I've made an appointment with Father to confess my sins, but I don't really know where to begin (my last Confession was during Advent or just before) and I'm struggling to examine my conscience which I've been trying to do over the past week. Maybe I'll find a good examen online that I can follow because the one in my missal is not hitting the nail on the head...
There is just not enough time for anything because I have school, work, and my spiritual life (I don't really have a social life right now besides for being with my best friend a lot, but that's fine because I'm worried about more important things). I've been spending tremendous amounts of time on my spiritual life to the detriment of my academic career because I'm still running in circles and trying to find answers about homosexuality, gender identity, and trying to be a good Catholic in spite of all that.
All I want to do when I'm not researching answers to how to have a more peaceful interior life or praying is sleep. My life consists of being on the Internet trying to make the most out of Catholicism in my life, prayer (including reading the Scriptures and devotions), and sleep. I feed myself as well ;-)
Did I mention that last night I finally found out what the Aerial Toll-Houses are? Eastern Orthodox tradition hypothesizes that the Particular Judgment of the soul after it leaves the body consists in it being carried by the Holy Angels Heavenward where it makes 20 stops at the different Toll-Houses where there are demons who try to steal the soul to Hell by convicting it of sins it has committed in life (or by accusing it of sins it didn't commit) to see if the soul has sufficifiently satisfied for it. If the soul has sufficiently satisfied for the sin [of that Toll-House] by some good work, the Angels may guide the soul the next one where it is tempted or convicted again by different demons for a different type of sin. If the soul has not satisfied, the demons snatch it, and carry it to Hell. If the soul makes it past all 20 Toll-Houses, it may ender the Joy of the Lord in Heaven after the Final (General) Judgment.
The Church Fathers have said that those who commune of the Sacred Mysteries and confess their sins truthfully often are not in danger of the demons at these terrifying Toll-Houses, and that the prayers of the faithful on Earth and the Saints who have cleared all 20 Toll-Houses.
Although not all of the Eastern Orthodox accept this as doctrine (some say it's a metaphor), it seems that most of them believe it and they have the texts to prove it. It really scares me if they are real because I always thought that God would be my Judge at my Particular Judgment and that He wouldn't necessarily cooperate with the demons. Purgatory seems scary enough, but if this is how one even gets there, it kinda leaves me hanging as to how the heck I'm supposed to clear all those Toll-Houses if they even exist. Now I really see the importance of gaining Indulgences and always trying to be in a State of Grace on this life. Keep in mind, one can have insufficient "collateral" at any of the Toll-Houses and immediately go to Hell.
Before, I always wondered why the Orthodox prayed for the dead since they didn't believe in Purgatory, but in light of these Toll-Houses, it makes sense. But how will I have anyone to pray for me if I'm not a member of a parish community where people will know what to pray about concerning me? People could easily forget, and if these little "judgment houses" are real, I could be falling to an endless woe, and the fact that I tried really hard in life wouldn't even matter.
After all, isn't the fear of Hell and the desire to see God the reason that I pray so much, offer Mass frequently, try to share the Truth with others, do good deeds, and believe through Charity? What's the point if all these demons are just going to make it all go to naught? I would hope that my Guardian Angel (like the Toll-House believers say) is recording the good things that I do out of love for God. I would hope that God would remember His Promise to His children, and consider where my heart is at the moment of death.
http://orthodoxinfo.com/death/theodora.aspx (St. Theodora's Journey Through the Toll-Houses)
Something in me just keeps feeling like I'm being set up for failure!!! And frankly, it is making me not trust God in a sense, but making so scared of Him that I don't feel like continuing.
Now, I'm not saying that these Toll-Houses in the sky are real or that they're infallibly declared (I've never even heard of them except for a couple times over the past 5 years), but it's just an uncomfortable thought kinda like Purgatory and Hell are uncomfortable, but at least in Purgatory, you're guaranteed Heaven and are sad and tormented by the fact that your sins offended God and the Poor Souls of the Church Suffering (those in Purgatory) actually see their sins for what they really are and are praying to be cleansed of them and satisfy for them. These Toll-Houses seem like your fate is more or less in the hands of demons and they don't want your good nor have they ever. Your Angels are supposed to help you, but the demons have the last word.
|Aerial Toll-Houses Iconographic Depiction|
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
"Be Thou unto me a God, a Protector, and a house of refuge, to save me: for Thou art my strength and my refuge: and for Thy Name's sake Thou wilt lead me, and nourish me. Ps. ibid. 2. In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in Thy justice, and save me." --Introit of the Mass of Quinquagesima Sunday