What is Purgatory?
January 24, 2015
The Seventh Article of the Apostle’s Creed
“From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead”
What is Purgatory ?
Purgatory is a state or condition in which the souls of the just who die with the stains of sin are cleansed before they are admitted to heaven. This cleansing is necessary as we read in Revelation chapter 21:27 ” There shall not enter into it any thing defiled, …” this taken from The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism by Servant of God Father John Hardon. Sounds simple, right? For some, not so. Here I will try and explain it as best I can using Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
Catholics did not just make up this well known Dogma of the Faith. The teaching on purgatory is rooted in the Orthodox Jewish Faith before the time of Jesus Christ. In the Second Book of Maccabees we read in Chapter 12: And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection,  (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,)  And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. We also read in the very next verse about praying for the dead in purgatory. Here is verse  It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. Ok, I admit that I am not a scripture scholar or exegete by no means whatsoever. But it does not take a scholar or exegete to read this passage of Holy Scripture and understand what is going on. We have text, and we have context here. The Jews prayed for the dead, implying that sins are forgiven in this life, and the life to come as well. Now, if we are in Heaven vis a vis with God we have no need of these prayers and sacrifice. If we die in mortal sin, that is outside of friendship with God, these prayers and sacrifice will also do us no good. Their must be another place, and their is, we call it Purgatory. Hmmmmm, I wonder why Luther removed this book from his own personal interpretation of what the Bible should contain. This particular Book from Holy Scripture has been removed from most protestant Bibles, conveniently because of the fact that it gives tremendous credibility to the Catholic Dogma on Purgatory. I know, this was a long paragraph :-), and yes I still use emoticons sometimes.
Now, the souls in Purgatory are definitely in friendship with God. These souls died in a state of sanctifying grace. The souls in Purgatory have the hope of the Beatific Vision, they just need a little, or possibly a lot of cleaning before standing face to face with God. In fact, the souls in Purgatory still possess the virtues of faith , hope, and charity. Purgatory is a really good, actually, it is a great place to be. If you are in Purgatory, you are on your way to Heaven. Your salvation is assured! This doesn’t mean that the purging or purification process will be easy. In fact, the “purifying fire” of Purgatory will be intense, but necessary.
Praying for the Poor Souls in Purgatory
It is only possible to gain merit with God while you are alive on this earth. Once you die, you lose that ability to gain merit. Therefore, if a soul is in Purgatory it cannot make satisfaction or expiate for their sins while on earth. The process of being in Purgatory will eventually make satisfaction for ones sins, but their is a way in which we can help this process to speed up. We here on earth can assist our brothers and sisters that are in Purgatory. How? We can pray for them. We can have Masses said for the souls in Purgatory, or a particular soul in Purgatory ( Masses said for souls in Purgatory are the most efficacious intercession that we can make for them). Before I go to bed at night I will often pray for family members or friends who have passed away. I will also pray for friends of friends, or friends family members who have passed away. It also a good thing to pray for priests who are in purgatory, some of them may need many prayers to be released also.
One thing to remember, or to be conscious of is the fact that these souls in Purgatory are also interceding and praying for us. These souls are part of the Mystical Body of Christ, also known as the Church Suffering.
I am going to leave you with this writing from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from the Encyclical Spe Salvi ” 48. A further point must be mentioned here, because it is important for the practice of Christian hope. Early Jewish thought includes the idea that one can help the deceased in their intermediate state through prayer (see for example 2 Macc 12:38-45; first century BC). The equivalent practice was readily adopted by Christians and is common to the Eastern and Western Church. The East does not recognize the purifying and expiatory suffering of souls in the afterlife, but it does acknowledge various levels of beatitude and of suffering in the intermediate state. The souls of the departed can, however, receive “solace and refreshment” through the Eucharist, prayer and almsgiving. The belief that love can reach into the afterlife, that reciprocal giving and receiving is possible, in which our affection for one another continues beyond the limits of death—this has been a fundamental conviction of Christianity throughout the ages and it remains a source of comfort today. Who would not feel the need to convey to their departed loved ones a sign of kindness, a gesture of gratitude or even a request for pardon? Now a further question arises: if “Purgatory” is simply purification through fire in the encounter with the Lord, Judge and Saviour, how can a third person intervene, even if he or she is particularly close to the other? When we ask such a question, we should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other—my prayer for him—can play a small part in his purification. And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God’s time: in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain. In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too. As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well.
