Skip to comments.Required for entrance to Purgatory? Personal question for Cathloic Freepers.
Posted on 08/21/2006 8:31:24 AM PDT by fishtank
I have just lost a very close family relative. Almost most of my family is Roman Catholic, although I left the Church a while ago (you would say I'm evangelical, and fairly strongly Calvinist). I have forgotten some of my Catholic theology, I think, and I'd like to know what is considered necessary for a Catholic to at least enter Purgatory upon death. Please, I do not want this to turn into a debate thread. My loss is recent and painful. I am looking for information from anyone who is willing to respond, and I would like to hear from FR Catholics who are pre-Vatican 2 and from those who are post-Vatican 2, as well.
Thanks in advance, and I do thank you for any serious response.
In all sincerity...
Cathloic = Catholic
FR still doesn't have an article preview that includes the thread title.....
I'd like to know what is considered necessary for a Catholic to at least enter Purgatory upon death
Not to die in a state of mortal sin.
One thing is that you just won't know, as you won't know what was in this relative's heart at the hour of his/her death.
The Lord promised great mercy to all who call upon His name, as reported her from a dialogue with St. Faustina:
Our Lord said to the servant of God, Sr. Faustina: "Unceasingly recite this chaplet that I have taught you. Whover will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death ... Priests will recommend it to sinners as a last hope of salvation. Even the most hardened sinner, if he recites this chaplet even once, will receive grace from my infinite mercy. Oh, what graces I will grant souls who will recite this chaplet... By means of it you can ask and obtain anything if what you ask will be compatible with my will.... I want the whole world to know my infinite mercy. I want to give unimaginable graces to those who trust in my mercy...
So hope is not lost...
I am very sorry for your loss, fishtank. I wouldn't think of turning it into a theological debate.
I'm a Roman Catholic who does not believe in purgatory. I'd like to think that most of my loved ones have gone to heaven. If they haven't, I certainly would not know now and when I die, it wouldn't matter then. My father died a few years ago and I just take it for granted that he went to heaven. Don't spend too much time torturing yourself over this more than the natural time of grieving allows. God bless.
OK, yes, I think that is the answer I was looking for. I'm middle aged now, and my memory is never what it should be...
If anyone else reads this, and you want to add anything else, please feel free to do so, because I'll still be checking the thread.
Condolences on your loss!
As someone said, not to die in a state of mortal sin - that is, unrepented, willful, deliberate sin, involving a serious matter.
Something that comforts me over my relatives is to think of the image used by C.S. Lewis in describing judgment: The person who has died comes face to face with the Lord Jesus. Either he loves Jesus on sight, because (whatever the person's individual failings, weaknesses, damage, etc.) he longed for truth, beauty, goodness, and holiness ... or he will hate Jesus on sight, because in his life he deliberately rejected all that Jesus is and represents.
The person who loves Jesus will at some point be united with Him in Heaven, perhaps after suffering purgation (cleansing from the effects of sin, and remaining self-love.) The person who hates Jesus when he meets Him will be unable to be near Him, ever.
There's a passage in the bible that speaks of those that have passed praying for us in heaven. I think it's in Revelation. The Book of Psalms is also nice to read. I memorised Psalm 23 and never forgot it.
Keeping it simple - We are a pilgrim Church, we do not have all the answers. Scripture says "Only the perfect shall enter heaven " but we know most of us when we die will not be perfect - yet we believe we will somehow enter heaven.
Logic then says there must be some manner of purification, maybe suffering, maybe an infusion of God's redeeming grace - who knows. For lack of a better explanation over the years this situation of "becoming perfect" has been called purgatory. Maybe in time we will get a better way of explaining it.
Of course the dogmatic among us will cite canon law, the catechism, mortal and venial sins etc, but I'm a simple pilgrim.
Please accept my condolences for your loss.
I'm not sure that now is the time for you to think about a theological point that you do not believe is even true and cannot affect in any event.
