Can an Orthodox Pray Somebody out of Hell?

I’m pretty clear about the Catholic position – we pray for the souls in Purgatory, but for those in Hell, it’s a one-way ticket.

But Purgatory is only a matter of faith for some Orthodox, even though all Orthodox pray for the dead.

So, for those Orthodox who do not believe in Purgatory but still pray for the dead, is it possible to “pray somebody out of Hell”, so to speak, and if so, how?

N.B: Not trying to start a debate; I’m neither theologian nor proselytizer (in fact, that’s probably misspelled), and I know how heated the tempers get between the icon crowd and the statue crowd.

Hospodi pomilui!

This may make more sense to you if you realize that Hell is not the same in the Orthodox church as the Catholic church. In the Orthodox church hell and heaven is the same, you are in the presence of God. The classic explanation is a sword in the fire, a properly forged sword will take on the features of the fire (heaven), while an improperly forged sword will shatter in its prescence (hell) and this idea is not new it came from St. Ignatious.

My grandfather asked me once, “Son, do you believe the priest can pray you out of hell?”

I said, “Dilly, there are a lot of people who believe that the priest prays people out of hell, and every single one of them is a Protestant.”

Regarding what Polaris said, look up and read THE RIVER OF FIRE by Dr. Alexandre Kalimiros. It’s available on the 'net.

The term Hell used to be much more broadly used in Latin theology, and included Purgatory. This can be seen in the Catechism of Trent, for example:

Different Abodes Called Hell"

These abodes are not all of the same nature, for among them is that most loathsome and dark prison in which the souls of the damned are tormented with the unclean spirits in eternal and inextinguishable fire. This place is called gehenna, the bottomless pit, and is hell strictly so called.

Among them is also the fire of purgatory, in which the souls of just men are cleansed by a temporary punishment, in order to be admitted into their eternal country, into which nothing defiled entereth. The truth of this doctrine, founded, as holy Councils declare,’ on Scripture, and confirmed by Apostolic tradition, demands exposition from the pastor, all the more diligent and frequent, because we live in times when men endure not sound doctrine.

Since the Byzantine tradition doesn’t tend to make as hard a distinction between “Hell” and “Purgatory”, some writers talk about “praying people out of Hell”. This should be understood in Latin terms as praying for souls in Purgatory, however, as the Damned are indeed Damned in the Byzantine tradition.

Peace and God bless!

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Of course we can’t forget a few of the great saints of the Church, such as St Gregory of Nyssa and St Issac the Syrian taught universal salvation. :wink:

We don’t know if we can “pray souls out of Hell.” The only thing we know for sure is that prayers for the dead help. Exactly how it helps only God knows.

Yours in Christ

Of course we can’t forget a few of the great saints of the Church, such as St Gregory of Nyssa and St Issac the Syrian taught universal salvation. :wink:

Yes, and this teaching was condemned as heretical at the Fifth Ecumenical Council. :slight_smile:

It is considered an erroneous teaching by both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Communions, despite the tendency of some theologians to skirt the edge of this heresy, or even embrace it outright.

Peace and God bless!

The saints in heaven believed and taught heresy? Whew…there is hope for me yet!!!:slight_smile:

Actually this is such a good question because Jesus say whatever we would ask from Jesus he would go to the Father and ask for us and we will get , even things bigger than what Jesus did, Jesus can ask for them from the Father. So because Jesus did go and broke the gates of Hell and let souls out, is there a way for normal people to do the same? Same may say this is hard. listen moving your legs is hard, there are tons of cells, muscles involved but God made it simpler. So can it exists a way to take souls out of Hell made simpler by God? This would be a question to be asked to God.

Yes, there are miracles that this happened.
Romanian version:
Short story, a priest went to a public bath blessing the owner of the bath. every time he went there a young man helped him take the bath. See how important is to always bless? Once he was thinking to give some food to this man. So he took the food and asked the manto partake. the man said he is from hell and that he cannot do that, he cannot eat. He said he is from hell and if the priest would do 40 Liturgies , I mean 40 Prayers for the dead at Holy Litugy in front of GOD , for him he would be saved. The priest did the 40 Liturgies and a apparition told him the man was going to Heaven.

Perhaps there is confusion because of the Latin references to the flames of purgatory. :smiley:

The “flames of Purgatory” were considered to be the flames of Hell by those theologians, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, who used the term. :shrug:

Peace and God bless!

Naroc! Ce mai faci?

I guess this runs into the whole “Can-God-create-a-rock-so-heavy-he-can’t-lift-it?” problem. I mean, of course God can open up the gates of Hell and let into Heaven whoever he jolly well pleases, but is that part of the Divinely Ordered Plan?

I like the previous posters’ (Orthodox and Catholic) chalking much of the question up to nomenclature, rather than theology. That is, Orthodox (and perhaps Byzantines) call “Hell” (1) the “state” (not exactly “place”) of being damned eternally, but also (2) the “state” from which prayers for the dead may offer respite. Western Catholics would call this “state” or “place” “Purgatory.”

