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Toll Houses

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Hi,  is there anything like the Ariel Toll Houses in Oriental Orthodoxy?  Just out of mere curiosity, and I know it not a easy question due to the more lose confederation nature of orginzation that is Oriental Orthodoxy (I mean that in a good way btw) . Thanks
 

Aram

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I don't want to speak authoritatively, but for the sake of discussion when it comes to toll houses...

No.
 

Luke

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Mor Ephrem

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In its basics, it is hinted at here and there in the tradition, but it’s nothing like its development in EO.
 

peterfarrington

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As noted, there is a sense of trial after death, but this is rather a general sense. We do pray in the Vespers of the Coptic Daily Office...

When my soul departs my body attend to me, and defeat the conspiracy of the enemies, and shut the gates of Hades, lest they might swallow my soul, O you, blameless bride of the true Bridegroom.

But that is about as formal as it gets outside of non-canonical dreams etc.
 

Diego

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A Russian Orthodox friend told me about the theology of Toll Houses. He himself doesn't believe it. From the Lutheran perspective, it sounds like something dreamed up in the Transylvanian countryside along with vampires and ghouls come to steal your soul. Whoever came up with it would have done better to write a novel akin to the Da Vinci Code. Then it could have been turned into a hit movie, and maybe a ride at Disneyland. I can just see sitting in a car, rising upward at high speed while demons and goblins and what-not scare the wits out of you from the sides.

I think Orthodoxy, despite my disagreements with it, is better than this. His Priest said that the only toll houses he knew about charged money on the highway and made good cookies, and I think his Priest was right.
It sounds like stuff and nonsense to me.
 

Salpy

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I had never heard the concept mentioned in the Armenian Church, until I read the following by vasTearn:

vasnTearn said:
This is an old thread and I had not noticed it in the right time to give an answer.

The Armenian Church Fathers DO teach about a post-mortem "struggle" which is somewhat the same as the teaching of "tall houses" of the Eastern Orthodox Church, though without such stories like that of Theodora which is perhaps an apocriphal story.  The Armenian Funeral rites (the unabridged old versions, found in 1905 edition of Mashtots, the official Book of Rites of the Armenian Church), ask to help the departed soul pass through the demonic attacks peacefully, by the help of the accompanying good angel. This teaching can be found in the writings of many Armenian Fathers. Even the songs and the famous prayer of St Nerses the Grace-filled (that which has 24 chapters) mention this, and these songs and prayer are part of our official Book of Common Prayers (the Book of Hours, Zhamagirk).

Just pay attention on the 20th chapter of the above-mentioned prayer of St Nerses:

20. Bounteous Lord,
commit me to a good angel,
who may deliver up my soul with sweetness,
and convey it undisturbed through
the malice of wicked spirits
who are under the heaven.

Have mercy on Your creatures and on me,
a grievous sinner.

St Gregory of Tathev even brings an apocriphal story about the Holy Mother of God Mary who before her dormition or passing away tells those virgins that surrounded her what happens to the soul when it is to depart from this world. How angels come to take the soul, how it passes through the demonic attacks etc.

Nerses of Lambron writes on this topic amply in his Commentary on the Story of Dormition of St John the Evangelist.

Vardan of Aygek writes on this topic too, Sargis Shnorhali, Arakel of Syunik etc.

One must note that the apocriphal story of the Dormition of St John the Evangelist was part of the Armenian Bible for many centuries. And in that story there is a prayer by St John in which he asks the Lord to send the attacking demons away during his departure from this world. St John prays:

"Now, O Lord, when I have accomplished Thy stewardship with which I was entrusted, make me worthy of Thy repose, having wrought that which is perfect in Thee, which is ineffable salvation. And as I go to Thee, let the fire withdraw, let darkness be overcome, let the furnace be slackened, let Gehenna be extinguished, let the angels follow, let the demons be afraid let the princes be broken in pieces, let the powers of darkness fall, let the places on the right hand stand firm, let those on the left abide not, let the devil be muzzled, let Satan be laughed to scorn, let his madness be tamed, let his wrath be broken, let his children be trodden under foot, and let all his root he uprooted; and grant to me to accomplish the journey to Thee, not insulted, not despitefully treated, and to receive what Thou hast promised to those that live in purity, and that have loved a holy life."

