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Why I Am Catholic: For Purgatory, Thank Heavens (Ecumenical) ^ | November 2010 | Frank Weathers

Posted on 11/21/2010 5:37:58 PM PST by Salvation

For Purgatory, Thank Heavens

—Feast of All Souls
When I was straddling the fence on whether or not I should become a Catholic, I never had a problem with Purgatory. It just makes the most sense to me.

I'll admit that I thought I would have a big problem with it at first. Because, you see, it isn't mentioned specifically in the Bible (along with about a million other details). But where did all the people who died go, for example from the Old Testament times? Assuming that all the people who had died before the Incarnation were just, ahem—out of luck, is ridiculous to me. And that was before I knew the doctrine of purgatory very well.

I just ran a quick search over at the handy-dandy YIMCatholic Bookshelf of the word "purgatory" and came back with references to 175 different books. You'll find everything from St. Catherine of Genoa's Treatise on Purgatory (only 67 pages, so give it a look) to the Manual of the Purgatorian Society.

Below are some thoughts I want to share with you from an American named John L. Stoddard. Back in 1922, Stoddard wrote Rebuilding A Lost Faith, By An American Agnostic. It's 246 pages of top-notch conversion story.  But I'm only going to share Stoddard's thoughts on Purgatory with you because in many ways, they mirror my own path to understanding this doctrine. Like Stoddard, the crux of the matter for me hinges on authority. Either you believe that, heads, the Church has the authority to teach this doctrine or, tails (like Martin Luther), you don't. Guess which side of this coin I side with?

I'll let Stoddard take it from here,

From Chapter XV, Purgatory and Indulgences

THE difficulty in regard to Papal Infallibility (See chapter XIV) having been overcome, I turned to consider the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory and the Sacrament of Penance. My feelings in respect to this will best be shown by the following extract from a letter which I wrote about this time to a Catholic friend.

"My Dear Francis:

"I find no special difficulty in the Catholic dogma of Purgatory. On the contrary, the idea of a state of purification, appointed Jor those souls who, though redeemed by Christ, are nevertheless still unprepared to pass at once into God's presence, appears to me logical and even comforting. I think that every soul who feels his own unfitness for the Beatific Vision (and who does not feel this?) must wish for such a state of preparation, even though attended with a cleansing punishment. The lack of this idea in Protestantism leads, I think, to an objectionable feature in their system,—namely, the altogether improbable and presumptuous supposition that the soul of some monster of depravity can straightway enter the society of heaven, provided only that he says, at the last moment of his ill-spent life, that he repents and believes in Jesus as the Son of God. Christ's Divine insight into the soul of the penitent thief, who hung beside His cross on Calvary, could justify, of course, His promise to him of an immediate entrance into Paradise; but that was a solitary instance, upon which one can hardly build much hope.

The statement, often loosely made, that, since 'Jesus paid it all, all the debt I owe,' a hardened criminal is thereby rendered instantaneously fit for Heaven, is dangerously demoralising. The Bible assures us that 'there shall in no wise enter into the heavenly City of God anything that defileth, or that is defiled,' and the acquisition of a pure character is not the affair of a moment by means of a death-bed repentance. I never shall forget the description in a Chicago paper, many years ago, of the hanging of a negro, who, on the night before his execution, was said to have repented of a peculiarly atrocious crime, and 'knew that he was saved.' The report was heralded by the flaring headline 'Jerked to Jesus!'

This blasphemous alliteration probably did less harm, however, than the sensational story, which accompanied it, of the negro's 'edifying remarks' which preceded his death. The idea of such a wretch going at once to Heaven was revolting to a sense of justice and even of decency. No Catholic would have supposed such a translation probable, or, save for a miracle, possible. We know, of course, nothing of what the purgatorial state may be, through which the soul must pass, to reach the sphere to which God calls it; but that some place of purification must exist for those who pass into eternity with no sufficient spiritual preparation, appears to me just, necessary and consoling."

To this my friend replied as follows:—

I well remember the crudely blasphemous headline which you quote. It had a great success, and was accounted 'clever,' though I am sure its ribald, vulgar character shocked all in whom a consciousness of the dignity of life and of the majesty of death remained, even though they had no positive Christian faith. There is little, if any, analogy between the case of the wretched negro and that of the penitent thief, for the latter was redeemed by his humility and faith. He did not 'know that he was saved.' He confessed his guilt in a supreme moment, and admitted the justice of his punishment. Whether or not the grace given him by our Lord was the only one ever offered him, we are not told; but to this opportunity at least he did respond, and by a single aspiration expiated with his dying breath a life of crime.

That the consoling doctrine of Purgatory should appeal to you does not surprise me. There is hardly a religious system of antiquity in which some similar provision is not found. It was left for the 'Reformers' of the sixteenth century to reject this immemorial dogma of the Church. When they denied the sanctity of the Mass and many other sacramental features of Catholicism, the doctrine of Purgatory went with the rest. If the souls of the dead pass instantly into an eternally fixed state, beyond the efficacy of our intercessions, then all our requiems, prayers and similar practices are vain. But if, on the contrary, we believe in the Communion of Saints,—that is, in the intercommunion of the three-fold Church,—militant on earth, suffering in Purgatory, and triumphant in Heaven,—then we on earth can influence, and be influenced by, the souls who have crossed the border.

Few, indeed, quit this life in a state of purity and grace which warrants their immediate entrance into Heaven. Still fewer, let us hope, are those to whom the blessed refuge of Purgatory,— that half-way house of our dead,— is closed. I cannot conceive how Protestants can believe as they do on this point, nor is it astonishing that their rejection of Purgatory has been followed, in the case of many, by the elimination of a belief in Hell; for the latter doctrine, taken alone, is monstrous. In fact, all Catholic doctrines are interdependent; they stand or fall together. You cannot pick stones out of the arch, and expect it to stand, for it will not do so. Purgatory is one of the most humane and beautiful conceptions imaginable. How many mothers' aching hearts has it not soothed and comforted with hope for some dead, wayward son!

Soon after receiving this letter, I read the following words from Mallock:—"As to the doctrine of Purgatory, time goes on, and the view men take of it is changing. It is fast becoming recognised, that it is the only doctrine that can bring a belief in future rewards and punishments into anything like accordance with our notions of what is just and reasonable; and so far from its being a superfluous superstition, it will be seen to be just what is demanded at once by reason and morality." My attention was at this time also called to the fact that the idea of Purgatory is no longer confined exclusively to Roman Catholic Christians. At a recent General Convention of Episcopalians in America resolutions looking towards prayer for the dead were defeated by only a very small majority.

The doctrine of the Catholic Church in reference to Purgatory states that there is such a place, in which souls suffer for a time, before they can be admitted to the joys of Heaven, because they still need to be cleansed from certain venial sins, infirmities and faults, or still have to discharge the temporal punishment due to mortal sins, which is as yet uncancelled, though the lasting punishment of those sins has been forgiven and removed through Christ's atonement. Furthermore, the Church declares, that by our prayers and by the acceptable sacrifice of the Mass we may still help those souls, through the merits of Christ.

Beyond this statement the Church's formal doctrine does not go; but it is not an article of Catholic faith that there is in Purgatory any material fire. It is generally believed that souls in Purgatory suffer spiritual anguish from the fact that they then feel acutely, as they could not do on earth, the perfect happiness from which they are for a time excluded, while they must also understand the enormity of the sins which they committed against their Heavenly Father and their Savior.

The entire story is here.


What follows now are a few thoughts from Saint, and Doctor of the Church, Alphonsus Liguori, on our duty to pray for the faithful departed souls in Purgatory. This is from the Introduction to the Manual of the Purgatorian Society. With a book title like that, it's got to be good!

The practice of recommending to God the souls in Purgatory, that He may mitigate the great pains which they suffer, and that He may soon bring them to His glory, is most pleasing to the Lord and most profitable to us. For these blessed souls are His eternal spouses, and most grateful are they to those who obtain their deliverance from prison, or even a mitigation of their torments. When, therefore, they arrive in Heaven, they will be sure to remember all who have prayed for them. It is a pious belief that God manifests to them our prayers in their behalf, that they may also pray for us.

It is true these blessed souls are not in a state to pray for themselves, because they are so to speak, criminals atoning for their faults. However, because they are very dear to God, they can pray for us, and obtain for us, the divine graces. St. Catherine of Bologna, when she wished to obtain any grace, had recourse to the souls in Purgatory, and her prayers were heard immediately. She declared that, by praying to those holy souls she obtained many favors which she had sought through the intercession of the saints without obtaining them. The graces which devout persons are said to have received through the holy souls are innumerable.

But, if we wish for the aid of their prayers, it is just, it is even a duty, to relieve them by our suffrages. I say it is even a duty; for Christian charity commands us to relieve our neighbors who stand in need of our assistance. But who among all our neighbors have so great need of our help as those holy prisoners? They are continually in that fire which torments more severely than any earthly fire. They are deprived of the sight of God, a torment far more excruciating than all other pains.

Let us reflect that among these suffering souls are parents, or brothers, or relatives and friends, who look to us for succor. Let us remember, moreover, that being in the condition of debtors for their sins, they cannot assist themselves. This thought should urge us forward to relieve them to the best of our ability. By assisting them we shall not only give great pleasure to God, but will acquire also great merit for ourselves.

And, in return for our suffrages, these blessed souls will not neglect to obtain for us many graces from God, but particularly the grace of eternal life. I hold for certain that a soul delivered from Purgatory by the suffrages of a Christian, when she enters paradise, will not fail to say to God: "Lord, do not suffer to be lost that person who has liberated me from the prison of Purgatory, and has brought me to the enjoyment of Thy glory sooner than I have deserved.

For all the answers on Purgatory (and on Indulgences) that you want to know, but are afraid to ask, click on the hotlinks you just passed over. You'll be glad you did.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: allsouls; catholic; catholiclist; purgatory
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The end of November is fast approaching and I wanted to get this posted.

