Archive for the ‘Purgatory’ Category

My favorite book of all time is probably “Purgatory – Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints.”

No book has affected my life more than this one book. From time to time, I’ll pick it up and read it just to find that I’ve become too complacent in my spiritual life. Reading this book really helps to keep me in check and get back on track if needed. 

On Father’s Day, last Sunday, I opened the book and turned to an unforgettable story found in chapter 31 on page 95.

It’s about scandal.

Father Rossignoli tells a story about a famous painter in his Merveilles du Purgatoire. He writes:

“A painter of great skill and otherwise exemplary life had once made a painting not at all comformable to the strict rules of Christian modesty. It was one of those paintings which, under the pretext of being works of art, are found in the best families, and the sight of which causes the loss of so many souls.”

Before the painter died, he had spent his last years painting religious art and bequeathed all his earnings to a monastery, which was a large sum of money.

He died in “pious sentiments.”

Afterwards, he appeared in flames to a Religious and relayed his terrible fate. He tells of an immodest picture that he had painted years earlier and states,

“When I appeared before the tribunal of the Sovereign Judge, a crowd of accusers came to give evidence against me. They declared that they had been excited to improper thoughts and evil desires by a picture, the work of my hand. In consequence of those bad thoughts some were in Purgatory, others in Hell. The latter cried for vengeance, saying that, having been the cause of their eternal perdition, I deserved, at least, the same punishment.Then the Blessed Virgin and the saints whom I had glorified by my pictures took up my defence. They represented to the Judge that that unfortunate painting had been the work of youth, and of which I had repented ; that I had repaired it afterwards by religious objects which had been a source of edification to souls. In consideration of these and other reasons, the Sovereign Judge declared that, on account of my repentance and my good works, I should be exempt from damnation; but at the same time, He condemned me to these flames until that picture should be burned, so that it could no longer scandalise any one.”

The painter begged the Religious to find the owner of the picture and tell him what’s happened and how the picture must be destroyed. He relayed how the owner will lose his 2 children on account of owning the picture and that he will die a premature death if he refused to destroy the picture.

The picture was destroyed and the 2 children died as was told. The author writes about the incident as a whole:

“If such are the consequences of an immodest picture, what, then, will be the punishment of the still more disastrous scandals resulting from bad books, bad papers, bad schools, and bad conversations ? Vce mundo a scandalis / Vce homini illi per quern scandalum venit ! — ‘Woe to the world because of scandals ! Woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh ! ‘ (Matt. 18:7).”

When I first read this in the mid-1990’s or so, I had remembered drawing an immodest picture of a celebrity from an album cover in 1985, which I destroyed immediately after reading this story.

I’ve been thinking about the story all week and last night, I was thinking about all the bad movies and pictures made by celebrities. What damage they’ve caused me personally just in the numbness in my thinking. I’m outside all day and the immodesty is everywhere and sometimes I don’t even notice just how evil it truly is. How terrible!

What will be the fate of all these celebrities if they are saved at all? You can’t destroy all the copies that have been distributed over the years including the internet. I know a famous Catholic celebrity with some very immodest material. What can he do? How can he repair the damage he’s done now?

I know what we can do. Stop wearing immodest clothing. Get rid of the shorts, short skirts, and tanks, and especially the yoga pants!

Too rigid? I seem to remember reading how Fatima’s Jacinta Marto was in the hospital shortly before she died and one of the nurses had a  somewhat revealing outfit. She told the nurse that many souls go to hell for dressing immodestly as the nurse was dressed. This was around 1920. How much worse is it now in 2021?

Too rigid? Only a lost soul would say such a thing. Learn the lesson of the painter once in Purgatory and amend your life now!

