The Full Wiki

Purgatory: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...


More interesting facts on Purgatory

Include this on your site/blog:

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Image of a fiery purgatory in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Gustave Doré: illustration for Dante's Purgatorio, Canto 24

Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment[1] in which the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven. This is an idea that has ancient roots and is well-attested in early Christian literature, while the conception of purgatory as a geographically situated place is largely the creation of medieval Christian piety and imagination.[1]

The notion of purgatory is associated particularly with the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church (in the Eastern sui juris churches or rites it is a doctrine, though often without using the name "Purgatory"); Anglo-Catholic Anglicans generally also hold to the belief. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believed in an intermediate state between death and the final judgment and in the possibility of "continuing to grow in holiness there", but Methodism does not officially affirm his belief and denies the possibility of helping by prayer any who may be in that state.[2] The Eastern Orthodox Churches believe in the possibility of a change of situation for the souls of the dead through the prayers of the living and the offering of the Divine Liturgy,[3] and many Orthodox, especially among ascetics, hope and pray for a general apocatastasis.[4] A similar belief in at least the possibility of a final salvation for all is held by Mormonism.[5] Judaism also believes in the possibility of after-death purification[6] and may even use the word "purgatory" to present its understanding of the meaning of Gehenna.[7] However, the concept of soul "purification" may be explicitly denied in these other faith traditions.

The word "purgatory", derived through Anglo-Norman and Old French from the Latin word purgatorium.[8] has come to refer also to a wide range of historical and modern conceptions of postmortem suffering short of everlasting damnation,[1] and is used, in a non-specific sense, to mean any place or condition of suffering or torment, especially one that is temporary.[9]

Contents

History of purgatory

While use of the word "purgatory" (in Latin purgatorium) as a noun appeared perhaps only between 1160 and 1180, giving rise to the idea of purgatory as a place[10] (what Jacques Le Goff called the "birth" of purgatory),[11] the Roman Catholic tradition of purgatory as a transitional condition has a history that dates back, even before Jesus, to the worldwide practice of caring for the dead and praying for them, and to the belief, found also in Judaism,[12] from which Christianity grew, that prayer for the dead contributed to their afterlife purification. The same practice appears in other traditions, such as the medieval Chinese Buddhist practice of making offerings on behalf of the dead, who are said to suffer numerous trials.[1] Roman Catholic belief in purgatory is based, among other reasons, on this practice of prayer for the dead,[13] a practice that presupposes that the dead are thereby assisted between death and their entry into their final abode.[1]

The English Roman Catholic scholar Cardinal John Henry Newman argued that the essence of the doctrine is locatable in ancient tradition, and that the core consistency of such beliefs are evidence that Christianity was "originally given to us from heaven".[14] Roman Catholics consider the teaching on purgatory to be part of the faith derived from the revelation of Jesus Christ that was preached by the apostles. Theologians and other Christians then developed the doctrine regarding purgatory over the centuries, leading to the definition of the formal doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church on the matter (as distinct from the legendary descriptions) at the Second Council of Lyon (1274), the Council of Florence (1438–1445), and the Council of Trent (1545–63).[1]

Purgatory in Catholicism

The Catholic Church gives the name Purgatory to the final purification of all who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified.[15] Though purgatory is often pictured as a place rather than a process of purification, this idea is not part of the Church's doctrine.[16]

Advertisements

Heaven and Hell

A depiction of purgatory by Venezuelan painter Cristóbal Rojas (1890) representing the boundary between heaven (above) and hell (below)

According to Catholic belief, immediately after death, a person undergoes judgment in which the soul's eternal destiny is specified.[17] Some are eternally united with God in Heaven, often envisioned as a paradise of eternal joy. Conversely, others are destined for Hell, a state of eternal separation from God often envisioned as a fiery place of punishment.[18]

Purgatory's role

In addition to accepting the states of heaven and hell, Catholicism envisages a third state before being admitted to heaven. According to Catholic doctrine, some souls are not sufficiently free from sin and its consequences to enter the state of heaven immediately, nor are they so sinful as to be destined for hell either.[19] Such souls, ultimately destined to be united with God in heaven, must first endure purgatory—a state of purification.[20] In purgatory, souls "achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven."[21]

Sin

Catholics make a distinction between two types of sin.[22] Mortal sin is a "grave violation of God's law" that "turns man away from God",[23] and if it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell.[24]

In contrast, venial sin (meaning "forgivable" sin) "does not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God"[25] and, although still "constituting a moral disorder",[26] does not deprive the sinner of friendship with God, and consequently the eternal happiness of heaven.[25]

According to Catholicism, pardon of sins and purification can occur during life—for example, in the Sacrament of Baptism[27] and the Sacrament of Penance.[28] However, if this purification is not achieved in life, venial sins can still be purified after death.[29] The specific name given to this purification of sin after death is "purgatory".[30]

Pain and fire

Purgatory is a cleansing that involves painful temporal punishment, associated with the idea of fire such as is associated with the idea of the eternal punishment of hell.[31] Several Church Fathers regarded 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 as evidence for the existence of an intermediate state in which the dross of lighter transgressions will be burnt away, and the soul thus purified will be saved.[31] Fire was the Bible-inspired image ("We went through fire and through water")[32] that Christians used for the notion of after-life purification.[33] St. Augustine described the fires of cleansing as more painful than anything a man can suffer in this life,[31] and Pope Gregory I wrote that there must be a cleansing fire for some minor faults that may remain to be purged away.[34] Origen wrote about the fire that needs to purify the soul [35]St. Gregory of Nyssa also wrote about the purging fire.[36]

Another image of souls being purified by flames in purgatory

Most theologians of the past have held that the fire is in some sense a material fire, though of a nature different from ordinary fire, but the opinion of other theologians who interpret the Scriptural term "fire" metaphorically has not been condemned by the Church[37] and may now be the more common view. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of a "cleansing fire".[30] and quotes the expression "purgatorius ignis" (purifying fire) used by Pope Gregory the Great. It speaks of the temporal punishment for sin, even in this life, as a matter of "sufferings and trials of all kinds".[38] It describes purgatory as a necessary purification from "an unhealthy attachment to creatures", a purification that "frees one from what is called the 'temporal punishment' of sin", a punishment that "must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin."[39]

Prayer for the dead and Indulgences

Catacomb inscriptions include prayers for the dead.[40]

The Catholic Church teaches that the fate of those in purgatory can be affected by the actions of the living. Its teaching is based also on the practice of prayer for the dead mentioned as far back as 2 Maccabees 12:42-46, considered by Catholics and Orthodox to be part of Sacred Scripture.[41]

Statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel with souls in purgatory begging the intercession of Mary

In the same context there is mention of the practice of indulgences. An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.[42] Indulgences may be obtained for oneself, or on behalf of the dead.[43]

Prayers for the dead and indulgences have been popularly envisioned as decreasing the "duration" of time the dead spend in purgatory, an idea associated with the fact that, in the past, indulgences were measured in terms of days, "quarantines" (i.e. 40-day periods as for Lent), or years, meaning, not that purgatory would be shortened by that amount of time, but that the indulgences were equivalent to that length of canonical penance on the part of a living Christian.[44] When the imposition of such canonical penances of a determinate duration fell out of custom these expressions were sometimes popularly misinterpreted as reduction of that much time of a soul's stay in purgatory.[44] In Pope Paul VI's revision of the rules concerning indulgences, these expressions were dropped, and replaced by the expression "partial indulgence", indicating that the person who gained such an indulgence for a pious action is granted, "in addition to the remission of temporal punishment acquired by the action itself, an equal remission of punishment through the intervention of the Church"[45]

Historically, the practice of granting indulgences, and the widespread[46] associated abuses, led to them being seen as increasingly bound up with money, with criticisms being directed against the "sale" of indulgences, a source of controversy that was the immediate occasion of the Protestant Reformation in Germany and Switzerland.[47]

Purgatory as a physical place

Dante gazes at purgatory (shown as a mountain) in this 16th century painting.

