Monday, March 18, 2019

Purgatory: What does this mean?

An explanation of Purgatory. . . and a reason for the Reformation. . . complements of another author writing to clarify the Roman Catholic teaching of Purgatory.  You read and tell me what you think:

To begin with, purgatory exists for two reasons: one, to punish sins for which reparation has not been done on earth. For example, if a person stole money and was not able to pay it back, that sum would have to be “repaired” before the soul enters heaven. All sin must be settled, in the course of justice. If a person was a bad example at parties, flirting or drinking too much, even if that person confessed those sins, because the damage is done, reparation cannot be made. Therefore, purgatory is a time for suffering to make up for those consequences of sins. There is something called the “effects of sin” also called the “matter of sin.” The effects of sins remain in the person—weakened conscience, weakened ability to deal with the passions, and so on. These imperfections must be gone before the person enters heaven, as only the perfect enter heaven. All dispositions which lead one to sin, all tendencies, must be rooted out and few people do this in their lifetime. All venial sins unconfessed before death also cause the suffering of purgatory, as one must be cleansed, therefore, for the effects of sin, the tendencies, the disposition, and the venial sins.

Forgiven mortal sins need reparation, and that is done in purgatory, if those sins were confessed and absolved. In addition, each person has a predominant fault, that fault which causes most of the sin in his life. This root fault rests in self-love and created disordered desires, “cupiditas,” which leads to rebellion in one’s soul. Rebellion towards God is called “superb.”

Unless one allows God to take one through the dark night of the senses and the dark night of the spirit, where such spiritual infirmities and flaws are rooted out, one must go to purgatory.

Those in purgatory rejoice, embrace this suffering, this satispassion, because they increase in the love of God as they are purified. However, they cannot gain merit. The ability to gain merit for heaven ends with death. However, their love and virtue increase as they are cleansed of all flaws. One of the great sadnesses of those in purgatory, and for those in hell, an eternal gnawing, is the realisation of how high they would have been in the levels of holiness in heaven but for ignoring grace. This suffering turns to gratitude in purgatory as the souls see more clearly the mercy of God, as they now see the justice of God.

Second is the consideration of time in purgatory. Two types of time must be defined in order to understand the real time in purgatory. It is not like our time. There has been confusion about this in the past, as people think that when they make an indulgence which merits 30 days, that means 30 days off of purgatory—not so. It means that the prayer is equal to a physical penance which should last 30 days, as in the old times, when priests would give a 30 day pilgrimage as a penance, or 30 days without meat. The indulgence takes the place and is equal by the merit of the Church to those physical punishments.

Purgation takes time, so the time in purgatory is not short, unless one has made the Five First Saturdays, for example, or gained other purgatorial indulgences, such as the Divine Mercy indulgence. However, those indulgences take away the punishment due to sin, but not the effects of sin or the evil dispositions. Thus, one needs purgation, either in this world or the next. Apparently, St. Theresa of Lisieux was told by God that of all the persons she knew who has died In the convent, over all the years she lived there, only three had gone straight to heaven.

Theologians in Catholic teaching shows one that there are two types of time regarding purgatory. The first is “eviternity,” which means eternal duration or eternal existence. It is not the same as “eternal time,” which is the experience in heaven or hell. Eviternity is an in-between concept, between time as we know it by minutes, hours, days and years, and eternal time, both of which we understand. Eviternity has a beginning, so it is not eternal. Garrigou-Lagrange calls it “the perpetual present,” and we can understand that—a present moment which lasts a long, long time.

Discontinuous time is the time experienced by true mystics in ecstasy and the angels. Such persons can have a thought which lasts hours, but is only one spiritual instant. Both eviternity and discontinuous time are what the soul in purgatory experiences. All of us live in continuous time. God and the saints in heaven live in eternal time. The souls in purgatory live in eviternity and discontinuous time.

