My thoughts so far on the Catholic Church

I have been studying the Catholic Church for a few months now, and I am in agreement with much the church teaches. For example, I have no issues with asking Mary or the Saints to pray with me,(The more the merrier:D) I have no issue with praying the Rosary(I love devotionals) I am in agreement of the stance of Apostolic Authority. Here, however, is my issue. I am having trouble reconciling Purgatory. I feel that it is unnesessary. I say that, not to pick a fight, but, from my understanding of Holy Scripture. When Jesus hung on the cross and cried “It is finished”(John 19:30) that’s what He ment. He forgave our sins. More importantly, He forgave my sins.His precious blood cleansed us from all** unrighteousness. I believe that if we accept that finished work, then we are made clean.I believe we can lose our salvation, but, we can just as easily get it back(1 John 1:9) Since Jesus cleanses us from our unrightous state, then we dont have to worry about No unclean thing entering into God’s Kingdom, since we are made clean through the Blood.

A bit of that evangelicalism still hanging on? We are to confess our sins to one another James 5:16. Paul both preached and wrote that he had a ministry of reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5:18. Paul forgave sins in the person of Christ 2 Corinthians 2:10. Paul says that, on judgment day, a man whose work burns up will be saved, but only as one escaping through fire 1 Corinthians 3:11-14. Peter says that we must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins Acts 2:38. Why, if Jesus already did that? Why does the bible say all of this, if sins were somehow already forgiven? None of this makes any sense if forgiveness is automatic.

And this completely ignores the fact that Jesus gave His Church power to forgive sin Matthew 18:18. Why would He do that, if His blood automatically cleansed us? Something is missing.

Christ also said of the unforgving servant that he would be cast into prison until he had paide every last penny of his fine. To me that’s a reference to purgatory at least.

And if you’re going to use the thief on the cross gaining entry into paradise that day, it would be wise to first remember just what the thief went through before he died - crucified for six hours with Christ (one of the most painful ways to die ever devised), mocked with Christ, gave a testimony for Christ, and then had his legs broken with a sledge hammer. He didn’t get in without any cost - not at all. He paid a price.

One might say he did his purgatory before he died. And he was also a special case.

However my understanding of purgatory is that it’s more of a refining process to get rid of bad habits. My father had a foul temper. I believe he’s in hell, not least because of a peculiar event that happened the night he died when he materialised in my room, and I still remember the terrifying scream just before he disappeared again. And that was 33 years ago now.

However suppose he’d made a deathbed confession. God keeps His promises, so I think he’d have been forgiven. But since he had not made one ounce of effort to fix up his foul temper throughout his life, he would now be as one escaping through fire - his bad temper would be burnt out of him.

I can tell you now there’s no way he’d have been allowed to take his temper into heaven - even there he’d have found something to throw a tantrum over. So he would have had to do some cleaning up first, like the wedding guest who turned up in rags. Otherwise all this talk of personal holiness means nothing.

Purgatory is a logical necessity - a refining fire. Otherswise a brutal serial killer who makes a death bed confession with no preceding effort at redemption whatsoever, and an elderly saint who practised a lifetime of virtue both gain equally easy entry to heaven. I don’t believe it. That’s just too silly to be true, when the author of Hebrews describes God as a consuming fire.

The trouble with the Protestant version of cheap grace is that they’ve taken one Scriptural verse out of context, and ignored all the rest, including the very clear statement by Christ Himself that He would found His church on Peter, giving Peter the power to bind and loose. Christ was setting up an office, and He was giving it eternal authority.

You always come through, Po18 guy. That´s the most simple, yet complete response, that I´ve ever heard on Confession and Purgatory. I haven´t written you much lately, but I´m still thinking about you, and I´m still praying for you. God bless Ben

My grandmother was a devout Southern Baptist. My brother often says, that if Ma isn´t in Heaven nobody is. I believe she is in Heaven. Now she never ate the flesh, nor drank the blood of our Lord. Our Lord said that this was necessary in order to enter into heaven. He´s not a liar and He´s perfectly just. It would be unjust for Ma to enter into Heaven without first eating the flesh and drinking the blood of our Savior. It would also be unjust for Ma to be denied Heaven. Purgatory answers that problem. I´m glad there´s a Purgatory. I´m glad that Ma is in Heaven. God bless:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

