Friday, July 02, 2010

Two Eastern Fathers Whose Views Conflict with Purgatory

Here are some quotations from some of the "Eastern Fathers," namely Basil of Caesarea (A.D. 329-379) and John Chrysostom (A.D. 349-407).

In this first quotation, notice what Chrysostom is saying about where sin can be remedied, in terms of this life or the next:
So there is no righteous person who does not have sin, and there is no sinner who does not have goodness. But since there is a recompense for each, see what happens. The sinner receives as his due the fair recompense for his good deeds, if he has even a small evil deed; and the righteous person receives his due the fair judgment for his sin, if he has done even a small evil deed. So what happens, and what does God do? He has set a boundary for the sin between the present life and the age to come. If a person is righteous, but has performed some mean action, and is ill in this life and is handed over to punishment, do not be disturbed, but consider with yourself, and say that this righteous man has done some small evil deed at some time, and is receiving his due here, in order that he may not be punished hereafter. So if someone is righteous and suffers some misfortune, he receives his due here for this purpose, in order that he may put away his sin here and depart clean to the other world. If someone is a sinner, laden with wickedness, ill with innumerable incurable evils, rapacious, avaricious, he enjoys prosperity here for this purpose, in order that he may not seek a reward hereafter.


Οὐκ ἔστιν οὖν τις δίκαιος, ὃς οὐκ ἔχει ἁμαρτίαν· καὶ οὐκ ἔστι τις ἁμαρτωλὸς ὃς οὐκ ἔχει ἀγαθόν· ἀλλʼ ἐπειδὴ ἑκάστων ἐστὶν ἀντίδοσις, βλέπε τί γίνεται· Ὁ ἁμαρτωλὸς ἀπολαμβάνει τῶν ἀγαθῶν αὐτοῦ ἰσόῤῥοπον τὴν ἀντίδοσιν, ἐάν τι ἔχῃ κἂν μικρὸν ἀγαθόν· καὶ ὁ δίκαιος ἀπολαμβάνει τῆς ἁμαρτίας αὐτοῦ τὴν ἰσόῤῥοπον κρίσιν, κἂν μικρόν τι ποιήσῃ κακόν. Τί οὖν γίνεται, 48.1043 καὶ τί ποιεῖ ὁ Θεός; Ἀφώρισε νόσον τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, τὸν παρόντα βίον καὶ τὸν μέλλοντα αἰῶνα. Ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ τις δίκαιος, καὶ ἐργάσηταί τι φαῦλον, καὶ νοσήσῃ ὧδε, καὶ τιμωρίᾳ παραδοθῇ, μὴ θορυβηθῇς, ἀλλʼ ἐννόησον πρὸς ἑαυτὸν, καὶ εἰπὲ, ὅτι οὗτος ὁ δίκαιος πώποτε μικρόν τι κακὸν ἐποίησε, καὶ ἀπολαμβάνει ὧδε, ἵνα μὴ ἐκεῖ κολασθῇ. Πάλιν, ἐὰν ἴδῃς ἁμαρτωλὸν ἁρπάζοντα, πλεονεκτοῦντα, μυρία ποιοῦντα κακὰ, κἂν εὐθυνῇ, ἐννόησον ὅτι ἐποίησέ ποτε ἀγαθόν τι, καὶ ἀπολαμβάνει ὧδε τὰ ἀγαθὰ, ἵνα μὴ ἐκεῖ ἀπαιτήσῃ τὸν μισθόν.
- John Chrysostom, De Lazaro Concio VΙ, §9, PG 48:1042-1043; Catharine P. Roth, trans., St. John Chrysostom On Wealth and Poverty, 6th Sermon on Lazarus and the Rich Man, §3 (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984), p. 123.

Notice what Chrysostom is saying: there is no punishment for the sin of the righteous in the hereafter. That's a view that is inconsistent with the Roman Catholic fiction of Purgatory. The reason, of course, for this inconsistency is that Chrysostom did not believe in Purgatory - he had never even heard of it.

On a slightly different note, consider what Basil says in the following quotation:
I find, then, when I take up the divine Scriptures, in the Old and New Testaments, that disobedience towards God is plainly judged to lie not in the multitude of sins nor their magnitude, but in the mere transgression of any one command, and that there is a common judgment of God against all disobedience.


