DOES PURGATORY REALLY EXIST?
Welcome to the LESSON seven in our CATECHESIS CORNER. We appreciate your reading of this corner.
LET US PRAY: Spirit of the Living God, enlighten our minds to know the Truth, strengthen our hearts to accept the Truth and cause us to live for the Truth. Through this Catechesis Corner, restore those who have fallen from the Truth, convince the doubting hearts, clarify the confused mind and lead us all to the fullness of Truth through Christ our Lord. Amen
Last edition, we started a lesson on Purgatory in response to various questions as regard the reality of purgation after death. One of our users requested thus “please I need a detailed teaching, on Purgatory” so this part two is a continuation from our lesson six. We will be more detailed, as we also try to touch on other concerns in relation to Purgatory. Another reader pleaded thus “Please I need scriptures to back up the existence of Purgatory.” We shall continue to implore a biblical approach as we try to educate ourselves on what we believe as Catholics. As such, if you carefully read all our lessons thus far, you will be able to get the scriptural back up on each lesson. With regards to the questions on mortal and venial sins which some person asked, we shall in future make it a topic in one of our lessons. Thanks once again for your feed backs.
Why is there a need for purgation after one’s sin has already been forgiven? One of the premier examples from the Bible comes from David, in the book of 2 Samuel 12:13-14: “David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die.” Here we see God punishing David by taking the life of his son, even after God forgave David for killing Bathsheeba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite, by putting him on the battlefront (So David could take Bathsheeba for his wife). This verse also tells us that our children can suffer mightily, even death, because of our own sins.
Also, the temporal consequences of sin which includes physical death, pain at child birth, suffering, etc. remained with humanity even after the death of Christ which forgave our sins and reconciled us with God. Purgatory is the condition/process where the scars/damages of sin and the temporal consequences of sin that remained with us at the point of death are removed/cleans as we approach the beatific vision.
The belief and practice of praying for the dead automatically include belief in the existence of Purgatory. It would be useless to pray for the dead because Saints in heaven need no help, and those in hell are beyond deliverance. We see this practice of praying for the dead in 2 Samuel 1:11-12, David and his men fasted for Saul, Jonathan and the fallen soldiers of Israel after their death. Another key proof text in Scripture is 2 Maccabees 12:46, which states: “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins.” Obviously, we would not pray for the dead if they were already in heaven. Also in 2 Timothy 1:16-18, St. Paul prayed for the soul of the departed Onesiphorus: “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.” In January 12th 2011 in his weekly general audience, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI mentioned that purgatory is like a purifying fire burning inside a person, a painful experience of regret for one’s sins. Nevertheless, it is purification for our good and not a torment for our punishment.
A reader of the part One on this subject of purgatory sent us a question thus “Good morning all, yes Purgatory really exists, but for how long does a soul in Purgatory stay before going into heaven?”
What is the duration of this purgation after death? As pope emeritus Benedict XVI explained in his encyclical, SpeSalvi No. 47 “It is clear that we cannot calculate the “duration” of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming “moment” of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning.
On the subject of Purgatory, history is not silent. The reality of Purgatory is attested to in the writings of many of the Church Fathers of early centuries. Historically, it is quite clear that the early Christians believed in a state of purification after death. We know, for example, that the Christians living in the catacombs in Rome inscribed prayers for the dead on the walls. In addition, prayers for the dead are contained in some of the earliest Christian writings. Every Catholic Mass offered throughout the world includes prayers for the living and the dead, and there is an extraordinary list of Catholic saints who have experienced private revelations of purgatory, the most recent of which include Saint Padre Pio and Saint FaustinaKowalska (the saint of the Divine Mercy revelations).
In Matthew 12:32, Jesus tells us that saying things against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this age or the age to come. Why would He need to say that unless some sins are forgiven in the age to come? According to St. Isidore of Seville (De ordinecreaturarum c. xiv, n. 6) these words prove that in the next life “some sins will be forgiven and purged away by a certain purifying fire”. St. Augustine also argues “That some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next would not be truly said unless there were other (sinners) who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come” (City of God XXI.24).
Our goal should always be to live a holy life. However, if we neglect living a holy life, thinking that we will go to purgatory to make up for it, becomes a sin of presumption and may land us in hell. Thus, let us strive to live well and suffer in this life by accepting and carrying our crosses daily, hoping to make it directly to heaven which is God’s will for us and not purgatory or hell.
Let Us Pray “Eternal Father, I offer You the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, may they all through the mercy of God rest in perfect peace-Amen.”
Thanks for reading through, see you in our next edition, endeavour to carry out the study guide below little by little daily before next lesson/edition. Help to deepen the understanding of the faith by giving a copy of DSD to someone and invite him/her to read the catechesis corner.
FURTHER BIBLE READING: 1 Cor. 3:15, 2 Macc. 12:45, Rev. 21:27, 1 John 5:16-17
CATECHESIS STUDY GUIDE: CCC No. 1030 – 1032
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: “THE CATHOLIC CONTROVERSY” by St. France De Sales’
TAKE HOME QUESTION: DOES PURGATORY REALLY EXIST?