Skip to comments.Do Catholics Believe in Purgatory?
Posted on 11/05/2005 9:15:01 PM PST by Coleus
Do Catholics Believe in Purgatory? FR. WILLIAM SAUNDERS
I hardly hear purgatory mentioned anymore. I have even heard some Catholics say we do not believe in it since Vatican II. What is the right teaching?
Contrary to what some may erroneously believe, Vatican II's "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church" asserted, "This sacred council accepts loyally the venerable faith of our ancestors in the living communion which exists between us and our brothers who are in the glory of Heaven or who are yet being purified after their death; and it proposes again the decrees of the Second Council of Nicea, of the Council of Florence, and of the Council of Trent" (No. 51).
Moreover, the Catechism clearly affirms the Church's belief in purgatory and the purification of the soul after death: "All who die in Gods grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but, after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned" (cf. No. 1030-32).
As Vatican II stated, the Church has consistently believed in a purification of the soul after death. This belief is rooted in the Old Testament. In the Second Book of Maccabees, we read of how Judas Maccabees offered sacrifices and prayers for soldiers who had died wearing amulets, which were forbidden by the Law; Scripture reads, "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out" (12:42) and "Thus, [Judas Maccabees] made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from the sin" (12:46). This passage gives evidence of the Jewish practice of offering prayers and sacrifices to cleanse the soul of the departed.
Rabbinic interpretation of Scripture also attests to the belief. In the Book of the Prophet Zechariah, the Lord spoke, "I will bring the one third through fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined, and I will test them as gold is tested" (13:9); the School of Rabbi Shammai interpreted this passage as a purification of the soul through God's mercy and goodness, preparing it for eternal life. In Sirach 7:33, "Withhold not your kindness from the dead" was interpreted as imploring God to cleanse the soul. In sum, the Old Testament clearly attests to some kind of purification process of the soul of the faithful after death.
The New Testament has few references about a purging of the soul or even about heaven for that matter. Rather the focus is on preaching the Gospel and awaiting the second coming of Christ, which only later did the writers of sacred Scripture realize could be after their own deaths. However, in Matthew 12:32, Jesus' statement that certain sins "will not be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come," at least suggests a purging of the soul after death. Pope St. Gregory (d. 604) stated, "As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come." The Council of Lyons (1274) likewise affirmed this interpretation of our Lord's teaching.
As we ponder the beautiful understanding of purgatory, we must never forget the importance of praying for and having Masses offered for the repose of the souls of our loved ones.
We perform penances and other sacrifices to heal the hurt caused by sin. In so doing, we are continually saying "yes" to the Lord. In a sense our soul is like a lens when we sin, we cloud the lens; it gets dirty, and we lose the focus of God in our lives. Through confession and penance, God cleanses the "lens" of our soul. When we die, if we leave this life fundamentally loving God, dying in His grace and friendship, and free of mortal sin, we will have eternal salvation and attain the beatific vision we will see God for who He is. If we die with venial sins or without having done sufficient penance for our sins, God in His love, mercy and justice will purify our souls, "cleanse the lens" so to speak. After such purification, the soul will then be united with God in heaven and enjoy the beatific vision.
As we ponder the beautiful understanding of purgatory, we must never forget the importance of praying for and having Masses offered for the repose of the souls of our loved ones. Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Mirae caritatis (1902) beautifully elaborated this point and emphasized the connection between the communion of saints with the Mass: "The grace of mutual love among the living, strengthened and increased by the Sacrament of the Eucharist, flows, especially by virtue of the Sacrifice [of the Mass], to all who belong to the communion of saints. For the communion of saints is simply ... the mutual sharing of help, atonement, prayers, and benefits among the faithful, those already in the heavenly fatherland, those consigned to the purifying fire, and those still making their pilgrim way here on earth.