Peace in Christ
I see your question has been answered. In addition, I'd like to add that there are many levels of purgatory, as there are in hell and also heaven. We choose our destination of our own free will; ie., we are not "sent" there. Because when we die we know all our own sins and although they are "forgiven" already, we must be purified. If they weren't forgiven, we would never have any hope of attaining the purification of those sharing heaven with Our Lord and Almighty Father.
Purgatory gives us a final opportunity to make amends to God. It is a merciful opportunity to become holy. God sees through us - that we know in an abstract way. But it will become painfully obvious to us as we stand before Him during our judgment. If we are of a general persuasion towards God, we will greatly desire to correct ourselves in the eyes of our loving Father. We know this from our own life and loves. Don't we desire to be seen in a good light by our beloved? Doesn't a child greatly desire to be pleasing to their father? This is what love calls us to do - to make ourselves (with grace) fitting in God's eyes. Purgatory is a consoling belief that God continues to bring all things to Himself, even when we have not been very forward in trying to be what we are called to be.
My aunt died not too long ago, and she received the last sacraments. But still, as a Catholic I confess to not having any idea of the final destination of her soul--whether she went to heaven or purgatory or hell.
But I find a great deal of comfort in praying for her soul...that whatever happens, God may have mercy upon her.
I don't think there are multiple levels of hell, either your soul is damned or it isn't.
And I'll be the second person on this thread to cite C.S. Lewis . . . he points out that God exists outside of time, so that all of our heartfelt prayers for your relative, even if made after the actual event, will be seen by God from all time and thus applied where they are intended. I think a Divine Mercy Chaplet would be a really good idea, and I'll offer one for your relative.
. . . another thought. Scott Hahn, who was a Presbyterian minister before he converted to Catholicism, describes Purgatory as like your receiving an invitation to a beautiful party . . . but you've been cleaning the yard or digging a ditch and you're a mess! You need a bath, a shave, a shampoo, and some appropriate "wedding garments" . . . I hope to make it to Purgatory, I think I'll see a lot of my friends there. I would imagine that only the great saints would feel comfortable in the Divine Presence without some time to get their act together.
From my catechism days, so it might be dated - As long as you haven't a mortal sin with you when you go, you're in. Time is spent in pergatory for all the venial stuff. But there is only one way to go after pergatory. And that's to heaven.
All these feelings you have come from God, are pleasing to God, and are close to the heart of God. Jesus Christ has the same love, the same desire, the same willingness to "do anything," only 10,000 times more! Nobody could want the salvation of your loved one more than Jesus Christ Himself wants it. And He is powerful, powerful to save. Rescuing sinners is His specialty, and He is brilliant at it. "Savior" is His name!
God knows that, because of love, we want to be able to help each other out. That's what St. Paul's teaching about the Mystical Body of Christ is all about: we are like cells or organs or parts of Christ, and we DO help each other spiritually, all the time.
Go ahead and pray for your relative. I will pray, too. God hears these prayers outside of time and space; there is no "before" and "after" in eternity. Pray for the forgiveness of all of your relative's sins, however small or big they may be, and for his soul to be made beautiful, clean and bright and delightful to God, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Don't think of purgatory as a "place" so much, or an an alternative to going to heaven.
Think of it as the transition from imperfection to perfection, it is the putting on of the garments in preperation to entering into the feast.
Many of us will be glad to make it to Purgatory because that would mean that we will get to Heaven eventually.
I think you could find some good information on www.ewtn.com.
God bless you!
I suppose you'd be happier if the Catholic Church didn't believe that deathbed conversions were possible.
But we do. Deal with it.