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Taken from my favorite book Purgatory by Fr. F.X. Shouppe, S.J. :

That which shows still more the rigour of Purgatory is that the shortest period of time there appears to be of very long duration. Every one knows that days of enjoyment  pass quickly and appear short, whilst the time passed in suffering we find very long. Oh, how slowly pass the night for the poor sick, who spend them in sleeplessness and pain. We may say that the more intense the pain the longer appears the shortest duration of time. This rule furnishes us with a new means of estimating the sufferings of Purgatory. We find in the Annals of the Friar Minors, under the year 1285, a fact which is also related by St. Antoninus in his Summa. [1]

A religious man, suffering for a long time from a painful malady, allowed himself to be overcome by discouragement, and entreated God to permit him to die, that he might be released from his pains. He did not think that the prolongation of his sickness was a mercy of God, who wished to spare him more severe suffering. In answer to his prayer, God charged His angel-guardian to offer him his choice, either to die immediately and submit to the pains of Purgatory for three days, or to bear his sickness for another year and then go directly to Heaven. The sick man, having to choose between three days in Purgatory and one year of suffering upon earth, did not hesitate, but took the three days in Purgatory. After the lapse of an hour, his angel went to visit him in his sufferings. On seeing him, the poor patient complained that he had been left so long in those torments. “And yet,” he added, ” you promised that I should remain here but three days.” ” How long,” asked the angel, “do you think you have already suffered ?” “At least for several years,” he replied, “and I had to suffer but three days.” “Know,” said the angel, “that you have been here only one hour. The intensity of the pain deceives you as to the time; it makes an instant appear a day, and an hour years.” “Alas! then,” said he with a sigh, “I have been very blind and inconsiderate in the choice I have made. Pray God, my good angel, to pardon me, and permit me to return to earth. I am ready to submit to the most cruel maladies, not only for two years, but as long as it shall please Him. Rather six years of horrible suffering than one single hour in this abyss of unutterable agonies.” [1] Part iv. § 4.

Don’t forget the poor souls in Purgatory this Feast of All Souls. 

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Now that November, the special month to remember those in Purgatory, comes to an end, I want to remind Catholics that one of the greatest works of mercy we can do is offer prayers for the dead. It shouldn’t end with November. It should be a daily routine. A couple of great little books by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan explain this well, which you can read here and here.

One of my favorite books of all time on the subject is Fr. Schouppe’s Purgatory. It has affected my life more than any other book outside of Holy Writ. I used to buy copies online and give them away. To this day, I keep a copy on me and read it occasionally. You can read it online here.

The book is filled with teachings from the Church and saints, and hundreds of true stories of those who were given the grace to witness apparitions from Purgatory, or the place itself, and/or have been there and came back to tell about it. Below is one such story found in the book.

– There was in Northumberland a man named Drithelm, who, with his family, led a most Christian life. He fell sick, and his malady increasing day by day, he was soon reduced to extremity, and died, to the great desolation and grief of his wife and children. The latter passed the night in tears by the remains, but the following day, before his interment, they saw him suddenly return to life, arise, and place himself in a sitting posture. At this sight they were seized with such fear that they all took to flight, with the exception of the wife, who, trembling, remained alone with her risen husband. He reassured her immediately: “Fear not,” he said; “it is God who restores to me my life; He wishes to show in my person a man raised from the dead. I have yet long to live upon earth, but my new life will be very different from the one I led heretofore.” Then he arose full of health, went straight to the chapel or church of the place, and there remained long in prayer. He returned home only to take leave of those who had been dear to him upon earth, to whom he declared that he would live only to prepare himself for death, and advised them to do likewise. Then, having divided his property into three parts, he gave one to his children, another to his wife, and reserved the third part to give in alms. When he had distributed all to the poor, and had reduced himself to extreme indigence, he went and knocked at the door of a monastery, and begged the Abbot to receive him as a penitent Religious, who would be a servant to all the others.

The Abbot gave him a retired cell, which he occupied for the rest of his life. Three exercises divided his time — prayer, the hardest labour, and extraordinary penances. The most rigorous fasts he accounted as nothing. In winter he was seen to plunge himself into frozen water, and remain there for hours and hours in prayer, whilst he recited the whole Psalter of David.