In antiquity and medieval times, heaven and hell were regarded as places existing within the physical universe: heaven "above", in the sky; hell "below", in or beneath the earth. Similarly, purgatory has at times been thought of as a physical location. In Dante's fourteenth century work The Divine Comedy, shows this with Earth as the center of the universe (and hell at the "center of the center" of the universe), the planets and stars revolving around Earth and Heaven (or the Seven Heavens) encircling Creation in Celestial spheres.

As for purgatory, it is depicted as a mountain in the southern hemisphere. When, according to Dante's work, Satan rebelled against God and was defeated, he was cast out from Heaven and fell to Earth. The impact crater from the fall was so great that it reached to the Earth's core. Satan being held at the center of the center of the universe (Earth) was seen as reflecting his selfishness. As for the crater, it was filled over becoming a dark and fiery cavern, Hell, with Jerusalem directly over Satan.

Yet the force of the Satan's impact created such an uplift, that it produced a mountain "beneath" Satan, on the opposite side of the Earth from the impact. Souls given a second chance find themselves at Mt. Purgatory, where there are two levels, then Seven Levels representing the Seven deadly sins. Should they reach the top they will find themselves at Jerusalem's antipode, the Garden of Eden itself. Thus cleansed of all sin and made perfect, they wait in Earthly paradise before ascending to Heaven. Thus, ironically, all Satan's attempts to destroy and damn humanity did was ensure humanity's salvation. An angel Casella takes souls there in a boat.

This envisioning of heaven, hell, and purgatory as places in the physical universe was never Church doctrine, but mere popular or poetic imagining. In 1999 Pope John Paul II declared that the term Purgatory does not indicate a place, but "a condition of existence".[16]

Catholic statements

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, first published in 2005, is a summary in dialog form of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It deals with purgatory in the following exchange:[48]

210. What is purgatory?

Purgatory is the state of those who die in God’s friendship, assured of their eternal salvation, but who still have need of purification to enter into the happiness of heaven.
211. How can we help the souls being purified in purgatory?
Because of the communion of saints, the faithful who are still pilgrims on earth are able to help the souls in purgatory by offering prayers in suffrage for them, especially the Eucharistic sacrifice. They also help them by almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance.

These two questions and answers summarize information in sections 1020–1032[49] and 1054[50] of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1992, which also speaks of purgatory in sections 1472 and 1473[51]

Other authoritative statements are those of the Council of Trent in 1563[52] and the Council of Florence in 1439.[53]

Eastern Catholic Churches

The Eastern Catholic Churches are Catholic Churches sui iuris of Eastern tradition, in full communion with the Pope. There are however some differences between the Latin Church and some of the Eastern Catholic Churches on aspects of purgatory. The Eastern Catholic Churches of Greek tradition do not generally use the word "purgatory", but agree that there is a "final purification" for souls destined for heaven, and that prayers can help the dead who are in that state of "final purification". In general, neither the members of the Latin Church nor the members of these Eastern Catholic Churches regard these differences as major points of dispute, but see them as minor nuances and differences of tradition. A treaty that formalized the admission of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church stated: "We shall not debate about purgatory, but we entrust ourselves to the teaching of the Holy Church",[54] implying, in the opinion of a theologian of that Church, that both sides can agree to disagree on the specifics of what the West calls "purgatory", while there is full agreement on the essentials.[55] Between the Latin Church and some other Eastern Catholic Churches, such as the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, there is no disagreement about any aspect of the doctrine of purgatory.

Eastern Orthodox Church

The Dormition of the Theotokos (a thirteenth-century icon)

The Eastern Church came to admit of an intermediate state after death, but refrained from defining it so as not to blur the distinction between the alternative fates of Heaven and Hell; it combined with this doctrine a firm belief in the efficacy of prayer for the dead, which was a constant feature of both East and West liturgies. Such prayer is held to be unintelligible without belief in some interim state in which the dead might benefit.[56]

Eastern Orthodox teaching is that, while all undergo a Particular Judgment immediately after death, neither the just nor the wicked attain the final state of bliss or punishment before the last day,[57] with some exceptions for righteous souls like the Theotokos (Blessed Virgin Mary), "who was borne by the angels directly to heaven".[58]

Eastern Orthodox theology does not generally describe the situation of the dead as involving suffering or fire, although it nevertheless describes it as a "direful condition".[59] The souls of the righteous dead are in light and rest, with a foretaste of eternal happiness; but the souls of the wicked are in a state the reverse of this. Among the latter, such souls as have departed with faith, but "without having had time to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance..., may be aided towards the attainment of a blessed resurrection [at the end of time] by prayers offered in their behalf, especially those offered in union with the oblation of the bloodless sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, and by works of mercy done in faith for their memory."[60]

The state in which souls undergo this experience is often referred to as "Hades".[61]

The Orthodox Confession of Peter Mogila (1596-1646), adopted, in a Greek translation by Meletius Syrigos, by the 1642 Council of Jassy, in Romania, professes that "many are freed from the prison of hell ... through the good works of the living and the Church's prayers for them, most of all through the unbloody sacrifice, which is offered on certain days for all the living and the dead" (question 64); and (under the heading "How must one consider the purgatorial fire?") "the Church rightly performs for them the unbloody sacrifice and prayers, but they do not cleanse themselves by suffering something. But, the Church never maintained that which pertains to the fanciful stories of some concerning the souls of their dead, who have not done penance and are punished, as it were, in streams, springs and swamps" (question 66).".[3]

The Eastern Orthodox Synod of Jerusalem, held in 1672, declared that "the souls of those that have fallen asleep are either at rest or in torment, according to what each hath wrought" (an enjoyment or condemnation that will be complete only after the resurrection of the dead); but the souls of some "depart into Hades, and there endure the punishment due to the sins they have committed. But they are aware of their future release from there, and are delivered by the Supreme Goodness, through the prayers of the Priests, and the good works which the relatives of each do for their Departed; especially the unbloody Sacrifice benefiting the most; which each offers particularly for his relatives that have fallen asleep, and which the Catholic and Apostolic Church offers daily for all alike. Of course, it is understood that we do not know the time of their release. We know and believe that there is deliverance for such from their direful condition, and that before the common resurrection and judgment, but when we know not."[59]

Some Orthodox believe in a teaching of "Aerial Toll-Houses" for the souls of the dead. According to this theory, which is rejected by other Orthodox, "following a person's death the soul leaves the body and is escorted to God by angels. During this journey the soul passes through an aerial realm which is ruled by demons. The soul encounters these demons at various points referred to as 'toll-houses' where the demons then attempt to accuse it of sin and, if possible, drag the soul into hell."[62]

Protestantism

In general, Protestant churches do not accept the doctrine of purgatory. One of Protestantism's central tenets is sola scriptura ("scripture alone"). The general Protestant view is that the Bible, from which they exclude deuterocanonical books such as 2 Maccabees, contains no overt, explicit discussion of purgatory and therefore it should be rejected as an unbiblical belief.[63]

Another tenet of Protestantism is sola fide ("by faith alone"): that faith alone, apart from any action, is what achieves salvation, and that good works are merely evidence of that faith. Salvation is generally seen as a discrete event that takes place once for all during one's lifetime. Instead of distinguishing between mortal and venial sins, Protestants believe that one's faith dictates one's state of salvation and one's place in the afterlife. Those who have been saved by God are destined for heaven, while those have not been saved will be excluded from heaven. Accordingly, they reject any notion of a provisional or temporary afterlife state such as purgatory.