Please follow the Religion Moderator's Guidelines for Ecumenical Threads

1 posted on 11/21/2010 5:38:07 PM PST by Salvation
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To: Salvation; PadreL; Morpheus2009; saveliberty; fabrizio; Civitas2010; Radagast the Fool; ...

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

2 posted on 11/21/2010 5:40:11 PM PST by narses ( 'Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.')
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To: All
Why I Am Catholic: For Purgatory, Thank Heavens (Ecumenical)
(Why Am I Catholic?) For Peace While Suffering (A Few Words for Wednesday)
(why am I Catholic?) Because I Awoke from a Long, Bad Dream
Why I Am Catholic: For All the Saints: Bernard of Clairvaux
3 posted on 11/21/2010 5:41:22 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

If you aren’t on this ping list NOW and would like to be on it, please Freepmail me.

4 posted on 11/21/2010 5:49:15 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Purgatory - One of the many, many reasons I could no longer remain a Catholic. As you said, it - and a thousand other Catholic teachings - are not in the Bible nor in any of it’s early history.

And I grew up as an altar boy learning the Mass in Latin. But after 20 years of learning, left for a Bible based church. And I won’t even get started on the history of the Catholic Church...

5 posted on 11/21/2010 5:56:50 PM PST by txzman (Jer 23:29)
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To: txzman

And I could show you 5, 10 maybe more Protestant churches that claim to be “based on biblical teaching only” that all have different beliefs and interpretations!

And when you talk of the history of the church, to me what you speak of is the history of the people of the church, who are not with out sin, not of the Catholic church itself. People in other churches are only human as well. The Catholic church has a much longer history then other Christian churches, and existed in different times with different standards of behavior. I bet if you showed church goers of just 100 years ago what
ALL of our places of worship find acceptable today, they’d be mortified!

6 posted on 11/21/2010 6:17:17 PM PST by MacMattico
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To: Salvation

My 3 year old & I remember all the poor souls of purgatory in our nightly prayers. Clearly, I should be doing more for them. Thank you for this.

7 posted on 11/21/2010 6:21:03 PM PST by surroundedbyblue
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To: txzman

When you are baptized a Catholic you remain a Catholic. You can always come back to the church. Sit down with a priest and get answers to your questions about Purgatory.

BTW, Trinity is not in the Bible either, but we all believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

There are many references to Purgatory from the Old Testament throughout the New Testament.

8 posted on 11/21/2010 6:24:54 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: txzman; Religion Moderator

Please remember this is an Ecumenical thread — no antagonism or your post will be deleted by the Religion Moderator.

9 posted on 11/21/2010 6:26:13 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: surroundedbyblue

Thanks for your post.

10 posted on 11/21/2010 6:27:07 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: MacMattico

** if you showed church goers of just 100 years ago what
ALL of our places of worship find acceptable today, they’d be mortified!**

If not mortified, severely stunned and puzzled by some of the practices therein.

11 posted on 11/21/2010 6:28:33 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Few, indeed, quit this life in a state of purity and grace which warrants their immediate entrance into Heaven. Still fewer, let us hope, are those to whom the blessed refuge of Purgatory,— that half-way house of our dead,— is closed. I cannot conceive how Protestants can believe as they do on this point, nor is it astonishing that their rejection of Purgatory has been followed, in the case of many, by the elimination of a belief in Hell; for the latter doctrine, taken alone, is monstrous. In fact, all Catholic doctrines are interdependent; they stand or fall together. You cannot pick stones out of the arch, and expect it to stand, for it will not do so. Purgatory is one of the most humane and beautiful conceptions imaginable. How many mothers' aching hearts has it not soothed and comforted with hope for some dead, wayward son!

For some people, Jesus just didn't suffer enough on the cross. You can't make everybody happy, I guess.

12 posted on 11/21/2010 6:34:41 PM PST by Alex Murphy ("Posting news feeds, making eyes bleed, he's hated on seven continents")
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To: Salvation

Jesus statement to the thief was that he would be in paradise that day. Ill take jesus word over some theory made up by men regarding purgatory. Sorry.

13 posted on 11/21/2010 6:39:59 PM PST by plain talk
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To: Salvation

“it isn’t mentioned specifically in the Bible”

It isn’t mentioned at all. You could have stopped right there.

14 posted on 11/21/2010 6:45:13 PM PST by sigzero
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To: Salvation; All
But where did all the people who died go, for example from the Old Testament times? Assuming that all the people who had died before the Incarnation were just, ahem—out of luck

In all due respect, it is clearly evident from the Bible that all the Old Testament people who died went to Sheol.

A synonym of Sheol is "bor" (pit), "abaddon" and "shaḥat" (pit or destruction), and perhaps also of "tehom" (abyss).

There is ample Bible evidence for Sheol and where the Old Testament people who died went:

Jacob, refusing to be comforted at the supposed death of Joseph, exclaims: "I shall go down to my son a mourner unto Sheol" (Gen. xxxvii. 36)

Sheol is underneath the earth (Isa. vii. 11, lvii. 9; Ezek. xxxi. 14; Ps. lxxxvi. 13

Sheol is very deep (Prov. ix. 18; Isa. lvii. 9); and it marks the point at the greatest possible distance from heaven (Job xi. 8; Amos ix. 2; Ps. cxxxix. 8). The dead descend or are made to go down into it; the revived ascend or are brought and lifted up from it (I Sam. ii. 6; Job vii. 9; Ps. xxx. 4; Isa. xiv. 11, 15).

Sometimes the living are hurled into Sheol before they would naturally have been claimed by it (Prov. i. 12; Num. xvi. 33; Ps. lv. 16, lxiii. 10), in which cases the earth is described as "opening her mouth" (Num. xvi. 30).

Sheol is spoken of as a land (Job x. 21, 22); but ordinarily it is a place with gates (ib. xvii. 16, xxxviii. 17; Isa. xxxviii. 10; Ps. ix. 14), and seems to have been viewed as divided into compartments (Prov. vii. 27).

This realm of the dead (Sheol) is in the earth (comp. Job, x. 21, 22), the gateway being in the west [notice it has direction]. It is the "land without return." It is a dark place filled with dust (not fire); but it contains a palace for the divine ruler of this shadow-realm (comp. Job xviii. 13, 14). Seven gates guard successively the approach to this land, at the first of which is a watchman. A stream of water flows through Sheol (comp. Enoch, xvii. 6, xxii. 9; Luke xvi. 24; Ps. xviii. 5; II Sam. xxii. 5). Maybe you can inquire from a Jewish Rabbi as to where Sheol is located and where its environment is like (i.e., no fire, but dust, dark, beneath the earth, etc).

15 posted on 11/21/2010 7:11:49 PM PST by bibletruth
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To: plain talk

The Good Thief made a Perfect Act of Contrition.

16 posted on 11/21/2010 7:20:26 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Why do you bother? Stick with the caucus threads. If Christ himself returned and declared the Catholic Church his one true Church, there are bigots here who would nail him back on the cross in their hatred of all things Catholic.

I understand you wanting to minister to those lost to Christ, but how many times do you turn your cheek to have the same people strike you on the other? If someone wants to learn they will read and ask questions on the caucus threads. Those that hate will only couch their bigotry just enough to avoid getting zotted.

17 posted on 11/21/2010 7:20:36 PM PST by IrishCatholic (No local Communist or Socialist Party Chapter? Join the Democrats, it's the same thing!)
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To: bibletruth; All
OK, everyone, read up on Purgatory. Did you know that Luther believed in Purgatory?

Please remember this is an Ecumenical Thread --- no antagonism and arguing. If you want to prove your points about Purgatory 00 please post them on another thread.

The Month of November: Thoughts on the "Last Things"
To Trace All Souls Day (Protestants vs Catholics)
Radio Replies First Volume - Purgatory
The Doctrine of Purgatory [Ecumenical]
The Heroic Act [Catholic-Orthodox Caucus] (Offering everything for the Souls in Purgatory)

Praying for the Dead [All Souls Day] (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
Purgatory: Service Shop for Heaven [Ecumernical]
Beginning Catholic: Catholic Purgatory: What Does It Mean? [Ecumenical]
Explaining Purgatory from a New Testament Perspective [Ecumenical]
A Brief Catechism for Adults - Lesson 12: Purgatory

The Doctrine of Purgatory
The Early Church Fathers on Purgatory - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Required for entrance to Purgatory? Personal question for Cathloic Freepers.
(Protestant) Minister Who Had Near-Death Episode Believes In Purgatory
Straight Answers: What Is Purgatory Like?
Do Catholics Believe in Purgatory?
Purgatory, Indulgences, and the Work of Jesus Christ (Discussion)
Prayer to Release the Souls of Purgatory
The Forgotten Souls in Purgatory
Praying for the dead [Purgatory]

18 posted on 11/21/2010 7:24:17 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Alex Murphy

Enough for what? Those being purged are saved by what Jesusbdid and purged by His mercy.

19 posted on 11/21/2010 7:42:05 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: IrishCatholic

I think you are right. Because other people were quoted in the original article, however, it needed to be ecumenical.

20 posted on 11/21/2010 7:42:51 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: plain talk

Please familiarize yourself with the rules concerning “ecumenical” threads.

21 posted on 11/21/2010 7:44:55 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg

I sometimes don’t think that people realize that the Souls in Purgatory are heaven bound. They just need to repair the damage they did to others on earth while they were alive.

The Souls in Purgatory KNOW they are going to heaven. What’s to argue here?

22 posted on 11/21/2010 7:45:53 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
The Good Thief made a Perfect Act of Contrition.

Hmm. It was always my understanding that a "perfect act of contrition" substituted for priestly absolution of a mortal sin in circumstances when a priest could not be accessed for the sacrament of Penance; it has nothing to do with unpaid temporal punishments. Are you saying that a "Perfect Act of Contrition" serves as a Plenary Indulgence?
23 posted on 11/21/2010 7:49:18 PM PST by armydoc
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To: Salvation

I am a new Catholic, a recent convert from an Episcopalian background, as I’ve mentioned. The concept of Purgatory is new to me, though it seems very logical.