Εὑρίσκω τοίνυν, ἀναλαβὼν τὰς θείας Γραφὰς, ἐν τῇ Παλαιᾷ καὶ Καινῇ Διαθήκῃ, οὔτε ἐν τῷ πλήθει τῶν ἁμαρτανομένων, οὔτε ἐν τῷ μεγέθει τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων, ἐν μόνῃ δὲ τῇ παραβάσει οὑτι νοσοῦν προστάγματος, σαφῶς κρινομένην τὴν πρὸς Θεὸν ἀπείθειαν, καὶ κοινὸν κατὰ πάσης παρακοῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸ κρῖμα·
- Basil of Caesarea, De Judicio Dei, §4, PG 31:653; tr. W. K. L. Clarke, The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, Translations of Christian Literature Series I, Greek Texts (London: S.P.C.K.,1925), p. 81.

Notice that in this quotation Basil insists that there is a common judgment for sin. Basil does not here distinguish between "mortal" sins and "venial" sins, which receive different punishments. This view is inconsistent with notion that Purgatory is a place or state for the expiation of "venial" sins in the afterlife.

The same unity-of-punishment-for-all-sins theme can be seen from a slightly different angle in the following quotation, noting especially the last sentence:
However, if I would narrate all that I find in the Old and New Testament, time would soon fail me as I expounded it. But when I come to the actual words of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel, the utterance of Him Who is about to judge the living and dead, which have more weight with the faithful than all other narratives and arguments, I see in them the great necessity, if I may say so, of obeying God in all things, and again, in the case of each commandment, absolutely no pardon left to those who do not repent of their disobedience, since one can hardly venture a different opinion, or even let it enter the mind, in the face of such open, clear, and unqualified declarations. “For heaven” He says “and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” There is no difference made in this passage, no discrimination, no reservation whatever made. He says not “these words” or “those” but “My words.” For it is written: “The Lord is faithful in all his words”—whether forbidding anything, or commanding, or promising, or threatening, whether He refers to the doing of what is forbidden, or to the leaving undone what is commanded. For that leaving of good works undone is punished equally with perpetrating evil works, is shown and proved sufficiently to any soul not afflicted with complete unbelief by the aforesaid judgment in the case of Peter.


Ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μὲν ἐὰν θέλω καταλέγειν, ὅσα εὑρίσκω ἔκ τε Παλαιᾶς καὶ Καινῆς Διαθήκης, ἐπιλείψει με τάχα διηγούμενον ὁ χρόνος. Ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἐπʼ αὐτὰς ὅταν ἔλθω τὰς τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν τῷ Εὐαγγελίῳ φωνὰς, αὐτοῦ τοῦ μέλλοντος κρίνειν ζῶντας καὶ νεκροὺς τὰ ῥήματα, ἃ πάσης μὲν ἱστορίας, πάσης δὲ ἄλλης ἀποδείξεως παρὰ τοῖς πιστοῖς ἀξιοπιστότερα, πολλὴν μὲν ἐν αὐτοῖς καταμανθάνω τῆς ἐν πᾶσι πρὸς Θεὸν εὐπειθείας, ἵνα οὕτως εἴπω, ἀνάγκην· οὐδεμίαν δὲ ὅλως, ἐπ' οὐδενὶ προστάγματι, καταλειπομένην τοῖς μὴ μετανοοῦσι τῆς ἀπειθείας συγγνώμην, εἰ μή τι ἕτερόν ἐστι τολμῆσαι, καὶ μέχρις ἐννοίας λαβεῖν, πρὸς οὕτω γυμνὰς, σαφεῖς τε καὶ ἀπολύτους ἀποφάσεις· Ὁ οὐρανὸς γὰρ, φησὶ, καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται, οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρέλθωσιν. Οὐκ ἔστιν ἐνταῦθα διαφορὰ, οὐκ ἔστι διαίρεσις, οὐδὲν οὐδαμοῦ ὅλως ὑπολέλειπται. Οὐκ εἶπεν· Οὗτοι ἢ ἐκεῖνοι, ἀλλʼ, Οἱ λόγοι μου, πάντες ὁμοῦ δηλονότι, οὐ μὴ παρέλθωσι. Γέγραπται γάρ· Πιστὸς Κύριος ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ· εἴτε ἀπαγορεύων ὁτιοῦν, εἴτε προστάσσων, εἴτε ἐπαγγελλόμενος, εἴτε ἀπειλῶν, καὶ εἴτε ἐπὶ τῇ πράξει τῶν ἀπηγορευμένων, εἴτε ἐπὶ τῇ ἐλλείψει τῶν ἐπιτεταγμένων. Ὅτι γὰρ ἐπίσης τῇ ἐνεργείᾳ τῶν κακῶν καὶ ἡ τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἔργων ἔλλειψις ἐκδικεῖται, ἤρκει μὲν καὶ πρὸς ἀπόδειξιν καὶ πληροφορίαν τῇ γε μὴ παντελῆ ἀπιστίαν νοσούσῃ ψυχῇ τὸ προειρημένον ἐπὶ τῷ Πέτρῳ κρῖμα·
- Basil of Caesarea, De Judicio Dei, §8, PG 31:672-673; tr. W. K. L. Clarke, The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, Translations of Christian Literature Series I, Greek Texts (London: S.P.C.K.,1925), pp. 87-88.

