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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Purgatory is an article of the faith, meaning all Catholics are bound to believe it. In this world we are not free from sin but in Heaven all will be free from the stains of sin. Purgatory is the process of going from this world to Heaven for those without a perfectly clean soul. As to pain and suffering in purgatory, we can only speculate; the teaching of the Church on Purgatory simply states that is a process through which a soul is made spotless. Let me reiterate, purgatory is the purification of one's soul for Heaven.

This is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

III. The Final Purification, or Purgatory

1030 All who die in God's 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.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire: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.

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."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.The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.
The term "purgatory" is not in the Bible, but instead look to these Biblical references: Mt. 5:48, Mt. 5:26, Mt. 12:32, 1 Cor. 15:29, 1 Tim. 1:16

"If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire" (1 Cor 3:15, Douay Rheims)
From Blessed Anna Katarina Emmerich:
"I was in Purgatory tonight. It was as if I were being led into an abyss, where I saw a large hall. It is touching to see the Poor Souls so quiet and sad. Yet their faces reveal that they have joy in their hearts, because of their recollection of God's loving mercy. On a glorious throne, I saw the Blessed Virgin, more beautiful than I had ever beheld Her. She said, 'I entreat you to instruct people to pray for the suffering Souls in Purgatory, for they certainly will pray much for us out of gratitude. Prayer for these holy souls is very pleasing to God because it enables them to see Him sooner...'" (From the Revelation of Blessed Anna Katarina Emmerich)
 How can we assist the souls suffering in purgatory?

We should pray fervently and frequently for the souls in Purgatory.  Start by adding the St. Gertrude Prayer to your daily prayers:
"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."
Our Lord told St. Gertrude the Great that 1,000 souls would be released from Purgatory every time this is said! This prayer has now even been "extended to living sinners which would alleviate the indebtedness accrued to them during their lives."

And for a list of other private works that you can do for the souls of the dead in purgatory (e.g. heroic acts of charity, fasting, etc) please click here.

Additional Prayer for the Holy Souls:
O holy souls, as one truly devoted to you, I promise never to forget you and continually to pray to the Most High for your release. I beseech you to respond to this offering which I make to you, and to obtain for me, from God, with Whom you are so powerful on behalf of the living, that I may be free from all dangers of souls and body.

I beg both for myself and for my relations and benefactors, friends and enemies, pardon for our sins, and the grace of perseverance in good, whereby we may save our souls. Obtain for us peace of heart; assist us in all our actions; succor us promptly in all our spiritual and temporal needs; console and defend us in our dangers.

Pray for our Holy Father, the Pope; for the exaltation of Holy Church; for peace between nations; for Christian rulers; and for tranquility among peoples; and grant that we may one day all rejoice together in Paradise. Amen.
Additionally, it should be widely promoted for the Faithful to ask the clergy to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the intention of freeing the souls in Purgatory.  Many souls are released from Purgatory by the graces from the Mass.  Furthermore, we should seek to gain Indulgences for the souls in Purgatory.  The easiest way to do this is by obtaining a Raccolta (see links at bottom of this post) which lists the indulgenced prayers and the conditions for obtaining the indulgence.

Furthermore, the souls in Purgatory are greatly aided when we offer our Holy Communions for them.  Make it a practice to offer your Holy Communion at least once weekly for the souls in Purgatory.

In the past I have reflected on Praying the Stations of the Cross - which also happen to have indulgences attached to them - and at this time I would also encourage you to pray the Stations for the souls in Purgatory.  Similarly, through almsgiving, penance, and fasting done with the intention of freeing souls in Purgatory, we can directly help the suffering souls in the Church Suffering.  And these souls, when freed from their purgation, shall certainly pray without ceasing for our salvation.
Common Questions:

Just as we pray for others here on earth, we are encouraged by the Church to pray for souls who may be in purgatory. Why? We are all in need of grace to come into the perfection of charity. We cannot enter heaven if we have not been completely cleansed of sin and all punishment due to sin. See Catechism of the Catholic Church #1031 and 1472

Since the Mass is the "source and summit" of the Christian Life, we naturally look to that Holy Sacrifice of Christ, containing the perfect prayer, to offer for our deceased relatives and friends who may still need the help of our prayers. Priests are under a strict obligation to remember in a special way the person for whom the Mass is being offered. Often you will hear the priests say the name of the person for whom Mass is offered during the announcements or before Mass. Oftentimes the intention for the Mass is listed in the bulletin as well.