My question is, is there any way we can know when and if souls are released from Purgatory? That is, do we continue praying for souls who died hundreds of years ago?

Also—I’m really not trying to be annoying, please forgive me—do we know anything of the way souls in Purgatory are purified and readied for heaven? Does the Church have some teaching on whether certain people who are not exactly martyrs but are great souls, like Mother Teresa, can go straight to heaven?

24 posted on 11/21/2010 7:51:02 PM PST by ottbmare (off-the-track Thoroughbred mare)
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To: Salvation

Not sure I agree that the thief ever did anything perfect in his life. But jesus indicated he would see paradise and that is good enough for me.

25 posted on 11/21/2010 7:57:44 PM PST by plain talk
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To: plain talk

And paradise was a waiting place. The rich people of that time invited people for a walk in their garden — that word is the source of the word, Paradise. Paradise in this case, does not mean heaven, because Jesus was still in the tomb. And since Jesus was the first person into heaven the Good Thief like all the other good souls had to wait for him and his Resurrection from the Dead.

26 posted on 11/21/2010 8:01:34 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: armydoc

I might be mistaken there. Checking it out.

27 posted on 11/21/2010 8:02:15 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Purgatory is the manifestation of a merciful God.

28 posted on 11/21/2010 8:09:51 PM PST by Slyfox
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To: armydoc
I'll let a priest answer this for you.

The Three Crosses: The Good Thief or the Cross Accepted

29 posted on 11/21/2010 8:11:10 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Alex Murphy

To answer the questions about what Protestants believe...

We believe in Justification. It is instantaneous. It occurs at Baptism.

The rest of your life on earth is the process of Sanctification. Growing as a Christian, being made holy throughout your life. We are both sinners and saint at the same time. Fighting the daily fight against our ‘old man’, our ‘old Adam.’ Nobody in this life ever completes Sanctification while alive.

The final thing that occurs for believers at death is Glorification. God fulfills His promise made to us who believe in His atoning death, the atoning death that covers all our sins, and completes the process of Sanctification at death - this is Glorification. It is instantaneous. Because when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. At death the sanctification process ends, and God brings His believers into glory, made perfect and holy.

The main problem is some people believe some get some kind of ‘free ride’ or ‘haven’t done enough’ for God to complete their sanctification instantly at the moment of death. This again is legalism and not taking God at His promises. God has promised to make us holy and that He will complete the good work begun in us (justification and sanctification) - and that is what He does when we go through glorification.

This is what protestants believe. It is hardly outlandish, but based on what God tells us and promises us in His Word.

30 posted on 11/21/2010 8:24:31 PM PST by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
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To: Salvation

Name them. I have read the Bible through from Genesis to Revelation several times and I have NEVER seen even a hint of a reference to purgatory.

However, it does say that when we die we either Immediately go to heaven if we have accepted Jesus as LORD and Savior, if not, we go Immediately to hell, NO inbetween.

Jesus did not go to purgatory to preach to the captives there. He went, as he told the thief on the cross, to Paradise. Which was in the same area as Hell, but a large, deep gulf separated them. When he ascended back to heaven he took those who were in Paradise with him. It’s in the Book.

31 posted on 11/21/2010 8:34:19 PM PST by coincheck (Time is Short, Salvation is for Today)
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To: coincheck; All
I agree wholly with "coincheck", and to quote him/her:

Name them. I have read the Bible through from Genesis to Revelation several times and I have NEVER seen even a hint of a reference to purgatory.

However, it does say that when we die we either Immediately go to heaven if we have accepted Jesus as LORD and Savior, if not, we go Immediately to hell, NO inbetween.

Jesus did not go to purgatory to preach to the captives there. He went, as he told the thief on the cross, to Paradise. Which was in the same area as Hell, but a large, deep gulf separated them. When he ascended back to heaven he took those who were in Paradise with him. It’s in the Book.

32 posted on 11/21/2010 8:40:43 PM PST by bibletruth
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To: coincheck

Did you check the threads linked above? Lots of biblical references there.

33 posted on 11/21/2010 8:42:32 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Secret Agent Man

As a convert, I thought long and hard about Purgatory. It made sense to me. Whether it is just a “waiting place” or whether it is a place of some degree of suffering (other than not being in the presence of God) I do not know.

If I am wrong, and my entrance into Heaven is instantaneous, I will be pleasantly surprised.

If YOU are wrong, you will be very unpleasantly surprised.

That’s pretty much the entire discussion in a nutshell.

I really am not going to belabor the point. I pray for the souls of the dead, including people who were sort of lackadaisical Christians. I don’t know what their last minutes were like, and I desire all souls to be in the presence of God.

34 posted on 11/21/2010 8:48:10 PM PST by Miss Marple
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To: coincheck
You can peruse all the Scripture that refers to Purgatory here at Scripture Catholic
35 posted on 11/21/2010 8:49:40 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Secret Agent Man
We believe in Justification. It is instantaneous....
....The rest of your life on earth is the process of Sanctification....
....The final thing that occurs for believers at death is Glorification....when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. At death the sanctification process ends, and God brings His believers into glory, made perfect and holy....
.... God has promised to make us holy and that He will complete the good work begun in us....

Nicely summarized, SAM. Thank you for posting it, and for pinging me to it.

36 posted on 11/21/2010 8:51:51 PM PST by Alex Murphy ("Posting news feeds, making eyes bleed, he's hated on seven continents")
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To: All


I. A State After Death of Suffering and Forgiveness

Matt. 5:26,18:34; Luke 12:58-59 – Jesus teaches us, “Come to terms with your opponent or you will be handed over to the judge and thrown into prison. You will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” The word “opponent” (antidiko) is likely a reference to the devil (see the same word for devil in 1 Pet. 5:8) who is an accuser against man (c.f. Job 1.6-12; Zech. 3.1; Rev. 12.10), and God is the judge. If we have not adequately dealt with satan and sin in this life, we will be held in a temporary state called a prison, and we won’t get out until we have satisfied our entire debt to God. This “prison” is purgatory where we will not get out until the last penny is paid.

Matt. 5:48 - Jesus says, “be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are only made perfect through purification, and in Catholic teaching, this purification, if not completed on earth, is continued in a transitional state we call purgatory.

Matt. 12:32 – Jesus says, “And anyone who says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but no one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven either in this world or in the next.” Jesus thus clearly provides that there is forgiveness after death. The phrase “in the next” (from the Greek “en to mellonti”) generally refers to the afterlife (see, for example, Mark 10.30; Luke 18.30; 20.34-35; Eph. 1.21 for similar language). Forgiveness is not necessary in heaven, and there is no forgiveness in hell. This proves that there is another state after death, and the Church for 2,000 years has called this state purgatory.

Luke 12:47-48 - when the Master comes (at the end of time), some will receive light or heavy beatings but will live. This state is not heaven or hell, because in heaven there are no beatings, and in hell we will no longer live with the Master.

Luke 16:19-31 - in this story, we see that the dead rich man is suffering but still feels compassion for his brothers and wants to warn them of his place of suffering. But there is no suffering in heaven or compassion in hell because compassion is a grace from God and those in hell are deprived from God’s graces for all eternity. So where is the rich man? He is in purgatory.

1 Cor. 15:29-30 - Paul mentions people being baptized on behalf of the dead, in the context of atoning for their sins (people are baptized on the dead’s behalf so the dead can be raised). These people cannot be in heaven because they are still with sin, but they also cannot be in hell because their sins can no longer be atoned for. They are in purgatory. These verses directly correspond to 2 Macc. 12:44-45 which also shows specific prayers for the dead, so that they may be forgiven of their sin.

Phil. 2:10 - every knee bends to Jesus, in heaven, on earth, and “under the earth” which is the realm of the righteous dead, or purgatory.

2 Tim. 1:16-18 - Onesiphorus is dead but Paul asks for mercy on him “on that day.” Paul’s use of “that day” demonstrates its eschatological usage (see, for example, Rom. 2.5,16; 1 Cor. 1.8; 3.13; 5.5; 2 Cor. 1.14; Phil. 1.6,10; 2.16; 1 Thess. 5.2,4,5,8; 2 Thess. 2.2,3; 2 Tim. 4.8). Of course, there is no need for mercy in heaven, and there is no mercy given in hell. Where is Onesiphorus? He is in purgatory.

Heb. 12:14 - without holiness no one will see the Lord. We need final sanctification to attain true holiness before God, and this process occurs during our lives and, if not completed during our lives, in the transitional state of purgatory.

Heb. 12:23 - the spirits of just men who died in godliness are “made” perfect. They do not necessarily arrive perfect. They are made perfect after their death. But those in heaven are already perfect, and those in hell can no longer be made perfect. These spirits are in purgatory.

1 Peter 3:19; 4:6 - Jesus preached to the spirits in the “prison.” These are the righteous souls being purified for the beatific vision.

Rev. 21:4 - God shall wipe away their tears, and there will be no mourning or pain, but only after the coming of the new heaven and the passing away of the current heaven and earth. Note the elimination of tears and pain only occurs at the end of time. But there is no morning or pain in heaven, and God will not wipe away their tears in hell. These are the souls experiencing purgatory.

Rev. 21:27 - nothing unclean shall enter heaven. The word “unclean” comes from the Greek word “koinon” which refers to a spiritual corruption. Even the propensity to sin is spiritually corrupt, or considered unclean, and must be purified before entering heaven. It is amazing how many Protestants do not want to believe in purgatory. Purgatory exists because of the mercy of God. If there were no purgatory, this would also likely mean no salvation for most people. God is merciful indeed.

Luke 23:43 – many Protestants argue that, because Jesus sent the good thief right to heaven, there can be no purgatory. There are several rebuttals. First, when Jesus uses the word “paradise,” He did not mean heaven. Paradise, from the Hebrew “sheol,” meant the realm of the righteous dead. This was the place of the dead who were destined for heaven, but who were captive until the Lord’s resurrection. Second, since there was no punctuation in the original manuscript, Jesus’ statement “I say to you today you will be with me in paradise” does not mean there was a comma after the first word “you.” This means Jesus could have said, “I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise” (meaning, Jesus could have emphasized with exclamation his statement was “today” or “now,” and that some time in the future the good thief would go to heaven). Third, even if the thief went straight to heaven, this does not prove there is no purgatory (those who are fully sanctified in this life – perhaps by a bloody and repentant death – could be ready for admission in to heaven).