However, one can judge how long a soul may be in purgatory in terms of earthly time. I read one author which stated that the ordinary Catholic will experience purgatory for 40 years. If a person has held a high office, states Garrioug-Lagrange, referring to private revelations, that soul could be in purgatory for three or four centuries. One time, I asked God to release through my prayers, the forgotten soul who had been in purgatory the longest. A face and body came into my mind, that of a Conquistador of the 16th century. If this discernment was true, I was praying for a man who died as long ago as the 1500s—500 years ago! I did not doubt that some people, especially those who had death-bed conversions from lives of serious sin could be in purgatory for a very long time.

Sort of makes you long for the good old days when a dying penitent sinner heard "Today you shall be with Me in Paradise."  And then there are those who insist that what Lutherans teach of the atonement and of justification is an invention foisted upon Scripture.  Hmmmmm.  Very interesting.


Anonymous said...

It is clear, I think, that we cannot enter Heaven itself, coming face-to-face with the Father, until we are made perfect; we simply could not bear it. The question is, "how are we to be made perfect?"

Look at one specific example cited by the source, that of a person who stole money and died without repaying it. There is no doubt that this is sin, a stain upon the soul of the thief. To remove that stain requires not corporal punishment; that is an absurd concept applied to a dead body. What is requires is more along the lines of retraining the soul to reject the concept of thievery, to remove the willingness to entertain the idea of wrong action. This is more like an educational process than physical punishment. Similar arguments would be made for the other examples as well.

Pastor Peters is right on the mark with his quote near the end when Christ says to the dying penitent, "This day shalt thou be with me in paradise." He (and we) will be with Christ, in paradise, a place that I envision as rather like an elementary school. I recall that, as a pre-school age child, I heard all sort of horror stories from my older playmate who were already in school. They talked about how you had to sit in your desk ALL THE TIME, you had to raise your hand if you wanted to speak, etc. This sounded awful to me as a small child. A few years later, when I got into grade school, I found out that it was not so bad after all. Sure, you had to stay in your desk, raise you hand to speak, etc, but learning was a joy. I fully expect it to be this way in paradise with Christ. When we have received the necessary formation through education in paradise, then we will be fit to enter Heaven itself.

This, by the way, usually does not sit well with LCMS folks. I've had an LCMS pastor scream at me for even suggesting that we do not go straight from life to a face-to-face confrontation with the Father. Even mention of an intermediate state is usually considered to be heresy. The idea of additional preparation is comforting to me, and I find the idea of immediate final judgement utterly frightening, because I know I will not be ready for that at my death.

Continuing Anglican Priest

Anonymous said...

One other thought regarding purgatory.

The whole idea of "time in purgatory" is absurd. Time means nothing at all outside our mortal live. With God, there is only NOW, the present. All that we think of as past, present, and future, is NOW with Him. So "a thousand years in purgatory" is utter nonsense.


David Gray said...

A real Anglican, Richard Hooker, rejected the idea of purgatory.

>>>The "Roman" doctrine of purgatory, Hooker dismissed as an abridgment of God's mercy toward sinners. It implied that however merciful the Lord be in remitting, pardoning, and forgiving all transgressions, nevertheless His corrective justice is unappeased until sinners either in this world or in the next have endured vexation proportionate to the pleasure they have received in doing evil. Until then, there is no possible rest for their souls. It was a fearful torment to the mind to be forced to accept this doctrine. Christ's redemption pardoned and acquitted forever all pain and punishment which man's offences might deserve.

Anonymous said...

Purgatory for the Roman Catholic Church has always been a money maker.
They want the family and relatives to pay and pray for their deceased
loved to get out of purgatory.

Salvation in Christ is a free gift purchased on Calvary's cross with
the suffering, blood, and death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Anonymous said...

It is dogdshit

Cliff said...

This piece almost appears to be from some fictional novel. There is only one obscure biblical verse to support the theory of purgatory. The dreamer Dante should be the one credited for the invention of purgatory. A dreamer with questionable visions. Yet St Paul warned that if even an angel appear with a contradiction to God's Word, they are to be ignored. Sounds pretty black & white to me.

Perhaps our friend Daniel G can refute our arguments and provide some theological evidence to make purgatory more believable? He had quite a rant about the errors of Luther a few days ago.