Skip to comments.99 & 1/2 Won’t Do – A Meditation on Purgatory
Posted on 11/02/2010 7:45:16 AM PDT by Salvation
On this Feast of All Souls I want to reflect on Purgatory as the necessary result of a promise. Many people think of purgatory primarily in terms of punishment, but it is also important to think of it in terms of promise, purity and perfection. Some of our deceased brethren are having the promises to them perfected in purgatory. In the month of November we are especially committed to praying for them and know by faith that our prayers are of benefit to them.
What is the Promise which points to Purgatory? Simply stated, Jesus Made the promise in Matt 5:48: You, Therefore, must be perfect as you Heavenly Father is perfect. Now in this promise is an astonishing declaration of our dignity. We are to share in the very nature and perfection of God. This is our dignity: that we are called to reflect and possess the very glory and perfection of God.
St. Catherine of Siena was gifted by the Lord to see a heavenly soul in the state of grace and her account of it is related in her Dialogue. It is here summarized In the Sunday School Teachers Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism:
The Soul in the State of Grace- Catherine of Siena was permitted by God to see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace. It was so beautiful that she could not look on it; the brightness of that soul dazzled her. Blessed Raymond, her confessor, asked her to describe to him, as far as she was able, the beauty of the soul she had seen. St. Catherine thought of the sweet light of that morning, and of the beautiful colours of the rainbow, but that soul was far more beautiful. She remembered the dazzling beams of the noonday sun, but the light which beamed from that soul was far brighter. She thought of the pure whiteness of the lily and of the fresh snow, but that is only an earthly whiteness. The soul she had seen was bright with the whiteness of Heaven, such as there is not to be found on earth. My father, she answered. I cannot find anything in this world that can give you the smallest idea of what I have seen. Oh, if you could but see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace, you would sacrifice your life a thousand times for its salvation. I asked the angel who was with me what had made that soul so beautiful, and he answered me, It is the image and likeness of God in that soul, and the Divine Grace which made it so beautiful. .
Yes, this is our dignity and final destiny if we are faithful to God.
So, I ask you, Are you there yet? God has made you a promise. But what if it is not yet fulfilled and you were to die today without the divine perfection you are promised yet completed? I can only say for myself that, if I were to die today, as far as I know I am not aware of mortal sin. But I am also aware of not being perfect. I am not even close to being humanly perfect, let alone having the perfection of the heavenly Father!
But Jesus made me a promise: You must be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. And the last time I checked, Jesus is a promise keeper!. St. Paul says, May God who has begun a good work in you bring it to completion. (Phil 1:6). Hence, If I were to die today, Jesus would need to complete a work that he has begun in me. By Gods grace, I have come a mighty long way. But I have a long way to go. God is very holy and his perfection is beyond imagining.
Yes, there are many things in us that need purging. Sins, and attachments to sin. Worldly clingings, and those rough edges to our personality. Likewise most of us carry with us hurts, regrets, sorrows and disappointments. We cannot take any of this to heaven with us. It wouldnt be heaven. So the Lord, who is faithful to his promise, will purge all of this from us. The Book of Revelation speaks of Jesus ministering to the dead in that he will wipe every tear from their eyes (Rev 21:4). 1 Corithians 3:13-15 speaks of us as passing through fire in order that our works be tested and that what is good may be purified and what is worldly may be burned away. Job said, But he knows the way that I take; and when he has tested me, I will come forth as pure gold (Job 23:10).
Purgatory has to be Yes, gold, pure gold, refined, perfect and pure gold. Purgatory has to be if Gods promises are to hold. The Protestants have no place for Purgatory because they interpret our perfection merely to be a legally declared perfection. Classical Protestantism speaks of an imputed righteousness. Imputed righteousness is a righteous that is merely said of us but is not actually so. Luther thought of us as a dung hill, completely depraved, and God covered us with his righteousness like snow on the surface, but we were still dung underneath. For Luther we merely have declared of us a justitia aliena (an alien justice). But Catholic Theology has always taken God seriously on his promise that we would actually be perfect as the Father is perfect. The righteousness is Jesus righteousness, but it actually transforms us and changes us completely in the way that St. Catherine describes above. It is a real righteousness, not merely imputed, not merely declared of us by inference. It is not an alien justice, but a personal justice, by the grace of God.
Esse quam videri Purgatory makes sense because perfection promised us is real: Esse quam videri (To be rather than to seem). We must actually be purged of the last vestiges of imperfection, worldliness, sin and sorrows. And, having been made perfect by the grace of God, we are able to enter heaven of which Scripture says, Nothing impure will ever enter it (Rev 21:27). And again, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the souls of the just made perfect (Heb 12:22-23).
How could it be anything less? Indeed, the souls of the just made perfect. How could it be anything less if Jesus died to accomplish it for us? Purgatory makes sense based on the promise of Jesus and the power of his blood to accomplished complete and total perfection for us. This is our dignity, this is our destiny. Purgatory is about promises not mere punishments. Theres an old Gospel hymn that says, O Lord Im running, trying to make a hundred. Ninety-nine and half wont do!
