready for it. Wherever the people were at, they had to connect. The bigger question about this is: Does it make it into our Eastern Christian Formation (ECF) teaching material? The answer is obvious.

Unfortunately, our learned understanding that everything must begin and end with "Mass" tears that theological understanding as lived in our parishes. Our marriage and funeral services have become mere 'frames' around the Mass 'picture.' In this climate we will never allow the theology, as expressed in OUR OWN liturgies, teach us what WE believe and HOW we articulate those beliefs.

Sticky Note theology NOT!

Cantor Joe Thur

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70345 05/02/03 03:54 PM
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Hieromonk Elias Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Orthodox Catholic:


And they would be scandalized to hear our "rejection" of them, or at least the rejection of the terminology.

Alex
Dear Alex,

Christ is Risen!

I don't reject anything of this teaching. I merely answer the question "What must a Byzantine Catholic believe?", by quoting our hymns. That is how I express my faith, ...and I find in these inspired texts the best formulation of our heritage. Our Liturgy, is how I profess my faith.

I never said any other formulary was wrong, nor do I reject them. I pray to God that I never scandalize anyone. That is probably why I should remain silent, and let the hymns canonized by our Byzantine Church speak!

Christ is Risen!

Elias

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70346 05/02/03 04:19 PM
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Father Deacon Ed Offline
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Cantor Joe,

Let me tie together two of your posts with a single answer. You ask if "purgatory" is a noun or a verb asserting that if it is a noun it must be a "place" (in philosophy this is known as the fallacy of "false dilemma"). Actually, it could also be a "state of being" which, in fact, is what the Latin Church has always defined it as. This "state of being" is the remittance of sin which, in a sentient being, must also be accompanied with a sense of what should have been. It is a purgation of our faults and failings and, as such, is represented in the hymns you cite.

For example, you cite:
Quote
Ode 4: “… receive him/her/them … and make him/her/them a child/children of Your light, having dispelled the haze of sin from him/her/them”
The term "make him/her/them" shows a change, a transition and this is, in fact, process (even that which is instantaneous involves a previous state and a future state so process is inolved).

Many of the other hymns indicate this process as well (what is, for example, the "corruption of death" that we have escaped?).

Edward, deacon and sinner

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70347 05/02/03 04:40 PM
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Bless me a sinner, Father Elias,

The only possible way that you can be said to "scandalize," Father, is when you don't post here as often as we would all wish you to . . .

You know we all love and cherish you as our great Spiritual Father in Christ!

Alex

Re: Byzantine Catholic Purgatory? #70348 05/02/03 04:42 PM
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Dear Cantor Joseph,

Well, why don't you consider a teaching career in the sociology of religion?

An excellent presentation on purgatory and the Eastern Church, if I may beg your, er, indulgence . . . smile

God bless!

Alex

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