These all form one city, whose head is Christ, and whose vital principle is love. Faith teaches that although the august Sacrifice can be offered to God alone, it can nevertheless be celebrated in honor of the saints now reigning in Heaven with God, who has crowned them, to obtain their intercession for us, and also, according to apostolic tradition, to wash away the stains of those brethren who died in the Lord but without yet being wholly purified." Likewise, the Catechism asserts, "From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic Sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God" (No. 1032). Therefore, when we face the death of someone, even a person who is not Catholic, to have a Mass offered for the repose of his soul and to offer our prayers are more beneficial and comforting than any other sympathy card or bouquet of flowers.
Most importantly, we should always remember our own dearly departed loved ones in the Holy Mass and through our own prayers and sacrifices to help in their gaining eternal rest. Since we are approaching the feast of All Souls (Nov. 2), now is a good time to remember our deceased loved ones by either having a Mass offered for their repose or, if the parish offers one, to remember them in the special All Souls Novena.
Saunders, Rev. William. "Do Catholics Believe in Purgatory?" Arlington Catholic Herald.
This article is reprinted with permission from Arlington Catholic Herald.
Father William P. Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Potomac Falls and former dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. Father has been writing his weekly "Straight Answers" column for the Arlington Catholic Herald since 1993. The above article is one of those "Straight Answers" columns. Father Saunders is the author of Straight Answers, Answers to 100 Questions about the Catholic Faith, a book based on 100 of his columns and published by Cathedral Press in Baltimore.
...and many other equally silly things.
Depending, of course, on your budget...
What is silly about purgatory?
If he is Blessed, he will find out the truth of Purgatory one day.
Excellent -- it's in the Bible if only the Protestants would take the time to read it!
No money at all is needed to request that a Mass be said for a deceased or living person. However, I always offer $5.00 with each request.
That should be in everyone's budget.
I am a member of this group:
Friends of the Suffering Souls
An organization formed to assist the souls in Purgatory by arranging for Masses to be offered each and every day of the year for their benefit.
The Friends of the Suffering Souls is an organization that assists the souls in Purgatory by arranging for Masses to be offered each and every day of the year for ALL THE SOULS IN PURGATORY and especially for deceased members.
There is ONLY ONE OBLIGATION incurred by becoming a Friend of the Suffering Souls. Each member has to organise on behalf of the association at least one Mass each year. This Mass has to be offered for:
"ALL the souls in Purgatory, especially deceased members of FOSS"
Members can however organise as many Masses as they wish to add to the novena but they must organise at least one. So in a similar manner to the Living Rosary of St. Philomena, we combine together to offer a continuous novena of Masses for all the Holy Souls and especially for deceased members.
Devotion to the Poor Souls
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Today is the feast of All Souls. It comes on the day after All Saints. Between these two feast days, we remember all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ: the Church Triumphant in heaven, the Church Militant on earth, and the Church Suffering in purgatory.
Over the centuries the month of November has been dedicated to the Poor Souls. No doubt the reason is because November is the last month of the liturgical year, even as purgatory is the last stage of human existence before a soul reaches heaven.
During this homily, I would like to ask three questions and share with you a short answer on what our Catholic faith teaches about devotion to the Poor Souls in purgatory.
* Who are the Poor Souls?
* Why are the Poor Souls in purgatory?
* How are we to practice our devotion to the souls in purgatory?
Who Are the Poor Souls?
The Poor Souls are the souls of those people who died in the friendship of God. But they still have some suffering to undergo for the sins they had committed during their lives on earth. It is the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church that there is a purgatory. As the word itself indicates, purgatory is the state of those who still have to be cleansed of the penalty which they owe for their past offenses against God.
The Poor Souls are poor because they are in suffering and need our help. We know from Sacred Scripture that there is a purgatory, as described in the second book of Maccabees, which unfortunately has been removed from the Protestant Old Testament. As described in Sacred Scripture, Judas Maccabeus, the leader of a Jewish army, decided to offer a sacrifice for the Jews who had died in battle. The Bible then tells us,"If he had not expected the fallen to rise again, it would have been superstitious and foolish to pray for the dead." However, since he believed in the resurrection of the dead, "he had this atonement sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sins" (II Maccabees 12:41?45).