Basil, however, does not limit himself to explaining that there is not a difference between sins of commission and sins of omission. He goes on to explain that there are not "great" and "little" sins with respect to punishment, though there may be with respect to mastery:
How are we to deal with those who avoid greater sins but commit small sins regarding them as venial (μικρὰ, small, little) sins?

First of all we must know that in the New Testament it is impossible to observe this distinction. For one sentence is passed against all sins, that of the Lord Who said: “Every one that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin.” And again: “The word that I spake, the same shall judge him at the last day.” Then there is the sentence of John who cried: “He that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God will abide on him.” Disobedience receives this threat not because it is worse than other sins but because it is refusing to hear. Generally speaking, however, if we are allowed to speak of a little and a great sin, it can be proved unanswerably that for each man that sin is great which has the mastery of him and that is little of which he is the master, just as among athletes he who conquers is the stronger and he who is beaten is the weaker whoever he be. We must then in the case of everyone who sins, whatever his sin be, observe the precept of the Lord Who said: “If thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the Church. And if he refuse to hear the Church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican.” And in all these matters let the apostle’s saying be kept: “Why did ye not rather mourn, that he that had done this deed might be taken away from among you?” For long-suffering and mercy should be joined with severity.


ΕΡΩΤΗΣΙΣ Σ Γʹ. Πῶς δεῖ προσφέρεσθαι τοῖς τὰ μείζονα τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων παραιτουμένοις, τὰ δὲ μικρὰ ἀδιαφόρῶς ποιοῦσιν;