Gen. 50:10; Num. 20:29; Deut. 34:8 - here are some examples of ritual prayer and penitent mourning for the dead for specific periods of time. The Jewish understanding of these practices was that the prayers freed the souls from their painful state of purification, and expedited their journey to God.

Baruch 3:4 - Baruch asks the Lord to hear the prayers of the dead of Israel. Prayers for the dead are unnecessary in heaven and unnecessary in hell. These dead are in purgatory.

Zech. 9:11 - God, through the blood of His covenant, will set those free from the waterless pit, a spiritual abode of suffering which the Church calls purgatory.

2 Macc. 12:43-45 - the prayers for the dead help free them from sin and help them to the reward of heaven. Those in heaven have no sin, and those in hell can no longer be freed from sin. They are in purgatory. Luther was particularly troubled with these verses because he rejected the age-old teaching of purgatory. As a result, he removed Maccabees from the canon of the Bible.


II. Purification After Death By Fire

Heb. 12:29 - God is a consuming fire (of love in heaven, of purgation in purgatory, or of suffering and damnation in hell).

1 Cor. 3:10-15 - works are judged after death and tested by fire. Some works are lost, but the person is still saved. Paul is referring to the state of purgation called purgatory. The venial sins (bad works) that were committed are burned up after death, but the person is still brought to salvation. This state after death cannot be heaven (no one with venial sins is present) or hell (there is no forgiveness and salvation).

1 Cor. 3:15 – “if any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” The phrase for “suffer loss” in the Greek is “zemiothesetai.” The root word is “zemioo” which also refers to punishment. The construction “zemiothesetai” is used in Ex. 21:22 and Prov. 19:19 which refers to punishment (from the Hebrew “anash” meaning “punish” or “penalty”). Hence, this verse proves that there is an expiation of temporal punishment after our death, but the person is still saved. This cannot mean heaven (there is no punishment in heaven) and this cannot mean hell (the possibility of expiation no longer exists and the person is not saved).

1 Cor. 3:15 – further, Paul writes “he himself will be saved, “but only” (or “yet so”) as through fire.” “He will be saved” in the Greek is “sothesetai” (which means eternal salvation). The phrase “but only” (or “yet so”) in the Greek is “houtos” which means “in the same manner.” This means that man is both eternally rewarded and eternally saved in the same manner by fire.

1 Cor. 3:13 - when Paul writes about God revealing the quality of each man’s work by fire and purifying him, this purification relates to his sins (not just his good works). Protestants, in attempting to disprove the reality of purgatory, argue that Paul was only writing about rewarding good works, and not punishing sins (because punishing and purifying a man from sins would be admitting that there is a purgatory).

1 Cor. 3:17 - but this verse proves that the purgation after death deals with punishing sin. That is, destroying God’s temple is a bad work, which is a mortal sin, which leads to death. 1 Cor. 3:14,15,17 - purgatory thus reveals the state of righteousness (v.14), state of venial sin (v.15) and the state of mortal sin (v.17), all of which are judged after death.

1 Peter 1:6-7 - Peter refers to this purgatorial fire to test the fruits of our faith.

Jude 1:23 - the people who are saved are being snatched out of the fire. People are already saved if they are in heaven, and there is no possibility of salvation if they are in hell. These people are being led to heaven from purgatory.

Rev. 3:18-19 - Jesus refers to this fire as what refines into gold those He loves if they repent of their sins. This is in the context of after death because Jesus, speaking from heaven, awards the white garment of salvation after the purgation of fire (both after death).

Dan 12:10 - Daniel refers to this refining by saying many shall purify themselves, make themselves white and be refined.

Wis. 3:5-6 - the dead are disciplined and tested by fire to receive their heavenly reward. This is the fire of purgatory.

Sirach 2:5 - for gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.

Zech. 13:8-9 - God says 2/3 shall perish, and 1/3 shall be left alive, put into the fire, and refined like silver and tested like gold. The ones that perish go to hell, and there is no need for refinement in heaven, so those being refined are in purgatory.

Mal. 3:2-3 - also refers to God’s purification of the righteous at their death.


Tradition / Church Fathers
I. The Early Church’s Belief in Purgatory

“And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again receives her. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: Mother, thou shaft have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the just.” Acts of Paul and Thecla (A.D. 160).

“Abercius by name, I am a disciple of the chaste shepherd...He taught me…faithful writings...These words, I, Abercius, standing by, ordered to be inscribed. In truth, I was in the course of my seventy-second year. Let him who understands and believes this pray fro Abercius.” Inscription of Abercius (A.D. 190).

“Without delay, on that very night, this was shown to me in a vision. I saw Dinocrates going out from a gloomy place, where also there were several others, and he was parched and very thirsty, with a filthy countenance and pallid colour, and the wound on his face which he had when he died. This Dinocrates had been my brother after the flesh, seven years of age? Who died miserably with disease...But I trusted that my prayer would bring help to his suffering; and I prayed for him every day until we passed over into the prison of the camp, for we were to fight in the camp-show. Then was the birth-day of Gets Caesar, and I made my prayer for my brother day and night, groaning and weeping that he might be granted to me. Then, on the day on which we remained in fetters, this was shown to me. I saw that that place which I had formerly observed to be in gloom was now bright; and Dinocrates, with a clean body well clad, was finding refreshment. And where there had been a wound, I saw a scar; and that pool which I had before seen, I saw now with its margin lowered even to the boy’s navel. And one drew water from the pool incessantly, and upon its brink was a goblet filled with water; and Dinocrates drew near and began to drink from it, and the goblet did not fail. And when he was satisfied, he went away from the water to play joyously, after the manner of children, and I awoke. Then I understood that he was translated from the place of punishment.” The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitias, 2:3-4 (A.D. 202).

“Accordingly the believer, through great discipline, divesting himself of the passions, passes to the mansion which is better than the former one, viz., to the greatest torment, taking with him the characteristic of repentance from the sins he has committed after baptism. He is tortured then still more—not yet or not quite attaining what he sees others to have acquired. Besides, he is also ashamed of his transgressions. The greatest torments, indeed, are assigned to the believer. For God’s righteousness is good, and His goodness is righteous. And though the punishments cease in the course of the completion of the expiation and purification of each one, yet those have very great and permanent grief who are found worthy of the other fold, on account of not being along with those that have been glorified through righteousness.” Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 6:14 (post A.D. 202).

“[T]hat allegory of the Lord which is extremely clear and simple in its meaning, and ought to be from the first understood in its plain and natural sense...Then, again, should you be disposed to apply the term ‘adversary’ to the devil, you are advised by the (Lord’s) injunction, while you are in the way with him, ‘to make even with him such a compact as may be deemed compatible with the requirements of your true faith. Now the compact you have made respecting him is to renounce him, and his pomp, and his angels. Such is your agreement in this matter. Now the friendly understanding you will have to carry out must arise from your observance of the compact: you must never think of getting back any of the things which you have abjured, and have restored to him, lest he should summon you as a fraudulent man, and a transgressor of your agreement, before God the Judge (for in this light do we read of him, in another passage, as ‘the accuser of the brethren,’ or saints, where reference is made to the actual practice of legal prosecution); and lest this Judge deliver you over to the angel who is to execute the sentence, and he commit you to the prison of hell, out of which there will be no dismissal until the smallest even of your delinquencies be paid off in the period before the resurrection. What can be a more fitting sense than this? What a truer interpretation?” Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, 35 (A.D. 210).

“All souls, therefore; are shut up within Hades: do you admit this? It is true, whether you say yes or no: moreover, there are already experienced there punishments and consolations; and there you have a poor man and a rich...Moreover, the soul executes not all its operations with the ministration of the flesh; for the judgment of God pursues even simple cogitations and the merest volitions. ‘Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.’ Therefore, even for this cause it is most fitting that the soul, without at all waiting for the flesh, should be punished for what it has done without the partnership of the flesh. So, on the same principle, in return for the pious and kindly thoughts in which it shared not the help of the flesh, shall it without the flesh receive its consolation. In short, inasmuch as we understand ‘the prison’ pointed out in the Gospel to be Hades, and as we also interpret ‘the uttermost farthing’ to mean the very smallest offence which has to be recompensed there before the resurrection, no one will hesitate to believe that the soul undergoes in Hades some compensatory discipline, without prejudice to the full process of the resurrection, when the recompense will be administered through the flesh besides.” Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, 58 (A.D. 210).

“As often as the anniversary comes round, we make offerings for the dead as birthday honours.” Tertullian, The Chaplut, 3 (A.D. 211).

“[A] woman is more bound when her husband is dead...Indeed, she prays for his soul, and requests refreshment for him meanwhile, and fellowship (with him) in the first resurrection; and she offers (her sacrifice) on the anniversary of his falling asleep.” Tertullian, On Monogamy, 10 (A.D. 216).

“For if on the foundation of Christ you have built not only gold and silver and precious stones (1 Cor.,3); but also wood and hay and stubble, what do you expect when the soul shall be separated from the body? Would you enter into heaven with your wood and hay and stubble and thus defile the kingdom of God; or on account of these hindrances would you remain without and receive no reward for your gold and silver and precious stones; neither is this just. It remains then that you be committed to the fire which will burn the light materials; for our God to those who can comprehend heavenly things is called a cleansing fire. But this fire consumes not the creature, but what the creature has himself built, wood, and hay and stubble. It is manifest that the fire destroys the wood of our transgressions and then returns to us the reward of our great works.” Origen, Homilies on Jeremias, PG 13:445, 448 ( A.D. 244).

“For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace is given. Yet virginity is not therefore deficient in the Church, nor does the glorious design of continence languish through the sins of others. The Church, crowned with so many virgins, flourishes; and chastity and modesty preserve the tenor of their glory. Nor is the vigour of continence broken down because repentance and pardon are facilitated to the adulterer. It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory: it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord.” Cyprian, To Antonianus, Epistle 51 (55):20 (A.D. 253).