The mortified life of Drithelm, his downcast eyes, even his features, indicated a soul struck with fear of the judgments of God. He kept a perpetual silence, but on being pressed to relate, for the edification of others, what God had manifested to him after his death, he thus described his vision : —

“On leaving my body, I was received by a benevolent person, who took me under his guidance. His face was brilliant, and he appeared surrounded with light. He arrived at a large deep valley of immense extent, all fire on one side, all ice and snow on the other; on the one hand braziers and caldrons of flame, on the other the most intense cold and the blast of a glacial wind.

“This mysterious valley was filled with innumerable souls, which, tossed as by a furious tempest, threw themselves from one side to the other. When they could no longer endure the violence of the fire, they sought relief amidst the ice and snow; but finding only a new torture, they cast themselves again into the midst of the flames. “I contemplated in a stupor these continual vicissitudes of horrible torments, and as far as my sight could extend, I saw nothing but a multitude of souls which suffered without ever having repose. Their very aspect inspired me with fear. I thought at first that I saw Hell; but my guide, who walked before me, turned to me and said, ‘ No; this is not, as you think, the Hell of the reprobate. Do you know,’ he continued, ‘ what place this is? ‘No,’ I answered. ‘Know,’ he resumed,’ that this valley, where you see so much fire and so much ice, is the place where the souls of those are punished who, during life, have neglected to confess their sins, and who have deferred their conversion to the end. Thanks to a special mercy of God, they have had the happiness of sincerely repenting before death, of confessing and detesting their sins. This is why they are not damned, and on the great day of judgment will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Several of them will obtain their deliverance before that time, by the merits of prayers, alms, and fasts, offered in their favour by the living, and especially in virtue of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered for their relief.’ “

Such was the recital of Drithelm. When asked why he so rudely treated his body, why he plunged himself into frozen water, he replied that he had seen other torments, and cold of another kind.

If his brethren expressed astonishment that he could endure these extraordinary austerities, “I have seen,” said he, “penances still more astonishing.” To the day when it pleased God to call him to Himself, he ceased not to afflict his body, and although broken down with age, he would accept no alleviation.

This event produced a deep sensation in England; a great number of sinners, touched by the words of Drithelm, and struck by the austerity of his life, became sincerely converted.

This fact, adds Bellarmine, appears to me of incontestable truth, since, besides being conformable to the words of Holy Scripture, Let him pass from the snow waters to excessive heat, 1 Venerable Bede relates it as a recent and well-known event. More than this, it was followed by the conversion of a great number of sinners, the sign of the work of God, who is accustomed to work prodigies in order to produce fruit in souls. –



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Objections to Purgatory Answered in a Nutshell
By Steven Speray

Imagine if a Christian or anybody for that fact rejected the existence of Heaven or Hell. Would such a person be considered a Christian? Of course not, since Christians must hold to all articles of Faith such as the existence of Heaven or Hell.

Yet, Purgatory is also an article of Faith. It is as real and true as Heaven and Hell. All those claiming to be Christian who knowingly reject it are heretics, who are non-Christians claiming to be Christian.

Purgatory is the place or state which justified man is purified before witnessing the Beatific Vision. This purification could be for the atonement or punishment of forgiven mortal or venial sins and for the inordinate love of self, others, or the world.

Purgatory comes from the word meaning to purge.

There are 4 main objections heretics use for rejecting Purgatory.

Objection number 1: Purgatory is not found in the Holy Bible; therefore it is not an article of Faith.

There are many words not found in the Holy Bible that must be believed such as Holy Trinity, hypostatic union, Incarnation, or even “bible.” These things are based on a deduction of the facts using sound logic and reason. The Canon of Holy Scripture (Books of the Holy Bible) are not even found implicitly in the Holy Bible but must be believed based on an authority outside of Scripture.