May almighty God protect us from the world, the devil and ourselves
ps feel free to leave comments or questions, I can only get so much into a single post.
The Danger of One Mortal Sin
January 7, 2015
Solemn Declaration by Pope Benedict XII in “Benedictus Deus,” Jan 29, 1336
Papal Coat of Arms of Pope Benedict XII
Hi everyone, it is nice to be back posting once again. I hope all my readers and their families had a wonderful and holy Christmas and new year. May God in His mercy and goodness bless all of us this year of 2015, and may He come quickly!
The headlines of the secular news are filled with despair and hopelessness. Our True Faith and Hope rests in One, Jesus Christ our True King and Lord. We must never lose hope and keep our eyes on Him. So many distractions, including Catholic news in many cases can keep us from what’s truly important; readying ourselves for His glorious return! May we keep our souls focussed on Him this year, and pray to praise , reverence and serve our Lord with a great apostolic zeal this year! May we all be “praises of glory,” as Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity states.
The Danger of One Mortal Sin
This topic is not a popular one, but it is necessary and a true teaching of the Catholic Church. This topic also will be covered in detail, so that we cannot plead ignorance when asked, “what merits entrance into eternal hell?”. The short answer is that one mortal sin is enough for us to merit eternal damnation. How do we know this? Simple answer, because it was Dogmatically defined in 1336 by Pope Benedict XII, to set the record straight. One thing about articles of the Catholic faith that are solemnly defined from the Chair of St Peter. They are true, and unchangeable. We read in Matthew Chapter 16 ”  And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
It is our actual eternal salvation we are talking about here, like, forever and ever. This sounds important , no? So many church men and teachers turn their backs and side-step this teaching or actually don’t even believe it. This is deadly, eternally deadly! Let us take a look at exactly what was Dogmatically defined in 1336 by Pope Benedict XII in case it leaves room for interpretation, which I assure you, it does not. Here is what is written from the edict “Benedictus Deus” . This also can be found in Denzingers book Sources of Catholic Dogma article 531. Here goes :
(On hell and the general judgment)
Moreover we define that according to the general disposition of God, the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin go down into hell immediately (mox) after death and there suffer the pain of hell. Nevertheless, on the day of judgment all men will appear with their bodies “before the judgment seat of Christ” to give an account of their personal deeds, “so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Cor. 5.10).”
So, this is definitive. Now we need to ask the question what constitutes a mortal sin. We can also answer that question quickly and easily and will do so, here and now. I don’t want anyone wondering about that question because of its gravity.
What is a Mortal Sin?
First off, the term mortal sin is not used as often these days to kind of soften the blow, but it is the proper term for such a subject. The more popular terms for mortal sin today are “serious sin” or “grave sin”. Do not be fooled by these terms, serious or grave sin, they are still mortal sin. Another word that is used is deadly, which is also very true and appropriate.
Quickly here I will give the three elements that makes a sin mortal in nature
1. the matter involved must be serious
2. one must have knowledge that it is wrong
3. one must freely choose or intend to commit the action or omission
Another disclaimer, this topic will be covered in more detail when posting on the Sacrament of Penance in the near future unless Jesus comes first of course ; which would be super awesome! So, if He does come, we will all be a little more ready for Him , right? Another quick note, if you even think you may have one mortal sin either through thought, word or deed ; proceed directly to your nearest priest and confess your sins to the best of your knowledge! I should have said that earlier, but I didn’t.
