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