It is this prayer that is explained in details by Nerses of Lambron in his above-mentioned Commentary.

In a song for the departed ("Astuats anegh"), found in the Night Service of our official Book of Common Prayers and authored by St Nerses the Grace-filled, there are such words:

Let the princes of the air be shattered,
Let them not be a hindrance to this soul,
Give rest to our reposed
In the mansions of Your Father of Light.
 

Alpha60

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Salpy said:
I had never heard the concept mentioned in the Armenian Church, until I read the following by vasTearn:

vasnTearn said:
This is an old thread and I had not noticed it in the right time to give an answer.

The Armenian Church Fathers DO teach about a post-mortem "struggle" which is somewhat the same as the teaching of "tall houses" of the Eastern Orthodox Church, though without such stories like that of Theodora which is perhaps an apocriphal story.  The Armenian Funeral rites (the unabridged old versions, found in 1905 edition of Mashtots, the official Book of Rites of the Armenian Church), ask to help the departed soul pass through the demonic attacks peacefully, by the help of the accompanying good angel. This teaching can be found in the writings of many Armenian Fathers. Even the songs and the famous prayer of St Nerses the Grace-filled (that which has 24 chapters) mention this, and these songs and prayer are part of our official Book of Common Prayers (the Book of Hours, Zhamagirk).

Just pay attention on the 20th chapter of the above-mentioned prayer of St Nerses:

20. Bounteous Lord,
commit me to a good angel,
who may deliver up my soul with sweetness,
and convey it undisturbed through
the malice of wicked spirits
who are under the heaven.

Have mercy on Your creatures and on me,
a grievous sinner.

St Gregory of Tathev even brings an apocriphal story about the Holy Mother of God Mary who before her dormition or passing away tells those virgins that surrounded her what happens to the soul when it is to depart from this world. How angels come to take the soul, how it passes through the demonic attacks etc.

Nerses of Lambron writes on this topic amply in his Commentary on the Story of Dormition of St John the Evangelist.

Vardan of Aygek writes on this topic too, Sargis Shnorhali, Arakel of Syunik etc.

One must note that the apocriphal story of the Dormition of St John the Evangelist was part of the Armenian Bible for many centuries. And in that story there is a prayer by St John in which he asks the Lord to send the attacking demons away during his departure from this world. St John prays:

"Now, O Lord, when I have accomplished Thy stewardship with which I was entrusted, make me worthy of Thy repose, having wrought that which is perfect in Thee, which is ineffable salvation. And as I go to Thee, let the fire withdraw, let darkness be overcome, let the furnace be slackened, let Gehenna be extinguished, let the angels follow, let the demons be afraid let the princes be broken in pieces, let the powers of darkness fall, let the places on the right hand stand firm, let those on the left abide not, let the devil be muzzled, let Satan be laughed to scorn, let his madness be tamed, let his wrath be broken, let his children be trodden under foot, and let all his root he uprooted; and grant to me to accomplish the journey to Thee, not insulted, not despitefully treated, and to receive what Thou hast promised to those that live in purity, and that have loved a holy life."

It is this prayer that is explained in details by Nerses of Lambron in his above-mentioned Commentary.

In a song for the departed ("Astuats anegh"), found in the Night Service of our official Book of Common Prayers and authored by St Nerses the Grace-filled, there are such words:

Let the princes of the air be shattered,
Let them not be a hindrance to this soul,
Give rest to our reposed
In the mansions of Your Father of Light.
Very interesting Salpy.

There seems to be a rich theological treasure of Armenian liturgical material which for some reason fell out of use.  For example, there are 13 anaphoras and a pre-sanctified liturgy known to have been used in the Armenian church, but only one, the Anaphora of St. Athanasius, an abbreviation of ancient  Anaphora from the Divine Liturgy of St. James (and unrelated to an Ethiopian Orthodox anaphora of the same name) remains in use.

Without disrupting existing Armenian liturgics, I wish some parishes or cathedrals or perhaps an Armenian monastery here in the US could be established, which would among other things put to use those portions of the Armenian Rite which have fallen out of use.

Btw can you read Classical Armenian?
 

Salpy

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Alpha60 said:
I wish...an Armenian monastery here in the US could be established...
That would be so nice.

