A Purgatory Question


#1

Let me review what I think I know about the Catholic understanding of where one goes when one dies before I pose this question. A person either goes to:

  1. Heaven - if one dies in a state of grace and has no sin that needs “taken care of” so to speak.

  2. Purgatory - if one dies in state of grace but has still has sin that needs to be “taken care of.” Sorry if my choice of words are less than eloquent.

  3. Hell - if the person dies NOT in a state of grace.

If one cannot know the state of another’s soul when they die, then how can you possibly pray for people in Purgatory? What if they’re in heaven or hell? Isn’t that just sort of grasping? A “just in case” prayer?


#2

This might help some. Biblical and Jewish Traditional Beliefs About Purgatory.

As for not knowing for sure, that’s not really a big deal. The Bible says, “39: On the next day, as by that time it had become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kinsmen in the sepulchres of their fathers.
40: Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was why these men had fallen.
41: So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, who reveals the things that are hidden;
42: and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen.
43: He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection.
44: For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.
***45: But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.***” (2nd Maccabees 12)

If one cannot know the state of another’s soul when they die, then how can you possibly pray for people in Purgatory? What if they’re in heaven or hell? Isn’t that just sort of grasping? A “just in case” prayer?

What’s wrong with “just in case”? If you feel led by the Holy Spirit to pray for me, “just in case” I might need special graces from God to deal with something, do you think that either God or I will not be pleased?

Same idea. :slight_smile:


#3

If you feel led by the Holy Spirit to pray for me, “just in case” I might need special graces from God to deal with something, do you think that either God or I will not be pleased?

:slight_smile: Well, sure you and God would be pleased. But I think that if I were praying for someone who had gone on, I might be nagged with the thoughts of them not even being in Purgatory to begin with.

And if I were moved to pray for you, on this earth, at least I would know that you could benefit from it. Not true with those that have passed. If they’re not in Purgatory, which nobody knows, they don’t stand to benefit from it at all.


#4

Yes, but you stand to gain.

Praying for others, especially without being able to see the benefits, is a selfless act. How can such an entirely loving act not help sanctify the person praying?


#5

Prayer is not limited by time. God hears (and answers) all prayer. If I pray today for the soul of someone who died twenty or a hundred years ago, God may take that prayer and apply his answer to it to the person I am praying for–at the very moment that person needs it–which may be a hundred years ago at the moment of his death. Prayer is not temporally limited.


#6

Prayer is not limited by time. God hears (and answers) all prayer. If I pray today for the soul of someone who died twenty or a hundred years ago, God may take that prayer and apply his answer to it to the person I am praying for–at the very moment that person needs it–which may be a hundred years ago at the moment of his death. Prayer is not temporally limited.

:hypno: Oh my…now that’s difficult to grasp. But I’ve always believed that God exists outside the limits of time.

Yes, if I pray for someone it certainly helps me, but I think I’d just like to know could possibly help someone else.


#7

It never hurts to pray for others, whether dead or alive. I have lists of relatives and friends who have passed on and I try to pray for each of them daily. On the anniversaries of their deaths I say an extra prayer. Whether it helps them or not is not for me to decide but I feel good knowing that they may need an extra prayer and I may be the one supplying it. I don’t know where they have ended up and I’m not going to try to figure it out. All I know is that prayer is always helpful. :slight_smile:


#8

Let’s say the soul is in heaven or hell, then God will just apply the prayer somewhere else; its not like prayer goes wasted ever. It’s always best to be on the safe side since we do not know where they are unless they are saints.


#9

then God will just apply the prayer somewhere else

I don’t think I’ve heard this before. How do you know this?

:hmmm:


#10

The Souls in Purgatory can no longer help themselves so they benefit immensely from our prayers and sacrifices (offering up our suffering) and they are aware that we are praying for them. When they reach Heaven, believe me, they will remember you.

How do we know all this? Mostly from tradition, private revelation and the words and actions of the Saints for more than 2000 years!

Yes it is true - if you;ve been praying for a soul and that soul is now in Heaven, Our Heavenly Father will allow those prayers for another needly soul. Nothing wasted. Catholics are the greatest at benefiting those that have died ahead of us but there are many many souls who have no one to pray for them.


#11

I think the answer was clear. GOd will apply your prayer to the moment in time it needs to be applied.

Just take this other example. Someone calls you on the phone and tells you that a good friend of YOURS just had an accident. You ask: “how is he?” but the person who called does not know. So you pray: “Please God let him (my friend), be ok”. The accident has already happened, your friend is ok or he is not ok, he is alive or he is dead. YOu are actually praying for the OUTCOME of something that has ALREADY happened. Your friend might be ok and you might be praying in vain then?, or your friend might be dead, and again you would be praying in vain then?. Would you then, NOT pray for your friend in this situation??? Obviously NOT… IT is perfectly OK to pray for something you do not know the outcome of. GOD will apply that prayer to the appropriate time, as He is outside time.