The existence of purgatory is a defined truth of the Catholic faith. Those who die without the guilt of mortal sin, but with temporal punishment still due for their past offenses "are cleansed after death in purgatorial or cleansing punishments."
It is commonly believed that the principal suffering in purgatory is the pain of loss. The souls are temporarily deprived of the Beatific Vision.
Why are the Poor Souls in Purgatory?
In order to understand why the Poor Souls are in purgatory, as Catholics we should know what we believe about the double effect of every sin. Every time we sin we lose more or less of God's grace. This we call "guilt." Every time we sin we also incur a debt of pain. This we call "penalty."
Mortal sins are called mortal because they deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace and the right to heaven. Mortal sins also incur the debt of eternal punishment.
When mortal sins are forgiven in the sacrament of penance, sanctifying grace is restored and the debt of eternal punishment is removed. But normally there is still temporal punishment to be expiated. Moreover, venial sins always carry with them a debt of temporal punishment, which is more or less remitted, depending on a person's spiritual dispositions.
This immediately tells us that because we are sinners we must expect to suffer in expiation for our sins. The choice we have is between patiently suffering here on earth or suffering in purgatory after our bodily death.
Devotion to the Poor Souls
It must seem strange to speak of devotion to the Poor Souls. But it is not really strange. Devotion to the Poor Souls has two sides: our side and the side of the souls in purgatory.
On their side, the Poor Souls are united with us in the one Kingdom of Christ. They can pray and obtain blessings for us here on earth. They are united, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, with the pilgrim Church in the Communion of Saints. We are therefore encouraged to invoke their aid, with a confidence of being heard by those who understand our needs. They know from their own experience what it means to carry the cross here on earth.
On our side we are to do everything we can to help the Poor Souls in the Church Suffering. The sufferings in purgatory are not the same for all. They depend on each person's degree of sinfulness. St. Thomas Aquinas held that the least pain in purgatory is greater than the worst pain in this life. St. Bonaventure held that the worst suffering after death was greater than the worst suffering on earth, but the same could not be said regarding the least pain in purgatory. In general, however, we should say that the pains of purgatory are greater than those on earth.
What does it mean to pray for the Poor Souls? It means everything that we can offer for the faithful departed.
* We can offer our bodily pains in expiation for their sins.
* We can offer our spiritual sufferings, our disappointments and fears, our discouragement and estrangement from those we love.
* We can offer our vocal prayers, like the Rosary, the Memorare, the Angelus, the recitation of the Divine Office.
* We can offer our mental prayers, like the Way of the Cross, our daily meditation and examination of conscience.
* We can offer our mortifications, like giving up some delicacy at table, or performance of some unpleasant work.
But the most effective offering we can make for the Poor Souls is the Holy Eucharist at the Sacrifice of the Mass, Holy Communion and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Over the centuries, the Catholic faithful have by now offered countless Masses for the Poor Souls. In the Society of Jesus, we priests are expected to offer one Mass each month for all the deceased Jesuits. This amounts to over sixteen thousand Masses that are to be said every month for the members of the Society of Jesus who are still in purgatory.
May I offer a recommendation? During the month of November, I suggest that we make a list of all the deceased persons whom we wish to specially remember in our Masses, prayers and sacrifices for the repose of their souls. Add to this list as those enter eternity whom you wish to specially commend to the mercy of God. This, by the way, is called a Necrology. Every Catholic diocese in the world has a Necrology of its deceased priests. Every family should have its own Necrology of deceased members whom we daily remember to our merciful Lord.
Every time you say the grace after meals, be sure to add the invocation, "May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen." In every Rosary you recite, do not forget to say after each decade, " O, my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and bring all souls to heaven, especially those who are in most need of thy mercy."
