Aerial Toll-Houses

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[[Image:tollhouses.jpg|right|thumb|350px|An Iconographic depiction of the Toll Houses]].
 
[[Image:tollhouses.jpg|right|thumb|350px|An Iconographic depiction of the Toll Houses]].
  
The heretical teaching of '''Aerial Toll-Houses''' regards the soul's journey after its departure from the body, and is related to the [[w:particular judgment|particular judgment]].  In its most general form, it refers to the idea that Christ and being faithful to the end to the Orthodox life is not enough, but rather somehow after death, the demons gain greater powers than Christ in us and are able to drag a soul away from Christ to drag the soul to Hades. While the angels and the prayers of the living defend the soul if it can be defended.  Whether the soul is finally seized by the demons, or taken to heaven depends on the state of the soul at death.  In either case, the soul then experiences a foretaste of what it can expect after the [[w:final judgment|final judgment]]. Fr. Thomas Hopko's broadcast on toll houses opposes much of what is taught by Seraphim Rose on toll houses, but he does allow for some parts of the toll houses to be allowed. <ref>Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Toll-houses, http://audio.ancientfaith.com/illuminedheart/hopko_tolls.mp3</ref>  
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The teaching of '''Aerial Toll-Houses''' regards the soul's journey after its departure from the body, and is related to the [[w:particular judgment|particular judgment]].  In its most general form, it refers to the idea that after death, the demons attempt to find a basis for taking the soul to Hades, while the angels and the prayers of the living defend the soul if it can be defended.  Whether the soul is finally seized by the demons, or taken to heaven depends on the state of the soul at death.  In either case, the soul then experiences a foretaste of what it can expect after the [[w:final judgment|final judgment]]. According to Fr. Thomas Hopko, the teaching of the Toll Houses is found in virtually every Father of the Church .<ref>Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Toll-houses, http://audio.ancientfaith.com/illuminedheart/hopko_tolls.mp3</ref>  
  
==Holy Scripture ==
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==Patristic evidence==
  
The idea or theology of toll houses contradicts much of what has been revealed in Holy Orthodox Scriptures. Although we do not know all that happens after death, we know that at the moment of death, our first Holy Saint, St. Stephen, saw our LORD Jesus Christ standing to receive his soul. There is no mention whatsoever of any demons appearing to terrify the soul of our Holy Martyr at moment of death, but rather, we have much rejoicing in the writings of Holy Scripture regarding the defeat of death and our Hope in Christ at moment of death.  
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In [http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/vita-antony.aspx the life of St. Anthony the Great], he saw a vision of souls rising towards heaven and some being stopped by a large demon and cast down. Likewise [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/bede-book1.html St. Bede] recorded certain visions of a Celtic Saint who saw a soul arising and fighting off demons with the help of angels and his reposed wife's soul.  
  
" being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." <ref> http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+7&version=KJV and <http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%207&version=WHNU </ref>
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In the Philokalia, St. Diadochos  of Photiki (ca 400 – 486 a.d.) states:  
  
Also our Apostle Paul mentions his yearning for death to be so strong cause he was going to be in the presence of our LORD Jesus Christ <ref> http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%207&version=WHNU </ref> "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." Again , no mention of any trepidation of demonic activities post death as taught by proponents of toll houses. As St. John Chrysostom said: "The cause of much evil is the lack of knowledge of Holy Scriptures".  
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:"If we do not confess our involuntary sins as we should, we shall discover and ill-defined fear in ourselves at the hour of our death. We who love the Lord should pray that we may be without fear at that time; for if we are afraid then, we will not be able freely to pass by the rulers of the nether world. They will have as their advocate to plead against us the fear which our soul experiences because of its own wickedness. But the soul which rejoices in the love of God, at the hour of its departure, is lifted with the angels of peace above all the hosts of darkness. For it is given wings by spiritual love, since it ceaselessly carries within itself the love which 'is the fulfilling of the law' (Rom. 13:10)."<ref>Philokalia, Volume I, p. 295</ref>
  
Even a man caught in sin and dying on the cross, is promised to be in paradise with our LORD. "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Obviously our LORD and Head of our Orthodox Church grants no credence to such faulty ideas about demons having powers to overcome the repentant or the faithful Orthodox.  
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In the Alphabetical Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Theophilus of Antioch (who reposed in 412 a.d.) we find:
  