ΑΠΟΚΡΙΣΙΣ. Πρῶτον μὲν εἰδέναι χρὴ, ὅτι ἐν τῇ Καινῇ Διαθήκῃ ταύτην τὴν διαφορὰν οὐκ ἔστι μαθεῖν. Μία γὰρ ἀπόφασις κατὰ πάντων ἁμαρτημάτων κεῖται, τοῦ Κυρίου εἰπόντος, ὅτι Ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν δοῦλός ἐστι τῆς ἁμαρτίας· καὶ πάλιν, ὅτι Ὁ λόγος ὃν ἐλάλησα, ἐκεῖνος κρινεῖ αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ· καὶ τοῦ Ἰωάννου βοῶντος· Ὁ ἀπειθῶν τῷ Υἱῷ οὐκ ὄψεται τὴν ζωὴν, ἀλλʼ ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ μενεῖ ἐπ' αὐτόν· τῆς ἀπειθείας οὐκ ἐν τῇ διαφορᾷ τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων, ἀλλ' ἐν τῇ παρακοῇ τὴν ἀπειλὴν ἐχούσης. Ὅλως δὲ, εἰ ἐπιτρε πόμεθα λέγειν μικρὸν καὶ μέγα ἁμάρτημα, ἀναντίῤῥητον ἔδει τὴν ἀπόδειξιν ἑκάστῳ μέγα εἶναι τὸ ἑκά στου κρατοῦν, καὶ μικρὸν τοῦτο, οὗ ἕκαστος κρατεῖ· ὥσπερ ἐπὶ τῶν ἀθλητῶν ὁ μὲν νικήσας ἐστὶν ἰσχυρότερος, ὁ δὲ ἡττηθεὶς ἀσθενέστερος τοῦ ἐπι κρατεστέρου, ὅστις ἂν ᾖ. Δεῖ οὖν ἐπὶ παντὸς ἁμαρτάνοντος οἱονδήποτε ἁμάρτημα φυλάσσειν τὸ κρῖμα τοῦ Κυρίου εἰπόντος, ὅτι Ἂν ἁμάρτῃ εἰς σὲ ὁ ἀδελφός σου, ὕπαγε, ἔλεγξον αὐτὸν με ταξὺ σοῦ καὶ αὐτοῦ μόνου. Ἐάν σου ἀκούσῃ, ἐκέρδησας τὸν ἀδελφόν σου· ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀκούσῃ, παράλαβε μετὰ σεαυτοῦ ἔτι ἕνα ἢ δύο, ἵνα ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων ἢ τριῶν σταθῇ πᾶν ῥῆμα. Ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν, εἰπὲ τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ· ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας παρακούσῃ, ἔστω σοι ὥσπερ ὁ ἐθνικὸς καὶ ὁ τελώνης. Φυλασσέσθω δὲ ἐπὶ πᾶσι τοῖς τοιούτοις τὸ ὑπὸ τοῦ Ἀποστόλου εἰρημένον· Διὰ τί οὐ μᾶλλον ἐπενθή σατε, ἵνα ἐξαρθῇ ἐκ μέσου ὑμῶν ὁ τὸ ἔργον τοῦτο ποιήσας; Χρὴ γὰρ τὴν μακροθυμίαν καὶ τὴν εὐ σπλαγχνίαν ἐπιφέρεσθαι τῇ ἀποτομία.
- Basil of Caesarea, In Regulas Brevius Tractatas, Interrogatio CCXCIII, PG 31:1288-1289; tr. W. K. L. Clarke, The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, Translations of Christian Literature Series I, Greek Texts (London: S.P.C.K., 1925), The Shorter Rules, Question & Answer #293 (CCXCIII), pp. 342-343.

We may also note that Basil has the same theme of distinguishing between this life and the next as Chrysostom does. For example, in the following quotation we see him drawing the important distinction:
I beseech you, therefore, through the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins, let us apply ourselves to care for our souls. Let us lament the vanity of our past life. Let us strive for such things as will be for the glory of God, and of His Christ, and of the adorable and Holy Spirit. Let us not remain in this slothful ease, always losing through our slothfulness the present opportunity, and putting off to the morrow or distant future the beginning of our works, lest, being found unprovided with good works by Him Who demands our souls, we be cast forth from the joy of the bridechamber, shedding vain and useless tears, and lamenting our ill-spent life, at a time when repentance can no longer avail. “Now is the acceptable time,” says the apostle, “now is the day of salvation.” This is the age of repentance, that of reward: this of labour, that of recompense: this of patience, that of comfort.


Παρα καλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρ τιῶν ἡμῶν, ἁψώμεθά ποτε τῆς φροντίδος τῶν ψυχῶν ἡμῶν· λυπηθῶμεν ἐπὶ τῇ ματαιώσει τοῦ προλαβόντος βίου· ἀγωνισώμεθα ὑπὲρ τῶν μελλόν των εἰς δόξαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ, καὶ τοῦ προσκυνητοῦ καὶ ἁγίου Πνεύματος. Μὴ τῇ ῥᾳθυμίᾳ καὶ τῇ ἐκλύσει ταύτῃ ἐναπομείνωμεν, καὶ τὸ μὲν παρὸν ἀεὶ διὰ ῥᾳθυμίας προϊέμενοι, πρὸς δὲ τὸ αὔριον καὶ τὸ ἐφεξῆς τὴν ἀρχὴν τῶν ἔρ γων ὑπερτιθέμενοι, εἶτα καταληφθέντες ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀπαιτοῦντος τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν, ἀπαρασκεύαστοι τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἔργων, τῆς μὲν χαρᾶς τοῦ νυμφῶνος ἀποβληθῶμεν, ἀργὰ δὲ καὶ ἀνόνητα μετακλαίω μεν, τὸν κακῶς παρεθέντα τοῦ βίου χρόνον ὀδυρό μενοι τότε, ὅτε πλέον οὐδὲν ἐξέσται τοῖς μεταμελο μένοις. Νῦν καιρὸς εὐπρόσδεκτος, φησὶν ὁ Ἀπό στολος, νῦν ἡμέρα σωτηρίας. Οὗτος ὁ αἰὼν τῆς μετανοίας, ἐκεῖνος τῆς ἀνταποδόσεως· οὗτος τῆς ὑπομονῆς, ἐκεῖνος τῆς παρακλήσεως.