We can't really speak of "time" since the deceased person has entered eternity, but we can speak in terms of "final purification" before entrance into heaven. We believe that a Mass offered for a departed relative or friend may help hasten that final purification which he/she may still be undergoing in purgatory.

Raccolta (Listing of Indulgences in Latin and English):

For a listing of hundreds of prayers with indulgences and special blessings attached to them, be sure to refer to a copy of the Raccolta oftenClick here to order one.


del_button November 2, 2005 at 9:28 AM
Wendy said...

Purgatory is the one issue in the Catholic faith that I struggle with the most. Thanks for all of the good information. I hope that by the time of my conversion that I will have a better understanding of purgatory and not be so scared of the idea as I am now.

del_button October 12, 2006 at 3:22 PM
Anonymous said...

Wasn't purgatory originally 'invented' by greedy priests as a means to make money?

del_button October 12, 2006 at 4:06 PM
Moneybags said...

No it wasn't invented. It is alluded to in the Bible and the Church has declared it to exist. While some priests became greedy by selling indulgences, they were just bad apples in the bunch. Indulgences and purgatory are good things that help us become more pure so that we may be worthy to enter Heaven. Remember, nothing defiled shall enter Heaven, as the Lord says. So purgatory is the process of becoming pure, after death, before entering Heaven.

del_button October 12, 2006 at 7:00 PM
Jason said...

Why then does no one in Scripture ever specifically ask for people to pray for him/her after death? If our prayers and faith could save those in purgatory, where's the commandment to do as such?

Mat 5:48 - Talks about being perfect. Not sure where the allusion is to purgatory here...? "Perfect" is used for the living in 1 Cor. 14:20 ("perfect" is translated as "men" in this verse).

Mat 5:26 - Talks about paying money to get out of prison. The context is quite clear that this is practical advice for the living, not the dead.

Mat 12:32 - Talks about the unforgiveable sin. Where's the purgatory allusion?

1 Cor 15:29 - Unless Catholics belive in baptism of the dead, this verse seems an odd place to find evidence of purgatory. The context of this chapter is plain: if we don't believe Christ was resurrected, then what's the benefit of being baptised into death?

1 Tim 1:16 - Again, a bizarre verse for purgatory proof...

Scripture is clear. There's only one judgment and this judgment will be when Christ returns. Purgatory (along with heaven & hell going) suggests two judgments, something that is simply never hinted at in the Bible.

As a reminder:

Jhn 3:13 "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven."

Act 2:34 "For David is not ascended into the heavens:..."

No one's been to heaven except Christ. It's so simple, this whole thing is as exactly how Paul described: 1 Cor. 1:27 "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;"

del_button October 12, 2006 at 7:22 PM
Moneybags said...

There are not people in Heaven in those two verses you provided BECAUSE JESUS HAD NOT ASCENDED! Heaven was still closed because of our sins. Heaven was not opened for saints like King David until after Jesus's Life, Death, and Resurrection and Ascension into Glory.

The proof for purgatory for me is in Cor. 3:15. Why do I even need to have to see a reference in Scripture?? Where does Scripture say it is the complete authority? Answer: no where

del_button October 12, 2006 at 9:51 PM
Jason said...

Acts was written after Jesus' ascension, not before. Therefore, if Jesus' ascension 'opened the door' for people to go to heaven, why wasn't David there?

And where are we told about a judgment prior to the return of Christ? If I die and go to hell, I've already been judged. However, Scripture doesn't follow the same sequence of events. We live, we die, Christ returns, we're resurrected, we're judged. Not: we live, we die, we're judged (heaven or hell), Christ returns, we're judged again. It's not the way the Bible tells us it's going to be. See Mat 25:33, Acts 17:31, 1 Cor 4:5. 2 Tim 4:1-8, Romans 2:16, Heb 10:30. One judgment.

You don't need a purgatory reference in Scripture because it isn't found in Scripture.

And if Scripture isn't the complete authority then the Bible lies. 2 Tim 3:16-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."

Note: "that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished..." If a man can be perfect by using God's word alone, it's absolutely ridiculous to think we need to look elsewhere for instruction.

Finally, 1 Cr 3:15. This verse reads "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." This is proof for purgatory? The Catholic Encyclopedia says this "While this passage presents considerable difficulty, it is regarded by many of the Fathers and theologians as evidence for the existence of an intermediate state in which the dross of lighter transgressions will be burnt away, and the soul thus purified will be saved."

First of all, 1 Cor 3:15 says absolutely nothing about a temporary afterlife location. It also says nothing about a purification of the elect or a soul or sins or dross. This much can't be debated. The verse reads what it reads.

