BASIC R.C. BELIEF
A place or state to which a person who died in the state of grace but with
unsatisfied temporal punishment or venial sin must go so that purifying
punishment can satisfy God's judgment and make him ready for Heaven. "All
the souls in purgatory will go to Heaven when they have atoned for their
sin" (ST. PETER'S CATECHISM).
From LIFE FOR EVER, Catholic Enquiry Centre, Imp. Patritius Casey, 1967
page 175. "Only those go to hell who say a definite `no' to God in this
life. Only those go to heaven who say an unhesitating `yes' to God in this
life. We may wonder what happens to those people who never give a definite
answer to God during their lives. Common sense indicates that there must be
many individuals who die and are not yet ready for the immediate presence
of God in heaven But they are by no means sufficiently evil to merit hell.
What happens to these people? Christ, through his Church, answers this
question with the doctrine of purgatory."
Ibid., page 176. "Prayer for the dead has been a Christian practice from
the very beginning. Even before the time of Christ it was the custom of
some Jews to pray for their dead."
From PURGATORY, Knights of Columbus, Imp. John Whealon, page 2,3.
"`Purgatory,' writes Father Martin D'Arcy, `has always been one of the
tenderest beliefs of Christendom. It takes all the pagan melancholy, so
touching in the Greerk Anthology and the Roman epitahs, and suffuses it
with supernatural hope. It is no wonder that (the feast of) All Souls is in
so many countries one of the best remembered days of the calendar.
"What is this doctrine that Catholics hold so dear? According to the
teaching of the Church, traceable back through the centuries to the
earliest Christian writers, Purgatory is that intermediate state or
condition in the next world where the souls of those who die in the state
of grace, but are not yet free of all the imperfection, are purified
before they enter Heaven. This purification consists in making satisfaction
or expiation for all unforgiven venial sins or for the temporal punishment
due to venial and mortal sins that have already been forgiven.
"Obviously we are asked to believe something whose existence cannot be
proved by reason, any more than can the doctrines of Heaven and Hell. But
the doctrine itself is a gracious blending of the mercy and justice of the
all-holy God. `Nothing defiled can enter heaven,' we are told, and during
this period of purgation, all the dross is burned away until the moment
when, in then judgment of God, the soul is ready for entrance into the
presence-chamber of God. Clearly, we repeat, we are in the presence of a
supernatural mystery - but a mystery that is both consoling and
Ibid., page 11. "Father D'Arcy notes that the doctrine of Purgatory is
supported by the spontaneous convictions of a large portion of
mankind...St. Thomas writes, `Such persons must then be cleansed in the
next life before entering upon their eternal reward. This cleansing is done
by penal afflictions, as even in this life it might have been completed by
penal works of satisfaction; otherwise the negligent would be no better off
than the careful, if the penalty that men do not pay here for their sins is
not to be undergone by them in the life to come.'...If there is no sort of
purgation after death, why bother trying to atone for sin in this life? "
Ibid., page 15. "The Church has no certainty, nor do those who pray have
any certainty that their prayers will infallibly assist this or that
particular soul for whom the prayers are offered, nor that they will
infallibly achieve an immediate effect."
From ETERNAL LIFE, Catholic Enquiry Centre, Imp. Georgius Craven, page 190.
"An old hymn says of Purgatory: `O place of happy pains, and land of dear
desires, where love divine detains glad souls among sweet fires.'"
From PURGATORY, Catholic Truth Society, page 4. "The Church taught...that
the souls of the just...could not pass to their place of refreshment, light
and peace till their sins were atoned for."
Ibid., page 6. "`Nothing defiled can enter Heaven', and so the cleansing
of sin which remain at death must be accomplished in some state midway
between this world and Heaven...`thou shalt not go out from thence till
thou repay the last farthing.' What is the last farthing? It is a sin, said
Tertullian, which is readily forgiven but must still be paid for. We should
now call it a venial sin."
Ibid., page 7, regarding I Cor 3:10. "Now this passage of St. Paul
refers to the `fire' of judgment at the last day and cannot refer directly
to Purgatory, which will then cease to exist. But it has been used in the
Church as an apt illustration of the doctrine of Purgatory."
Ibid., page 9. "But there still remains the justice of God to be
satisfied. That debt the soul willingly and lovingly pays at Purgatory."
Ibid., page 14. "For the Church has no jurisdiction in Purgatory. The
Pope could not empty Purgatory by granting an indulgence."