Some Protestants hold that a person enters into the fullness of its bliss or torment only after the resurrection of the body, and that the soul in that interim state is conscious and aware of the fate in store for it.[64] Others have held that souls in the intermediate state between death and resurrection are without consciousness, a state known as soul sleep.[65]

Anglicanism

The Anglican Church, rejects the doctrine of purgatory, with the exception of a small minority known as Anglo-Catholics.[66] Article XXII of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Anglican Church states that "The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory…is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God."[67] Nevertheless, among Anglo-Catholic Anglicans, who often identify strongly with Roman Catholic liturgy and theology, there are those who accept that purgatory exists. C.S. Lewis said there were good reasons for "casting doubt on the 'Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory' as that Romish doctrine had then become", not merely "the commercial scandal" but also the picture of purgatory as a temporary Hell, in which the souls are tormented by devils, whose presence is "more horrible and grievous to us than is the pain itself", and where the spirit who suffers the tortures cannot, for pain, "remember God as he ought to do". He believed instead in purgatory as presented in John Henry Newman's The Dream of Gerontius, of which he wrote: "Religion has reclaimed Purgatory", a process of purification that will normally involve suffering.[68][69]

Lutheranism

Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Church, believed that it was of no avail to pray for the dead.[70] Nonetheless, a core statement of Lutheran doctrine, albeit not by Luther, states: "Epiphanius testifies that Aerius held that prayers for the dead are useless. With this he finds fault. Neither do we favor Aerius" (Philipp Melanchthon, Apology of the Augsburg Confession - emphasis added).[71]

Methodism

The Methodist Church holds that "the Romish doctrine concerning purgatory ... is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but repugnant to the Word of God."[72] What it specifically repudiates is the concept of purgatory as a place where the souls of those who have died in Christ can be aided by the prayers of the living.[73] Its founder John Wesley believed that there is "an intermediate state between death and the final judgment, where those who rejected Christ would be aware of their coming doom (not yet pronounced), and believers would share in the 'bosom of Abraham' or 'paradise', even continuing to grow in holiness there."[73][74] Methodism does not formally affirm this belief, but maintains silence on what lies between death and the last judgment.[73] It also views the manner of Christ's presence in Holy Communion as a holy mystery, but in this case affirms the reality of the presence.[75]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The afterlife according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is divided into two levels until the Last Judgement; afterwards it is divided into four levels, the upper three of which are referred to as "degrees of glory" that, for illustrative purposes, are compared to heavenly bodies.[76][77]

Before the Last Judgment, spirits separated from their bodies at death go either to Paradise or to Spirit Prison based on their merits earned in life. Paradise is a place of rest while its inhabitants continue learning in preparation for the Last Judgement. Spirit Prison is a place of anguish and suffering for the wicked and unrepentant; however, missionary efforts done by spirits from Paradise enable those in Spirit Prison to repent, accept the Gospel and the atonement and receive baptism through the practice of baptism for the dead.[78][79][80]

After the resurrection and Last Judgment, people are sent to one of four levels:

  • The Celestial Kingdom is the highest level, with its power and glory comparable to the sun. Here, faithful and valiant disciples of Christ who accepted the fullness of His Gospel and kept their covenants with Him through following the prophets of their dispensation are reunited with their families and with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit for all eternity. Those who would have accepted the Gospel with all their hearts had they been given the opportunity in life (as judged by Christ and God the Father) are also saved in the Celestial Kingdom. Latter-day Saints do not believe in original sin but believe children to be innocent.[81] Therefore, all children who die before the age of accountability inherit this glory.[82] Men and women who have entered into celestial marriage are eligible, under the tutelage of God the Father, to eventually become gods and goddesses as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.[83]
  • The Terrestrial Kingdom's power and glory is comparable to that of the moon. It is reserved for several classes of people. First, some are those who understood and rejected the full Gospel in this life but lived otherwise good lives. Second, some are those who did accept the Gospel in this life but were "not valiant in the testimony of Jesus."[84]. Third, some are those who "died without law" but accepted the full Gospel and repented after death due to the missionary efforts undertaken in Spirit Prison.[85] They enjoy the presence of the Son but not of the Father.
  • The Telestial Kingdom is comparable to the glory of the stars. Those placed in the Telestial Kingdom suffered the pains of Hell after death because they were liars, murderers, adulterers, whoremongers, etc. They are eventually rescued from Hell by being redeemed through the power of the atonement at the end of the Millennium.[86]
  • Perdition, or outer darkness, is the lowest level and has no glory whatsoever. It is reserved for Satan, his angels, and those who have committed the unpardonable sin. They are those who have "denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, [have] denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, [have] crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame."[87] Joseph Smith said concerning such a person that "he has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy. This is the case with many apostates of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."[88]

Judaism and Islam

In Judaism, Gehenna is a place of purification where, according to some traditions, most sinners spend up to a year before release.

The view of purgatory can be found in the teaching of the Shammaites: "In the last judgment day there shall be three classes of souls: the righteous shall at once be written down for the life everlasting; the wicked, for Gehenna; but those whose virtues and sins counterbalance one another shall go down to Gehenna and float up and down until they rise purified; for of them it is said: 'I will bring the third part into the fire and refine them as silver is refined, and try them as gold is tried' [Zech. xiii. 9.]; also, 'He [the Lord] bringeth down to Sheol and bringeth up again'" (I Sam. ii. 6). The Hillelites seem to have had no purgatory; for they said: "He who is 'plenteous in mercy' [Ex. xxxiv. 6.] inclines the balance toward mercy, and consequently the intermediates do not descend into Gehenna" (Tosef., Sanh. xiii. 3; R. H. 16b; Bacher, "Ag. Tan." i. 18). Still they also speak of an intermediate state.

Regarding the time which purgatory lasts, the accepted opinion of R. Akiba is twelve months; according to R. Johanan b. Nuri, it is only forty-nine days. Both opinions are based upon Isa. lxvi. 23-24: "From one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another shall all flesh come to worship before Me, and they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched"; the former interpreting the words "from one new moon to another" to signify all the months of a year; the latter interpreting the words "from one Sabbath to another," in accordance with Lev. xxiii. 15-16, to signify seven weeks. During the twelve months, declares the baraita (Tosef., Sanh. xiii. 4-5; R. H. 16b), the souls of the wicked are judged, and after these twelve months are over they are consumed and transformed into ashes under the feet of the righteous (according to Mal. iii. 21 [A. V. iv. 3]), whereas the great seducers and blasphemers are to undergo eternal tortures in Gehenna without cessation (according to Isa. lxvi. 24).

The righteous, however, and, according to some, also the sinners among the people of Israel for whom Abraham intercedes because they bear the Abrahamic sign of the covenant are not harmed by the fire of Gehenna even when they are required to pass through the intermediate state of purgatory ('Er. 19b; Ḥag. 27a).[89]

In Islam also, a few Muslims consider hell may be a temporary place of punishment for some, eternal for others. However, most Islamists view hell as eternal for all those who reject Allah(Arabic for God).[90] Chapter Al-A'raf of the Quran speaks more specifically about this.

Barzakh (Arabic: برزخ‎), a term that appears in the Qur'an Surah 23, Ayat 100, is the intermediate state in which the soul of the deceased is transferred across the boundaries of the mortal realm into a kind of "cold sleep" where the soul will rest until the Qiyamah (Judgement Day). This concept corresponds to that of soul sleep, not to that of purgatory .