We know that our Holy Apostle warned us that even if an Angel were to appear and teach something contradictory to our Orthodox Theology of Faith, that we were to cling to what has been taught in our Holy Tradition, and not change our doctrines for even an angel or any man. <ref> http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%201&version=KJV </ref>
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:"The same Abba Theophilus said, "What fear, what trembling, what uneasiness will there be for us when our soul is separated from the body.  Then indeed the force and strength of the adverse powers come against us, the rulers of darkness, those who command the world of evil, the principalities, the powers, the spirits of evil.  They accuse our souls as in a lawsuit, bringing before it all the sins it has committed, whether deliberately or through ignorance, from its youth until the time when it has been taken away.  So they stand accusing it of all it has done.  Furthermore, what anxiety do you suppose the soul will have at that hour, until sentence is pronounced and it gains its liberty.  That is its hour of affliction, until it sees what will happen to it.  On the other hand, the divine powers stand on the opposite side, and they present the good deeds of the soul.  Consider the fear and trembling of the soul standing between them until in judgment it receives the sentence of the righteous judge.  If it is judged worthy, the demons will receive their punishment, and it will be carried away by the angels.  Then thereafter you will be without disquiet, or rather you will live according to that which is written: “Even as the habitation of those who rejoice is in you.” (Ps. 87.7) Then will the Scripture be fulfilled: “Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 35.10).
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:"Then your liberated soul will go on to that joy and ineffable glory in which it will be established.  But if it is found to have lived carelessly, it will hear that terrible voice: "Take away the ungodly, that he may not see the glory of the Lord." (cf. Isaiah 26.10) Then the day of anger, the day of affliction, the day of darkness and shadow seizes upon it.  Abandoned to outer darkness and condemned to everlasting fire it will be punished through the ages without end.  Where then is the vanity of the world?  Where is the vain-glory?  Where is carnal life?  Where is enjoyment?  Where is imagination?  Where is ease?  Where is boasting? Riches?  Nobility?  Father, mother, brother?  Who could take the soul out of its pains when it is burning in the fire, and remove it from bitter torments?" <ref>The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection, translated by Benedicta Ward, p. 81-82)</ref>
  
So when we look at the writings of the fathers, there are times when some taught as Origen and St. Macarius supposedly taught, the belief in Salvation of all including demons, but since this contradicts The Theology of The Church, we cannot and must not accept it no matter who said it. Some present "Patristic" proof texts to back up their belief in heretical gnostic toll houses.
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St. Mark of Ephesus wrote:
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:"But if souls have departed this life in faith and love, while nevertheless carrying away with themselves certain faults, whether small ones over which they have not repented at all, or great ones for which – even thought they have repented over them – they did not undertake to show fruits of repentance: such souls, we believe, must be cleansed from this kind of sin, but not by means of some purgatorial fire or a definite punishment in some place (for this, as we have said, has not been handed down to us). But some must be cleansed in they very departure from the body, thanks only to fear, as St. Gregory the Dialogist literally shows; while others must be cleansed after the departure from the body, either while remaining in the same earthly place, before they come to worship God and are honored with the lot of the blessed, or – if their sins were more serious and bind them, for a longer duration – they are kept in hell [i.e., Hades], but not in order to remain forever in fire and torment, but as it were in prison and confinement under guard." <ref>First Homily: Refutation of the Latin Chapters concerning Purgatorial Fire, by St. Mark of Ephesus. Qtd. In "The Soul After Death, p 208f)</ref>
  
==Patristic evidence==
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==Liturgical Evidence==
  
It is falsely reported that all Church fathers buy into this idea of toll houses as taught by modern neo-gnostics hidden within the walls of Orthodox Churches. For example, one tried to attribute to St. Anthony the Great the idea of these demonic powers by referencing the following [http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/vita-antony.aspx], but ST. Anthony The Great's biography by St. Athanasius provides no evidence for toll houses; however St. Anthony's vision of the death of one does provide more reason to doubt the teachings of toll houses <ref> http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204.toc.html </ref> The iconography of the Church also contradicts this attribute to St. Anthony The Great since St. Anthony is shown as one who "used to " be afraid of God, but now he loves God. <ref> http://www.comeandseeicons.com/a/rsb10.htm </ref>
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In both the Greek and Slavonic Euchologion, in the canon for the departure of the soul by St. Andrew , we find in Ode 7: "All holy angels of the Almighty God, have mercy upon me and save me from all the evil toll-houses."
  
It is said that some Celtic St. supposedly saw visions of his wife's soul fighting off demons with help of angels <ref> http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/bede-book1.html  </ref>
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In the Octoechos, there are many references to the Toll Houses:
  