“Let us pray for our brethren that are at rest in Christ, that God, the lover of mankind, who has received his soul, may forgive him every sin, voluntary and involuntary, and may be merciful and gracious to him, and give him his lot in the land of the pious that are sent into the bosom of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, with all those that have pleased Him and done His will from the beginning of the world, whence all sorrow, grief, and lamentation are banished.” Apostolic Constitutions, 8:4,41 (3rd Century).

“The same divine fire, therefore, with one and the same force and power, will both burn the wicked and will form them again, and will replace as much as it shall consume of their bodies, and will supply itself with eternal nourishment: which the poets transferred to the vulture of Tityus. Thus, without any wasting of bodies, which regain their substance, it will only burn and affect them with a sense of pain. But when He shall have judged the righteous, He will also try them with fire. Then they whose sins shall exceed either in weight or in number, shall be scorched by the fire and burnt: but they whom full justice and maturity of virtue has imbued will not perceive that fire; for they have something of God in themselves which repels and rejects the violence of the flame.” Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, 7:21 (A.D. 307).

“Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth. And I wish to persuade you by an illustration. For I know that many say, what is a soul profited, which departs from this world either with sins, or without sins, if it be commemorated in the prayer? For if a king were to banish certain who had given him of-fence, and then those who belong to them should weave a crown and offer it to him on behalf of those under punishment, would he not grant a remission of their penalties? In the same way we, when we offer to Him our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, weave no crown, but offer up Christ sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God for them as well as for ourselves.” Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 23:9,10 (c. A.D. 350).

“I think that the noble athletes of God, who have wrestled all their lives with the invisible enemies, after they have escaped all of their persecutions and have come to the end of life, are examined by the prince of this world; and if they are found to have any wounds from their wrestling, any stains or effects of sin, they are detained. If, however they are found unwounded and without stain, they are, as unconquered, brought by Christ into their rest.” Basil, Homilies on the Psalms, 7:2 (ante A.D. 370).

“Lay me not with sweet spices: for this honour avails me not; Nor yet incense and perfumes: for the honour benefits me not. Burn sweet spices in the Holy Place: and me, even me, conduct to the grave with prayer. Give ye incense to God: and over me send up hymns. Instead of perfumes of spices: in prayer make remembrance of me.” Ephraem, His Testament (ante A.D. 373).

“Useful too is the prayer fashioned on their [the dead’s] is useful, because in this world we often stumble either voluntarily or involuntarily.” Epiphanius, Panarion, 75:8 (A.D. 375).

“When he has quitted his body and the difference between virtue and vice is known he cannot approach God till the purging fire shall have cleansed the stains with which his soul was infested. That same fire in others will cancel the corruption of matter, and the propensity to evil.” Gregory of Nyssa, Sermon on the Dead, PG 13:445,448 (ante A.D. 394).

“Give, Oh Lord, rest to Thy servant Theodosius, that rest Thou hast prepared for Thy saints....I love him, therefore will I follow him to the land of the living; I will not leave him till by my prayers and lamentations he shall be admitted unto the holy mount of the Lord,to which his deserts call him.” Ambrose, De obitu Theodosii, PL 16:1397 (A.D. 395).

“Other husbands scatter on the graves of their wives violets, roses, lilies, and purple flowers; and assuage the grief of their hearts by fulfilling this tender duty. Our dear Pammachius also waters the holy ashes and the revered bones of Paulina, but it is with the balm of almsgiving.” Jerome, To Pammachius, Epistle 66:5 (A.D. 397).

“Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ in nowise from them, those who depart hence without the illumination, without the seal! They indeed deserve our wailing, they deserve our groans; they are outside the Palace, with the culprits, with the condemned: for, “Verily I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” Mourn for those who have died in wealth, and did not from their wealth think of any solace for their soul, who had power to wash away their sins and would not. Let us all weep for these in private and in public, but with propriety, with gravity, not so as to make exhibitions of ourselves; let us weep for these, not one day, or two, but all our life. Such tears spring not from senseless passion, but from true affection. The other sort are of senseless passion. For this cause they are quickly quenched, whereas if they spring from the fear of God, they always abide with us. Let us weep for these; let us assist them according to our power; let us think of some assistance for them, small though it be, yet still let us assist them. How and in what way? By praying and entreating others to make prayers for them, by continually giving to the poor on their behalf.” John Chrysostom, Homilies on Phillipians, 3 (ante A.D. 404).

“If the baptized person fulfills the obligations demanded of a Christian, he does well. If he does not—provided he keeps the faith, without which he would perish forever—no matter in what sin or impurity remains, he will be saved, as it were, by fire; as one who has built on the foundation, which is Christ, not gold, silver, and precious stones, but wood, hay straw, that is, not just and chasted works but wicked and unchaste works.” Augustine, Faith and Works, 1:1 (A.D. 413).

“Now on what ground does this person pray that he may not be ‘rebuked in indignation, nor chastened in hot displeasure”? He speaks as if he would say unto God, ‘Since the things which I already suffer are many in number, I pray Thee let them suffice;’ and he begins to enumerate them, by way of satisfying God; offering what he suffers now, that he may not have to suffer worse evils hereafter.” Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms, 38(37):3 (A.D. 418).

“And it is not impossible that something of the same kind may take place even after this life. It is a matter that may be inquired into, and either ascertained or left doubtful, whether some believers shall pass through a kind of purgatorial fire, and in proportion as they have loved with more or less devotion the goods that perish, be less or more quickly delivered from it. This cannot, however, be the case of any of those of whom it is said, that they ‘shall not inherit the kingdom of God,’ unless after suitable repentance their sins be forgiven them. When I say ‘suitable,’ I mean that they are not to be unfruitful in almsgiving; for Holy Scripture lays so much stress on this virtue, that our Lord tells us beforehand, that He will ascribe no merit to those on His right hand but that they abound in it, and no defect to those on His left hand but their want of it, when He shall say to the former, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom,” and to the latter, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.’” Augustine, Enchiridion, 69 (A.D. 421).

“During the time, moreover, which intervenes between a man’s death and the final resurrection, the soul dwells in a hidden retreat, where it enjoys rest or suffers affliction just in proportion to the merit it has earned by the life which it led on earth.” Augustine, Enchiridion, 1099 (A.D. 421).

“For our part, we recognize that even in this life some punishments are purgatorial,—not, indeed, to those whose life is none the better, but rather the worse for them, but to those who are constrained by them to amend their life. All other punishments, whether temporal or eternal, inflicted as they are on every one by divine providence, are sent either on account of past sins, or of sins presently allowed in the life, or to exercise and reveal a man’s graces. They may be inflicted by the instrumentality of bad men and angels as well as of the good. For even if any one suffers some hurt through another’s wickedness or mistake, the man indeed sins whose ignorance or injustice does the harm; but God, who by His just though hidden judgment permits it to be done, sins not. But temporary punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by others after death, by others both now and then; but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But of those who suffer temporary punishments after death, all are not doomed to those everlasting pains which are to follow that judgment; for to some, as we have already said, what is not remitted in this world is remitted in the next, that is, they are not punished with the eternal punishment of the world to come.” Augustine, City of God, 21:13 (A.D. 426).

“But since she has this certainty regarding no man, she prays for all her enemies who yet live in this world; and yet she is not heard in behalf of all. But she is heard in the case of those only who, though they oppose the Church, are yet predestinated to become her sons through her intercession...For some of the dead, indeed, the prayer of the Church or of pious individuals is heard; but it is for those who, having been regenerated in Christ, did not spend their life so wickedly that they can be judged unworthy of such compassion, nor so well that they can be considered to have no need of it. As also, after the resurrection, there will be some of the dead to whom, after they have endured the pains proper to the spirits of the dead, mercy shall be accorded, and acquittal from the punishment of the eternal fire. For were there not some whose sins, though not remitted in this life, shall be remitted in that which is to come, it could not be truly said, “They shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in that which is to come.’ But when the Judge of quick and dead has said, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,’ and to those on the other side, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels,’ and ‘These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life,’ it were excessively presumptuous to say that the punishment of any of those whom God has said shall go away into eternal punishment shall not be eternal, and so bring either despair or doubt upon the corresponding promise of life eternal.” Augustine, City of God,2 1:24 (A.D. 426).

“If we neither give thanks to God in tribulations nor redeem our own sins by good works, we shall have to remain in that purgatorian fire as long as it takes for those above-mentioned lesser sins to be consumed like wood and straw and hay.” Ceasar of Arles, Sermon 179 (104):2 (A.D. 542).

“Each one will be presented to the Judge exactly as he was when he departed this life. Yet, there must be a cleansing fire before judgment, because of some minor faults that may remain to be purged away. Does not Christ, the Truth, say that if anyone blasphemes against the Holy Spirit he shall not be forgiven ‘either in this world or in the world to come’(Mt. 12:32)? From this statement we learn that some sins can be forgiven in this world and some in the world to come. For, if forgiveness is refused for a particular sin, we conclude logically that it is granted for others. This must apply, as I said, to slight transgressions.” Gregory the Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], Dialogues, 4:39 (A.D. 594).

37 posted on 11/21/2010 9:01:27 PM PST by johngrace (God so loved the world so he gave his only son! Praise Jesus and Hail Mary!)
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To: johngrace

38 posted on 11/21/2010 9:03:12 PM PST by johngrace (God so loved the world so he gave his only son! Praise Jesus and Hail Mary!)
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To: Salvation

OOPS! I just put up after you.

39 posted on 11/21/2010 9:04:54 PM PST by johngrace (God so loved the world so he gave his only son! Praise Jesus and Hail Mary!)
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To: Salvation

I went to the Scriptue Catholic site. From what I have read in the passages that are used to prove purgatory, they do NOT prove that purgatory exists. They are taken out of context and bent to “prove” a man made doctrine that is NOT in the Bible. This is very dangerous. Again, this is a man made doctrine.