I think I got a real insight into the idea of Purgatory when I was in training for football. After a long practice session, the coach would make us run the bleachers. If you have never done such a thing, especially in a state of near exhaustion, you may not realize how painful it is. It is pure torture. But we all knew it was needed if we were to attain the fitness required to be excellent. Each week that passed meant that we were a little closer to our goal and each week was a little less torturous than the one before. After awhile we welcomed the workouts that were making us better and better. As we came closer to "perfect" condition we felt joy at the pain because it was transforming us for what was coming. I see Purgatory as a joyful process of making us better and better through the pain of transformation.
Luke 23:43 KJV And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.Unless Jesus was lying to the thief, then this notion of purgatory seems problematic.
...And because this was a matter of great importance, and an instance of amazing grace, that so vile a sinner, one of the chief of sinners, should immediately enter into the kingdom of God, and enjoy uninterrupted, and everlasting communion with him and that it might not be a matter of doubt with him, or others, Christ, who is the "Amen", the faithful witness, and truth itself, prefaces it after this manner: "verily I say unto thee"; it is truth, it may be depended on. This instance of grace stands on record, not to cherish sloth, indolence, security and presumption, but to encourage faith and hope in sensible sinners, in their last moments, and prevent despair. The Papists pretend to know this man's name; they say his name was Disma; and reckon him as a martyr, and have put him in the catalogue of saints, and fixed him on the "twenty fifth" of March.Given that these were among the last words Jesus spoke in His ministry and this thief was the last sinner He evangelized, I trust we can take Him at His word. That so much of the doctrines of grace are confirmed from this single statement by our Savior is a blessed teaching to us and an assurance of our security in Christ. Our Savior will save us as scipture promises and He has paid our full ransom in His own blood, once and for all.
(The story of the penitent thief has sometimes been considered the most surprising, the most suggestive, the most instructive incident in all the Gospel narrative. ... In the salvation of one of the thieves, vital theology finds one of its finest demonstrations.
Sacrementalism was refuted, for the thief was saved without recourse to baptism, the Lord's Supper, church, ceremony, or good works.
The dogma of purgatory was refuted, for this vile sinner was instantly transformed into a saint and made fit for paradise apart from his personal expiation of a single sin.
The teaching of universalism was refuted, for only one was saved of all who might have been saved. Jesus did not say, "Today shall ye be with me in paradise", but "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."
The notion of soul-sleep was refuted, for the clear implication of the entire incident is that the redeemed thief would be in conscious fellowship with his Saviour in paradise even while his body disintegrated in some grave.
Too, it is doubtful whether any other gospel incident presents the plan of salvation more clearly or simply.--Dr. Charles R. Erdman)
Our Lord said to the servant of God, Sr. Faustina: "Unceasingly recite this chaplet that I have taught you. Whover will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death ... Priests will recommend it to sinners as a last hope of salvation. Even the most hardened sinner, if he recites this chaplet even once, will receive grace from my infinite mercy.
So all that church stuff is unnecessary and this little chaplet is all you need to get to purgatory/heaven?
Sounds like a real shortcut.
The original message on the thread:
Please, I do not want this to turn into a debate thread.
I'll just leave it alone for now. Thanks for playing.
I think at this point many answers have already been given. I wanted to give you my sympathies for your loss. Prayers are with you and your family. God bless!
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. (Catechism of the Catholic Church - #1030)
prayers for your relative sent. God bless you.
Sorry for your loss. If it helps though, death is a state of existence involving separation. When our loved ones die, their soul and spirit are separated from this physical body and are one with the Lord.
God gives soul life and only he may remove it. In His perfect omnisience, He knew the perfect time to bring His believer home to Him. One simple way of expressing this is that for the believer, when we die, we are promoted.
The poster, himslef a Calvinist like you, asked not to engage in theological debate. However, what you posted regarding the Good Thief is inaccurate.
First, because Christ told one man that his stay in Purgatgory will be either less than a day long, or nonexistent, does not mean that everyone else's stay in Purgatory will be less than a day long, or nonexistent.