Many blessings,

E.C.


#12

#13

to err is human,the soul is willing but the flesh is weak,i suppose an average person die he or she will be in purgatory.


#14

Because why would God let grace go to waist? Prayer is an one avenue for God’s grace to enter into our hearts and the hearts of others (of course we must accept the grace, but God still can apply it where he desires; he ultimately determines where grace flows).
The saints who have seen images of Purgatory such as St. Faustina and Aquinas have mentioned stuff like this (sorry dont have the quotes), that even when offering prayer for someone in purgatory, God may have the grace flow somewhere else to another soul and that first soul will receive it at another time.


#15

No. If most people die without being completely sanctified (holy) at death and yet, die with sanctifying grace, then they will be as Paul says in 1 Cor 3:15 “saved as through fire” Paul is speaking of Christians who are “saved” yet still suffer “as through fire” therefore if these people are in heaven, they won’t be suffering and if they are in hell they won’t be “saved” so there has to be a state or place by which these people are or go to be purged from their sins, which they failed to give completely over to God; for heaven can’t allow any mark or spec of sin, Rev 21:27. Purgatory is a logical and theological conclusion to the question of what happens to people who obviously die without being completely sanctified, yet aren’t part of the dammed going to hell.


#16

If you feel so uncomfortable with the uncertainty surrounding the question of whether a particular person is there, perhaps you should simply ask that your offering of prayer go to some other needy soul if the person you are praying for is not actually in Purgatory. Surely the God who created the universe merely by speaking the word and sustains each one of us in existence by His love can accomodate such a request.


#17

If you feel so uncomfortable with the uncertainty surrounding the question of whether a particular person is there, perhaps you should simply ask that your offering of prayer go to some other needy soul if the person you are praying for is not actually in Purgatory. Surely the God who created the universe merely by speaking the word and sustains each one of us in existence by His love can accomodate such a request.

Good idea. But I don’t pray for those in Purgatory. I don’t even know if I believe in Purgatory.

Just take this other example. Someone calls you on the phone and tells you that a good friend of YOURS just had an accident. You ask: “how is he?” but the person who called does not know. So you pray: “Please God let him (my friend), be ok”. The accident has already happened, your friend is ok or he is not ok, he is alive or he is dead. YOu are actually praying for the OUTCOME of something that has ALREADY happened. Your friend might be ok and you might be praying in vain then?, or your friend might be dead, and again you would be praying in vain then?. Would you then, NOT pray for your friend in this situation??? Obviously NOT… IT is perfectly OK to pray for something you do not know the outcome of. GOD will apply that prayer to the appropriate time, as He is outside time.

Ahh…now that makes sense. Thanks


#18

Well, that is an entirely different matter. I could explain Purgatory, etc. and people may answer your question 1000 times over, but none of us can prove to you it exists. That is a matter of faith. Just as none of us can prove that Jesus rose from the dead or that He is truly present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament.

While we are in here in thsi worls we are able to try to make amends and repair the damage our sins do to our souls, our relationship with God, and the body of Christ through prayer, personal devotions, and good works. Once we leave this life, we are no longer able to do this for ourselves. Though our sins may all be forgiven (excusing us from the eternal consequences of Hell), we may (probably most of us do) die still owing a temporal debt. That debt must be paid and we must be purified before entering Heaven. God’s justice is absolute and no impure thing can enter Heaven.

So, we become dependent on the prayers of others if our time in Purgatory is to be shortened. It is one of the seven spiritual works of mercy to pray for the Holy Souls and it has always been encouraged by the Church that we do so regularly. Many of the Saints have suggested that those who benefit from our prayers will surely remember us when they come before our Father in Heaven. How wonderful to have a whole company of saints praying for you in gratitude!

You are in my prayers-- I hope that God will show you what you need to know.

Peace!
Debra


#19

Well, that is an entirely different matter. I could explain Purgatory, etc. and people may answer your question 1000 times over, but none of us can prove to you it exists. That is a matter of faith. Just as none of us can prove that Jesus rose from the dead or that He is truly present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament.

I’m not asking for proof of purgatory. That was not the intent of the thread. :slight_smile: My question was originally “what if the people you’re praying for in purgatory aren’t even in purgatory.” And I’ve gotten some answers that make sense.

You are in my prayers-- I hope that God will show you what you need to know.

Thanks :slight_smile:


#20

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