Remember that devotion to the Poor Souls is really a covenant between them and us. We pray and sacrifice for them, They can pray and suffer for us. They appreciate whatever help we give them, to lessen their suffering and to shorten their stay in Purgatory. They will continue to show their appreciation when we join them in a heavenly eternity.
Prayer for the Poor Souls in Purgatory
O Jesus, Thou suffered and died that all mankind might be saved and brought to eternal happiness. Hear our pleas for further mercy on the souls of:
My dear parents and grandparents, \
My brothers and sisters and other near relatives, |
My godparents and sponsors of Confirmation, |
My spiritual and temporal benefactors, |
My friends and neighbors, |
All for whom love or duty bids me pray, |
Those who have suffered disadvantage or harm through me, |
Those whose release is near at hand, |
Those who desire most to be united to Thee, |
Those who endure the greatest sufferings, |
Those whose release is most remote, |
Those who are least remembered |
Those who are most deserving on account of their services to the Church, |
The rich, who are now the most destitute, |
The mighty, who are now powerless, |
The once spiritually blind, who now see their folly | M
The frivolous, who spent their time in idleness, | y
The poor who did not seek the treasures of heaven, |
The tepid who devoted little time to prayer, | J
The indolent who neglected to perform good works, | e
Those of little faith, who neglected the frequent reception of the Sacraments, \ s
The habitual sinners, who owe their salvation to a miracle of grace, / u
Parents who failed to watch over their children, | s
Superiors who were not solicitious for the salvation of those entrusted to them, |
Those who strove for wordly riches and pleasures, | M
The wordly minded, who failed to use their wealth and talent for the service of God, | e
Those who witnessed the death of others, but would not think of their own, | r
Those who did not provide for the life hereafter, | c
Those whose sentence is severe because of the great things entrusted to them, | y
The popes, kings, and rulers, |
The bishops and their counselors, |
My teachers and spiritual advisors, |
The priests and religious of the Catholics Church, |
The defenders of the Holy Faith, |
Those who died on the battlefield, |
Those who fought for their country, |
Those who were buried in the sea, |
Those who died of apoplexy, |
Those who died of heart attacks, |
Those who suffered and died of cancer, |
Those who died suddenly in accidents, |
Those who died without the last rites of the Church, |
Those who shall die within the next twenty-four hours, |
My own poor soul when I shall have to appear before Thy judgment seat, /
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them: For evermore with Thy Saints, because Thou art gracious.
May the prayer of Thy suppliant people, we beseech Thee, O Lord, benefit the souls of Thy departed servants and handmaids: that Thou mayest both deliver them from all their sins, and make them to be partakers of Thy redemption. Amen.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine on them. Amen.
May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
St. Gertrude the Great
Our Lord dictated the following prayer to St. Gertrude the Great to release 1,000 Souls from Purgatory each time it is said.
"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen."
St. Gertrude's life was the mystic life of the Cloister -- a Benedictine nun. She meditated on the Passion of Christ, which many times brought a flood of tears to her eyes. She did many penances and Our Lord appeared to her many times. She had a tender love for the Blessed Virgin and was very devoted to the suffering souls in Purgatory. She died in 1334. Her feast day is November 16th.
2 Samuel 12:13-16
David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die." Then Nathan went to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uri'ah's wife bore to David, and it became sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in and lay all night upon the ground. [Note that God has "put away" David's sins, but David still fasts. This is the same as in Numbers, when Moses was still excluded from the Promised Land even after he was forgiven for his sin of striking the rock twice with his rod.]
2 Maccabees 12:43-46
He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.
But the souls of the just are in God's hand; no torment will touch them. in the eyes of the foolish they seemed to be dead; their departure was reckoned as defeat, and their going from us a disaster. But they are at peace, for though in the sight of men they may suffer punishment, they have a sure hope of immortality, and after a little chastisement they will receive great blessings, because God has tested them and found them worthy to be His. He put them to the proof like gold in a crucible, and found them acceptable like an offering burnt whole on the altar. In the hour of their judgement they will shine in glory and will sweep over the world like sparks through stubble.