From READ ME OR RUE IT by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan. Imp. Joanner Timotheus,
Archiepiscopus, Cincinnatenesis, 8/22/25. Re-printed 11/2/74 by National
Centre for Padre Pio, 11 N. Whitehall Rd., Norristown, PA 19403.
"While undergoing the process of purification the souls in Purgatory are
powerless and can do nothing to better themselves."
"On one occasion, while in conversation with some friars who were
questionning him on the importantce of his prayers for (Holy Souls), Padre
Pio said, `More souls of the dead from Purgatory than of the living, climb
this mountain to attend my Masses and seek my prayers."
"One day as Padre Pio and his brother friars were eating in the rectory,
suddenly and unusually, he got up and went to the entrance door of the
Friary where he started a lively conversation with some people who,
however, remained invisible to the other friars who followed them. As they
watched Padre Pio talking to what appeared to them to be no one, the friars
remarked to one another,` He has gone crazy.' However, they asked him to
whom he was talking and Padre Pio smilingly replied, `Oh, don't worry, I
was talking to some souls who, while on their way from Purgatory to Heaven,
stopped here to thank me because I remembered them at my Mass this
morning,' and with this, he returned to the refectory as though nothing out
of the ordinary had happened."
"What is Purgatory? It is a prison of fire in which nearly all souls are
plunged after death and in which they suffer the intensest pain. Here is
what the great Doctors of the Church tell us about Purgatory. So grievous
is their suffering that one minute in this awful fire seems like a century.
St. Thomas, the Prince of theologians, says that the fire of Purgatory is
equal in intensity to the fire of Hell. St. Augustine teaches that to be
purified of their faults previously to being admitted to Heaven, souls
after death are subjected to a fire more dreadful than anything we can
conceive in this life. `Though this fire is destined to cleanse and purify
the soul,' adds the Holy Doctor, `still it is more acute than anything we
could possibly endure on earth.'"
"St. Loiuis Bertrand's father was an exemplary Christian. When he died,
his saintly son offered many Masses and poured forth the most fervent
supplications for the soul he so dearly loved. Yet eight whole years passed
before he obtained the release of his father. St. Malachy's sister was
detained in Purgatory for a very long time despite the Masses, prayers and
heroic mortification the Saint offered for her. It was related to a holy
nun in Famphluna, who succeeded in releasing many Carmelite nuns from
Purgatory that most of these had spent terms of from thirty to sixty years.
In the Dominican order it is the rule to pray for the Masters General by
name on their anniversaries. Many of these have been dead for several
"Blessed John of Massias, the Dominican lay brother, obtained by his
prayers (chiefly by the recitation of the Rosary), the liberation of one
million four hundred thousand souls!"
"Many people have the custom of saying 500 or 1,000 times each day the
little ejaculation "Sacred Heart of Jesus I place my trust in thee." Those
who say ejaculations 1,000 times a day gain 300,000 days Indulgence. What a
multitude of souls they can thus relieve. (Ed-although Indulgences are no
longer given a time value, saying this ejaculation 1,000 times a day for 50
years would have merited 15,000,000 YEARS. If only 1% of the world's
Catholics did this, the total would have been 135,000,000,000,000 years
indulgence. But this still does not equal the infinite merits of Christ.)"
Padre Pio said, "For some time now, I have felt the need to offer myself
to the Lord as a victim for poor sinners and for the souls in Purgatory."
POST VATICAN II
Modern priests don't emphasize Purgatory; a progressive theologian has
likened it an atomic blast after death that instantly purifies.
Vatican II said, "In Purgatory, the souls of those who died in the charity
of God and truly repentant, but who have not made satisfaction with
adequate penance for their sins and omissions, are cleansed after death
with punishment designed to purge away their debt."
Marianhill Fathers, Dearborn, MI, send out an annual appeal for funds to
say Masses for the "Poor Souls" in Purgatory. In their 1978 letter, they
presented Purgatory as follows: "The soul, when it dies, goes straight to
God. However, one look at the perfect Holiness in Heaven convinces the soul
that it is not ready, so it goes to Purgatory for preparation."
On the Mass Card of a one year old girl who died in 1984 were the following
words, "O Gentlest Heart of Jesus, ever consumed with burning love for the
poor captive souls in Purgatory, have mercy on the soul of Thy departed
servant. Let some drops of Thy precious Blood fall upon the devouring
"Proof" from the Scriptures and the Apocrypha are found in II Maccabees
12:46; Matthew 5:25; 12:32; I Corinthians 3:15; Revelation 21:27.