The Gnostic origins of the tollhouse theory have been identified. As those familiar with the literature on the subject know, the pseudo-Christian adaptation of the "tollhouses" has its roots in the ancient Egyptian religion. Osiris, we are told, was the great Judge, attended by 42 assessors which the soul must face once it has separated from the body. It must be examined by each one of them. If the soul successfully passes the tests, it can say, "I am pure" and is transferred to "the sky," where it enjoys a material paradise, such as was the lot of kings, according to the Pyramid Text. The fate of the unworthy was torture and destruction by the myriad of demons who inhabited the underworld. The wicked soul might be torn to pieces by the 42 terrible judges, burned in furnaces, or drowned in the abyss. <ref>  "Soul" in The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (vol.II). Ed. by J. Hastings. New York, 1921, p.753. </ref> The similarities between Egyptian thanatology (doctrine of death) and the Gnostic belief is astonishing says ArchBishop Lazar Puhalo and Fr. Michael Azkoul <ref> http://www.new-ostrog.org/return_tollhouses.html </ref>. "the "tollhousers" fail to distinguish between the authentic writings of the Fathers and works attributed to them (dubia et spuria), such as the pseudo-Cyril (of Alexandria), Departure of the Soul or pseudo-Chrysostom, On Remembering the Dead. They often fail to check the current translation with the Greek, Latin or Syriac original. Worst of all, the "tollhouse" advocates read their beliefs into the writings of the Fathers (and the Scriptures). Sometimes they have deliberately altered the text 18 for the sake of their misconceived beliefs. Often their confusion over the activity of the demons in this present life with their ostensible activity during the soul's ascent to the Particular Judgment, may have determined their interpretation of crucial texts." <ref> The Toll-House Myth: The Neo-Gnosticism of Fr Seraphim Rose, by Fr. Michael Azkoul. Dewdney, B.C., 1996, pp.28-31 </ref>
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:"When my soul is about to be forcibly parted from my body's limbs, then stand by my side and scatter the counsels of my bodiless foes and smash the teeth of those who implacably seek to swallow me down, so that I may pass unhindered through the rulers of darkness who wait in the air, O Bride of God." [http://www.anastasis.org.uk/weekday_vespers1.htm Octoechos, Tone Two, Friday Vespers]
  
Archbishop Lazar's work has excerpts from the writings of all Church Fathers from the Greek to Latin and Syriac Fathers, soundly repudiating the idea that toll houses are supported by the fathers of our Church. Unfortunately, there are some modern pious Saints who can be traced to the Russian academia in the second half of the 19th century to support even the shocking idea that The Theotokos was so fearful of her death and meeting of the demons that she had to have her Son come and rescue her from having to face her sins after her death. We must thank God that The Orthodox Church has never taught the infallibility of a Bishop or a Saint, but rather The Church and our Apostolic Tradition help guard us from the onslaught of the enemy who seeks to lead astray the faithful.  
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:"Pilot my wretched soul, pure Virgin, and have compassion on it, as it slides under a multitude of offences into the deep of destruction; and at the fearful hour of death snatch me from the accusing demons and from every punishment." [http://www.anastasis.org.uk/weekday_vespers1.htm Ode 6, Tone 1 Midnight Office for Sunday]
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In the [http://www.saintjonah.org/services/midnightdoc.doc Saturday Midnight Office], the prayer of St. Eustratius, contains the following:
  
" in his Commentary on the Epistle to Ephesians (Homily 22:1), Chrysostom implicitly denies any doctrine of the aerial "tollhouses." Explaining the verse, Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and have done it, to stand (Eph.6:11-14), St John writes that the word "wiles" means that the demons have no power to compel us to any course of action. They use strategy against us. They are rulers of "the world" or "age," not as governing the world, for, as the Scriptures are wont to do, "world" is equated with "wicked practices." The demons dwell in "high places," in the "air" or "places in the heavens." The "evil day" exists in the "present evil age" (Gal.1:4). In a word, these verses do not, as "tollhousers" think, apply to the encounter of the departed soul with the demons. In another discourse, St John makes precisely this observation. "Now so as to know that a soul which departs from the body does not fall under the tyranny of the devil, listen to St Paul who says, `He who is dead is freed from sin,' that is, he no longer sins. For if while the soul dwells in the body the devil cannot bring violence upon it, it is palpable that when it departs he likewise has no power over it." (Hom. De Lazaro II. 2 PG48 984)." <ref> http://www.new-ostrog.org/return_tollhouses.html#18 </ref>
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:"And now, O Master, let Thy hand shelter me and let Thy mercy descend upon me, for my soul is distracted and pained at its departure from this my wretched and filthy body, lest the evil design of the adversary overtake it and make it stumble into the darkness for the unknown and known sins amassed by me in this life. Be merciful unto me, O Master, and let not my soul see the dark countenances of the evil spirits, but let it be received by Thine Angels bright and shining. Glorify Thy holy name and by Thy might set me before Thy divine judgment seat. When I am being judged, suffer not that the hand of the prince of this world should take hold of me to throw me, a sinner, into the depths of hades, but stand by me and be unto me a savior and mediator..." <ref>See The Unabbreviated Horologion or Book of the Hours, ed. Fr. Laurence Campbell (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1995), p. 34, and The Great Horologion (Boston, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1997), p. 48</ref>
  
St Gregory the Theologian's Panegyric (eulogy) to his brother, Caesarius. "I believe the words of the wise, that every fair and God-beloved soul, when set free from the bonds of the body, departs hence, at once enjoys a sense and perception of the blessings which await it, inasmuch as that which darkened it has been purged away, or laid aside - I know not how else to term it - and feels a wondrous pleasure and exultation, and goes rejoicing to meet the Lord....Then, a little later, it receives its kindred flesh which once shared in its pursuits of things above, from the earth which both gave and had been entrusted with it, and in some ways known to God, Who knit them together and dissolved their union, enters now with it upon the inheritance of glory there. And as it shared through their close union, in its hardships, so also it bestows upon it a portion of the joys, gathering it up entirely into itself, and becoming with it one in spirit and mind and in God, the mortal and the mutable being swallowed in life" (Paneg.Frat. Caes. 21).
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==The Number of the Toll Houses==
  