Ok, back to the three conditions that constitute a mortal sin. First the particular thought, word, action, or inaction must be serious. Secondly, I must know what I am doing is wrong, seriously wrong. I cannot sin through complete ignorance. If I don’t know it is a mortal sin to miss Sunday Mass and Holy days of obligation, than that would not be a sin for me. However, if I know that not attending Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin and choose to go visit family or play hockey or go to that nephews Birthday party instead….. well, not such a smart move their sunshine . Another note, and it is a biggy. If I personally choose to remain ignorant, for fear that finding out the Truth will interfere with my good times. Ouchhhh, God is smarter than that, He has that base covered to. That person, would be guilty of that sin.
Third, I cannot commit a mortal sin unless I freely choose what God has forbidden. If we know the matter is serious, and we willingly choose to go through with the sin anyways, ouchhh, ouchhhh ouch again. This is indeed a mortal sin.
One last thing. God gives us so much grace through His Church and His Sacraments so that we can deal with these situations and temptations of sin. Temptation is everywhere these days, but so is His grace and plenty of it. I am not here to condemn anyone, I am only laying out the long standing Tradition and True teaching of the Catholic Church. One thing I always try to practice myself is to protect my eyes and ears of possible occasions of sin. I don’t listen to certain types of music because they can make me think of unholy things. Same goes with the internet and magazines, newspapers. I willingly try to avoid pictures or images or articles that may lead me into sinful thinking or action. Also, I try and get to confession at least twice a month. It is so important, especially in the climate we live in today.
Remember, the Truth is the Truth. Peoples “opinions” really don’t matter much when it comes to our final judgement. Hell is just as real as Heaven. Let us choose Heaven, the ball is in our court folks!
May Almighty God bless us and protect us from the world, the devil and ourselves
The General Judgement
December 15, 2014
Continuation of the Seventh Article of the Apostle’s Creed
” From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead “
The General Judgement
In this post I am going to be focussing on the General Judgement. Like I stated in the last post we are one day closer to the second coming of Christ, therefore we are one day closer to our final and General Judgement. So, let us be prepared ! One item about the General Judgement that I would like to clear up right from the start. If , after our Particular Judgement, we are graced with the Beatific Vision (seeing God face to face in Heaven), we don’t have to worry that God might change His mind. In other words, if we are in heaven or purgatory after we die here on earth, than we don’t have to worry that at the General Judgement that God may decide to change His mind and toss us in Hell. It doesn’t work that way. I am going to borrow a line that some of my protestant brothers and sisters occasionally use, “ Once saved, always saved.” Of course, I am only using “once saved always saved” in reference to the particular and general judgements. Another day, we will look at the false doctrine of “once saved always saved”, but not today. I really hope that didn’t confuse anyone.
To use an analogy that is Catholic, the General Judgement is to the Particular Judgement what Confirmation is to Baptism. In the Sacrament of Confirmation, our Baptism is actually completed and strengthened. It is like this at the General Judgement, it is a confirmation of sorts, of our Particular Judgement. Or, if we are alive on earth and have not actually died when the General Judgement takes place, than it will be likened to getting Baptism and Confirmation one after another or combined. Like I said, just using an analogy to help in explaining the General Judgement.
So, what can be expected at the General Judgement. Well folks, to be very blunt, this is what EVERYTHING is leading up to. EVERYTHING is pointing to this very moment in history. HIS story, get it…This is His story and He has so kindly and lovingly willed us to be a part of it and to share in His love.
God , in His wisdom, mercy and justice will reveal to the world, and everyone who ever lived , how each person actually fit into the grand scheme of time. The General Judgement is social. We will all be unveiled publicly, every single last one of us. All of our acts of charity, or evil for that matter, will be open and exposed for each and everyone to see. We will also see how these acts played out, and the long lasting and life changing effects that good, and evil had on mankind as a whole. Gods mercy, and His justice will all make sense at that time. A thought occurred while meditating on this topic. You know how sometimes we ask God the question WHY? Why God, did this or that child die. How could you let so many people get killed? Why did you let my mother get cancer? Why did my dad die at 63 and now my mom is without her husband? … God, in His love, compassion, understanding, mercy and justice will answer ALL of these questions, every single one of them. Not because He has to, because He will. All will be explained, and all will also make complete and perfect sense to everybody, and I mean everybody.