First Alternate Translation of the last line:

This present life is a state of penitence, the next of retribution; here we must labor, there we receive our wages; this is a life of patience, that of consolation.

Second Alternate Translation of the last line:

This present world is the time of repentance, the other of retribution; this of working, that of rewarding; this of patient suffering, that of receiving comfort.
- Basil of Caesarea, Regulæ Fusius Tractatæ, Proœmium, PG 31:889, 892; main tr. W. K. L. Clarke, The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, Translations of Christian Literature Series I, Greek Texts (London: S.P.C.K., 1925), Preface to the Longer Rules, p. 145; first alternate tr. William John Hall, The Doctrine of Purgatory and the Practice of Praying for the Dead (London: Henry Wix, 1843), preface to the Longer Rules, p. 125; second alternate tr. James Ussher, An Answer to a Challenge Made by a Jesuit (Cambridge: J. & J. J. Deighton, 1835), preface to the Longer Rules, p. 32.

Finally, we see the same distinction between the now and hereafter made in yet another place in Basil's works:
Everlasting rest is apportioned to those who strive lawfully in this life; not given in payment as for a debt of works, but awarded by the grace of a bountiful God to them that trust in Him.


Πρόκειται γὰρ ἀνάπαυσις αἰωνία τοῖς νομίμως τὸν ἐνταῦθα διαθλήσασι βίον οὐ κατὰ ὀφείλημα τῶν ἔργων ἀποδεδομένη, ἀλλὰ κατὰ χάριν τοῦ μεγαλοδώρου Θεοῦ τοῖς εἰς αὐτὸν ἠλπικόσι παρεχομένη.

Alternative Translation:

For, eternal rest lies before those who have struggled through the present life observant of the laws, a rest not given in payment for a debt owed for their works, but provided as a grace of the munificent God for those who have hoped in Him.
- Basil of Caesarea, Homilia In Psalmum CXIV, §5, PG 29:492; main tr. Charles Hastings Collette, Dr. Wiseman’s Popish Literary Blunders Exposed (London: Paternoster-Row, 1860), p. 234; alternative tr. FC, Vol. 46, Exegetic Homilies, Homily 22 on Psalm 114, §5 (Washington D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1963) p. 357.

This is a follow-on to my previous post regarding Chrysostom alone (link to post). Like the previous post, this one was made with the assistance of Pastor David King.



Lvka said...

There is a pious story of a disciple of a monk, who pondered about God's justice. His righteous elder was devoured by a wild beast, and -at about the same time- a notoriously rich and sinful man was burried with much pomp and honor. An angel is sent by God to accompany him on his way, in the form of a young monk. At the end, he explains to the disciple that the rich, sinful man got his reward from God for the few good deeds that he did in his life by having a beautiful funeral, because there can be no reward for them in the afterlife, since he is in hell; and the elder was cleaned of the few sins that he did in this life by the pain of being eaten alive by the lion, and so gained even greater glory in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Viisaus said...

So Lvka, I would take that as a proof that EOs do not believe in post-mortem Purgatory?

Viisaus said...

The church in the days of Chrysostom did indeed "pray for the dead" - a thing that strict Protestants would object to, seeing from history how it set up a slippery slope to praying TO the dead.

(One could argue that the error of Purgatory was the "logical" end result of praying for the dead, and that post-Nicene church fathers were saved from it by "blessed inconsistency.")

And yet, Protestant scholars already long time ago proved that this practice was nonetheless still very different from the late-medieval RC doctrine of Purgatory - for example, they used to pray FOR Virgin Mary!