Purgatory and the Life Review

The life review undergone by those who have had a Near Death Experience (NDE), can resemble a sort of purgatory. This is what Bruce Horacek Ph.D and IANDS writes about the Life Review: "During a predominantly pleasurable NDE, usually while in the light, the NDEr may experience a life review. In this review, the NDEr typically re-views (sees again) and reexperiences every moment of his/her life. At the same time, the NDEr fully experiences being every other person with whom the NDEr interacted. The NDEr knows what it was to be on the receiving end of his/her own actions including those that caused others pain. At this time, the NDEr usually reports feeling profound remorse, along with extreme regret that the harm cannot be undone. At the same time, the NDEr typically reports feeling consistent unconditional love from the light who communicates that the NDEr was still learning how to be a more loving person what NDErs tend to say is the purpose of life."[91] In Richard Matheson's novel What Dreams May Come, a newly dead character sees all the events of his life unfold in reverse, then later experiences the same thing slowly, in a self-evaluation process that the novel equates with purgatory.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Encyclopaedia Britannica
  2. ^ Ted Campbell, Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials (Abingdon 1999), quoted in Feature article by United Methodist Reporter Managing Editor Robin Russell and in FAQ Belief: What happens immediately after a person dies?
  3. ^ a b Orthodox Confession of Faith, questions 64-66.
  4. ^ Olivier Clément, L'Église orthodoxe. Presses Universitaries de France, 2006, Section 3, IV
  5. ^ See, for instance, LDS Life After Death
  6. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Gehenna
  7. ^ Gehinnom
  8. ^ "Purgatory," Oxford English Dictionary
  9. ^ Collins English Dictionary
  10. ^ Megan McLaughlin, Consorting with Saints: Prayer for the Dead in Early Medieval France (Cornell University Press 1994 ISBN 9780801426483), p. 18
  11. ^ LeGoff, Jacques. The Birth of Purgatory. Trans. Arthur Goldhammer. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1986, Pg 362-66
  12. ^ Cf. 2 Maccabees 12:42-44
  13. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1032
  14. ^ John Henry Cardinal Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, chapter 2, section 3, paragraph 2.
  15. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030-1031
  16. ^ a b Audience of 4 August 1999
  17. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1021-1022
  18. ^ "Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, 'eternal fire'" (IV Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1035).
  19. ^ Cf. CCC 1030-1032
  20. ^ CCC 1030-1032
  21. ^ CCC 1054
  22. ^ CCC 1854
  23. ^ __P6C.HTM CCC 1855
  24. ^ CCC 1861
  25. ^ a b __P6C.HTM CCC 1863
  26. ^ CCC 1875
  27. ^ CCC 1263
  28. ^ __P4F.HTM CCC 1468
  29. ^ CCC 1030
  30. ^ a b CCC 1031
  31. ^ a b c Catholic Encyclopedia on Purgatory
  32. ^ Ps 66:12
  33. ^ Jean-Yves Lacoste, Encyclopedia of Christian Theology (Taylor and Francis, 2004 ISBN 9781579582500), p. 1322
  34. ^ "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).
  35. ^ "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).
  36. ^ "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).
  37. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia on "poena sensus"
  38. ^ CCC 1473. In his 2007 encyclical Spe salvi, Pope Benedict XVI applies to the purgation of souls after death the words of Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 about some being "saved, but only as through fire"; in the encounter with Christ after death, Christ's "gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation 'as through fire'. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God" (Spe salvi, 46-47).
  39. ^ CCC 1472
  40. ^ Cabrol and Leclercq, Monumenta Ecclesiæ Liturgica. Volume I: Reliquiæ Liturgicæ Vetustissimæ (Paris, 1900-2) pp. ci-cvi, cxxxix.
  41. ^ CCC 1032
  42. ^ __P4G.HTM CCC 1471
  43. ^ CCC 1479
  44. ^ a b Indulgences in the Church | Catholic-Pages.com
  45. ^ Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, norm 5
  46. ^ Section "Abuses" in Catholic Encyclopedia: Purgatory
  47. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Reformation
  48. ^ Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 210-211
  49. ^ __P2N.HTM Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 1020-1032
  50. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 1054
  51. ^ __P4G.HTM Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 1472-1473
  52. ^ Decree concerning Purgatory
  53. ^ Denzinger 1304 - old numbering 693
  54. ^ Treaty of Brest, Article 5
  55. ^ Doctrine
  56. ^ Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article Purgatory
  57. ^ John Meyondorff, Byzantine Theology (London: Mowbrays, 1974) pp. 220-221. "At death man's body goes to the earth from which it was taken, and the soul, being immortal, goes to God, who gave it. The souls of men, being conscious and exercising all their faculties immediately after death, are judged by God. This judgment following man's death we call the Particular Judgment. The final reward of men, however, we believe will take place at the time of the General Judgment. During the time between the Particular and the General Judgment, which is called the Intermediate State, the souls of men have foretaste of their blessing or punishment" (The Orthodox Faith).
  58. ^ Michael Azkoul, What Are the Differences Between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism?
  59. ^ a b Confession of Dositheus, Decree 18
  60. ^ Catechism of St. Philaret of Moscow, 372 and 376; Constas H. Demetry, Catechism of the Eastern Orthodox Church p. 37; John Meyondorff, Byzantine Theology (London: Mowbrays, 1974) p. 96; cf. "The Orthodox party ... remarked that the words quoted from the book of Maccabees, and our Saviour's words, can only prove that some sins will be forgiven after death" (OrthodoxInfo.com, The Orthodox Response to the Latin Doctrine of Purgatory)
  61. ^ What Are the Differences Between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism?; Constas H. Demetry, Catechism of the Eastern Orthodox Church p. 37
  62. ^ Death and the Toll House Controversy
  63. ^ The same argument has been used, for instance, by Nontrinitarianism with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity.
  64. ^ John Calvin wrote: "As long as (our spirit) is in the body it exerts its own powers; but when it quits this prison-house it returns to God, whose presence it meanwhile enjoys, while it rests in the hope of a blessed Resurrection. This rest is its paradise. On the other hand, the spirit of the reprobate, while it waits for the dreadful judgment, is tortured by that anticipation" (Psychopannychia by John Calvin)
  65. ^ Martin Luther, contending against the doctrine of purgatory, spoke of the souls of the dead as quite asleep, but this notion of unconscious soul sleep is not included in the Lutheran Confessions and Lutheran theologians generally reject it. (See Soul Sleep – Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.)
  66. ^ "Pathan". Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/PRE_PYR/PURGATORY_Late_Lat_purgatorium_.html. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  67. ^ "Anglican Beliefs". All Saints Jakarta. http://www.allsaintsjakarta.org/angbel.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  68. ^ Lewis, C.S.. Prayer: Letters to Malcolm. p. 104. ISBN 0006280579. 
  69. ^ Letters to Malcolm, chapter 20, paragraphs 7-12
  70. ^ Question 201 of Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation (Concordia Publishing House, 1991 edition) answers the question "For whom should we pray?" as follows: "We should pray for ourselves and for all other people, even for our enemies, but not for the souls of the dead" (The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
  71. ^ Apology XXIV, 96
  72. ^ "The Twenty-Five Articles of Religion (Methodist)". CRI / Voice, Institute. http://www.crivoice.org/creed25.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  73. ^ a b c "What happens immediately after a person dies?". The United Methodist Church. http://www.umc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=lwL4KnN1LtH&b=4746355&content_id=%7B94F6F768-0EA6-4C1B-B6B6-0C88EC04E8A2%7D&notoc=1. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  74. ^ "Heavenly minded: It’s time to get our eschatology right, say scholars, authors". UMR Communications. http://www.umportal.org/article.asp?id=5101. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  75. ^ "This Holy Mystery: Part Two". The United Methodist Church GBOD. http://www.gbod.org/worship/thisholymystery/parttwo.html. Retrieved 2007–07–10. 
  76. ^ 1 Cor. 15:40-41
  77. ^ D&C 76:96-98
  78. ^ Alma 40
  79. ^ D&C 76
  80. ^ D&C 138
  81. ^ Moroni 8
  82. ^ D&C 137
  83. ^ D&C 76:50-70
  84. ^ D&C 76:79
  85. ^ D&C 76:72
  86. ^ D&C 76:81-90
  87. ^ D&C 76:35
  88. ^ Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Press, 1938), p. 358.
  89. ^ "There are three categories of men; the wholly pious and the arch-sinners are not purified, but only those between these two classes" (Jewish Encyclopedia: Gehenna)
  90. ^ Gardet, L. "Jahannam," Encyclopedia of Islam.
  91. ^ Impact of the Near-Death Experience on Grief and Loss, by Bruce Horacek, Ph.D and by IANDS, 2003, http://www.iands.org/grief_and_loss.html

\Bible

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PURGATORY (Late Lat. purgatorium, from purgare, to purge), according to Roman Catholic faith, a state of suffering after death in which the souls of those who die in venial sin, and of those who still owe some debt of temporal punishment for mortal sin, are rendered fit to enter heaven.


It is believed that such souls continue to be members of the Church of Christ; that they are helped by the suffrages of the living - that is, by prayers, alms and other good works, and more especially by the sacrifice of the Mass; and that, although delayed until "the last farthing is paid," their salvation is assured. Catholics support this doctrine chiefly by reference to the Jewish belief in the efficacy of prayer for the dead (2 Macc. xii. 42 seq.), the tradition of the early Christians, and the authority of the Church.