I also like the Eastern idea of “shattered vs. purified” sword, as it solves the problem of: “If God is everywhere, why isn’t he in Hell?” Maybe we can blame Dante for centuries of vivid “place” imagery of Inferno, Purgatorio, e Paradiso.

They didn’t believe and teach heresy after the matter was cleared up, however. They speculated before the matter was fully settled, they didn’t strongly advocate anything against the Faith as it was taught at that time. :slight_smile:

To put it another way, Saints were also sinners, but they repented of their sins. What heresies and sins must you still repent of? :wink:

Peace and God bless!

None that I can think of at the moment…but then I’m invincibly ignorant.:slight_smile: (I think that’s the term…)

St Gregory taught universal salvation just as forcefully as Origen but Origen was anathematized by name and St Gregory wasn’t. Not only was he not anathematized he is honored as a saint.

How do you explain this?

Yours in Christ

Are you saying that there are Latin theologians who equated purgatory with hell?

Salut Nyarlathotep,

One more thing wanted to add. There is not one story about people being saved from hell, there are many. The link I provided speak about 2 occurrences of people saved from hell by 40 Liturgies. Also there are 2 other stories where 40 Holy Liturfgies made the angels rescue 2 persons , one from prison and other from under a mountain , while these persons were living. So the 40 Holy Liturgies can rescue from Hell or from Earth’s problems.

Another Russian story. there was a priest that had an alcohol problem. So the prishioners wanted to send him out. They asked the Bishop to send the priest out and the Bishop told priest to stop drinking. he could not do it so the Bishop wanted to write down the decision to let priest go. When he wanted to do this he saw a field and lots and lots of people screaming at him and threatening him. They were not nice. He said, lets do it tomorrow.

Later he wanted do the same think however the angry people appeared to him threatening him so he asked the priest to come and asked him, are you doing anything special. He said, I fell remorse for my drinking problem and I go to the cemetery and take the people names and pray for them . Maybe he was doing the 40 Liturgies or prayers.

Hearing that the Bishop understood who the ANGRY people were and told priest go and continue do what he was doing.

Looks like praying beside what you are supposed to do for other people is well pleasing to God. I know a priest that had many visions of Saint Mary , but when people came to him asking for 1 Liturgy he did 60 or maybe more.

But if there would be a saint to speak directly to God, how to rescue people from hell in an easy accessible way, would me my first question. There si a prayer book saying :
Nobody is going to be saved unless he helps others to be saved.
I think this is too strong. Helping other to be saved I think it is a big PLUS PLUS PLUS PLUS.

Of course we can’t forget a few of the great saints of the Church, such as St Gregory of Nyssa and St Issac the Syrian taught universal salvation.

And in others of their writings the repudiated universalism, too.

The 5th Council’s anathema against Origen:

IF anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.

The “restoration” refers to apokatastasis, which for Origen is the eventual “restoration” of all intelligent creatures to God. It is called a “restoration” because for Origen, human persons pre-existed in the realm of closeness to God, and humans will eventually (even after eons in hells) enter into God’s realm.

Thus, this anathema only addresses the belief that (1) there was an original status of closeness to God, a pre-existence before birth; and that (2) eventually, even after eons, all intelligent beings will be restored to their original state. This was Origen’s view of universalism.

St. Isaac the Syrian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and any other Christian universalists were not condemned by this council, nor by any council, because they did not argue for a pre-existent state of closeness to God. They simply argued for the eventually salvation of all intelligent beings. That simple statement, as of yet, has yet to be condemned by council.

Heck, even this condemnation against Origen was not approved by the council.

But back to the OP:

On the issue of praying someone out of Hell: the Orthodox believe in the Last Judgement as the time when eternal damnation and eternal salvation begins in time. We can give “eternal damnation” the specific term “eternal hell”. Thus, eternal hell doesn’t exist yet, because the Last Judgement has not happened.

Thus, for the Orthodox, eternal hell does not (yet) exist, so you can’t pray anyone out of it.

What does exist is the state between death and Last Judgement. We can call that state “hades”. Hades is, by its very nature, temporary. For the Orthodox, Hades is not a place of punishment, nor flames, nor even a teeny, weeny bit. However, in Hades, one may have a vision of one’s future Last Judgement status, and if your envisioned status doesn’t seem too rosy, you might want to have the Church on earth offer up a few prayers for you. Even if you think you are on the way to eternal hell, while waiting in Hades, you are not in eternal hell just yet, and there is always hope that the Church will pray you out of your current probably trajectory. For the Orthodox, there is always hope for salvation, until that last curtain call.

It’s not over, until the skinny lady sings.

It may be like this. orthodox needing help in after life may get it even after death because they followed miracles.
Catholics may say, it seemed logic to get the new ideas and not to pray for departed. God can we get back and become Orthodox before coming again?
There are people speaking with God and they didn’t came to say what Catholics say.

The question gets down to this:

Was Apostle and Evangelist Mark and Apostle James wrong when they added prayers for the departed in their Liturgies or not?

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