Anglican archbishop Ussher (famous today for his dating of creation at 4004 BC) thus argued against a Jesuit:

pp. 170-172

"Fifthly, by the forms of prayers that are found in the ancient Liturgies. As in that of the churches of Syria, attributed unto St Basil: "Be mindful, O Lord, of them which are dead, and are departed out of this life, and of the orthodox Bishops, which, from Peter and James the Apostles until this day, have clearly professed the right word of faith; and namely, of Ignatius, Dionysius, Julius, and the rest of the saints of worthy memory. Be mindful, O Lord, of them also which have stood unto blood for religion, and by righteousness and holiness have fed thy holy flock."

And in the Liturgy fathered upon the Apostles: "We offer unto thee for all the saints which have pleased thee from the beginning of the world, patriarchs, prophets, just men, apostles, martyrs, confessors, bishops, priests, deacons," &c.

And in the Liturgies of the churches of Egypt, which carry the title of St Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, and Cyril of Alexandria: "Be mindful, O Lord, of thy saints; vouchsafe to remember all thy saints which have pleased thee from the beginning, our holy fathers, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, preachers, evangelists, and all the souls of the just which have died in the faith; and especially the holy, glorious, the evermore Virgin Mary, the Mother of God; and St John the forerunner, the Baptist and martyr; St Stephen, the first deacon and martyr ; St Mark the apostle, evangelist, and martyr," &c.

And in the Liturgy of the church of Constantinople, ascribed to St Chrysostom: "We offer unto thee this reasonable service for those who are at rest in the faith, our forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, religious persons, and every spirit perfected in the faith, but especially for our most holy, immaculate, most blessed Lady, the Mother of God and aye Virgin Mary."

Which kind of oblation for the saints, sounding somewhat harshly in the ears of the Latins, Leo Thuscus, in his translation, thought best to express it to their better liking after this manner: "We offer unto thee this reason - able service for the faithfully deceased, for our fathers and forefathers, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, and all the saints interceding" for them. As if the phrase "offering for the martyrs" were not to be found in St Chrysostom's own works; and more universally "for the just, both the fathers and the patriarchs, the prophets and apostles, and evangelists, and martyrs, and confessors, the bishops, and such as led a solitary life, and the whole order," in the suffrages of the Church rehearsed by Epiphanius. Yea, and in the Western Church itself: "for the spirits of those that are at rest, Hilary, Athanasius, Martin, Ambrose, Augustine, Fulgentius, Leander, Isidorus," &c. As may be seen in the Muzarabical Office used in Spain."

Viisaus said...

pp. 176-178

"Now, having thus declared, unto what kind of persons the commemorations ordained by the ancient Church did extend, the next thing that cometh to consideration is, what we are to conceive of the primary intention of those prayers that were appointed to be made therein. And here we are to understand, that first prayers of praise and thanksgiving were presented unto God for the blessed estate that the party deceased was now entered upon; whereunto were afterwards added prayers of deprecation and petition, that God would be pleased to forgive him his sins, to keep him from hell, and to place him in the kingdom of heaven. Which kind of intercessions, howsoever at first they were well meant, as we shall hear, yet in process of time they proved an occasion of confirming men in divers errors; especially when they began once to be applied not only to the good, but to evil livers also, unto whom by the first institution they never were intended.

The term of ev-)(apicrTiipio9 ev'xt^y, "a thanksgiving prayer", I borrow from the writer of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy (Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagite); who, in the description of the funeral observances used of old in the Church, informeth us, first, that the friends of the dead "accounted him to be, as he was, blessed, because that, according to his wish, he had obtained a victorious end;" and thereupon "sent forth hymns of thanksgiving to the Author of that victory; desiring withal that they themselves might come unto the like end." And then that the Bishop likewise offered up a prayer of thanksgiving unto God, when the dead was afterward brought unto him, to receive, as it were, at his hands a sacred coronation.

Thus at the funeral of Fabiola, the praising of God by singing of Psalms and resounding of Hallelujah is specially mentioned by St Jerome; and the general practice and intention of the Church therein is expressed and earnestly urged by St Chrysostom in this manner: "Do not we praise God and give thanks unto him, for that he hath now crowned him that is departed, for that he hath freed him from his labours, for that quitting him from fear, he keepeth him with himself? Are not the hymns for this end? Is not the singing of psalms for this purpose? All these be tokens of rejoicing."

