Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Fathers on Aerial Toll-Houses - Part 2

Third Toll-House of Judging and Slander
Christ is risen!

Continuing the testimony of the Church Fathers on the doctrine of Aerial Toll-Houses, I have added several more quotes as points of reference.  Please make sure to read Part 1 prior to reading this article, so as to acquire the source and intent of these quotes, as well as to maintain the continuity of the witness of the Church throughout the first millennium.


(Editor's note: All of these quotes were typed manually.  If you discover any possible errors/typos, please leave a comment.  Thank you!)


➤St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea (+379)--

→"Being under the sentence of death, knowing that there is One Who saves and One Who delivers
[he cries out:] In Thee have I put my trust he says, save me from weakness and deliver me (Ps. 7:1-2) from captivity. I think that the noble athletes of God, who have wrestled considerably with the invisible enemies during the whole of their lives, after they have escaped all of their persecutions and reached the end of life, are examined by the prince of the world in order that, if they are found to have wounds from the wrestling or any stains or effects of sin, they may be detained; but, if they are found unwounded and stainless, they may be brought by Christ into their rest as being unconquered and free. Therefore [the Holy Prophet King David] prays for his life here and for his future life. For, he says, "Save me" here "from them that persecute me; deliver me there in the time of the scrutiny lest at any time he seize upon my soul like a lion." You may learn this from the Lord Himself Who said concerning the time of His passion, Now the prince of this world is coming, and in Me he will have nothing (John 14:30). He who had committed no sin said that He had nothing; but, for a man it will be sufficient if he dares to say: "The prince of this world is coming, and in me he will have few and trivial penalties." And there is a danger of experiencing these penalties, unless we have someone to deliver us or to save us. For, the two tribulations set forth, two petitions are introduced. Save me from the multitude of them that persecute me; and deliver me, lest at any time I be seized as if there were no one to redeem me (Ps. 7:1-2)."

➤St. Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople (+389)--

→"Divine fear has overcome me, a mass of horrors: dismal Tartarus, scorching flames, whips, demons, the tax-collectors of our souls. All a myth to the wicked."

➤St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (+407)--

→"Pondering these things--as well as other similar things that are more unknown, which only those who have arrived there and have experienced understand--some who are lying in bed jump up, wanting to escape but cannot; others grind their teeth; others scratch their cheeks; others roll their eyes around pitifully as they see the strength of their body gradually fading, the tongue uttering, and the deposit certainly obtained, the opposing powers standing by, scrutinizing, criticizing, and trying to seize.  And then the thief enters and denounces and rends the soul from the body.  Then we will require many prayers, many helpers, many good deeds, and a great protection from angels on the journey through the spaces of the air. If when traveling in a foreign land or a strange city we are in need of a guide, how much more necessary for us are guides and helpers to guide us past the invisible dignities and powers and world rulers of this air who are called persecutors, publicans, and tax-collectors by Holy Scripture."

→"Lazarus was then escorted away by angels, but certain frightful powers, who were perhaps sent for this, were demanding the soul that other person.  For the soul cannot on its own depart to that life, since this is impossible. If we, in going from city to city, have need of a guide, how much more will the soul, when it is torn from the body and translated to the future life, have need of guides."

→(On Eph. 2:2) "Here again he [the Apostle Paul] means, that Satan occupies the space under Heaven, and that the incorporeal powers are spirits of the air, under his operation. For that his kingdom is of this age, i.e., will cease with the present age, hear what he says at the end of the Epistle; "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the world rulers of this darkness;" (Eph. 6:12) where, lest when you hear of world-rulers you should therefore say that the Devil is uncreated, he elsewhere (Gal. 1:4) calls a perverse time, "an evil world," not of the creatures. For he seems to me, having had dominion beneath the sky, not to have fallen from his dominion, even after his transgression."

→"Most persons may be then heard relating horrors, and fearful visions, the sight whereof they that are departing may not endure, but often shake their very bed with much vehemence, and gaze fearfully on the bystanders, the soul urging itself inwards, unwilling to be torn away from the body, and not enduring the sight of the coming angels. Since if human beings that are awful strike terror into us beholding them, when we see angels threatening, and stern powers, among our visitors, what shall we not suffer, the soul being forced from the body, and dragged away, and bewailing much, all in vain?"

→"Moreover another told me, without learning it from someone else, but as being himself thought worthy to be both an ear and eye witness of it, that, in the case of those who are about to depart hence, if they happen to be partakers of the mysteries [Holy Communion] with a pure conscience, when they are about to breathe their last, angels keep guard over them for the sake of what they have received, and bear them hence [to Heaven]."

➤St. Makarios the Great of Egypt (+391)--

→"Like the tax collectors who sit along the narrow streets and snatch at the passers-by and extort from them, so also the demons watch carefully and grab hold of souls. And when they pass out of the body, if they are not completely purified, they are not permitted to go up into the mansions of Heaven there to meet their Master.  For they are driven down by the demons of the air. But if, while they still live in the flesh, they shall, because of their hard toil and much struggle, obtain from the Lord on high grace, they, along with those who through virtuous living are at rest, shall go to the Lord, as He promised.  "Where I am, there also My servant will be" (Jn. 12:26). And for the endless ages they shall reign together with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and always and for all eternity. Amen."

→"When you hear that there are rivers of dragons and mouths of lions and the dark forces under the heavens and fire that burns and crackles in all the members (such that the earth could never contain), you will remain ignorant of such things unless you receive the pledge of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22).  These forces will hold your soul and when you depart from this life will not allow you to rise to Heaven."

→"When the soul of a man departs from the body, a certain great mystery is there enacted. If a person is under the guilt of sin, bands of demons and fallen angels approach along with the powers of darkness which capture that soul, and drag it as a captive to their place. No one should be surprised by this fact. For if, while a man lived in this life, he was subject to them and was their obedient slave, how much more, when he leaves this world, is he captured and controlled by them? You can understand this, however, from what happens to those on the better side. Indeed, angels even now stand alongside God's holy servants and holy spirits surround and protect them. And when they leave their bodies, the bands of angels receive their souls and carry them to their side into the pure eternity. And so they lead them to the Lord."

→"If the dark power of the passions and the malice of evil spirits cleaves to a soul, if the invisible spirits of error accompany it and haunt the highways and byways of its thoughts in order to act through the passions, and if this soul becomes their accomplice, when it comes to leave the body, the spirits of error and the Prince who delights in evil, the Ruler of the world of darkness, receives it, takes charge of it and detains it among themselves; it entirely belongs to them, this soul that did their will and accompanied them to the end when in the flesh. And conversely, the soul that accompanies the essence of the desirable and inexpressible beauty of the divine Spirit's light, the soul that accompanies and dwells with the grace of Christ's truth, the soul that has been from its time here below favored with holiness of heart and the indwelling of Christ in the highways and byways of its thoughts, when this soul comes to leave the body, the spirits of the saints in light (receive it) and the King of peace, Christ, who Himself finds His joy in excellent souls, receives this soul and welcomes it into His presence as His very own bride and intimate associate, this soul that has never acted on earth outside of His will."

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