All of Scripture is most certainly inspired and can be used for teaching, defending, and promoting the Faith but never does the Scripture say that it ALONE constitutes everything that must be believed. If it did, then you could not even follow it since it does not give an inspired table of contents. How ironic heretics would use such an illogical argument. This is a tradition of man that nullifies the Word of God.

Be that as it may, Purgatory is most certainly found in the Holy Bible by way of implication just as the Holy Trinity and Incarnation.

Apocalypse or Rev. 21:27 says nothing unclean can enter Heaven. This implies that all men must be made clean before entering Heaven.

First Corinthians 3:9-17 states: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw — each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.”

The Day is Judgment Day. The temple is man. Gold, silver, and precious stones represents good works. Wood, hay, and straw represents venial sins. Destruction of the temple is mortal sin.

Mortal sins are sins unto death, and venial sins are sins not unto death (First John 5:16-17). For instance, in Matthew 5:19, Jesus states that men can commit certain sins and even teach others to commit that sin but would be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Other sins however, Jesus says would cause men liable to hell fire. Therefore, different types of sins have different types of punishment.

“The person will be saved as going through the fire. Those who destroy the temple will themselves be destroyed.” These verses are not about rewards because St Paul was not only talking about rewards but a JUDGMENT, and as been shown, this judgment varies.

Those who build with gold, silver, and precious stones will be rewarded (this is Heaven), those who build with wood, hay, and straw will suffer but will be saved as going through the fire (this is purgatory), and those who will not build but destroy the temple will themselves be destroyed (this is hell).

The Old Testament Book Second Maccabees 12: 43-45 states: “In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the dead to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin”

Why pray for those eternally lost in Hell or saved in Heaven? This verse clearly references another place for those expiating sin and because it so clear in this book of the Holy Bible, heretics eliminated it precisely because this verse didn’t square up with their systematic theology that rejected Purgatory.

Purgatory is Scriptural and it is logical. Its rejection is anti-scriptural and illogical.

Objection number 2: Purgatory is contrary to First John 1:7 that a Christian is only purified by the blood of Jesus. Christ did it all and nothing can be added to His shedding of blood. Christ’s atonement replaces any atonement needed by man. In other words, Christ’s atonement on the Cross was not good enough if Purgatory is true.

The fact is (I John 1:7) says, “The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.” not that “we are purified only by the blood of Jesus.” However, Christ alone purifies and if it is not done on earth then it will be done later. Mortal sin takes one to hell not Purgatory. Again, Purgatory is for the saved sinner who is purged of all imperfections including the atonement of forgiven mortal and venial sins before entering Heaven since nothing unclean can enter Heaven (Apoc. or Rev. 21:27).

The shedding of Christ’s blood is applied to man through justification and sanctification. Christ’s atonement is sufficient and complete. However, it must be applied and we must cooperate by doing our part designated to us by God.

Objection number 3: Purgatory does not fit into the theology that claims Christ’s righteousness is only imputed to man’s soul thereby justifying the man. This justification happens only once. Rom. 4:8 and II Cor. 5:19 denotes that sins no longer count against the justified and Hebrew 10:14 says Christ has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

The fact is Christ’s righteousness is infused into man’s soul, which actually makes the soul righteous. Imputation denotes a covering only. If it were merely imputed then the soul itself would remain unclean. Nothing unclean can enter Heaven; therefore an unclean man with a mere covering or imputation of righteousness would violate the very Word of God. Christ’s righteousness must be infused or else no one could enter Heaven.

It does not happen only once. Justification is a process as Holy Scripture shows. Abraham “believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:18-22). Paul was referring to (Gen. 15:6) where Abraham was given the promise of many descendants. This clearly shows Abraham was justified at the time he believed the promise.

“By faith Abraham obeyed…went out, not knowing where he was to go” (Heb. 11:8). This passage refers to (Gen. 12:1-4). We see clearly from Scripture that Abraham had saving Faith years before the promise in (Gen. 15). Abraham could not have saving faith if he were not already justified.