''Majority of the ideas supporting modern strange neognostic heresy of toll houses can be found in a writing attributed to one Gregory of Thrace supposed written in the 10th century. There the demons accuse the soul at each toll-house of sins. In some cases the demon might accuse the soul of sins that they tempted her with, but it didn't comply with, or of sins that she repented for, and in that cases one of the angels, the one which was the persons guardian angel, speaks for the person, saying that those are lies, and that payment is not necessary, taking the soul to the next toll-house.  If a person has unrepented sins, and does not have enough good deeds and prayers of the living to pay for them, the demons of the corresponding toll-house grab him, and take him to hades to await the final judgment.  This vision recounts the toll-houses in the following order:
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The most detailed version of the toll-houses occurs in a vision of Gregory of Thrace, apparently from the 10th century. The demons accuse the soul at each toll-house of sins. In some cases the demon might accuse the soul of sins that they tempted her with, but it didn't comply with, or of sins that she repented for, and in that cases one of the angels, the one which was the persons guardian angel, speaks for the person, saying that those are lies, and that payment is not necessary, taking the soul to the next toll-house.  If a person has unrepented sins, and does not have enough good deeds and prayers of the living to pay for them, the demons of the corresponding toll-house grab him, and take him to hades to await the final judgment.  This vision recounts the toll-houses in the following order:
  
 
* At the first aerial toll-house, the soul is questioned about sins of the tongue, such as empty words, dirty talk, insults, ridicule, singing worldly songs, too much or loud laughter, and similar sins.
 
* At the first aerial toll-house, the soul is questioned about sins of the tongue, such as empty words, dirty talk, insults, ridicule, singing worldly songs, too much or loud laughter, and similar sins.
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* The nineteenth is the toll-house of heresy: rejecting any part of Orthodox faith, wrongly interpreting it, apostasy, blasphemy, and all similar sins.
 
* The nineteenth is the toll-house of heresy: rejecting any part of Orthodox faith, wrongly interpreting it, apostasy, blasphemy, and all similar sins.
 
* The last, twentieth toll-house is the toll-house of unmercifulness: failing to show mercy and charity to people, and being cruel in any way.
 
* The last, twentieth toll-house is the toll-house of unmercifulness: failing to show mercy and charity to people, and being cruel in any way.
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==Are They Literal?==
 
==Are They Literal?==
For obvious reasons, Orthodox theologians do not accept these false ideas regarding demonic powers over the Saints and The Theotokos after death. In Fact, even supposed supporters of "the toll house heresy", like Fr. Thomas Hopko, maintain that one should not try to associate a particular time after death to the process, nor should one take the toll-houses as being literally "in the air," or necessarily twenty in number. Likewise, he makes no mention in his argument for them of the doctrine of bargaining for sins (which is similar in some ways to the Latin doctrine of merits). Instead, his description, drawing on St. John Chrysostom and the Fifty Homilies of St. Macarius of Egypt, among others, takes the toll-house encounters to describe the attempt of the demons to assault the soul with its own vulnerability to sin, or to entice it away from God, and describes passing through the toll-houses as the purification of the soul.<ref>Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Toll-houses, http://audio.ancientfaith.com/illuminedheart/hopko_tolls.mp3</ref>.  
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Many of the Orthodox who accept the doctrine of the toll-houses do not take the form or all the teachings from the vision of Gregory literally. Thus for example Fr. Thomas Hopko maintains that one should not try to associate a particular time after death to the process, nor should one take the toll-houses as being literally "in the air," or necessarily twenty in number. Likewise, he makes no mention in his argument for them of the doctrine of bargaining for sins (which is similar in some ways to the Latin doctrine of merits). Instead, his description, drawing on St. John Chrysostom and the Fifty Homilies of St. Macarius of Egypt, among others, takes the toll-house encounters to describe the attempt of the demons to assault the soul with its own vulnerability to sin, or to entice it away from God, and describes passing through the toll-houses as the purification of the soul.<ref>Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Toll-houses, http://audio.ancientfaith.com/illuminedheart/hopko_tolls.mp3</ref>. St. Theophan the Recluse likewise said that what the demons are seeking is "passions," and suggested that, although the toll-houses are often depicted as frightening, the demons might equally well try to entice the soul by appealing to one of its weaknesses. Some others go so far as to say that the demons and angels are metaphors for the sins and virtues of the soul.
 