Irenaeus regards as heretical the opinion that the souls of the departed pass immediately into glory; Tertullian, Cyprian, the Acts of St Perpetua, Clement of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil, Gregory of Nyassa, Ambrose, Chrysostom and Jerome, all speak of prayer for the dead and seem to imply belief in a purgatory, but their view seems to have been affected by the pre-Christian doctrine of Hades or Sheol. Some of the Greeks, notably Origen, teach that even the perfect must go through fire in the next world. Augustine writes (De VIII. Dulcitii quaestionibus) that "it is not incredible" that imperfect souls will be "saved by some purgatorial fire," to which they will be subjected for varying lengths of time according to their needs;. but in other passages he expresses conflicting opinions (De civitate, xx. 25, xxi. 13, 26; Enchiridion, 69).


Gregory the Great was the first to formulate the doctrine in express terms, "de quibusdam levibus culpis esse ante judicium purgatorius ignis credendus est" (Dial. iv. 39). Thenceforth it became part of the theology of the Western Church, and was definitely affirmed at the councils of Lyons (1274), Florence (1439) and Trent. Concerning the word purgatory, Innocent IV. writes: "Forasmuch as (the Greeks) say that this place of purification is not indicated by their doctors by an appropriate and accurate word, we will, in accordance with the tradition and authority of the holy fathers, that henceforth it be called purgatorium, for in this temporary fire are cleansed not deadly capital sins, which must be remitted by penance, but those lesser venial sins which, if not removed in life, afflict men after death."


Many points about purgatory, on which the Church has no definition, have been subjects of much speculation among Catholics. Purgatory, for example, is usually thought of as having some position in space, and as being distinct from heaven and hell; but any theory as to its exact latitude and longitude, such as underlies Dante's description, must be regarded as imaginative. Most theologians since Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventura have taught that the souls in purgatory are tormented by material fire, but the Greeks have never accepted this opinion. It must be inferred from the whole practice of indulgences as at present authorized that the pains of purgatory are measurable by years and days; but here also everything is indefinite. The Council of Trent, while it commands all bishops to teach "the sound doctrine of purgatory handed down by the venerable fathers and sacred councils," bids them exclude from popular addresses all the "more difficult and subtle questions relating to the subject which do not tend to edification."


The Eastern Church affirms belief in an intermediate state after death, but the belief is otherwise as vague as the expressions of the pre-Nicene fathers on the subject. An authoritative statement of the present Eastern doctrine is to be found in the Longer Catechism of the Orthodox Church (Q. 376): "Such souls as have departed with faith but without having had time to bring forth fruits meet for repentance may be aided towards the attainment of a blessed resurrection by prayers offered in their behalf, especially such as are offered in union with the oblation of the bloodless sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, and by works of mercy done in faith for their memory."


The efficacy of prayers for the dead, and indirectly the doctrine of purgatory, were denied by early Gnostic sects, by Aerius in the 4th century, and by the Waldenses, Cathari, Albigenses and Lollards in the middle ages. Protestants, with the exception of a small minority in the Anglican communion, unanimously reject the doctrine of purgatory, and affirm that "the souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness and do immediately pass into glory." Rejection of an intermediate state after death follows the Protestant idea of justification by faith as logically as the doctrine of purgatory results from the Catholic idea of justification by works.


An analogy to purgatory can be traced in most religions. Thus the fundamental ideas of a middle state after death and of a purification preparatory to perfect blessedness are met with in Zoroaster, who takes souls through twelve stages before they are sufficiently purified to enter heaven; and the Stoics conceived of a middle place of enlightenment which they called Eµirtpw ns. The principal authoritative statements of the Catholic Church on the doctrine of purgatory were made at the Council of Florence (Decret. unionis), and at that of Trent (Sess. vi. can. 30; Sess. xxii., C. 2, can. 3; Sess. xxv.). See H. J. D. Denziger's Enchiridion; J. Bautz, Das Fegfeuer (Mainz, 1883); and L. Redner, Das Fegfeuer (Regensburg, 1856).


A very elaborate treatise from the Catholic standpoint is that of Cardinal Bellarmine, De purgatorio. The subject is discussed, moreover, in all major works on dogmatic theology. There is a representative Catholic statement by Hense in the Kirchenlexikon under the title "Fegfeuer," 2nd ed., vol. 4, col. 1284-1296; and a corresponding Protestant presentation by Rud. Hoffmann in Hauck's Realencyklopddie, 3rd ed. vol. v. pp. 78879 2. (C. H. HA.)


<< Purdah

Puri >>


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Contents

CATHOLIC DOCTRINE

Purgatory (Lat., "purgare", to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.

The faith of the Church concerning purgatory is clearly expressed in the Decree of Union drawn up by the Council of Florence (Mansi, t. XXXI, col. 1031), and in the decree of the Council of Trent which (Sess. XXV) defined:

"Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod (Sess. VI, cap. XXX; Sess. XXII cap.ii, iii) that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful" (Denzinger, "Enchiridon", 983).

Further than this the definitions of the Church do not go, but the tradition of the Fathers and the Schoolmen must be consulted to explain the teachings of the councils, and to make clear the belief and the practices of the faithful.

Temporal Punishment

That temporal punishment is due to sin, even after the sin itself has been pardoned by God, is clearly the teaching of Scripture. God indeed brought man out of his first disobedience and gave him power to govern all things (Wis 10:2), but still condemned him "to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow" until he returned unto dust. God forgave the incredulity of Moses and Aaron, but in punishment kept them from the "land of promise" (Num 20:12). The Lord took away the sin of David, but the life of the child was forfeited because David had made God's enemies blaspheme His Holy Name (2Kg 12:13f).

In the New Testament as well as in the Old, almsgiving and fasting, and in general penitential acts are the real fruits of repentance (Mt 3:8; Lk 17:3; Lk 3:3). The whole penitential system of the Church testifies that the voluntary assumption of penitential works has always been part of true repentance and the Council of Trent (Sess. XIV, can. xi) reminds the faithful that God does not always remit the whole punishment due to sin together with the guilt. God requires satisfaction, and will punish sin, and this doctrine involves as its necessary consequence a belief that the sinner failing to do penance in this life may be punished in another world, and so not be cast off eternally from God.

Venial Sins

All sins are not equal before God, nor dare anyone assert that the daily faults of human frailty will be punished with the same severity that is meted out to serious violation of God's law. On the other hand whosoever comes into God's presence must be perfectly perfectly pure for in the strictest sense His "eyes are too pure, to behold evil" (Hab 1:13). For unrepented venial faults for the payment of temporal punishment due to sin at time of death, the Church has always taught the doctrine of purgatory.

So deep was this belief ingrained in our common humanity that it was accepted by the Jews, and in at least a shadowy way by the pagans, long before the coming of Christianity. ("Aeneid," VI, 735 sq.; Sophocles, "Antigone," 450 sq.).

ERRORS

Epiphanius (haer., lxxv, P.G., XLII, col. 513) complains that Acrius (fourth cent.) taught that prayers for the dead were of no avail. In the Middle Ages, the doctrine of purgatory was rejected by the Albigenses, Waldenses, and Hussites. St. Bernard (Serm. lxvi in Cantic., P. L. CLXXXIII, col. 1098) states that the so-called "Apostolici" denied purgatory and the utility of prayers for the departed. Much discussion has arisen over the position the Greeks on the question of purgatory. It would seem that the great difference of opinion not concerning the existence of purgatory but concerning the nature of purgatorial fire; still St. Thomas proves the existence of purgatory in his dissertation against the errors of the Greeks, and the Council of Florence also thought necessary to affirm the belief of the Church on the subject (Bellarmine, "De Purgatorio," lib. I, cap. i). The modern Orthodox Church denies purgatory, but is rather inconsistent in its way of putting forth its belief.