Now, here are a few references to the General Judgement taken from scripture. Here is where the Truth speaks and should wake us up a lot, hopefully. The reason I say this is because the choices we make, and the actions we take, while here on earth, will decide for us whether we choose to go to Hell, or to Heaven. Yes, we decide whether we go to Heaven or Hell by what we do, or by what we do not do for that matter. God confirms our decision. Once we die, our will is fixed, no turning back from this point. So lets get this right folks, and use the long standing teachings of the Catholic Church to be our sure and certain guide, to hopefully get to Heaven with Gods grace.
Oh yes, the Scripture references to the General Judgement. Let us look at Matthew Chapter 25, and these verses speak for themselves. Little commentary is needed here. Here goes, ”  And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty.  And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats:  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.  Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” All the angels, yes it says ALL the ANGELS! That is a lot of angels, billions and billions , maybe more. Oh, and notice that Jesus is coming as a King in His majesty, and going to be judging us. One more thing, notice how Jesus tells us that the kingdom is, and was actually prepared for us from the beginning of the world. Prepared for us, for you. I love that part. Just saying…
Their is more here from Matthew 25, let us look ”  For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.  Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink?  And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee?  Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee?  And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink.  I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.  Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?  Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.” Notice what it states in verse 41. Hell was not prepared for us, but for the wicked devil and his demons. So why would we ever choose this horrible eternity. Let us choose to try and take part in Gods Holy will for us and try to participate with abundance of grace that is available to us through prayer and the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. So much grace is available to us through the Catholic Church, it is amazing!
One more point that I definitely have to cover is that the General Judgement will take place after the resurrection of our bodies. We will all face the Just Judge with body and soul. Also, our eternal destiny will also be in body and soul, either in Heaven or in Hell.
A couple more pieces from Sacred Scripture about the General Judgement from Luke Chapter 12 ”  For whatsoever things you have spoken in darkness, shall be published in the light: and that which you have spoken in the ear in the chambers, shall be preached on the housetops.  And I say to you, my friends: Be not afraid of them who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will shew you whom you shall fear: fear ye him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you, fear him.” This is Jesus speaking here , we should listen up probably.
From Psalm 48 in Douay Rheims, or 49 in RSV we read in verse  Hear these things, all ye nations: give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world.  All you that are earthborn, and you sons of men: both rich and poor together. And in Canticles Chapter 8 verse  Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell, the lamps thereof are fire and flames.
St John also speaks about the General Judgement in Chapter 5 of the Gospel verse: ” Wonder not at this; for the hour cometh, wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God.  And they that have done good things, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” Judgement here is condemnation by the way.
Next post, we will be looking at Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and or, some combination of these topics. So, that being said, if you have made it this far in this post good for you, their is hope after all. I know some people just balk or altogether, or just shut right down when the word hell is brought up. It is as if they are gonna live forever, or some may even be convinced that the actual place doesn’t exist. Some people are gonna be in for one huge surprise. Well, believe me, and much more, believe the Catholic Church and Jesus Christ, that Heaven, Hell and Purgatory are all more real than the false bill of goods that the world has been trying to feed us.
If these topics make you feel uneasy that is a good sign. If these topics shut you right down or you choose to completely look the opposite way and pretend its all not real, maybe you should consider going to Sacramental Confession. Confession makes these topics a little easier to stomach, really you should try it. I try and go at least every couple of weeks. It is amazing how after going to Confession regularly makes these topics easier to look at.