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St. Theophan the Recluse likewise said that what the demons are seeking is "passions," and suggested that, although the toll-houses are often depicted as frightening, the demons might equally well try to entice the soul by appealing to one of its weaknesses. Some others go so far as to say that the demons and angels are metaphors for the sins and virtues of the soul.
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==Controversy==
 
==Controversy==
 
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[[Image:puhalo.jpg|right|thumb|350px|Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, censing an icon of Fr. Seraphim (Rose)]].
Fr. Seraphim Rose's popularity has caused the most problems for the Orthodox circles these days. Archbishop Lazar Puhalo and Fr. Michael Azkoul and other Orthodox theologians are doing all they can to stop this heresy before it takes root in more Orthodox circles. Obviously we cannot allow pagan doctrines to enter our Church.  
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There is disagreement in certain circles regarding the status of this teaching within the Orthodox Church. Some, including [[Archbishop]] [[Lazar (Puhalo) of Ottawa]], consider this teaching controversial, even false (describing it as gnostic or of pagan origin). The traditional proponents of the teaching argue that it appears in the hymnology of the Church,<ref>January 27, The Recovery of the Holy Relics of our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom, Troparion 1, Ode 5 of Orthros: "Grant me to pass untroubled through the host of noetic satraps and the tyrannic battalion of the lower air in the hour of my departure..."</ref> <ref>Parakletike, Friday Vespers, Second Mode: "When my soul is about to be separated violently from the members of the body, then, O Bride of God, come to my aid; scatter the counsels of the fleshless enemies and shatter their millstones, by which they seek to devour me mercilessly; that, unhindered, I may pass through the rulers of darkness standing in the air."</ref> in stories of the lives of saints (for example, the Life of St. [[Anthony the Great]], written by [[Athanasius of Alexandria|St. Athanasius the Great]], the life of St. [[Basil the New]], and St. [[Theodora]]), in the homilies of St. [[Cyril of Alexandria]]<ref> St. [[Cyril of Alexandria]] ''Ephesi praedicata depoito Nestorio, ACO''.14(5<sup>2</sup>.405D) as referenced by Lampe, G.W.H., ''A Patristic Greek Lexicon'', Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1961, p.1387</ref> in the Discourses of [[Abba Isaiah]],<ref>''The Twenty-nine Discourses of our Holy Father Isaiah,'' Volos, 1962, p. 37 (in Greek): "[Live] every day having death before your eyes, and concerning yourselves with  how you will come out from the body, how you will pass by the powers of darkness what will meet you in the air, and how you will answer before God..."</ref> the [[Philokalia]], the [[Ladder of Divine Ascent]], and the [[Dogmatics of the Orthodox Church]] by Blessed [[Justin Popovich]]. Several contemporary Church figures speak about toll-houses.<ref>[http://orthodoxinfo.com/death/soul_taxing.aspx The Taxing of Souls] by Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos)</ref> <ref>[http://orthodoxinfo.com/death/critic.aspx Answer to a Critic, Appendix III from The Soul After Death] by Father [[Seraphim Rose]] of Platina</ref> <ref>Vid. Ephraim, Elder, [http://www.amazon.com/Counsels-Holy-Mountain-Selected-Homilies/dp/0966700023 ''Counsels from the Holy Mountain,''] St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery, Arizona, 1999, pp. 436, 447.</ref> <ref>Cavarnos, Constantine, ''[http://www.amazon.com/Future-Life-According-Orthodox-Teaching/dp/0911165061 The Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching,]'' Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, Etna, California, 1985, pp. 24-26.</ref> Secondly, not a single Church Father ever wrote even one sentence expressing doubt about this teaching (which is present in its most general form in the Church since at least fourth century), although their discussions of the topic are always about general struggles with "tax-collector" demons, lacking the details present in Gregory's vision (apart from one pseudo-Makarian story which also mentions numerous toll-houses and a bargaining over sins at each one). Thirdly, some of the greatest modern authorities of the Orthodox Church, such as St. Ignatius Brianchaninov<ref>A Word on Death, chapter "Aerial toll-houses"</ref> and St. [[Theophan the Recluse]],<ref>What is spiritual life, and how to obtain it, chapter "Perfect preparation for the Mystery of Repentance"</ref> insisted not only on the truthfulness, but on the necessity of this teaching in the spiritual life of a Christian.
 
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===Opposition===
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*[http://constans_wright.tripod.com/notolls.html Against the Gnostic Story of the Judging Demons - the "Toll-Houses"]
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*[http://www.rickross.com/reference/ephraim/ephraim11.html Two troubling teachings reported] by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo
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*[http://www.new-ostrog.org/toll_main.html Regarding the Toll Houses] various articles by Archbishop Lazar, Fr. Michael Pomazansky, and others
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*[http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/qa.html Questions and Answers: Archbishop Lazar Puhalo]
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==Reference==
 
==Reference==
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*[http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/tollhouse_debate.aspx The Debate Over Aerial Toll-Houses] Extract from the Minutes of the Session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (1980)
 
*[http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/tollhouse_debate.aspx The Debate Over Aerial Toll-Houses] Extract from the Minutes of the Session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (1980)
  
===Modernist supposed support===
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===Support===
 
*[http://pages.prodigy.net/frjohnwhiteford/tollhouses.htm Evidence for the Tradition of the Toll Houses found in the Universally Received Tradition of the Church]
 
*[http://pages.prodigy.net/frjohnwhiteford/tollhouses.htm Evidence for the Tradition of the Toll Houses found in the Universally Received Tradition of the Church]
 