At the beginning of the Reformation there was some hesitation especially on Luther's part (Leipzig Disputation) as to whether the doctrine should be retained, but as the breach widened, the denial of purgatory by the Reformers became universal, and Calvin termed the Catholic position "exitiale commentum quod crucem Christi evacuat . . . quod fidem nostram labefacit et evertit" (Institutiones, lib. III, cap. v, 6). Modern Protestants, while they avoid the name purgatory, frequently teach the doctrine of "the middle state," and Martensen ("Christian Dogmatics," Edinburgh, 1890, p. 457) writes: "As no soul leaves this present existence in a fully complete and prepared state, we must suppose that there is an intermediate state, a realm of progressive development, (?) in which souls are prepared for the final judgment" (Farrar, "Mercy and Judgment," London, 1881, cap. iii).

PROOFS

The Catholic doctrine of purgatory supposes the fact that some die with smaller faults for which there was no true repentance, and also the fact that the temporal penalty due to sin is it times not wholly paid in this life. The proofs for the Catholic position, both in Scripture and in Tradition, are bound up also with the practice of praying for the dead. For why pray for the dead, if there be no belief in the power of prayer to afford solace to those who as yet are excluded from the sight of God? So true is this position that prayers for the dead and the existence of a place of purgation are mentioned in conjunction in the oldest passages of the Fathers, who allege reasons for succouring departed souls. Those who have opposed the doctrine of purgatory have confessed that prayers for the dead would be an unanswerable argument if the modern doctrine of a "particular judgment" had been received in the early ages. But one has only to read the testimonies hereinafter alleged to feel sure that the Fathers speak, in the same breath, of oblations for the dead and a place of purgation; and one has only to consult the evidence found in the catacombs to feel equally sure that the Christian faith there expressed embraced clearly a belief in judgment immediately after death. Wilpert ("Roma Sotteranea," I, 441) thus concludes chapt. xxi, "Che tale esaudimento", etc.,
Intercession has been made for the soul of the dear one departed and God has heard the prayer, and the soul has passed into a place of light and refreshment." "Surely," Wilpert adds, "such intercession would have no place were there question not of the particular, but of the final judgment.

Some stress too has been laid upon the objection that the ancient Christians had no clear conception of purgatory, and that they thought that the souls departed remained in uncertainity of salvation to the last day; and consequently they prayed that thoese who had gone before might in the final judgment escape even the everlasting torments of hell. The earliest Christian traditions are clear as to the particular judgment, and clearer still concerning a sharp distinction between purgatory and hell. The passages alledged as referring to relief from hell cannot offset the evidence given below (Bellarmine, "De Purgatorio," lib. II, cap. v). Concerning the famous case of Trajan, which vexed the Doctors of the Middle Ages, see Bellarmine, loc. cit., cap. Viii.

Old Testament

The tradition of the Jews is put forth with precision and clearness in II Maccabees. Judas, the commander of the forces of Israel, "making a gathering . . . sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead). And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins" (2 Macc 12:43ff). At the time of the Maccabees the leaders of the people of God had no hesitation in asserting the efficacy of prayers offered for the dead, in order that those who had departed this life might find pardon for their sins and the hope of eternal resurrection.

New Testament

There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Mt 12:32): "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come." According to St. Isidore of Seville (Deord. creatur., c. xiv, n. 6) these words prove that in the next life "some sins wil 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" (De Civ. Dei, XXI, xxiv). The same interpretation is given by Gregory the Great (Dial., IV, xxxix); St. Bede (commentary on this text); St. Bernard (Sermo lxvi in Cantic., n. 11) and other eminent theological writers.

A further argument is supplied by St. Paul in 1Cor 3:11-1,5: "For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay stubble: Every man's work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." While this passage presents considerable difficulty, it is regarded by many of the Fathers and theologians as evidence for the existence of an intermediate state in which the dross of lighter transgressions will be burnt away, and the soul thus purified will be saved. This, according to Bellarmine (De Purg., I, 5), is the interpretation commonly given by the Fathers and theologians; and he cites to this eftect:

  • St. Ambrose (commentary on the text, and Sermo xx in Ps. cxvii),
  • St. Jerome, (Comm. in Amos, c. iv),
  • St. Augustine (Comm. in Ps. xxxvii),
  • St. Gregory (Dial., IV, xxxix), and
  • Origen (Hom. vi in Exod.). See also St. Thomas, "Contra Gentes,", IV, 91. For a discussion of the exegetical problem, see Atzberger, "Die christliche Eschatologie", p. 275.

Tradition

This doctrine that many who have died are still in a place of purification and that prayers avail to help the dead is part of the very earliest Christian tradition. Tertullian "De corona militis" mentions prayers for the dead as an Apostolic ordinance, and in "De Monogamia" (cap. x, P. L., II, col. 912) he advises a widow "to pray for the soul of her husband, begging repose for him and participation in the first resurrection"; he commands her also "to make oblations for him on the anniversary of his demise," and charges her with infidelity if she neglect to succour his soul. This settled custom of the Church is clear from St. Cyprian, who (P. L. IV, col. 399) forbade the customary prayers for one who had violated the ecclesiastical law. "Our predecessors prudently advised that no brother, departing this life, should nominate any churchman as his executor; and should he do it, that no oblation should be made for him, nor sacrifice offered for his repose." Long before Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria had puzzled over the question of the state or condition of the man who, reconciled to God on his death-bed, had no time for the fulfilment of penance due his transgression. His answer is: "the believer through discipline divests himself of his passions and passes to the mansion which is better than the former one, passes to the greatest torment, taking with him the characteristic of repentance for the faults he may have committed after baptism. He is tortured then still more, not yet attaining what he sees others have acquired. The greatest torments are assigned to the believer, for God's righteousness is good, and His goodness righteous, and though these punishments cease in the course of the expiation and purification of each one, "yet" etc. (P. G. IX, col. 332).

In Origen the doctrine of purgatory is very clear. If a man depart this life with lighter faults, he is condemned to fire which burns away the lighter materials, and prepares the soul for the kingdom of God, where nothing defiled may enter. "For if on the foundation of Christ you have built not only gold and silver and precious stones (I 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." (P. G., XIII, col. 445, 448).

The Apostolic practice of praying for the dead which passed into the liturgy of the Church, is as clear in the fourth century as it is in the twentieth. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechet. Mystog., V, 9, P.G., XXXIII, col. 1116) describing the liturgy, writes: "Then we pray for the Holy Fathers and Bishops that are dead; and in short for all those who have departed this life in our communion; believing that the souls of those for whom prayers are offered receive very great relief, while this holy and tremendous victim lies upon the altar." St. Gregory of Nyssa (P. G., XLVI, col. 524, 525) states that man's weaknesses are purged in this life by prayer and wisdom, or are expiated in the next by a cleansing fire. "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." About the same time the Apostolic Constitution gives us the formularies used in succouring the dead. "Let us pray for our brethren who sleep in Christ, that God who in his love for men has received the soul of the depart one, may forgive him every fault, and in mercy and clemency receive him into the bosom of Abraham, with those who in this life have pleased God" (P. G. I, col. 1144). Nor can we pass over the use of the diptychs where the names of the dead were inscribed; and this remembrance by name in the Sacred Mysteries--(a practice that was from the Apostles) was considered by Chrysostom as the best way of relieving the dead (In I Ad Cor., Hom. xli, n. 4, G., LXI, col. 361, 362).

The teaching of the Fathers, and the formularies used in the Liturgy of the Church, found expression in the early Christian monuments, particularly those contained in the catacombs. On the tombs of the faithful were inscribed words of hope, words of petition for peace and for rest; and as the anniversaries came round the faithful gathered at the graves of the departed to make intercession for those who had gone before. At the bottom this is nothing else than the faith expressed by the Council of Trent (Sess. XXV, "De Purgatorio"), and to this faith the inscriptions in the catacombs are surely witnesses.