Second, the Good Thief did satisfy the necessary requirement to enter heaven: he repented of his sin, he was baptised by blood through his painful death, he did a good deed of defending an innocent, and he died with his gaze fixed on Christ Himself, thus in sacramental communion with Him. The aftereffect of his sin (of theft, we presume) was purified by his suffering on earth, thus no purgatorial sufferign was necessary in his case.
Lastly, the Church and ordinary sacramental life available through it has not been established yet; that happened at the Pentacost.
I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
Can anyone think of a more relevant question? All of us pass through the narrow passageway leading from this life to the nextthe passageway we call death. We shall all experience the transition into a new realm, another existence beyond this life and world we know today.
Let us for a moment consider the personal experience we shall have with death. One day our hands will be folded across our lifeless breast and our eyes will be closed as our body takes its last ride to the cemetery. The purple curtains will be drawn. The black camel of death, said one, will kneel for each of us at our door, and we shall have no choice but to mount and ride off into the desert of darkness. Death is no respecter of persons.
Beyond life What?
We may only speculate on certain aspects of the future, not knowing much that it holds, but we do know he One who holds the future in His hands. And it is He who has revealed much of that future to us.
He who knows the end from the beginning, the future as well as the past, reveals in His Word that at death the body returns to the earth, while our soul goes to a temporary destination to await final judgment. Each of us determines in this life what our destiny will be; it will depend upon our response to the redemptive plan that God designed for the sinners deliverance from eternal doom.
We may ascend to a place of peace in the presence of God, as Paul declared in (2 Corinthians 5:8). It is possible for us to dwell eternally in a place of happiness, bliss, and contentment, knowing that our redemption has been completed, that we have finished our course in faith, and that we are being rewarded. Or we may descend into a place of suffering, there to be detained until the final judgment and then to be sentenced to the everlasting punishment of the lake of fire. (See Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:22-26; Revelation 20:11-15)
Both places are, in a sense, temporary, for we shall wait until our souls are reunited with our bodies in the resurrection. Jesus described the resurrection in (John 5:28-29), and Paul spoke in detail of the first resurrection in (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the ungodly are separated by one thousand years of peace on earth (Revelation 20:2-7). The just of the present age will be those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lambbaptized in His name and filled with His Spirit; the ungodly will be those who have refused to surrender to the terms of the gospel.
For those who are saved, there will be the city not made with handsthe New Jerusalem. This city is described in (Revelation 21) as the eternal home of the redeemed.
Missing in this city will be the evil things that are found in every large earthly city. Gone will be all crime and violence. Gods people will walk golden streets without fear of molestation.
(Revelation 21:18) describes the wall of this city as jasper and the city itself as pure gold. There will be no need for the sun or the moon there, for the Lamb will be the light of the city (Revelation 21:23).
And, wonder of wonders, the redeemed will enjoy the blessings of the city eternally.
The poet exulted:
When weve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, Weve no less days to sing Gods praise Than when wed first begun.
In contradistinction, for unbelievers there is the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8). The only emotions there will be agony and regret, and from that place there will be no escape.
Eternitynever-ending ages! A persons state there is totally dependent upon the presentwhat he does during time. His eternal destiny will be decided by whether or not he trusts in the redeeming blood of Christ and avails himself of its merits through faith and obedience.
Let us consider today the nearness of our souls to the rendezvous with death. David solemnly declared, There is but a step between me and death (1 Samuel 20:3). Death is a certain step, and yet an uncertain step as to time, place, and manner. It is, further, a solitary step so far as other human beings are concerned. Only Christ can go with us through that dark valley.
Are you ready for that moment and for eternity to follow?
The Bible proclaims how to prepare for eternity and enjoy eternal life with Christ: Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38)
In prayer for your relative ... Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, and may his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Most likely your dad is right now enjoying the splendor of being in the presence of God and smiling that you had it right all along.
Fishtank, sincere sympathy to you in your loss.