For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
I will lead that third into the fire, and refine them as silver is refined, test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name and I shall listen; and I shall say: These are my people; and each will say, "Yahweh is my God!"
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. [Note He didn't say, "until I pay the last farthing for you." He JUSTIFIES us -- without Him we can NEVER justify ourselves! Nothing we do can EVER get us into Heaven without His Blood. But we are expected to grow up, too. Our Father is wise.]
And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come
And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite. [RSV: "As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper."]
1 Corinthians 3:13-15
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
2 Timothy 1:16-18
The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus [who just died]; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, ... and to the spirits of just men made perfect
I Peter 3:16-19
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
1 Peter 4:6
For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. [Comment: These dead could not have been in Hell; there's no escaping Hell. They couldn't have been in Heaven. So where were they?]
Revelation 21:10, 27
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God... And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
First, a definition is in order: what is Purgatory?
Purgatory is not Hell minus a few torments and degrees Fahrenheit; it's not Heaven minus joy. It's not a "Third Final Destination" of souls. Purgatory is simply the place where already saved souls are cleansed of the temporal effects of sin before they are allowed to see the holy face of Almighty God. Revelation 21:27 tells us that "...nothing unclean will enter [Heaven]."
That there are temporal effects of sin is obvious when one considers that even those who have been baptized, who have a deep and intimate relationshp with Jesus, who are the "elect" or "the saved/being saved," or what have you, are subject to pain, work, death and sickness.
The best way to understand the idea of already being forgiven but still having to be cleansed of the temporal effects of sin is by analogy: imagine you are the parent of a 7-year old child who steals a candy bar from the local grocery. The child is repentant, in tears, sobbing his apologies. You, being the good parent (as God, our Father is!) forgive that child and love him and show him your mercy. But being a good parent means that you are also just and will expect that child to pay back the store. Purgatory is God's way of forgiving us, loving us, showing us His mercy and justice -- and making us "pay back the store." Can you imagine what would happen to the child of a parent who never expected that child to "pay back the store" (especially when that same parent believed also that there was nothing that child could do to become "disinherited," as in the "once saved, always saved" doctrine)? As always, the best way to understand Catholic doctrine is to think of God as the wisest, most loving, most merciful, and most just Father that we can possibly envision.
Nota bene: Purgatory is His way of ensuring that Revelation 21:27 is true and that nothing unclean will see Heaven. It is only through Christ's sacrifice that we are shown this mercy! It is Christ and Christ alone Who allows us access to the Father.
OK, so where's the word "Purgatory" in the Bible? It's isn't in the Bible, but neither are the words "Trinity," "abortion," "lesbianism," and "cloning" (or "Rapture," for that matter), and it doesn't matter whether you call the process of purgation "purgatory" or the "Final Theosis": the concept of a "final cleansing" or "purgation" for those who require it is very evident in the Bible, in the writings of the early Church Fathers, and in the Old Testament religion whence Christianity sprang.
Daniel 12:2, Matthew 12:32, 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, 2 Timothy 1:16-18, Hebrews 12:14, Hebrews 12:22-23, 1 Peter 4:6 and Revelation 21:10, 27 all speak of Purgatory in their telling of the need for purification, prayers for the dead, Christ's preaching to the dead, or how nothing unclean will see God.
Tertullian comes right out and says in The Crown 3:3, dated A.D. 211, "We offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries". Cyprian of Carthage writes in A.D. 253:
It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory; it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord.
From St. John Chrysostom in his Homilies on 1 Corinthians 41:5, A.D. 392:
Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.
to St. Augustine's A.D. 419. City of God:
Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment"
the Church Fathers speak of purgation.
Archaeology also indicates the antiquity of the Christian belief in Purgatory/the Final Theosis: the tombs of the ancient Christians were inscribed with words of petition for peace and for rest, and at the anniversaries of deaths, the faithful gathered at the graves of the departed to make intercession for those who'd gone before.