In the fourth century in the West, Ambrose insists in his commentary on St. Paul (I Cor., iii) on the existence of purgatory, and in his masterly funeral oration (De obitu Theodosii), thus prays for the soul of the departed emperor: "Give, O Lord, rest to Thy servant Theodosius, that rest Thou hast prepared for Thy saints. . . . I loved 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" (P. L., XVI, col. 1397). St. Augustine is clearer even than his master. He describes two conditions of men; "some there are who have departed this life, not so bad as to be deemed unworthy of mercy, nor so good as to be entitled to immediate happiness" etc., and in the resurrection he says there will be some who "have gone through these pains, to which the spirits of the dead are liable" (De Civ. Dei, XXI, 24). Thus at the close of the fourth century not only (1) were prayers for the dead found in all the Liturgies, but the Fathers asserted that such practice was from the Apostles themselves; (2) those who were helped by the prayers of the faithful and by the celebration of the Holy Mysteries were in a place of purgation; (3) from which when purified they "were admitted unto the Holy Mount of the Lord". So clear is this patristic Tradition that those who do not believe in purgatory have been unable to bring any serious difficulties from the writings of the Fathers. The passages cited to the contrary either do not touch the question at all, or are so lacking in clearness that they cannot offset the perfectly open expression of the doctrine as found in the very Fathers who are quoted as holding contrary opinions (Bellarmine "De Purg.", lib. I, cap. xiii).

DURATION AND NATURE

Duration

The very reasons assigned for the existence of purgatory make for its passing character. We pray, we offer sacrifice for souls therein detained that "God in mercy may forgive every fault and receive them into the bosom of Abraham" (Const. Apost., P. G., I col. 1144); and Augustine (De Civ. Dei, lib. XXI, cap.xiii and xvi) declares that the punishment of purgatory is temporary and will cease, at least with the Last Judgment. "But temporary punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by others after death, by others both noow and then; but all of them before that last and strictest judgment."

Nature of Punishment

It is clear from the Liturgies and the Fathers above cited that the souls for whose peace sacrifice was offered were shut out for the time being from the sight of God. They were "not so good as to be entitled to eternal happiness". Still, for them "death is the termination not of nature but of sin" (Ambrose, "De obitu Theodos."); and this inability to sin makes them secure of final happiness. This is the Catholic position proclaimed by Leo X in the Bull "Exurge Domine" which condemned the errors of Luther.

Are the souls detained in purgatory conscious that their happiness is but deferred for a time, or may they still be in doubt concerning their ultimate salvation? The ancient Liturgies and the inscriptions of the catacombs speak of a "sleep of peace", which would be impossible if there was any doubt of ultimate salvation. Some of the Doctors of the Middle Ages thought uncertainity of salvation one of the severe punishments of purgatory. (Bellarmine, "De Purgat." lib. II, cap. iv); but this opinion finds no general credit among the theologians of the medieval period, nor is it possible in the light of the belief in the particular judgment. St. Bonaventure gives as the reason for this elimination of fear and of uncertainty the intimate conviction that they can no longer sin (lib. IV, dist. xx, p.1, a.1 q. iv): "Est evacuatio timoris propter confirniationem liberi arbitrii, qua deinceps scit se peccare non posse" (Fear is cast out because of the strengthening of the will by which the soul knows it can no longer sin), and St. Thomas (dist. xxi, q. i, a.1) says: "nisi scirent se esse liberandas suffragia non peterent" (unless they knew that they are to be delivered, they would not ask for prayers).

Merit

In the Bull "Exurge Domine" Leo X condemns the proposition (n. 38) "Nec probatum est ullis aut rationibus aut scripturis ipsas esse extra statum merendi aut augendae caritatis" (There is no proof from reason or Scripture that they [the souls in purgatory] cannot merit or increase in charity). For them "the night has come in which no man can labour", and Christian tradition has always considered that only in this life can man work unto the profit of his own soul. The Doctors of the Middle Ages while agreeing that this life is the time for merit and increase of grace, still some with St. Thomas seemed to question whether or not there might be some non-essential reward which the souls in purgatory might merit (IV, dist. xxi, q. i, a. 3). Bellarmine believes that in this matter St. Thomas changed his opinion and refers to a statement of St. Thomas ("De Malo", q. vii, a. 11). Whatever may be the mind of the Angelic Doctor, theologians agree that no merit is possible in purgatory, and if objection be urged that the souls there merit by their prayers, Bellarmine says that such prayers avail with God because of merit already acquired "Solum impetrant ex meritis praeteritis quomodo nunc sancti orando) pro nobis impetrant licet non merendo" (They avail only in virtue of past merits as those who are now saints intercede for us not by merit but by prayer). (loc. cit. II, cap. iii).

Purgatorial Fire

At the Council of Florence, Bessarion argued against the existence of real purgatorial fire, and the Greeks were assured that the Roman Church had never issued any dogmatic decree on tlils subject. In the West the belief in the existence of real fire is common. Augustine in Ps. 37 n. 3, speaks of the pain which purgatorial fire causes as more severe than anything a man can suffer in this life, "gravior erit ignis quam quidquid potest homo pati in hac vita" (P. L., col. 397). Gregory the Great speaks of those who after this life "will expiate their faults by purgatorial flames," and he adds "'that the pain be more intolerable than any one can suffer in this life" (Ps. 3 poenit., n. 1). Following in the footsteps of Gregory, St. Thomas teaches (IV, dist. xxi, q. i, a.1) that besides the separation of the soul from the sight of God, there is the other punishment from fire. "Una poena damni, in quantum scilicet retardantur a divina visione; alia sensus secundum quod ab igne punientur", and St. Bonaventure not only agrees with St. Thomas but adds (IV, dist. xx, p.1, a.1, q. ii) that this punishment by fire is more severe than any punishment which comes to men in this life; "Gravior est omni temporali poena. quam modo sustinet anima carni conjuncta". How this fire affects the souls of the departed the Doctors do not know, and in such matters it is well to heed the warning of the Council of Trent when it commands the bishops "to exclude from their preaching difficult and subtle questions which tend not to edification', and from the discussion of which there is no increase either in piety or devotion" (Sess. XXV, "De Purgatorio").

SUCCOURING THE DEAD

Scripture and the Fathers command prayers and oblations for the departed, and the Council of Trent (Sess. XXV, "De Purgatorio") in virtue of this tradition not only asserts the existence of purgatory, but adds "that the souls therein detained are aided by the suffrages of the faithful and principally by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar." That those on earth are still in communion with the souls in purgatory is the earliest Christian teaching, and that the living aid the dead by their prayers and works of satisfaction is clear from the tradition above alleged. That the Holy Sacrifice was offered for the departed was received Catholic Tradition even in the days of Tertullian and Cyprian, and that the souls of the dead, were aided particularly "while the sacred victim lay upon the altar" is the expression of Cyril of Jerusalem quoted above. Augustine (Serm.. clxii, n. 2) says that the "prayers and alms of the faithful, the Holy Sacrifice of the altar aid the faithful departed and move the Lord to deal with them in mercy and kindness, and," he adds, "this is the practice of the universal Church handed down by the Fathers." Whether our works of satisfaction performed on behalf of the dead avail purely out of God's benevolence and mercy, or whether God obliges himself in justice to accept our vicarious atonement, is not a settled question. Suarez thinks that the acceptance is one of justice, and alleges the common practice of the Church which joins together the living and the dead without any discrimination (De poenit., disp. xlviii, 6, n. 4).

INDULGENCES

The Council of Trent (Sess. XXV) defined that indulgences are "most salutary for Christian people" and that their "use is to be retained in the Church". It is the common teaching of Catholic theologians that

  • indulgences may be applied to the souls detained in purgatory; and
  • that indulgences are available for them "by way of suffrage" (per modum suffragii).

(1) Augustine (De Civ. Dei, XX, ix) declares that the souls of the faithful departed are not separated from the Church, which is the kingdom of Christ, and for this reason the prayers and works of the living are helpful to the dead. "If therefore", argues Bellarmine (De indulgentiis, xiv) "we can offer our prayers and our satisfactions in behalf of those detained in purgatory, because we are members of the great body of Christ, why may not the Vicar of Christ apply to the same souls the superabundant satisfaction of Christ and his saints--of which he is the dispenser?" This is the doctrine of St. Thomas (IV, Sent., dist. xlv, q. ii, a. 3, q. 2) who asserts that indulgences avail principally for the person who performs the work for which the indulgence is given, if they but secondarily may avail even for the dead, if the form in which the indulgence is granted be so worded as to be capable of such interpretation, and he adds "nor is there any reason why the Church may not dispose of its treasure of merits in favour of the dead, as it surely dispenses it in favour of the living".

