A Russian priest told me this:
The level of interest in the Toll Houses is proportional to one’s education in the faith. The ignorant love them. The educated are much more circumspect, and many reject the more popular manifestations.
There is a difference between the Particular Judgement, which is an important part of Sacred Tradition and IS doctrine, and the Toll Houses, which are (at best) only a theological opinion, and are mostly folk belief found amongst the ignorant. That is, one MUST believe that there’s a Particular Judgement. That’s doctrine. However, the Church is silent as to the details of it. Ergo, talk of the Toll Houses is sheer mummery, at best. No Council of the Church has EVER affirmed the Toll Houses in the form that one sees amongst ignorant konvertsy (the Serafim Rose crowd, in particular).
The Toll Houses weren’t a factor in Church Life prior to Rose’s untutored and rambling writings in the late 70s. Never forget that Rose lacked even a basic seminary formation, let alone any advanced study at a recognised Orthodox institution. That is, he lacked the credibility and education to have even posited his notion in the first place! The konvertsy swoon at a notion floated by a man who lacked the basic grounding that seminary and monastic formation give one. Too many of these toddlers take Platina’s hagiographic propaganda at face value. Rose was a simple hieromonk without the slightest hint of clerical formation, he wasn’t an archimandrite, and he certainly wasn’t a trained academic theologian. Furthermore, the St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood was a minor parvenu skete in the backwoods of Northern California, not a major influence in world Orthodoxy at all.
A priest told me that one must believe in the Particular Judgement, but that it wasn’t healthy to be speculating on the details:
You will face judgement, mark my words… but it does us no good to try to trick out the details.
I find this sage advice. Unfortunately, the Toll House nutters won’t stop squalling about their “Doctrine”… as for me, I’m tired of refuting their nonsense. Just because I’m stopping to reply to the Toll House trolls doesn’t mean that they’re right. I have things that are more important on my plate… like being a Christian and having a real life.
One last thing… no Church is considering Rose for canonisation. You can’t call him “Blessed”, as that’s the Orthodox title for a canonised Fool-in-Christ. Interesting that the konvertsy use a papist concept here (just as the Toll Houses are a corrupt form of the papist Purgatory, as St Mark of Ephesus pointed up)…
Keep it focused. There are demented toddlers afoot, screaming out this-or-that Patristic quotation. Pray for these idiots… we’re Christians; that’s what we do. Don’t feed the trolls…