Furthermore, if this verse was talking about purgatory, we run into something of a problem: Zec 13:9. Both of these verses talk about people being tried by fire but Zechariah is an unfulfilled prophecy concerning the Jews and the return of Christ, NOT a prophecy of God's people suddenly being killed and thrown down to purgatory by Christ at his coming.

FInally, the fire in 1 Cor 3:15 "saves". Does purgatory itself "save"? Hardly. Based on Scriptural references to fire, it's quite apparent that fire is a symbol of testing on earth. As in Zech 13, salvation awaits all those who make it through this period of testing. This testing occurs here, during our lives, not in some ethereal afterlife.

Psa. 66:12, Isa 43:2, Isa 48:10, Jer 9:7, Jer 23:29, Mal 3:1-3, 1 Pet 1:7, 1 Pet 4:12.

del_button October 21, 2006 at 9:32 AM
Danny Garland Jr. said...

in the verse
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."

Nowhere does it say all scripture "alone". It says "all" scripture is profitable, not "only" scripture.

Besides, the NT wasn't even written at the time Paul wrote this verse. So if you want it to mean "only" then you would be saying only the OT is profitable, which would be a very absurd statement.

The verse says all scripture can be used to make a man perfect, but never does it say only scripture should be used or that scripture is sufficient.

The Bible speaks about holding fast to tradition and the teachings taught by word of mouth. At the end of John's Gospel he says that he couldn't write everything down that Jesus said and did because it would take way too long. Are you claiming that only the things that Jesus said that were written down are valid and the things he said that were passed on orally (tradition) are invalid? That's what you would be saying if you held to the Bible Alone.

Also At the end of John's Epistles he talks about not wanting to write to the person he is addressing and would rather tell that person when he sees them again.

Christ told the disciples to go forth and preach the kingdom of God. He didn't instruct them to write books about the coming kingdom and compile them into one big book.

That's why both Scripture and Sacred Tradition are held as the Word of God.

If the Bible wanted us to go by the Bible Alone, don't you think it would contain that instruction IN the Bible? Yet it doesn't!

Besides saying that we are supposed to go by the Bible Alone is itself a Tradition!

del_button October 21, 2006 at 12:50 PM
Jason said...

Come on now, if perfection is the ultimate status and Scripture can give you this, it defies reasoning about why you or anyone would feel the need to go elsewhere to attain perfection. It’s the epitome of illogical. If something could make you perfect, then it’s obvious that this thing is sufficient for perfection. What’s the argument here??? Scripture doesn’t need help. I’m constantly amazed how difficult this idea is for people to grasp. It’s so simple: The. Bible. Is. All. We. Need. To. Be. Perfect. God TELLS us this.

But you still don’t think 2 Timothy is instruction enough to use the Bible alone. Tell me, God gives you a book and says “Danny, listen to me carefully, everything you need to know about me and my Son and what you must do to achieve salvation are contained within these pages. If you read from it and learn from it and use it to instruct others, you will be a perfect man of God.” In response, you put the book down and go off in search of something more beneficial. Something that will make you more perfect. How arrogant. You know better then God? Might as well thumb your nose at God and tell Him His Book isn’t good enough.

Everything written in the Bible is useful for us. If it’s not in Scripture, it’s not useful. God has given the world a perfect tool to become perfect follows. Following this, if something is NOT in Scripture, God didn’t include it for a reason. Why? Because we don’t need it to attain salvation. I’m not saying and will never say that Jesus’ teachings or anyone’s teachings that aren’t recorded aren’t valid, they just weren’t valid for us. Regardless, the end of this argument is found in John 20:30-31 “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written
, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Tell me, what do these verses say to you?

I therefore find it interesting to note your comment has no references to Scriptural evidence of purgatory. You’re saying then that purgatory is a doctrine which isn’t based on teachings in Scripture. How then, is it valid to us?

Feel free to come over here to see the fundamental problem with purgatory.

del_button October 21, 2006 at 10:49 PM
Danny Garland Jr. said...

Scripture doesn't GIVE you perfectin. It guides you towards it. But it's not the only guide.

del_button October 21, 2006 at 10:53 PM
Danny Garland Jr. said...

I didn't mention Purgatory in my comment because Moneybags already showed you where Purgatory is in the Bible. You just failed to believe it.

Also if you insist that 2 Tim is saying only scripture, then go ahead and throw out the NT, because Paul was only speaking about the Old Testament in 2 Timothy, since the New Testament wasn't even written yet.