As always feel free to comment, criticize or just say hello in the comment box at the top of the post
til next time, unless of course Jesus comes back before I write my next post, just saying, we never know the day or the hour…
May Almighty God Bless us and protect us from the world, the devil and ourselves
The Seventh Article of the Apostles’ Creed
December 5, 2014
” From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead ”
Chapel of Bones in Alcantarilha, Portugal
As we begin to take a look at the Seventh Article of the Apostle’s Creed, I ask you to take a few minutes to meditate, or ponder the moment of your death, sitting, or standing before Almighty God, about to be judged, for how you spent your life here on earth. Just a couple of thoughts before we begin. First, we all will die and most do not know exactly when. Second, we ALL will be judged for how we lived our life, like it or not, we cannot evade this. We must accept that all of us are actually born to die in a sense, but it’s how we live, that will decide how we will spend our life in eternity.
I have just ended my 30 day Ignatian retreat with the Marian Catechist Apostolate. As a result of the spiritual exercises, I was able to ponder such subjects of life, death, heaven, hell and purgatory. One of the insights I acquired during these exercises is the relationship between free-will and time, curious. We are all taught that one gift that God has given us that is uniquely ours is that of our free-will. It occurred to me, that another gift that God has given us that is uniquely ours, is time. Both of these gifts, if used wisely, with Gods grace, should be gifted back to Our Lord, freely on our part. It also occurred to me, how I have abused this precious gift of time that God has so graciously gifted me with. Sometimes, I thank Him for the generous extension He has given me. A result of others prayers, I am certain, especially my dear mother. So, when thinking of the end it also occurred to me that our actual ETERNAL FUTURE, depends upon our present here in time. From the finite to the eternal. This is very serious business folks. Every moment matters and our eternal future is riding on our Yes to Gods will and the time He allows us here on this earth. Eternity is a long, long, long, long, long……..long time, eventhough we will be outside time, that is how long eternity is. Its even longer than that! So let us all stop wasting our time and give some of it at least, back to God, along with our wills.
So, on with the catechesis shall we. We have two kinds of judgement, and we will be taking a look at the first type in this post. The two types are called the Particular Judgement that happens immediately after we die, and we have what is called the General Judgement at the end of the world.
St Paul in the Book of Hebrews in Chapter 9: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment”. We will be immediately judged according to how we lived our lives as soon as we die. It is very important to remember that our stay here on earth is limited, and is used to test our entrance into the heavenly kingdom. God, is so merciful! He sends us so many messengers, and so many graces. He wants us to be with Him in Heaven, but we also need to show that we want to be with Him in Heaven as well. All of the Sacraments of the Catholic Church are specifically God given, to help us to gain eternity with Him in Heaven. Not only that, but the Sacraments also give us a taste of Heaven on earth, especially in the Holy Eucharist.
When we die, in the most simplest terms, our souls leave our bodies. We will be judged according to our works, more specifically on our charity. Have we sacrificed our time and our lives for others, for God. Have we tried to pray for those who have offended, or hurt us. Have we turned away from temptations that would lead us away from God. Have we taken that extra minute to spend with family, with a stranger, with that annoying man or woman? Was I constantly picking away at how this or that person lived out their Catholic Faith? These are some of the questions I ask myself at times. Believe me, I fail at these questions many times, I’m just grateful for some bit of awareness.
This is our chance, actually, this is our Grace, not chance. This is our time here on earth, that God has specifically chosen for us to be in. This is nothing to complain about. We are here, right now, to give Glory to God! We are all called to be little “praises of Glory” as Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity says. All the graces are available, right here, right now. The exact same graces are here now that were here during St Teresa of Avila’s time, as St Athanasius’ time, Saint Francis of Assisi’s time…… the Grace is available! We are called to be saints, here and now in this moment of time that God has graced us with.
So let us not fear death, but pray for a happy death ; a life lived for God, with His Grace, and the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as my compass. Rest assured, if we are obedient to His will, to the best of our ability, we shall be eternally happy. If we live a life of selfishness and refuse His grace til the moment we die, we shall be eternally in misery. The choice is obvious, isn’t it? Lets stop wasting time and try and take part in Gods Holy Will. It is wise to remember what it reads in Holy Scripture, from the Book of Ecclesiasticus 7: “In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin. “
May Almighty God protect us from the World , the devil, and ourselves
For the Greater Praise of Glory!