IF purgatory were true, Jesus would have told us plainly. It is not true. The Bible is easy to understand. It means what it says. The Catholic church is full of man made doctrines that it holds to be as true as scripture and the CC bends scripture to make it fit it’s doctrine. Jesus condemed the Pharisee’s for the same thing.

It does not matter how old a denomination is. If it is based on twisted scripture and man made doctrine, it’s a lie, even if it has just enough truth to sound like the truth, its still a lie.

40 posted on 11/21/2010 9:12:29 PM PST by coincheck (Time is Short, Salvation is for Today)
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To: johngrace

No problem. This way they can read it on the thread. It’s about presenting the views, not arguing or antagonizing.

41 posted on 11/21/2010 9:23:34 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: coincheck

This Religion Forum thread is labeled “ecumenical” meaning no antagonism is tolerable on this thread. Refrain from calling doctrines of the Catholic Church lies.

42 posted on 11/21/2010 9:24:55 PM PST by Religion Moderator
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To: coincheck; Salvation

Does the RCC teach that you are the Church the Body of Christ? ANd if so, do you mean to teach that parts of the Body of Christ will go to purgatory and other parts to Heaven? Just how do you pray out the Body of Christ, made up of many believers/ Just curious as to the teaching of purgatory. If parts of His Body are there, and parts are in Heaven, He is hardly complete.

43 posted on 11/21/2010 9:25:25 PM PST by smvoice (Defending the Indefensible: The Pride of a Pawn.)
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To: coincheck; Religion Moderator
I choose to disagree with you. If you want to argue about this -- which and Ecumenical thread does NOT -- please put up another thread.

Please follow the Religion Moderator's Guidelines for Ecumenical Threads

44 posted on 11/21/2010 9:25:55 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Alex Murphy

John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” which I read as a child seems to me to
describe purgatory, taken as part of the spiritual journey of every Christian. Except it focuses on the individual “saint.” and neglects the community of saints. I did hear from a woman Methodist minister at a memorial service, and not to an audience that had an doubt that the deceased is in heaven, that this this person did not cease being a wife, mother and friend now that she was gone, that her demonstrated character seemed to make this clear. Blessed by the ties that bind. But we also know that in life ties can be cut, and never re-establihsed, so that brothers and sisters die estranged, cut off from each other and from the broader community. The fires of purgatory are felt every day, for they are God’s grace working in us, healing suffering. That is what it meet Jesus face to face and when is this possible until death?

45 posted on 11/21/2010 9:27:09 PM PST by RobbyS (Pray with the suffering souls.)
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To: Salvation

Posters may disagree on ecumenical Religion Forum threads provided they are not antagonistic in pointing out where they disagree.

46 posted on 11/21/2010 9:28:13 PM PST by Religion Moderator
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To: All

Biblical Evidence for Purgatory: 25 Bible Passages

Psalm 66:12 Thou didst let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet thou hast brought us forth to a spacious place.
This verse was considered a proof of purgatory by Origen [4] and St. Ambrose, [5] who posits the water of baptism and the fire of purgatory.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Isaiah 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. (see also Isaiah 1:25-26)

St. Francis de Sales, the great Catholic apologist of the 16th century, commented on this verse as follows:

This purgation made in the spirit of judgment and of burning is understood of Purgatory by St. Augustine, in the 20th Book of the City of God, chapter 25. And in fact this interpretation is favoured by the words preceding, in which mention is made of the salvation of men, and also by the end of the chapter, where the repose of the blessed is spoken of; wherefore that which is said — “the Lord shall wash away the filth” — is to be understood of the purgation necessary for this salvation. And since it is said that this purgation is to be made in the spirit of heat and of burning, it cannot well be understood save of Purgatory and its fire. [6].

Isaiah 6:5-7 And I said: “Woe is me! for I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.”

This passage is a noteworthy example of what happens when men experience God’s presence directly. An immediate recognition of one’s own unholiness occurs, along with the corresponding feeling of inadequacy. Like Isaiah, we must all undergo a self-conscious and voluntary purging upon approaching God more closely than in this present life.

Few doctrines are clearer in Scripture than the necessity of absolute holiness in order to enter heaven. On this, Protestants and Catholics are in total agreement. Therefore, the fundamental disagreement on this subject is: how long does this purification upon death take? Certainly, it cannot be logically denied as a possibility that this purging might involve duration.
4 Homily 25 on Numbers.

5 In Ps. 36; Sermon 3 on Ps. 118.

6 St. Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy (CON), tr. Henry B. Mackey, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1989 (orig. 1596), 358 (Part 3, Article 2: “Purgatory”).

Micah 7:8-9 Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I shall behold his deliverance. (see also Leviticus 26:41,43, Job 40:4-5, Lamentations 3:39)

St. Jerome (d.420) considered this a clear proof of purgatory. [7]

Malachi 3:2-4 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
7 Ibid., 358.

St. Francis de Sales recounts the patristic views on this passage:

This place is expounded of a purifying punishment by Origen (Hom. 6 on Exodus), St. Ambrose (On Ps 36), St. Augustine (City of God, Bk. 20, ch. 25), and St. Jerome (on this place). We are quite aware that they understand it of a purgation which will be at the end of the world by the general fire and conflagration, in which will be purged away the remains of the sins of those who will be found alive; but we still are able to draw from this a good argument for our Purgatory. For if persons at that time have need of purgation before receiving the effects of the benediction of the supreme Judge, why shall not those also have need of it who die before that time, since some of these may be found at death to have remains of their imperfections . . . St. Irenaeus in this connection, in chapter 29 of Book V, says that because the militant Church is then to mount up to the heavenly palace of the Spouse, and will no longer have time for purgation, her faults and stains will there and then be purged away by this fire which will precede the judgment. [9]

2 Maccabees 12:39-42,44-45 . . . Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen . . . Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear . . . So they all . . . turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out . . . For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.
The Jews offered atonement and prayer for their deceased brethren, who had clearly violated Mosaic Law. Such a practice presupposes purgatory, since those in heaven wouldn’t need any help, and those in hell are beyond it. The Jewish people, therefore, believed in prayer for the dead (whether or not this book is scriptural — Protestants deny that it is). Jesus Christ did not correct this belief, as He surely would have done if it were erroneous (see Matthew 5:22,25-26, 12:32, Luke 12:58-59, 16:9,19-31 below). When our Lord and Savior talks about the afterlife, He never denies the fact that there is a third state, and the overall evidence of His utterances in this regard strongly indicates that He accepted the existence of purgatory.

Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, “You fool!” shall be liable to the hell of fire.
St. Francis de Sales elucidates the implications of this statement of Christ:

It is only the third sort of offence which is punished with hell; therefore in the judgment of God after this life there are other pains which are not eternal or infernal, — these are the pains of Purgatory. One may say that the pains will be suffered in this world; but St. Augustine and the other Fathers understand them for the other world. And again may it not be that a man should die on the first or second offence which is spoken here? And when will such a one pay the penalty due to his offence? . . . Do then as the ancient Fathers did, and say that there is a place where they will be purified, and then they will go to heaven above. [10]
9 St. Francis de Sales, CON, 359-360.

10 Ibid., 373-374.

Matthew 5:25-26 Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. (see also Luke 12:58-59)

St. Francis de Sales:

Origen, St. Cyprian, St. Hilary, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine say that the way which is meant in the whilst thou art in the way [while you are going with him to court] is no other than the passage of the present life: the adversary [accuser] will be our own conscience, . . . as St. Ambrose expounds, and Bede, St. Augustine, St. Gregory [the Great], and St. Bernard. Lastly, the judge is without doubt Our Lord . . . The prison, again, is . . . the place of punishment in the other world, in which, as in a large jail, there are many buildings; one for those who are damned, which is as it were for criminals, the other for those in Purgatory, which is as it were for debt. The farthing, [penny] . . . are little sins and infirmities, as the farthing is the smallest money one can owe.

Now let us consider a little where this repayment . . . is to be made. And we find from most ancient Fathers that it is in Purgatory: Tertullian, [11] Cyprian, [12] Origen, [13] . . . St. Ambrose, [14] St. Jerome [15] . . . Who sees not that in St. Luke the comparison is drawn, not from a murderer or some criminal, who can have no hope of escape, but from a debtor who is thrown into prison till payment, and when this is made is at once let out? This then is the meaning of Our Lord, that whilst we are in this world we should try by penitence and its fruits to pay, according to the power which we have by the blood of the Redeemer, the penalty to which our sins have subjected us; since if we wait till death we shall not have such good terms in Purgatory, when we shall be treated with severity of justice. [16]

Matthew 12:32 And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

If sins can be pardoned in the “age to come” (the afterlife), again, in the nature of things, this must be in purgatory. We would laugh at a man who said that he would not marry in this world or the next (as if he could in the next — see Mark 12:25). If this sin cannot be forgiven after death, it follows that there are others which can be. Accordingly, this interpretation was held by St. Augustine, [17] St. Gregory the Great, [18] Bede, [19] and St. Bernard, [20] among others.

11 The Soul, 100,10.

12 Epistle 4,2.

13 Homily 35 on Luke 12.

14 Commentary on Luke 12.

15 Commentary on Matthew 5.

16 St. Francis de Sales,CON, 372-373.
17 City of God, 21:24.

18 Dialogues, 4,39.

19 Commentary on Mark 3.

20 Homily 66 in Cant.

Luke 16:9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations. (read Luke 16:1-13 for the context)
St. Francis de Sales

To fail, — what is it but to die? — and the friends, — who are they but the Saints? The interpreters all understand it so; whence two things follow, — that the Saints can help men departed, and that the departed can be helped by the Saints . . . Thus is this passage expounded by St. Ambrose, and by St. Augustine. [21] But the parable Our Lord is using is too clear to allow us any doubt of this interpretation; for the similitude is taken from a steward who, being dismissed from his office and reduced to poverty [16:2], begged help from his friends, and Our Lord likens the dismissal unto death, and the help begged from friends unto the help one receives after death from those to whom one has given alms. This help cannot be received by those who are in Paradise or in hell; it is then by those who are in Purgatory. [22]

Luke 16:19-31 There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; . . . the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” And he said, “Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” And he said, “No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.”