Your argument lacks logic and your interpretation of the verse is completely off.

del_button October 22, 2006 at 10:18 PM
Jason said...

Scripture only guides to perfection? Here are the two verses again:

2Ti 3:16-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Now then, if the man of God may be perfect (note: these aren't my words) and throughly furnished unto ALL good words (not my words either) as the result of using Scripture for doctrine, reproof, correct and instruction in righteousness, then I'll ask you again: Why would anyone, ever, for any reason, use something other then Scripture in an attempt to achieve the same thing? What you're talking about is God's Word not being good enough to achieve perfection. Think about it: The authority of Scripture, the validity of Scripture, the relevance of Scripture, the infallibility of Scripture, these are all without debate. No other book or teaching can claim the same.

Scripture, God's inspired word, guarantees it's enough to give us everything required for salvation. Who else or what else can divinely promise the same withough contradicting Scripture in the process?

del_button October 23, 2006 at 12:01 AM
Jason said...

I failed to believe the comment about where Purgatory is in the Bible…lol. What about my comment? Why did you not believe it? ☺

First off, the claim was made that David wasn’t in heaven because Jesus hadn’t ascended to heaven yet. However, the reference to David is found in Acts, a book written after Jesus’ ascension. No reply as to why David, therefore, hasn’t gone to heaven. The point of the original comment was to show that there is only one judgment, not two, which explains why David isn’t in heaven (or hell). Condemning someone to hell or sending them off to heaven is a judgment. Two judgments are never mentioned or alluded to in Scripture. Purgatory, therefore, contradicts Scripture since being sent to purgatory is the result of a post-death judgment before the divine judgment of Christ.

(Forgive me if I don’t believe. When no one actually talks about the issues at hand and instead cleverly diverts the conversation elsewhere, it's a natural conclusion)

To end the matter of other divine ‘guides’:
1. Bible authors were clearly guided by the Holy Spirit. See: John 14:26, John 16:13, I Thessalonians 2:13, I Corinthians 14:37, II Corinthians 13:10. I John 2:7 and II Peter 3:15-16.

2. Since the apostles acknowledge the Divine influence under which they composed their work, we can be sure that everything that was produced by them can be legitimately referred to as “Scripture.” They meet the Biblically defined standard – Divine inspiration.

3. Historical evidence shows that the 27 books of the NT were written during the 1st Century AD. Since the authors of these books were the earliest Christians (and therefore possessed a direct link to Jesus himself) it would be most unwise of us to include later books (such as the Gospel of Thomas) into the NT canon because we cannot be sure that they are reliable.

4. The Christian “tradition” to which the New Testament refers, is that which was instituted by Christ himself. This “tradition” is always contrasted against “the traditions of men.” (I Corinthians 11:1-2, 25) The early Christian “tradition” (so-called) was therefore (a) delivered by Christ himself, and (b) immutable, unlike the steadily-evolving “traditions of men” which were formulated in the first three centuries of the post-Apostolic era.

In other words, the Bible is undoubtedly truth. We agree on that. Referred to as ‘tradition’, writings not included in the Bible could also be truth but are they a) delivered originally by Christ and b) unchangeable.

Scripture is what we use to prove all things against (1 Thes 5:21). If something doesn’t match up, it’s false. Does purgatory agree with the teachings of Scripture? Not unless the Bible teaches two judgments, an immortal soul, the existence of such a place, and a necessary purging of sins outside of baptism.

Ignoring the noticeable lack of replies to the Zechariah comparison of 1 Cor 3:15, it’s interesting to note the following: If the burning up of the "wood, hay, stubble," (:12) is the purging of man's soul of all that is unworthy, then a man in purgatory should be glad to get rid of these impurities. But Paul says he "shall suffer loss…” (:15). Since when is having sins purged considered suffering a “loss”?

del_button November 5, 2006 at 3:06 PM
Moneybags said...

Jason, I've already posted on purgatory. You choose to deny what I post. This conversation is going off topic.

Conservation over.

del_button November 5, 2006 at 9:31 PM
Jason said...

1 Cor 3:15: Since when is having sins purged considered suffering a “loss”?

del_button July 15, 2007 at 12:24 PM
Joyful Catholics said...

Thank you for this great post and wonderful blog!


del_button June 5, 2010 at 1:10 PM
Richard John Kuhn said...

If purgatory is 1000 times better than a perfect day on earth - I'd be happy with that as my heaven!

I'm glad to have read this post.



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