“Was not Abraham our father JUSTIFIED by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? It was reckoned to him as righteousness” (James 2:21-23). Abraham offered Isaac upon the altar in (Gen. 22) years after (Gen.15).

We have three instances where Abraham was re-justified by faith and works, denoting justification as a process.

It is true that St Paul in Romans and Second Corinthians denotes that sins no longer count against the justified but this applies to past sins only, not future sins. St Paul gives future senses of justification. “We wait for the hope of justification” (Gal. 5:5). He also states in (Heb 11:1) that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. If we know absolutely we are going to Heaven, where is our hope? Hope would not be hope if the object could be seen.

As for Hebrews 10:14, St Paul is referring that once sanctified, one is perfected forever provide that one does not sin again. Another translation is, “Being made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.” ‘Being’ is a present participle that denotes an ongoing process.

Since justification and sanctification is a process. It can be said that Purgatory is the finishing process of sanctification. “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).

God is constantly purifying us as we live on earth and it will continue after death if necessary. It is Christ who is doing the purifying by his justice. Purgatory is the application of Christ’s atonement to our souls after death. Christ’s atonement was perfect and complete, but it must be applied.

This objection arose with the ex-Catholics in the 16th century to create a new religion with a new theology. It is anti-Christian.

Objection number 4: Purgatory is contrary to the belief that Christ paid the complete sin debt meaning that He accomplished all that is needed without any cooperation from man.

Jesus tells Christians in (Matt. 6:12-15) in the Lord’s Prayer to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

If Jesus paid completely the sin debt of Christians, why would we need to ask the Father to forgive our debts if Jesus already paid them? Jesus even qualifies his next statement with an ‘IF.’ “IF you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Why would the Father exact the same debt that Jesus supposedly just paid? Would God exact an unfair double payment? Of course not, therefore this objection is ridiculous and even blasphemous.

You will not find a Scripture passage state or imply that Christ paid the complete sin debt of man.

What Christ did on the Cross was redeem man by freeing him (saving) from absolute death. All men would absolutely go to hell without the Cross, but not necessarily granted Heaven (saved as in final salvation) or else all men would go to Heaven. Christ died for all men but He didn’t grant all men salvation into Heaven.

God will save the man who cooperates with His grace by working, praying, and obeying. This is how man builds up the temple St Paul was referring to in First Corinthians.

Provided man does not destroy the temple by mortal sin, his working, praying, and obeying will be tested. As gold is purified by fire, so too, man will be purified by fire of God’s justice. If a man’s working, praying, and obeying are not perfect (wood, hay, and straw), that man will suffer loss but will be saved. This is Purgatory.

Purgatory can be bypassed altogether provided that man suffers all that is needed while on earth.

Interestingly, the proper understanding of Purgatory and salvation gives a new meaning to suffering on earth. All suffering becomes worthy of some cause especially when offered up in unity with the Cross of Christ.

Like fire on earth, suffering on earth can be useful and praiseworthy leading to a greater love for Our Lord or it can be detrimental leading to rage, envy, and despair.

The suffering in Purgatory is a fire good only for purification.

Lastly, Purgatory is part of the historic Christian Faith. It is part of the Holy Gospel first delivered to the Apostles.

Christian worship was done in the early Church for the poor souls in Purgatory, as masses for the dead were commonplace especially in the catacombs.

The historic practices come from this interpretation of these Scripture verses. Any other interpretation that would deny the existence of Purgatory would be contrary to history and logic.

The Holy Scriptures themselves tell us to hold fast to everything that has been taught and delivered from the beginning. (II Thessalonians 2:15, Jude 1) Novel interpretations that run contrary to the historical teachings and practices are warned against by St Paul in (II Timothy 4:3-4) and (Galatians 1:7-9.)

The rejection of Purgatory equals a gospel contrary to Christ.

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