Zechariah 9:11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your captives free from the waterless pit.

Ephesians 4:8-10 . . . “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “he ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

1 Peter 3:19-20 . . . he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. (see also 4:6)

21 City of God, 12:27.

22 St. Francis de Sales, CON, 374-375.
Catholic commentator George Leo Haydock states:

Abraham’s bosom — The place of rest, where the souls of the saints resided, till Christ had opened heaven by his death . . . The bosom of Abraham (the common Father of all the faithful) was the place where the souls of the saints, and departed patriarchs, waited the arrival of their Deliverer. It was thither that Jesus went after his death; as it is said in the Creed, he descended into hell, to deliver those who were detained there, and who might at Christ’s ascension enter into heaven (see 1 Peter 3:19, Matthew 8:11) . . .

[on 1 Peter 3:19-20]: These spirits in prison, to whom Christ went to preach after his death, were not in heaven, nor yet in the hell of the damned; because heaven is no prison, and Christ did not go to preach to the damned . . . In this prison souls would not be detained unless they were indebted to divine justice, nor would salvation be preached to them unless they were in a state that was capable of receiving salvation. [23]

At the very least, these passages prove that there can and does exist a third (and intermediate) state after death besides heaven and hell. Thus, purgatory is not a priori unthinkable from a biblical perspective (as many Protestants casually assume). True, the Hebrew Sheol (Greek Hades — netherworld) is not absolutely identical to purgatory (both righteous and unrighteous go there), but it is nevertheless strikingly similar. Sheol is referred to frequently throughout the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 32:22, 2 Samuel 22:6, Psalm 16:10, 18:5, 55:15, 86:13, 116:3, 139:8, Proverbs 9:18, 23:14, Isaiah 5:14, 14:9,15, Ezekiel 31:16-17, 32:21,27). In Jewish apocalyptic literature (in the few hundred years before Christ), the notion of divisions in Sheol is found (for instance, in Enoch 22:1-14).

The Christian hell is equivalent to the New Testament Gehenna or “Lake of Fire”. Gehenna was literally the burning ash-heap outside Jerusalem, and was used as the name for hell by Christ (Matthew 5:22,29-30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15,33, Mark 9:43,45,47, Luke 12:5 — cf. James 3:6). “Lake of fire” occurs only in Revelation as a chilling description of the horrors of hell into which the damned would be thrown (Revelation 19:20, 20:10,14-15, 21:8).

We know from Scripture that a few Old Testament saints went to heaven before Christ went to Sheol and led (presumably) the majority of the pre-Christian righteous there (Ephesians 4:8-10 and 1 Peter 3:19-20). Elijah went straight to heaven by a whirlwind, as we are informed in 2 Kings 2:11. It is also generally thought by all sides that Enoch went directly to heaven as well (Genesis 5:24). Moses came with Elijah to the Mount of Transfiguration to talk with Jesus (Matthew 17:1-3, Mark 9:4, Luke 9:30-31). By implication, then, it could be held that he, too, had been in heaven, and by further logical inference, other Old Testament saintly figures.

It follows that, even before Christ, there was a “two-tiered” afterlife for the righteous: some, such as Elijah, Enoch and likely Moses and others, went to heaven, whereas a second, larger group went temporarily to Sheol. Likewise, now the elect of God can go straight to heaven if sufficiently holy, or to purgatory as a necessary stopping-point in order to attain to the proper sanctity becoming of inhabitants of heavenly glory. Therefore, it is neither true that all righteous dead before Christ went solely to Sheol, nor that all after His Resurrection went, and go, to heaven. On the other hand, the reprobate dead in Sheol (or Hades) eventually are sentenced to hell (Revelation 20:13-15).

John Henry Cardinal Newman comments:

Our Saviour, as we suppose, did not go to the abyss assigned to the fallen Angels, but to those mysterious mansions where the souls of all men await the judgment. That He went to the abode of blessed spirits is evident, from His words addressed to the robber on the cross, when He also called it Paradise; that He went to some other place besides Paradise may be conjectured from St. Peter’s saying, He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient (1 Peter 3:19-20). The circumstances then that these two abodes of disembodied good and bad, are called by one name, Hades, . . . seems clearly to show that Paradise is not the same as Heaven, but a resting-place at the foot of it. Let it be further remarked, that Samuel, when brought from the dead, in the witch’s cavern, said Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? (1 Samuel 28:15), words which would seem quite inconsistent with his being then already in Heaven. [24]

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble - each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
This is a clear and obvious allusion to purgatory, or at least, even for the most skeptical person, something exceedingly similar to it. Thus thought the Fathers, such as St. Cyprian, [25] St. Ambrose, [26] St. Jerome, [27] St. Gregory the Great, [28] Origen, [29] and St. Augustine:

Lord, rebuke me not in Your indignation, nor correct me in Your anger [Psalm 38:1]. . . . In this life may You cleanse me and make me such that I have no need of the corrective fire, which is for those who are saved, but as if by fire . . . For it is said: He shall be saved, but as if by fire [1 Corinthians 3:15]. And because it is said that he shall be saved, little is thought of that fire. Yet plainly, though we be saved by fire, that fire will be more severe than anything a man can suffer in this life. [30]
St. Francis de Sales observes:

The Apostle uses two similitudes. The first is of an architect who with solid materials builds a valuable house on a rock: the second is of one who on the same foundation erects a house of boards, reeds, straw. Let us now imagine that a fire breaks out in both the houses. That which is of solid material will be out of danger, and the other will be burnt to ashes. And if the architect be in the first he will be whole and safe; if he be in the second, he must, if he would escape, rush through fire and flame, and shall be saved yet so that he will bear the marks of having been in fire . . . The fire by which the architect is saved can only be understood of the fire of Purgatory . . . . . .

When he . . . speaks of him who has built on the foundation, wood, straw, stubble, he shows that he is not speaking of the fire which will precede the day of judgment, since by this will pass not only those who have built with these light materials, but also those who shall have built in gold, silver, etc. All this interpretation, besides that it agrees very well with the text, is also most authentic, as having been followed with common consent by the ancient Fathers. [31]

1 Corinthians 15:29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
St. Francis de Sales:

This passage properly understood evidently shows that it was the custom of the primitive Church to watch, pray, fast, for the souls of the departed. For, firstly, in the Scriptures to be baptized is often taken for afflictions and penances; as in Luke 12:50 . . . and in St. Mark 10:38-9 . . . — in which places Our Lord calls pains and afflictions baptism [cf. Matthew 3:11, 20:22-3, Luke 3:16].

This then is the sense of that Scripture: if the dead rise not again, what is the use of mortifying and afflicting oneself, of praying and fasting for the dead? And indeed this sentence of St. Paul resembles that of 2 Maccabees 12:44 [cited above]: It is superfluous and vain to pray for the dead if the dead rise not again. . . . Now it was not for those in Paradise [heaven], who had no need of it, nor for those in hell, who could get no benefit from it; it was, then, for those in Purgatory. Thus did St. Ephraim [d.373] expound it. [32]

The “penance” interpretation is supported contextually by the next three verses, where the Apostle speaks of being in peril every hour, and dying every day. St. Paul certainly doesn’t condemn the practice, whatever it is (his question being merely rhetorical). Given these facts, and the striking resemblance to 2 Maccabees 12:44, the traditional Catholic interpretation seems the most plausible.

In any event, Protestants are at almost a complete loss in coherently explaining this verse — one of the most difficult in the New Testament for them to interpret. It simply does not comport with their theology, which utterly disallows any penitential or prayerful efforts on behalf of the deceased.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.
Our sins are judged here rather than forgiven, and this takes place in the next life. The standard Protestant theology of the judgment seat of Christ is not dissimilar to the notion of the chastising purifications of purgatory. There is a direct relation between judgment and the purging of sin. We are punished, in some fashion — or so St. Paul tells us in this verse — for evil deeds done. The pains of purgatory are roughly identical, or else highly akin, to this punishment, since they are the taking away of those sinful habits, tendencies, and affinities to which we have become attached. Conversely, we are rewarded for good deeds. As there are differential rewards for righteousness, so there are differential sufferings in purgatory for unrighteousness, so that a certain parallelism exists between the two concepts.

This passage is a sort of liaison between the theological categories justification and purgatory (and penance) — the former being the “positive” establishment of sanctity, and the latter being the “negative” removal of unholiness. This congruity between reward and punishment is even more clearly seen in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 above, where St. Paul freely intermingles rewards and punishments, in the context of purgatorial fire. Given the obvious affinity of that passage with this one, each can be legitimately interpreted in light of the other. In doing so, the Catholic interpretation, with its distinctive understanding of faith and works, penance and purgatory, is more satisfactory exegetically than the usual Protestant interpretations, which are uncomfortable, by and large, with differential rewards and punishments (seeing these as somewhat incompatible with faith alone).

2 Corinthians 7:1 . . . let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God. (see also 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:7)
Here is a description of that analogous process of sanctification in this life which will be greatly intensified and made completely efficacious in the next, in purgatory.

Philippians 2:10-11 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Revelation 5:3,13 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. . . . And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever!”
If God refuses to receive prayer, praise and worship from the unrepentant sinner (Psalm 66:18, Proverbs 1:28-30, Isaiah 1:15, 59:2, Jeremiah 6:20, Amos 5:21-24, Micah 3:4, Malachi 1:10, John 9:31, Hebrews 10:38), why would He permit the damned to undertake this practice?

Furthermore, if God does not compel human beings to follow Him and to enjoy His presence for eternity contrary to their free will, then it seems that He would not — as far as we can tell from Scripture — compel them to praise Him, as this would be meaningless, if not repulsive.

Therefore, “under the earth” must refer to purgatory. Revelation 5:13 especially makes sense under this interpretation, as the praise spoken there does not in any way appear forced, but rather, heartfelt and seemingly spontaneous (which would not be at all expected of persons eternally consigned to hell — see Matthew 8:29, Luke 4:34, 8:28, James 2:19).