Orthodox Jewish practices, which branched off from the Old Testament religion, to this day reflect belief in this "place" of final purification which they call Gehenom: when an Orthodox Jewish person dies, a ritual called the taharah is performed by the "Chevra kaddisha -- gmilat khessed shel emet," the "Holy Society" or "Burial Society" of Jews knowledgeable in these traditional duties. They cleanse and prepare the physical body and recite the required prayers (Chevra Kadisha) which ask God for forgiveness for any sins the departed may have committed, and beg Him to guard and grant eternal peace to the departed. For eleven months after the death of a loved one certain members of the family pray a prayer called the Mourner's Qaddish (or Kaddish) for their loved one's purification.
Even the The Talmud1 speaks of Purgatory:
"The judgment of the wicked in purgatory is twelve months."
Rosh HaShanah 16b-17a:
"It has been taught that the school of Shammai says: "There will be three groups on Judgment Day (yom haDin):
(1) one that is completely righteous,
(2) one that is completely wicked,
(3) and one that is in between."
The completely righteous will be recorded and sealed at once for eternal life. The completely wicked will be recorded and doomed at once to Gehinnom, as it says: "And many who sleep in the dust of the earth shall rise up, some to eternal life and some to shame and eternal rejection" [Daniel 12:2]. Those in between will go down to Gehinnom and cry out and rise up, as it says: "And I will bring the third part through the fire and refine them as silver is refined and test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name and I will answer them" [Zechariah 13:9]
Rabbi Shammai (50 BC - AD 30), one of the two main teachers of early rabbinical Judaism, also is on record as having interpreted Zechariah 13:9 as referring to a state of purification after death. Isaiah 66:15-16 and Malachi 3:2-3 were also interpreted in rabbinic literature as referring to the purgatorial process, and the same theme is reflected in Wisdom 3:1-7 and II Maccabees 12:43-45, both contained in the Deuterocanonical books that Protestants refer to as "The Apocrypha."
Jews, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox have always proclaimed the reality of the final purification for those who need it. It was not until the Protestant Reformers came in the 1500s that any Christians denied the idea of a final purgation before seeing the face of God.
Purgatory is actually a very rational belief. If we believe in the Communion of Saints, which is human life sub species aeternitatis, we have to accept that human life is lived under God's terms, which are eternity. If we are thinking in terms of time and place - which God is not - we can't comprehend Purgatory. But eliminate time and place, and there is no reason for it to be impossible.
There was a book by Charles Williams - I don't remember which one - that had a character saved by the prayers of someone in the future. Charles Williams was quite a flake, but he did have a few good if somewhat sci-fi insights, and he applied them to religion (he was Catholic and a friend of CS Lewis). One of his insights is that neither God nor our prayers are limited by time, and that we do not know what effect they might have even on the past and those who have gone before us.
It's all speculation; who knows how Purgatory "works"? But I think it's a positive, hopeful belief, and I have never understood why Protestants hate it. Of course, most Prots believe that everybody and their dog goes to Heaven anyway.
Looking for attention????
Great piece by Dave Armstrong on Matthew 5:25-26 [RSV] Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.
1) First of all, there is an assumption by Jesus that it is possible to get out of this place: "you will never get out till . . . " This motif of being able to get out of debtor's prison is repeated by our Lord Jesus in Matt 18:30: ". . . put him in prison till he should pay the debt" (repeated in 18:34). This could not be said about hell at all, because no one can get out of hell. We wouldn't say of, e.g., a corpse in a casket: "he will never get out of there till . . . " To say such a thing presupposes the possibility of leaving the place. If one can't leave, it wouldn't be described in such a fashion. Therefore, if we apply the passage to the afterlife at all, it must refer to purgatory and not hell.