*[http://stmichaelacademy.org/theo/stjd.htm State of the Soul After Death According to the Teachings of Saint John Damascene] by Hieromonk Dionysios
 
*[http://stmichaelacademy.org/theo/stjd.htm State of the Soul After Death According to the Teachings of Saint John Damascene] by Hieromonk Dionysios
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*[http://audio.ancientfaith.com/postcards/pfg_2009-06-10.mp3 Fr. Seraphim Rose in Greece (Postcards From Greece Podcast, by Fr. Peter Heers)]
 
*[http://audio.ancientfaith.com/postcards/pfg_2009-06-10.mp3 Fr. Seraphim Rose in Greece (Postcards From Greece Podcast, by Fr. Peter Heers)]
  
 
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===Opposition===
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*[http://constans_wright.tripod.com/notolls.html Against the Gnostic Story of the Judging Demons - the "Toll-Houses"]
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*[http://www.rickross.com/reference/ephraim/ephraim11.html Two troubling teachings reported] by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo
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*[http://www.new-ostrog.org/toll_main.html Regarding the Toll Houses] various articles by Archbishop Lazar, Fr. Michael Pomazansky, and others
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*[http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/qa.html Questions and Answers: Archbishop Lazar Puhalo]
  
 
[[Category:Theology]]
 
[[Category:Theology]]

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An Iconographic depiction of the Toll Houses
.

The teaching of Aerial Toll-Houses regards the soul's journey after its departure from the body, and is related to the particular judgment. In its most general form, it refers to the idea that after death, the demons attempt to find a basis for taking the soul to Hades, while the angels and the prayers of the living defend the soul if it can be defended. Whether the soul is finally seized by the demons, or taken to heaven depends on the state of the soul at death. In either case, the soul then experiences a foretaste of what it can expect after the final judgment. According to Fr. Thomas Hopko, the teaching of the Toll Houses is found in virtually every Father of the Church .[1]

Contents

Patristic evidence

In the life of St. Anthony the Great, he saw a vision of souls rising towards heaven and some being stopped by a large demon and cast down. Likewise St. Bede recorded certain visions of a Celtic Saint who saw a soul arising and fighting off demons with the help of angels and his reposed wife's soul.

In the Philokalia, St. Diadochos of Photiki (ca 400 – 486 a.d.) states:

"If we do not confess our involuntary sins as we should, we shall discover and ill-defined fear in ourselves at the hour of our death. We who love the Lord should pray that we may be without fear at that time; for if we are afraid then, we will not be able freely to pass by the rulers of the nether world. They will have as their advocate to plead against us the fear which our soul experiences because of its own wickedness. But the soul which rejoices in the love of God, at the hour of its departure, is lifted with the angels of peace above all the hosts of darkness. For it is given wings by spiritual love, since it ceaselessly carries within itself the love which 'is the fulfilling of the law' (Rom. 13:10)."[2]

In the Alphabetical Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Theophilus of Antioch (who reposed in 412 a.d.) we find:

"The same Abba Theophilus said, "What fear, what trembling, what uneasiness will there be for us when our soul is separated from the body. Then indeed the force and strength of the adverse powers come against us, the rulers of darkness, those who command the world of evil, the principalities, the powers, the spirits of evil. They accuse our souls as in a lawsuit, bringing before it all the sins it has committed, whether deliberately or through ignorance, from its youth until the time when it has been taken away. So they stand accusing it of all it has done. Furthermore, what anxiety do you suppose the soul will have at that hour, until sentence is pronounced and it gains its liberty. That is its hour of affliction, until it sees what will happen to it. On the other hand, the divine powers stand on the opposite side, and they present the good deeds of the soul. Consider the fear and trembling of the soul standing between them until in judgment it receives the sentence of the righteous judge. If it is judged worthy, the demons will receive their punishment, and it will be carried away by the angels. Then thereafter you will be without disquiet, or rather you will live according to that which is written: “Even as the habitation of those who rejoice is in you.” (Ps. 87.7) Then will the Scripture be fulfilled: “Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 35.10).
"Then your liberated soul will go on to that joy and ineffable glory in which it will be established. But if it is found to have lived carelessly, it will hear that terrible voice: "Take away the ungodly, that he may not see the glory of the Lord." (cf. Isaiah 26.10) Then the day of anger, the day of affliction, the day of darkness and shadow seizes upon it. Abandoned to outer darkness and condemned to everlasting fire it will be punished through the ages without end. Where then is the vanity of the world? Where is the vain-glory? Where is carnal life? Where is enjoyment? Where is imagination? Where is ease? Where is boasting? Riches? Nobility? Father, mother, brother? Who could take the soul out of its pains when it is burning in the fire, and remove it from bitter torments?" [3]

St. Mark of Ephesus wrote:

"But if souls have departed this life in faith and love, while nevertheless carrying away with themselves certain faults, whether small ones over which they have not repented at all, or great ones for which – even thought they have repented over them – they did not undertake to show fruits of repentance: such souls, we believe, must be cleansed from this kind of sin, but not by means of some purgatorial fire or a definite punishment in some place (for this, as we have said, has not been handed down to us). But some must be cleansed in they very departure from the body, thanks only to fear, as St. Gregory the Dialogist literally shows; while others must be cleansed after the departure from the body, either while remaining in the same earthly place, before they come to worship God and are honored with the lot of the blessed, or – if their sins were more serious and bind them, for a longer duration – they are kept in hell [i.e., Hades], but not in order to remain forever in fire and torment, but as it were in prison and confinement under guard." [4]

Liturgical Evidence

In both the Greek and Slavonic Euchologion, in the canon for the departure of the soul by St. Andrew , we find in Ode 7: "All holy angels of the Almighty God, have mercy upon me and save me from all the evil toll-houses."

In the Octoechos, there are many references to the Toll Houses:

"When my soul is about to be forcibly parted from my body's limbs, then stand by my side and scatter the counsels of my bodiless foes and smash the teeth of those who implacably seek to swallow me down, so that I may pass unhindered through the rulers of darkness who wait in the air, O Bride of God." Octoechos, Tone Two, Friday Vespers
"Pilot my wretched soul, pure Virgin, and have compassion on it, as it slides under a multitude of offences into the deep of destruction; and at the fearful hour of death snatch me from the accusing demons and from every punishment." Ode 6, Tone 1 Midnight Office for Sunday

In the Saturday Midnight Office, the prayer of St. Eustratius, contains the following:

"And now, O Master, let Thy hand shelter me and let Thy mercy descend upon me, for my soul is distracted and pained at its departure from this my wretched and filthy body, lest the evil design of the adversary overtake it and make it stumble into the darkness for the unknown and known sins amassed by me in this life. Be merciful unto me, O Master, and let not my soul see the dark countenances of the evil spirits, but let it be received by Thine Angels bright and shining. Glorify Thy holy name and by Thy might set me before Thy divine judgment seat. When I am being judged, suffer not that the hand of the prince of this world should take hold of me to throw me, a sinner, into the depths of hades, but stand by me and be unto me a savior and mediator..." [5]

The Number of the Toll Houses

The most detailed version of the toll-houses occurs in a vision of Gregory of Thrace, apparently from the 10th century. The demons accuse the soul at each toll-house of sins. In some cases the demon might accuse the soul of sins that they tempted her with, but it didn't comply with, or of sins that she repented for, and in that cases one of the angels, the one which was the persons guardian angel, speaks for the person, saying that those are lies, and that payment is not necessary, taking the soul to the next toll-house. If a person has unrepented sins, and does not have enough good deeds and prayers of the living to pay for them, the demons of the corresponding toll-house grab him, and take him to hades to await the final judgment. This vision recounts the toll-houses in the following order:

  • At the first aerial toll-house, the soul is questioned about sins of the tongue, such as empty words, dirty talk, insults, ridicule, singing worldly songs, too much or loud laughter, and similar sins.
  • The second is the toll-house of lies, which includes not only ordinary lies, but also the breaking of oaths, the violation of vows given to God, taking God's name in vain, hiding sins during confession, and similar acts.
  • The third is the toll-house of slander. It includes judging, humiliating, embarrassing, mocking, and laughing at people, and similar transgressions.
  • The fourth is the toll-house of gluttony, which includes overeating, drunkenness, eating between meals, eating without prayer, not holding fasts, choosing tasty over plain food, eating when not hungry, and the like.
  • The fifth is the toll-house of laziness, where the soul is held accountable for every day and hour spent in laziness, for neglecting to serve God and pray, for missing Church services, and also for not earning money through hard, honest labor, for not working as much as you are paid, and all similar sins.
  • The sixth toll-house is the toll-house of theft, which includes stealing and robbery, whether small, big, light, violent, public, or hidden.
  • The seventh is the toll-house of covetousness, including love of riches and goods, failure to give to charity, and similar acts.
  • The eight is the toll-house of usury, loan-sharking, overpricing, and similar sins.
  • The ninth is the toll-house of injustice- being unjust, especially in judicial affairs, accepting or giving bribes, dishonest trading and business, using false measures, and similar sins.
  • The tenth is the toll-house of envy.
  • The eleventh is the toll-house of pride- vanity, self-will, boasting, not honoring parents and civil authorities, insubordination, disobedience, and similar sins.
  • The twelve is the toll-house of anger and rage.
  • The thirteenth is the toll-house of remembering evil- hatred, holding a grudge, and revenge.
  • The fourteenth is the toll-house of murder- not just plain murder, but also wounding, maiming, hitting, pushing, and generally injuring people.
  • The fifteenth is the toll-house of magic- divination, conjuring demons, making poison, all superstitions, and associated acts.
  • The sixteenth is the toll-house of lust- fornication, unclean thoughts, lustful looks, unchaste touches.
  • The seventeenth is the toll-house of adultery.
  • The eighteenth is the toll-house of sodomy: bestiality, homosexuality, incest, masturbation, and all other unnatural sins.
  • The nineteenth is the toll-house of heresy: rejecting any part of Orthodox faith, wrongly interpreting it, apostasy, blasphemy, and all similar sins.
  • The last, twentieth toll-house is the toll-house of unmercifulness: failing to show mercy and charity to people, and being cruel in any way.