From CATHOLICS AND PURGATORY, Knights of Columbus, Imp. John Whealon, page
5. "the friend cannot pay in place of the debtor unless the creditor
agrees. So the one who pays must first merit a hearing that he may plead
with the creditor to let him pay in place of his friend. Prayers said for
those in Purgatory are always dependent upon God's discretion. He
distributes their proffered satisfaction in the way that he judges to be
just. Some are more deserving of immediate release than others."
Ibid., page 7,8. "It is a matter of Catholic faith that the just who at
the moment of death are burdened with venial sins or with a debt of
satisfaction for sins to enter Purgatory,. Hence, it is also a matter of
Catholic faith that Purgatory exists. It is a matter of Catholic faith that
those in Purgatory can be helped by tthe prayers and good works of the just
on earth. Likewise, it is a matter of Catholic faith that the Church has
the power to grant indulgences and that these are useful and salutory for
the faithful. Other matters like the nature of the fire, the duration of
Purgatory, the nature of the purification, etc. are the opinions of
theologians and are subject, therefore, to reconsideration and perhaps
revision...some scholars think that in many cases it is bypassed by the
purification effected in one's very death agony when this is accepted with
loving resignation to God's will."
From LIGUORIAN, November 1981. "Q: Why does God demand more punishment in
purgatory after death? It's almost as if God carries a grudge over the sins
he forgave in life. What purposes does purgatory serve? A: Rather than look
at purgatory as a punishment for sin, could we not look at it in a
different way? First, our salvation is a growth into the likeness of God.
Our process of spiritual growth is so slow. Each time we move forward three
steps, we slip back two. Our whole life is a series of successes and
failures. For this reason, it seems the process of becoming worthy of God
cannot stop with death.
"After death, we will be confronted by the majesty of God's presence. We
will realize with total clarity how far short we fell in becoming `like
God.' This realization will be a suffering for us. We will long to be what
we should be, a longing so intense it will be like a burning pain. The
image of fire in purgatorty describes well this inner suffering. Purgatory
is not arbitrary punishment but the final stage of spiritual growth.
Purgatory is really God's love-gift for the sinner. Father John Fasrnik,
From THE CATHOLIC VOICE, Oakland, CA 5/18/81. Question Box by Father John
Dietzen. "Purgatory is still very much a part of our faith as every
Sacrifice of the Mass and every other prayer for the dead attests.
"The hoary pictuires of torture, pain and a scourging God which made of
purgatory a kind of mini-hell may literally scare the devil out of someone,
but they are totally irrelevant to the doctrine of purgatory.
"It is very possible that in the burst of awareness of the reality of
God and creation that might occur immediately after death, the pain that
comes from our knowledge of our sins and shortcomings might be so acute and
intense that an entire purgatory - or cleansing, which is what the word
purgatory means - could occur in an instant."
From THE CATHOLIC VOICE, Oakland, CA 6/1/81. "Scholars say St. Paul's
prayer for Onesimus in II Tim 1:18 (the Lord grant unto him that he may
find mercy of the Lord in that day) could imply the existence of
Even the apocryphal verse in II Maccabees doesn't prove Purgatory, as the
men for whom the prayer was offered died in idolatry (a mortal sin) and,
according to Roman Catholic theology, they were in Hell, not Purgatory. No
one can pray you out of Hell.
A Roman Catholic may feel the prison of Matthew 5:25 alludes to Purgatory,
but verse 26 states that the prisoner has to pay for his release. In the
Roman Catholic Purgatory, people on earth pay for the prisoners in
Matthew 12:32 doesn't state there is forgiveness after death, and Purgatory
is mainly for temporal punishment of sins already forgiven but not paid in
Roman Catholic theologians admit I Corinthians 3:15 is a final judgment at
which time there will be no more Purgatory.
When they quote Revelation 21:27, we agree that all have sinned, and that
no sin can enter Heaven. There must be a place where we can go for
cleansing, and Hebrews 1:3 tells us of cleansing; Jesus Christ purged our
sins (Roman Catholic version "Christ has effected man's purgation from
sin"). The fact that no further cleansing is needed is backed up by I John
1:7. Calvary's Cross is God's Perfect Purgatory.
We can challenge our Roman Catholic friends by asking which Purgatory they
want for their cleansing: the uncertain Roman Catholic Purgatory or God's
promised cleansing from all sin.
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