Tax-chick, I believe this is the C.S. Lewis section that you're referencing:
Lewis spoke of the need to be stripped of our filthy rags, scrubbed and made gloriously clean before we stand in the presence of God. As Lewis pointed out, we want to be cleaned up:
"Our souls demand purgatory, dont they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy?
Should we not reply, With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, Id rather be cleansed first.
It may hurt, you know.
Even so, sir."
I think that's the passage AAM had in mind. I was thinking of the closing scenes of "The Last Battle."
Remember that scene well. And as Lewis said elsewhere, "there will be surprises." As with Emeth the Calormen.
As Jesus said, when He cured the Roman centurion's slave, "Many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." (Mt. 8:11-12, RSV)
To me, the bottom line is that we don't know whom God has chosen for the Kingdom, because He doesn't want us to know.
I try to keep clear of mortal sin, go to confession when I fail (and even just in case), and stay right with God. That's all I can do, other than Standing On the Promises, as we used to sing occasionally . . .
I sincerely believe that even someone who has been outside of any faith or belief for a long time, but who, in the moments before he or she gives up their soul, fervently asks God to "have mercy on me!" may be given God's mercy. As stated by others in this thread, Purgatory is a time of cleansing to be able to eventually see the Beatific Vision which we could not survive without sanctifying grace (Frank Sheed; Theology and Sanity). A plea of perfect contrition is perhaps all one can hope for and the remainder is to rely on God's infinite mercy.
Each night I pray a full novena for the Souls in Purgatory that was assembled by Susan Tassone. One line states, "For those habitual sinners who owe their salvation to a miracle of grace." That could be any of us... We are all sinners.
Only later did he learn that, in the article of death, the nurses heard the man reciting, over and over, "My Jesus, have mercy!"
The good Archbishop seemed certain that God's mercy could extend even to such an one. And he ought to know.
"Standing on the Promises" has great harmony lines!
Mark Shultz, a Christian Contemporary singer, has a song out that includes the lines,
"If I stand, let me stand on the promise that you will pull me through,
And if I can't, let me fall on the grace that first brought me to you."
Thanks both for sharing those stories!
I always see in my mind's eye the Publican, fearful to raise his eyes to God, beating his breast in the Temple and saying "Have mercy on me O Lord, a sinner." I think that God is found in such moments and I believe that Archbishop Sheen is correct in his assessment. God does allow for miracles of mercy.
The lines of the song are beautiful, Mrs. Tax. Thanks for that beautiful sentiment!
The remaining lines are:
"And if I sing, let it be for the joy that has born in me these songs,
And if I week, let it be as a man who is longing for his home."
I always tell my children, and my students at church, that God is much more merciful than we are, and isn't that a good thing for ME :-).
"weep," I mean. Long day!
And pointing to any crucifix will demonstrate the extent of His Love...
In the Magnificat today, there is a meditation on the Gospel of Matthew concerning the owner of the vineyard who goes out 5 times to seek laborers for the day. The mediation was by St. Thomas Aquinas. He points out that God GOES OUT five times for us...not once or twice but FIVE. His entire mediation was beautiful. No wonder he is called the "Angelic Doctor."
How merciful is our Lord! He never abandons us, even when we have abandoned Him.
From this evening's Sedro prayers of the Divine Office
Creator and ruler of all in heaven and on earth,
your glory surpasses and transcends all things.
We place our trust in you, as we come to you with contrite hearts and repentant tears.
Assured that you help those who call upon you and save those who take refuge in you,
we beg you to guard your flock day and night, and gather us who are scattered.
Deliver from the evil one and his power, your people who believe in you and pray to you.
Exalt your Church and lead her to those who are strangers,
those who remain far from your mysteries,
and those who do not believe in you.
Let there be no heresies to draw us from you,
and may only true faith be proclaimed in your Church to the end of time.
Thus we shall give glory and thanksgiving to you, and your Father and your living and Holy Spirit,
now and forever.