Some Protestant commentators readily admit that “under the earth” is a reference to those in Sheol or Hades. Granting this interpretation for the sake of argument, most Protestants would presumably regard Hades in this instance (after Christ’s death — see Revelation 5:12) as simply the “holding tank” for those ultimately destined for hell (the elect having been taken to heaven by Christ). But this leads straight back to the exegetical problem of God neither desiring nor accepting such praise from even the obstinate sinner, let alone the damned.

The acceptance of a third, intermediate state in the afterlife for the righteous as well as the reprobate, even after Christ’s Resurrection, is a seriously troublesome position if one holds to the tenets of mainstream Reformational eschatological theology. For — given the Protestant view on justification — why would (or should) there be any second state for the “saved” once the road to heaven was paved by Christ? This state of affairs leads inexorably to considerations of differential merit and reward, such that a whole class is relegated to continued separation from Christ in some partial sense, and by implication, punishment, since these children of God have not yet attained to full union with God in eternal happiness and bliss.

Once it is conceded that (dead) righteous men praise God from “under the earth,” the standard Protestant position of all the saved “going straight to heaven at death” crumbles, for the simple reason that this group is contrasted with those in heaven. Furthermore, a position that “under the earth” refers metaphorically to merely all dead righteous (who, according to Protestantism are in heaven), makes the phraseology of Philippians 2:10 and Revelation 5:3,13 absurdly redundant, since St. Paul and St. John would be saying, “Those in heaven, and on earth, and in heaven . . . .”

Again, the only reasonable alternate interpretation, given all the above data, is to posit the existence of purgatory, from which praise to God emanates — it being that portion of the Church stationed for a time in the portico of heaven, so to speak.

2 Timothy 1:16-18 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me — may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day — and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.
Onesiphorus appears to be dead at the time St. Paul writes this letter to Timothy. If that is true, then Paul is praying for the dead. One well-known Protestant commentary [33] admits that Onesiphorus is likely dead, citing the cross-reference of 2 Timothy 4:19, yet takes the remarkably incoherent position that St. Paul is praying for his conduct in life and reward at the Judgment. Thus, the admitted prayer (1:18), since it supposedly refers to the earthly life of the intended recipient, somehow thereby ceases to be a prayer for the dead even though it is pleading for mercy on the Day of Judgment for one who has indeed departed!

Now, of course, St. Paul could also pray for a living person to be recompensed justly by God, but this is missing the point, and is an example of the classic logical fallacy of proposing a “distinction without a difference.” For what distinguishes prayers for a living or a dead man, where the final Judgment is concerned?

Protestants say that it is impermissible to pray for the dead on this score since their fate is already sealed and it will be to no avail. The error here lies in the fact that the person’s fate had always been known (God being omniscient and out of time, foreordaining in a mysterious way the beginning and end of all things). In both cases our knowledge is paltry and altogether insufficient as to the person’s destiny. We pray out of charity (or, “desire,” as it were), and because we are commanded to, having been assured by the inspired biblical revelation that it has an effect.

The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary, another respected evangelical reference, takes a different position: “His household would hardly retain his name after the master was dead . . . Nowhere has Paul prayers for the dead, which is fatal to the theory . . . that he was dead.” [34]

But Word Pictures in the New Testament, a six-volume linguistic commentary by the great Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, states: “Apparently Onesiphorus is now dead as is implied by the wish in 1:18.” [35]

On the face of it, why couldn’t St. Paul be referring to the house of Onesiphorus in the same sense in which we speak of a deceased person’s “surviving wife and children?” His statement in 1:18 is similar to our spontaneous utterances at funerals, such as “May God rest his soul,” etc. (sometimes spoken or thought despite theologies to the contrary). And if Paul is “wishing” for benefits for the soul of a dead man, as Robertson holds, how is this essentially any different from praying for the dead?

To conclude, of the three prominent evangelical Protestant commentaries surveyed, two hold that St. Paul is “praying,” and one that he is “wishing.” Two conclude that Onesiphorus is probably dead, with a third denying this. It might be supposed with good reason that if reputable, scholarly Protestant commentators are more or less forced into (for them) uncomfortable positions due to the inescapable clarity of a text, perhaps the Catholic interpretation is the best one, as it requires no unnatural straining. All that is necessary is the willingness to accept the practice of prayers for the dead, for which there is ample scriptural warrant, Jewish precedent, and abundant support in the early Christian Church, as will be demonstrated subsequently.

Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (see also 12:1,5-11,15,23, Ephesians 5:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 1 John 3:2-3)
John Henry Cardinal Newman writes:

The truth itself is declared in one form or another in every part of Scripture. It is told us again and again, that to make sinful creatures holy was the great end which our Lord had in view in taking upon Him our nature, and thus none but the holy will be accepted for His sake at the last day. The whole history of redemption, the covenant of mercy in all its parts and provisions, attests the necessity of holiness in order to salvation; as indeed even our natural conscience bears witness also . . .

Even supposing a man of unholy life were suffered to enter heaven, he would not be happy there; so that it would be no mercy to permit him to enter . . . We conclude that any man, whatever his habits, tastes, or manner of life, if once admitted into heaven, would be happy there . . . [But] here every man can do his own pleasure, but there he must do God’s pleasure . . . . . Let us alone! What have we to do with thee? is the sole thought and desire of unclean souls, even while they acknowledge His majesty. None but the holy can look upon the Holy One; without holiness no man can endure to see the Lord . . .

Heaven is not heaven, is not a place of happiness except to the holy . . . There is a moral malady which disorders the inward sight and taste; and no man labouring under it is in a condition to enjoy what Scripture calls the fulness of joy in God’s presence, and pleasures at His right hand forevermore. [36]
Newman explains (in effect) why purgatory (which he accepts elsewhere, even before his conversion to Catholicism in 1845) is a necessary and indeed, ultimately desirable process for all of us imperfect sinners to undergo, in order to properly approach God in His unfathomable majesty and holiness.

Hebrews 12:29 . . . our God is a consuming fire.

(see also Exodus 3:2-6, 19:18, 24:17, Numbers 31:23, Deuteronomy 4:24, 9:3, Psalm 66:10-12, Malachi 3:2, 4:1, Hebrews 10:27,31)

Revelation 21:27 But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

The relevance of this biblical data in terms of its analogy to the idea of purgatory is clear. The abundance of such scriptural evidence for purgatory led to a consensus among the Church Fathers as well. Protestant church historian Philip Schaff, who can definitely be considered a “hostile witness” as pertains this topic, summarized the belief of the early Christian Church:

These views of the middle state in connection with prayers for the dead show a strong tendency to the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory . . . there are traces of the purgatorial idea of suffering the temporal consequences of sin, and a painful struggle after holiness . . . The common people and most of the fathers understood it of a material fire; but this is not a matter of faith . . . A material fire would be very harmless without a material body. [37]
Despite all this, Protestantism rejected the beliefs in purgatory and prayers for the dead, with the exception of Anglicans, many of whom have retained some form of these. Popular Christian apologist C. S. Lewis was one of these traditional Anglicans. In one of his last books, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, [38] he stated that he prayed for the dead, among whom were many of his loved ones, and that he believed in purgatory, comparing it to an intense rinsing of the mouth at the dentist’s office. He thought no one would want to enter heaven unclean, as this would be downright embarrassing.

47 posted on 11/21/2010 10:02:24 PM PST by johngrace (God so loved the world so he gave his only son! Praise Jesus and Hail Mary!)
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To: johngrace

48 posted on 11/21/2010 10:03:21 PM PST by johngrace (God so loved the world so he gave his only son! Praise Jesus and Hail Mary!)
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To: Salvation
The lack of this idea in Protestantism leads, I think, to an objectionable feature in their system,—namely, the altogether improbable and presumptuous supposition that the soul of some monster of depravity can straightway enter the society of heaven, provided only that he says, at the last moment of his ill-spent life, that he repents and believes in Jesus as the Son of God.

The Reformation happened because the Roman Catholic Church had gone off track of the truth for many, many years. One major one had to do with the selling of indulgences exactly for the supposed purpose of freeing souls from purgatory. However, the biggest derailment came from the Church's opposition to the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone. The statement above, taken from the OP, is a good example of the misrepresentation of Reformed thought - the "Protestant" label used as a derogatory.

I think the real problem lies in the last sentence where the fear that some monster of depravity can live his whole life in depravity and by a simple utterance of a phrase at death he somehow merits heaven. The mistakes are plenty in that thinking. They are:

1. That God's grace is somehow not totally sufficient to cover all our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ.

2. That the soul made clean by the sacrifice of Christ is still in need of further cleansing.

3. That the soul needs to suffer the "temporal" punishments for sins that are not "fully" penanced - whatever that means.

4. That the amazing love and grace of Almighty God is incapable of forgiving a soul who in their final moments genuinely and completely repents of their wrongs and throws themselves upon the mercy of God.

It is readily admitted that Jesus did that for the thief at his side, yet somehow, it is unthinkable that God's love, mercy and grace could still reach a person today. It is flat out wrong to claim "Protestants" think grace is cheap because we KNOW it cost more than we could ever imagine and do not "frustrate the grace of God". We are bought with a price that is more precious than anything in the world and whenever one comes to this understanding - REGARDLESS of what their life was before - God will and does forgive and cleanse from all unrighteousness. That is why it is called Amazing Grace.

49 posted on 11/21/2010 10:31:44 PM PST by boatbums (God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to him.)
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To: johngrace
Long post...seen it many times. Leave out the commentary and quote the verse on its own. Forget about the books that are not canonical (Baruch, Maccabees, etc). Do that and let folks see for themselves if the Bible really is speaking about a place between earth and Heaven as some kind of cleaning station called Purgatory. Jesus Christ alone is our place of purgation/cleansing. We are washed white as snow in the blood of our savior.

Isaiah 1:18
“ Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “ Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

50 posted on 11/21/2010 10:44:41 PM PST by boatbums (God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to him.)
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