2) Secondly, purgatory is not all that "comforting." It is a place of punishment for temporal sins, and purging. We have hope, of course, because everyone there is saved and not damned, and it may be even more pleasant than this life, for all we know, but that doesn't make it all that "comforting" in an immediate sense, because we know from this life that purging ourselves of sins and sinful tendencies is not an easy process. We have plenty of analogies for purging in our earthly existence. So I don't see how this is a disproof at all. If one was trying to apply the passage to heaven, I could see that, but not if it is said to be a description of purgatory.
3) As for Jesus warning us to avoid this place (purgatory, as we believe), that makes perfect sense. No one has to go to purgatory, if they achieve sufficient sanctity by God's grace in this life. It is a good thing to avoid purgatory if we can. That's what Jesus is saying.
4) It can't apply to hell, either, because the "debts" are metaphorical for remaining sins on our soul. We don't get saved from hell by paying off our debts (in Catholic theology, by penance for temporal sins). We get out by means of the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross on our behalf. It is sheer mercy, not a mere debt-paying process (because none of us could ever pay off the debt in that case). This is good Catholic theology, too, I assure you. We don't gain salvation by our good works. That is the heresy of Pelagianism.
Jesus often uses the metaphor of "debt" for sins and the necessity of forgiveness (e.g., Mt 6:12-15, 18:23-35, Lk 7:36-50, 11:4). Therefore, it makes much more sense (granting these theological premises) that the passage refers to purgatory, since the "debts" are sins that we are still being purged of. We're not being punished eternally in this instance for the sins, but having them purged from us because we are already saved. That's why Jesus says that we can get out of the place or state. Again, we don't gain heaven and eternal life by paying off debts ourselves, because this would never be sufficient. But we can gain the entrance to heaven (having already been saved by the cross and God's mercy and forgiveness and election) by purging our sins entirely in purgatory by this painful process.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [a Protestant work], in its article on "Debt, Debtor" (vol. II, 814-815) states:
Debt and debtor are used in a moral sense also as indicating the obligation of a righteous life which we owe to God. To fall short in righteous living is to become a debtor. For this reason we pray, 'Forgive us our debts' (Mt 6:12).
Now, again, in Catholic theology, this is sensibly spoken of penance and purgatory, not of hell or of salvation. The above description fits very nicely with the Catholic (and biblical) concept of purgatory. We "owe God a righteous life"; not in order to be saved (as both Protestants and Catholics agree that we can be saved while still possessing actual sinfulness and less than perfect sanctity), but in order to (already saved) enter heaven, where no sin is allowed (Rev 21:27; implied also by the tenor and content of Isaiah 6:1-8, where the prophet Isaiah comes in contact with God).
did you know there is an indulgence for visiting and praying at cemeteries this week? The indulgence is available every day from November 1 until November 8 I think.
So; Y'shua did not die for the sins of all ?
Or is that Y'shua did not die for all the sins of those of the Roman church.
I believe Y'shua died for all my sins ; if I but repent of them and call on Him.
2Co. 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
2Co. 5:16 So from now on we regard no-one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
2Co. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2Co. 5:18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
2Co. 5:19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting mens sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
Xenia, do ALL people go to heaven?
...because if Jesus died for the sins of ALL, and ALL people have been forgiven, then no one can possibly enter hell; Christ "paid" for ALL of men's sin...
Yet, Christ speaks of hell quite often in the Gospels. He doesn't give us the idea that hell is something that will be closed and out of business after His death on the cross. Unfortunately, hell is open for business - the devil is STILL prowling as a lion, looking for prey. Now, Zenia, why would the devil continue his work IF Christ died for ALL men's sin? Apparently, SOME men will refuse to beg for forgivenss.
What the problem is, for Protestants, is that they don't realize that Christ redeemed ALL men objectively from sin, BUT, men must repent and call upon the Father to apply His Son's sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins committed today. If this doesn't happen, then there will be no forgiveness of sin. God doesn't forgive sin until we beg for it.
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