Btw can you read Classical Armenian?
Yes, but not well.  VasnTearn would be the expert here on that.
 

Aram

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Alpha60 said:
There seems to be a rich theological treasure of Armenian liturgical material which for some reason fell out of use.  For example, there are 13 anaphoras and a pre-sanctified liturgy known to have been used in the Armenian church, but only one, the Anaphora of St. Athanasius, an abbreviation of ancient  Anaphora from the Divine Liturgy of St. James (and unrelated to an Ethiopian Orthodox anaphora of the same name) remains in use.

Without disrupting existing Armenian liturgics, I wish some parishes or cathedrals or perhaps an Armenian monastery here in the US could be established, which would among other things put to use those portions of the Armenian Rite which have fallen out of use.
Can you explain why it's so important that my church adopt your suggestions, essentially doing what amounts to liturgical archaeology to re-establish practices long out of use? Much less establish a number of institutions to do it?
 

Alpha60

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Aram said:
Alpha60 said:
There seems to be a rich theological treasure of Armenian liturgical material which for some reason fell out of use.  For example, there are 13 anaphoras and a pre-sanctified liturgy known to have been used in the Armenian church, but only one, the Anaphora of St. Athanasius, an abbreviation of ancient  Anaphora from the Divine Liturgy of St. James (and unrelated to an Ethiopian Orthodox anaphora of the same name) remains in use.

Without disrupting existing Armenian liturgics, I wish some parishes or cathedrals or perhaps an Armenian monastery here in the US could be established, which would among other things put to use those portions of the Armenian Rite which have fallen out of use.
Can you explain why it's so important that my church adopt your suggestions, essentially doing what amounts to liturgical archaeology to re-establish practices long out of use? Much less establish a number of institutions to do it?
It wouldn’t be liturgical archaeology because unlike, for example, with the ROCOR Western Rite’s attempt to reconstruct pre-schism worship in England as it existed in roughly the year 900, in the case of the Armenian church, you have the actual liturgical texts and rubrics.  And the benefit would be a recovery of Armenian Orthodox traditions which were suppressed largely as a result of the Crusades and Turkocratia, and beautiful liturgical compositions by Armenians which have become forgotten could be rediscovered and made available for the edification of the faithful.

There are no defects in the Armenian Rite at present; rather, imagine the Armenian church as a beautiful cathedral, with multiple chapels, all of which are splendidly decorated, but because of the dangers of the Turks and so on, and the reduction of the Armenian population through wars and genocide, most of these chapels became disused, but they are still there, intact, structurally sound and accessible.  You don’t need an archaeologist to have worship in them; you probably don’t even need a janitor.  These chapels represent, metaphorically, the disused portions of the Armenian liturgical heritage.

Actually that’s a bit like St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ, where they have four beautiful churches but seldom use any of them other than the Catholicon.
 

MariaJLM

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Diego said:
A Russian Orthodox friend told me about the theology of Toll Houses. He himself doesn't believe it. From the Lutheran perspective, it sounds like something dreamed up in the Transylvanian countryside along with vampires and ghouls come to steal your soul. Whoever came up with it would have done better to write a novel akin to the Da Vinci Code. Then it could have been turned into a hit movie, and maybe a ride at Disneyland. I can just see sitting in a car, rising upward at high speed while demons and goblins and what-not scare the wits out of you from the sides.

I think Orthodoxy, despite my disagreements with it, is better than this. His Priest said that the only toll houses he knew about charged money on the highway and made good cookies, and I think his Priest was right.
It sounds like stuff and nonsense to me.
EO here. I'm also skeptical of the tollhouse thing. I've had several discussions with my priest about it(he's also a skeptic as far as I know). From my understanding of the whole thing it was pulled from the dreams of a few saints, but can we really consider those to be binding? That could open up a whole other question of debate before even diving into the tollhouse debate itself.
 

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Sometimes I think toll houses just became such a hot topic in Orthodoxy as a reaction to how clear the afterlife is in Catholic doctrine. Toll houses are the readiest Orthodox answer in tradition, all over hymnography and hagiography, but until recently nobody overthought it, neither extensively nor restrictively.
 

peterfarrington

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There is a temptation in Orthodox circles to dogmatise things. It makes some people feel more comfortable. They want to be clear about everything. But that's not Orthodoxy.
 
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