(2) St. Bonaventure (IV, Sent., dist. xx, p. 2, q. v) agrees with St. Thomas, but adds that such "relaxation cannot be after the manner of absolution as in the case of the living but only as suffrage (Haec non tenet modum judicii, sed potius suffragii). This opinion of St. Bonaventure, that the Church through its Supreme Pastor does not absolve juridically the souls in purgatory from the punishment due their sins, is the teaching of the Doctors. They point out (Gratian, 24 q. ii, 2, can.1) that in case of those who have departed this life judgment is reserved to God; they allege the authority of Gelasius (Ep. ad Fausturn; Ep. ad. Episcopos Dardaniae) in support of their contention (Gratian ibid.), and they also insist that the Roman Pontiffs, when they grant indulgences that are applicable to the dead, add the restriction "per modum suffragii et deprecationis". This phrase is found in the Bull of Sixtus IV "Romani Pontificis provida diligentia", 27 Nov. 1447.

The phrase "per modum suffragi et deprecationis" has been variously interpreted by theologians (Bellarmine, "De indulgentiis", p.137). Bellarmine himself says: "The true opinion is that indulgences avail as suffrage, because they avail not after the fashion of a juridical absolution 'quia non prosunt per modum juridicae absolutionis'." But according to the same author the suffrages of the faithful avail at times "per modum meriti congrui" (by way of merit), at times "per modum impetrationis" (by way of supplication) at times "per modum satisfactionis" (by way of satisfaction); but when there is question of applying an indulgence to one in purgatory it is only "per modum suffragii satisfactorii" and for this reason "the pope does not absolve the soul in purgatory from the punishment due his sin, but offers to God from the treasure of the Church whatever may be necessary for the cancelling of this punishment".

If the question be further asked whether such satisfaction is accepted by God out of mercy and benevolence, or "ex justitia", theologians are not in accord--some holding one opinion, others the other. Bellarmine after canvassing both sides (pp. 137, 138) does not dare to set aside "either opinion, but is inclined to think that the former is more reasonable while he pronounces the latter in harmony with piety ("admodum pia").

Condition

That an indulgence may avail for those in purgatory several conditions are required:

  • The indulgence must be granted by the pope.
  • There must be a sufficient reason for granting, the indulgence, and this reason must be something pertaining to the glory of God and the utility of the Church, not merely the utility accruing to the souls in purgatory.
  • The pious work enjoined must be as in the case of indulgences for the living.

If the state of grace be not among the required works, in all probability the person performing the work may gain the indulgence for the dead, even though he himself be not in friendship with God (Bellarmine, loc. cit., p. 139). Suarez (De Poenit., disp. Iiii, s. 4, n. 5 and 6) puts this categorically when he says: "Status gratiae solum requiritur ad tollendum obicem indulgentiae" (the state of grace is required only to remove some hindrance to the indulgence), and in the case of the holy souls there can be no hindrance. This teaching is bound up with the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, and the monuments of the catacombs represent the saints and martyrs as interceding with God for the dead. The prayers too of the early liturgies speak of Mary and of the saints interceding for those who have passed from this life. Augustine believes that burial in a basilica dedicated to a holy martyr is of value to the dead, for those who recall the memory of him who has suffered will recommend to the martyr's prayers the soul of him who has departed this life (Bellarmine, lib. II, xv). In the same place Bellarmine accuses Dominicus A Soto of rashness, because he denied this doctrine.

INVOCATION OF SOULS

Do the souls in purgatory pray for us? May we call upon them in our needs? There is no decision of the Church on this subject, nor have the theologians pronounced with definiteness concerning the invocation of the souls in purgatory and their intercession for the living. In the ancient liturgies there are no prayers of the Church directed to those who are still in purgatory. On the tombs of the early Christians nothing is more common than a prayer or a supplication asking the departed to intercede with God for surviving friends, but these inscriptions seem always to suppose that the departed one is already with God. St. Thomas God and their union with Him their prayers may have great intercessory power, for they are really superior to us in love of God, and in intimacy of union with Him. Suarez (De poenit., disp. xlvii, s. 2, n. 9) goes farther and asserts "that the souls in purgatory are holy, are dear to God, love us with a true love and are mindful of our wants; that they know in a general way our necessities and our dangers, and how great is our need of Divine help and divine grace".

When there is question of invoking the prayers of those in purgatory, Bellarmine (loc. cit.) says it is superfluous, ordinarily speaking, for they are ignorant of our circumstances and condition. This is at variance with the opinion of Suarez, who admits knowledge at least in a general way, also with the opinions of many modern theologians who point to the practice now common with almost all the faithful of addressing their prayers and petitions for help to those who are still in a place of purgation. Scavini (Theol. Moral., XI, n. l74) sees no reason why the souls detained in purgatory may not pray for us, even as we pray for one another. He asserts that this practice has become common at Rome, and that it has the great name of St. Alphonsus in its favour. St. Alphonsus in his work the "Great Means of Salvation", chap. I, III, 2, after quoting Sylvius, Gotti, Lessius, and Medina as favourable to his opinion, concludes: "so the souls in purgatory, being beloved by God and confirmed in grace, have absolutely no impediment to prevent them from praying for us. Still the Church does not invoke them or implore their intercession, because ordinarily they have no cognizance of our prayers. But we may piously believe that God makes our prayers known to them". He alleges also the authority of St. Catharine of Bologna who "whenever she desired any favour had recourse to the souls in purgatory, and was immediately heard".

UTILITY OF PRAYER FOR THE DEPARTED

It is the traditional faith of Catholics that the souls in purgatory are not separated from the Church, and that the love which is the bond of union between the Church's members should embrace those who have departed this life in God's grace. Hence, since our prayers and our sacrifices can help those who are still waiting in purgatory, the saints have not hesistated to warn us that we have a real duty toward those who are still in purgatorial expiation. Holy Church through the Congregation of Indulgences, 18 December 1885, has bestowed a special blessing on the so-called "heroic act" in virtue of which "a member of the Church militant ofters to God for the souls in purgatory all the satisfactory works which he will perform during his lifetime, and also all the suffrages which may accrue to him after his death" (Heroic Act, vol. VII, 292). The practice of devotion to the dead is also consoling to humanity and eminently worthy of a religion which seconds all the purest feelings of the human heart. "Sweet", says Cardinal Wiseman (lecture XI), "is the consolation of the dying man, who, conscious of imperfection, believes that there are others to make intercession for him, when his own time for merit has expired; soothing to the afflicted survivors the thought that they possess powerful means of relieving their friend. In the first moments of grief, this sentiment will often overpower religious prejudice, cast down the unbeliever on his knees beside the remains of his friend and snatch from him an unconscious prayer for rest; it is an impulse of nature which for the moment, aided by the analogies of revealed truth, seizes at once upon this consoling belief. But it is only a flitting and melancholy light, while the Catholic feeling, cheering though with solemn dimness, resembles the unfailing lamp, which the piety of the ancients is said to have hung before the sepulchres of their dead."

This article needs to be merged with PURGATORY (Jewish Encyclopedia).
Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
Facts about PurgatoryRDF feed

Simple English

According to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, Purgatory is the "final purification of the elect": "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven."[1]

Contents

Purgatory in art and culture

Perhaps the best-known instance of purgatory in the arts is Dante's Purgatorio, the second book of his Divine Comedy. Likewise, the Ghost in William Shakespeare's Hamlet may also presuppose a belief in purgatory,[2]

Footnotes

  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1030-1031 (section entitled, "The Final Purification, or Purgatory); cf. Council of Florence (1439): DS 1304; Council of Trent (1563): DS 1820; (1547): 1580; see also Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000.
  2. "I am thy fathers spirit, Doomd for a certaine tearme to walke the night, And for the day confind to fast in fires, Till the foule crimes done in my dayes of nature Are burnt and purg'd away".[1]

Sources

Other pages

Other websites

Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found
Wikimedia Commons has images, video, and/or sound related to:


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message