Whereupon he thus presseth them that used immoderate mourning for the dead: "Thou sayest, `Return, O my soul, unto thy rest, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee`; and dost thou weep? is not this a stage-play? is it not mere simulation? For if thou dost indeed believe the things that thou sayest, thou lamentest idly; but if thou playest, and dissemblest, and thinkest these things to be fables, why dost thou then sing? why dost thou suffer those things that are done? Wherefore dost thou not drive away them that sing?"

And in the end he concludeth somewhat prophetically, that he "very much feared lest by this means some grievous disease should creep in upon the Church."

Whether the doctrine now maintained in the Church of Rome, that the children of God, presently after their departure out of this life, are cast into a lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, be not a spice of this disease, and whether their practice in chanting of psalms, appointed for the expression of joy and thankfulness, over them whom they esteem to be tormented in so lamentable a fashion, be not a part of that scene and pageant at which St Chrysostom doth so take on, I leave it unto others to judge."

Indeed, although modern RCs do not liked to emphasize it, it seems that Rome used to teach that the sufferings of Purgatory are just the same as those of Hell, differing from them only in duration. Needless to say, Chrysostom did not believe that faithful departed could end up in such a place.

Lucian said...

for example, they used to pray FOR Virgin Mary!

Why the past tense?

Viisaus said...

Ussher also showed lawyer-like cleverness (though not of shyster-variety) when dealing with a case of heresy-hunter Epiphanius condemning certain Aerius for opposing prayers for the dead.

He proved that even this case (which is a great favorite of RC/EO apologists), when observed in detail, gives us indirect proof against the later RC dogma of Purgatory.

(Btw, this Ussher-book contains loads of citations in original Greek and Latin; most of them I will not transcibe, curious people can check out the link themselves.)

pp. 230-232

We are to consider, then, that the prayers and oblations, for rejecting whereof Aerius was reproved, were not such as are used in the Church of Rome at this day, but such as were used by the ancient Church at that time, and for the most part retained by the Greek Church at this present. And therefore as we, in condemning of the one, have nothing to do with Aerius or his cause, so the Romanists, who dislike the other as much as ever Aerius did, must be content to let us alone, and take the charge of Aerianism home unto themselves.

Popish prayers and oblations for the dead, we know, do wholly depend upon the belief of purgatory: if those of the ancient Church did so too, how cometh it to pass that Epiphanius doth not directly answer Aerius, as a Papist would do now, that they brought singular profit to the dead by delivering their tormented souls out of the flames of purgatory; but forgetting as much as once to make mention of purgatory, (the sole foundation of these suffrages for the dead, in our adversary's judgment,) doth trouble himself and his cause with bringing in such far-fetched reasons as these: That they who performed this duty did intend to signify thereby that their brethren departed were not perished, but remained still alive with the Lord; and to put a difference betwixt the high perfection of our Saviour Christ and the general frailty of the best of all his servants.

Take away popish purgatory on the other side, (which in the days of Aerius and Epiphanius needed not to be taken away, because it was not as yet hatched,) and all the reasons produced by Epiphanius will not withhold our Romanists from absolutely subscribing to the opinion of Aerius; this being a case with them resolved, that "if purgatory be not admitted after death, prayer for the dead must be unprofitable." 236

236. "Ad hoc etiani est universalis ecclesiae consuetudo, quae pro defunctis oral; quae quidem oratio inutilis esset, si purgatorium post mortem non ponatur." Thom, contra Gentiles, lib. xiv- cap. 91. VII ,]

But though Thomas Aquinas and his abettors determined so, we must not therefore think that Epiphanius was of the same mind, who lived in a time wherein prayers were usually made for them that never were dreamed to have been in purgatory, and yieldeth those reasons of that usage, which overthrow the former consequence of Thomas every whit as much as the supposition of Aerius.

Viisaus said...