Thats right, 99 1/2 wont do. Nothing less than 100 is possible since we have the promise of Jesus and the wonder working power of the precious blood of the Lamb. For most, if not all of us, purgatory has to be.
This is the same Catherine of Siena that said this
"Even if the Pope were Satan incarnate, we ought not to raise up our heads against him, but calmly lie down to rest on his bosom."
Personally I would not believe a word that proceeded from her mouth
I'm certain that the reformers thank God they are not like those awful Catholic saints. Heh.
So do you agree with her statement on the pope? If he was satan himself would you still follow him?
Got a link for the statement?
This weirdness comes to us directly from the Apostles, who got it from Jesus. Christianity, in other words. May I enquire what faith you hold, if not Christian?
I guess that you do not understand the doctrine of purgatory, then. You are wrong, according to the Faith.
Thank you for your wisdom in denying this article a “Caucus” designation. If the shoe was on the other foot, like you said, you would be hearing about it from that side.
Belief in “Purgatory” goes right along with the belief in faith and works for salvation. What seems to be lost on the adherents to it is the idea that if we could “pay the penalty” for our sins by suffering, then Christ did not have to die for us. The title of “99 & 1/2 Won’t Do” is exactly true, except what is left out is that Christ’s righteousness imputed to us by grace through faith is 100% GRACE and nothing we add, or can add, counts.
Yes. It is true.
Christ made it very clear action was required to confirm conversion. Many parables He told criticized saying one believes while acting sinfully. More is required than saying you believe; you must live belief.
No. Christ said we have to pay the last penny.
If you believe, you are redeemed and will eventually be with Him in Heaven... after you have been allowed to complete your purification from sin.
Of course you must believe in Christ and accept Him as Savior. No one disputes that. The gift of redemption is simply ours for the asking. But Christ clearly set up a few more requirements for righteousness in His eyes. His parables illustrate very clearly that saying one believes is not enough to find favor with God. One must live faith with humility, generosity, perseverance, and love. St. Paul makes this clear in his letters also. You have to run the race to the end.
It is up to us to hold onto our salvation our whole lives. Our actions are a demonstration of our free will and our choice to be redeemed- and stay redeemed. In that sense, we must each complete our own redemption.
I am reminded of two parables: the haughty Pharisee and lowly Lazarus (the Pharisee believed but his self-righteous attitude was not pleasing to God) and the parable of the two sons. One son claimed he loved his father and would be obedient to him, but didn’t follow through; while the son who made no promises, but actually did what his father requested, was the one who really was the good son.
These are just two examples, from Christ’s own mouth, in sacred Scripture, that tell us there is a component of salvation that involves the way we actually live out our faith on a daily basis. Our actions and deeds matter when Christ judges us. Christ made that clear.
How do you know that ?
“How do you know that ?”
Because I have faith. Because I take the parables Christ told very seriously. Because many saints have pondered this question and come to the same conclusion. Because of what St. Paul said about his own salvation. Because it makes sense.
There is no scripture , no teaching from Jesus or Paul that supports purgatory.. accepting a doctrine like that on faith alone steals glory from Christ and diminishes the cross. It says Jesus could not close the deal, so i will
Sorry. I think you’re completely wrong about Scripture, Catholics, and Purgatory.
Wrong. Paul said clearly that he worked out his salvation every day in fear and trembling. He made it very clear it’s not a done deal. Scripture, Christ’s parables, and Paul, support the idea of Purgatory.
Ok. Purgatory: 2 Mac 12: 42-46, Mt 12:32, Luke 12: 58, Luke 16:19-31, 1 Cor 3: 10-15, 1 Pet 3:19, Rev 21: 27.
Catholics are quite in line with Paul’s teachings. In fact, Paul submitted himself to the Church and Peter’s authority.
I don’t know about you, but I hear and obey Christ’s words before Paul’s.
Christ prayed for the dead when He prayed for Lazarus and the Centurian’s servant. Christ showed reverence for the Torah.
It is prideful to assume one is saved. It is humble to assume one must actually try to live the way Christ asked us to live— and to know we often fall short.
Not sure what your last paragraph means. The Catholic Church is the truest to Christ’s actual words and deeds, the early Church practices and teachings, and collected the writings of the Bible. The earliest Church members prayed to and for the dead: their carvings with their prayers to the dead are displayed in the Catacombs. The facts are not on your side.
The fact is the Catholic Church is the one, true Church of Christ and has His authority to carry on His teachings. The Catechism is built on Scripture. Every paragraph references the Scripture it pertains to. Pick it up and look at it some time.
It seems to me that your post is another vain repetition of the same, worn, inaccurate objections to the Church. There’s not much fact there, just a lot of sound and fury. It still signifies nothing.