Are They Literal?

Many of the Orthodox who accept the doctrine of the toll-houses do not take the form or all the teachings from the vision of Gregory literally. Thus for example Fr. Thomas Hopko maintains that one should not try to associate a particular time after death to the process, nor should one take the toll-houses as being literally "in the air," or necessarily twenty in number. Likewise, he makes no mention in his argument for them of the doctrine of bargaining for sins (which is similar in some ways to the Latin doctrine of merits). Instead, his description, drawing on St. John Chrysostom and the Fifty Homilies of St. Macarius of Egypt, among others, takes the toll-house encounters to describe the attempt of the demons to assault the soul with its own vulnerability to sin, or to entice it away from God, and describes passing through the toll-houses as the purification of the soul.[6]. St. Theophan the Recluse likewise said that what the demons are seeking is "passions," and suggested that, although the toll-houses are often depicted as frightening, the demons might equally well try to entice the soul by appealing to one of its weaknesses. Some others go so far as to say that the demons and angels are metaphors for the sins and virtues of the soul.

Controversy

Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, censing an icon of Fr. Seraphim (Rose)
.

There is disagreement in certain circles regarding the status of this teaching within the Orthodox Church. Some, including Archbishop Lazar (Puhalo) of Ottawa, consider this teaching controversial, even false (describing it as gnostic or of pagan origin). The traditional proponents of the teaching argue that it appears in the hymnology of the Church,[7] [8] in stories of the lives of saints (for example, the Life of St. Anthony the Great, written by St. Athanasius the Great, the life of St. Basil the New, and St. Theodora), in the homilies of St. Cyril of Alexandria[9] in the Discourses of Abba Isaiah,[10] the Philokalia, the Ladder of Divine Ascent, and the Dogmatics of the Orthodox Church by Blessed Justin Popovich. Several contemporary Church figures speak about toll-houses.[11] [12] [13] [14] Secondly, not a single Church Father ever wrote even one sentence expressing doubt about this teaching (which is present in its most general form in the Church since at least fourth century), although their discussions of the topic are always about general struggles with "tax-collector" demons, lacking the details present in Gregory's vision (apart from one pseudo-Makarian story which also mentions numerous toll-houses and a bargaining over sins at each one). Thirdly, some of the greatest modern authorities of the Orthodox Church, such as St. Ignatius Brianchaninov[15] and St. Theophan the Recluse,[16] insisted not only on the truthfulness, but on the necessity of this teaching in the spiritual life of a Christian.

Reference

  1. Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Toll-houses, http://audio.ancientfaith.com/illuminedheart/hopko_tolls.mp3
  2. Philokalia, Volume I, p. 295
  3. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection, translated by Benedicta Ward, p. 81-82)
  4. First Homily: Refutation of the Latin Chapters concerning Purgatorial Fire, by St. Mark of Ephesus. Qtd. In "The Soul After Death, p 208f)
  5. See The Unabbreviated Horologion or Book of the Hours, ed. Fr. Laurence Campbell (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1995), p. 34, and The Great Horologion (Boston, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1997), p. 48
  6. Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Toll-houses, http://audio.ancientfaith.com/illuminedheart/hopko_tolls.mp3
  7. January 27, The Recovery of the Holy Relics of our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom, Troparion 1, Ode 5 of Orthros: "Grant me to pass untroubled through the host of noetic satraps and the tyrannic battalion of the lower air in the hour of my departure..."
  8. Parakletike, Friday Vespers, Second Mode: "When my soul is about to be separated violently from the members of the body, then, O Bride of God, come to my aid; scatter the counsels of the fleshless enemies and shatter their millstones, by which they seek to devour me mercilessly; that, unhindered, I may pass through the rulers of darkness standing in the air."
  9. St. Cyril of Alexandria Ephesi praedicata depoito Nestorio, ACO.14(52.405D) as referenced by Lampe, G.W.H., A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1961, p.1387
  10. The Twenty-nine Discourses of our Holy Father Isaiah, Volos, 1962, p. 37 (in Greek): "[Live] every day having death before your eyes, and concerning yourselves with how you will come out from the body, how you will pass by the powers of darkness what will meet you in the air, and how you will answer before God..."
  11. The Taxing of Souls by Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos)
  12. Answer to a Critic, Appendix III from The Soul After Death by Father Seraphim Rose of Platina
  13. Vid. Ephraim, Elder, Counsels from the Holy Mountain, St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery, Arizona, 1999, pp. 436, 447.
  14. Cavarnos, Constantine, The Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching, Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, Etna, California, 1985, pp. 24-26.
  15. A Word on Death, chapter "Aerial toll-houses"
  16. What is spiritual life, and how to obtain it, chapter "Perfect preparation for the Mystery of Repentance"

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