For Aerius and Thomas (Aquinas) both agree in this, that prayer for the dead would be altogether unprofitable if the dead themselves received no special benefit thereby. This doth Epiphanius, defending the ancient use of these prayers in the Church, shew to be untrue, by producing other profits that redound from thence unto the living; partly by the public signification of their faith, hope, and charity toward the deceased; partly by the honour that they did unto the Lord Jesus, in exempting him from the common condition of the rest of mankind. And to make it appear that these things were mainly intended by the Church in her memorials for the dead, and not the cutting off of the sins which they carried with them out of this life, or the releasing of them out of any torment, he allegeth, as we have heard, that not only the meaner sort of Christians, but also the best of them without exception, even the prophets and apostles and martyrs themselves, were comprehended therein. From whence, by our adversary's good leave, we will make bold to frame this syllogism:

They who reject that kind of praying and offering for the dead which was practised by the Church in the days of Aerius, are in that point flat Aerians.
But the Romanists do reject that kind of praying and offering for the dead which was practised by the Church in the days of Aerius.
Therefore the Romanists are in this point flat Aerians.
The assumption, or second part of this argument, (for the first, we think, nobody will deny,) is thus proved:
They who are of the judgment that prayers and oblations should not be made for such as are believed to be in bliss, do reject that kind of praying and offering for the dead which was practised by the ancient Church.
But the Romanists are of this judgment.
Therefore they reject that kind of praying and offering for the dead which was practised by the ancient Church.

The truth of the first of these propositions doth appear by the testimony of Epiphanius, compared with those many other evidences whereby we have formerly proved, that it was the custom of the ancient Church to make prayers and oblations for them of whose resting in peace and bliss there was no doubt at all conceived. The verity of the second is manifested by the confession of the Romanists themselves, who reckon this for one of their "Catholic Verities," that suffrages should not be offered for the dead that reign with Christ; and, therefore, that an ancient "form of praying for the apostles, martyrs, and the rest of the saints, is by disuse deservedly abolished," saith Alphonsus Mendoza. 238

238. "Illa formula precandi pro apostolis, martyribus, &c. merito per desuetudinem exolevit." Alphons. Mendoz. Controvers. Theologic. Quaest. Scholastic, vi. sect. 72

Nay, to offer sacrifices and prayers to God for those that are in bliss, is "plainly absurd and impious," in the judgment of the Jesuit Azorius; 239 who was not aware that thereby he did outstrip Aerius in condemning the practice of the ancient Church, as far as the censuring it only to be "unprofitable" (for "what shall the dead be profited thereby?" was the furthest that Aerius durst to go) cometh short of rejecting it as "absurd and impious."

239. "Graeci sacrificia et preces offerunt Deo pro mortuis; non beatis certe, neque damnatis ad inferos, quod plane esset absurdum et impium." Jo. Azor. Institut. in. Thorn. Disp. xlviii. sect. 4, nuiP. Moral. Tom. i. lib. viii. cap. 20.

And therefore our adversaries may do well to purge themselves first from the blot of Aerianism, which sticketh so fast unto them, before they be so ready to cast the aspersion thereof upon others.

Viisaus said...

"Why the past tense?"

Well, here's your chance to shine Lvka. Tell us more about how modern EO churches still pray FOR Mary and the saints.

We can clearly see here another case of "dueling traditions", as RCs seem to disapprove...

(citing my earlier post)

"The verity of the second is manifested by the confession of the Romanists themselves, who reckon this for one of their "Catholic Verities," that suffrages should not be offered for the dead that reign with Christ; and, therefore, that an ancient "form of praying for the apostles, martyrs, and the rest of the saints, is by disuse deservedly abolished," saith Alphonsus Mendoza. 238

Nay, to offer sacrifices and prayers to God for those that are in bliss, is "plainly absurd and impious," in the judgment of the Jesuit Azorius;"

Turretinfan said...

Lvka is apparentyl EO, so one presumes he follows his church's continued rejection of the Roman fiction of Purgatory.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Vissaus, you may want to study up on the Eastern Fathers and how they viewed the dead as being in Hades. This may offer some insight as to their mentality of praying for the dead. I offered an explanation of this given by an Orthodox scholar in the last post TF had on purgatory and St. Chrysostom. Hopefully that bit of information was a learning experience for all involved. I am sure those who already know everything learned nothing, but maybe one of two of us gained some insight on the subject.

Lucian said...

Tell us more about how modern E.O. churches still pray FOR Mary and the saints.

Sorry, I thought you knew. It's in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (served every Sunday):

Priest (in a low voice): Again, we offer this spiritual worship for those who reposed in the faith: forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, ascetics, and for every righteous spirit made perfect in faith...

Priest (aloud): ...especially for our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Mother of God, and ever-virgin Mary.