I. A State After Death of Suffering and Forgiveness

Matt. 5:26,18:34; Luke 12:58-59 – Jesus teaches us, “Come to terms with your opponent or you will be handed over to the judge and thrown into prison. You will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” The word “opponent” (antidiko) is likely a reference to the devil (see the same word for devil in 1 Pet. 5:8) who is an accuser against man (c.f. Job 1.6-12; Zech. 3.1; Rev. 12.10), and God is the judge. If we have not adequately dealt with satan and sin in this life, we will be held in a temporary state called a prison, and we won’t get out until we have satisfied our entire debt to God. This “prison” is purgatory where we will not get out until the last penny is paid.

Matt. 5:48 - Jesus says, “be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are only made perfect through purification, and in Catholic teaching, this purification, if not completed on earth, is continued in a transitional state we call purgatory.

Matt. 12:32 – Jesus says, “And anyone who says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but no one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven either in this world or in the next.” Jesus thus clearly provides that there is forgiveness after death. The phrase “in the next” (from the Greek “en to mellonti”) generally refers to the afterlife (see, for example, Mark 10.30; Luke 18.30; 20.34-35; Eph. 1.21 for similar language). Forgiveness is not necessary in heaven, and there is no forgiveness in hell. This proves that there is another state after death, and the Church for 2,000 years has called this state purgatory.

Luke 12:47-48 - when the Master comes (at the end of time), some will receive light or heavy beatings but will live. This state is not heaven or hell, because in heaven there are no beatings, and in hell we will no longer live with the Master.

Luke 16:19-31 - in this story, we see that the dead rich man is suffering but still feels compassion for his brothers and wants to warn them of his place of suffering. But there is no suffering in heaven or compassion in hell because compassion is a grace from God and those in hell are deprived from God’s graces for all eternity. So where is the rich man? He is in purgatory.

1 Cor. 15:29-30 - Paul mentions people being baptized on behalf of the dead, in the context of atoning for their sins (people are baptized on the dead’s behalf so the dead can be raised). These people cannot be in heaven because they are still with sin, but they also cannot be in hell because their sins can no longer be atoned for. They are in purgatory. These verses directly correspond to 2 Macc. 12:44-45 which also shows specific prayers for the dead, so that they may be forgiven of their sin.

Phil. 2:10 - every knee bends to Jesus, in heaven, on earth, and “under the earth” which is the realm of the righteous dead, or purgatory.

2 Tim. 1:16-18 - Onesiphorus is dead but Paul asks for mercy on him “on that day.” Paul’s use of “that day” demonstrates its eschatological usage (see, for example, Rom. 2.5,16; 1 Cor. 1.8; 3.13; 5.5; 2 Cor. 1.14; Phil. 1.6,10; 2.16; 1 Thess. 5.2,4,5,8; 2 Thess. 2.2,3; 2 Tim. 4.8). Of course, there is no need for mercy in heaven, and there is no mercy given in hell. Where is Onesiphorus? He is in purgatory.


Heb. 12:14 - without holiness no one will see the Lord. We need final sanctification to attain true holiness before God, and this process occurs during our lives and, if not completed during our lives, in the transitional state of purgatory.

Heb. 12:23 - the spirits of just men who died in godliness are “made” perfect. They do not necessarily arrive perfect. They are made perfect after their death. But those in heaven are already perfect, and those in hell can no longer be made perfect. These spirits are in purgatory.

1 Peter 3:19; 4:6 - Jesus preached to the spirits in the “prison.” These are the righteous souls being purified for the beatific vision.

Rev. 21:4 - God shall wipe away their tears, and there will be no mourning or pain, but only after the coming of the new heaven and the passing away of the current heaven and earth. Note the elimination of tears and pain only occurs at the end of time. But there is no morning or pain in heaven, and God will not wipe away their tears in hell. These are the souls experiencing purgatory.

Rev. 21:27 - nothing unclean shall enter heaven. The word “unclean” comes from the Greek word “koinon” which refers to a spiritual corruption. Even the propensity to sin is spiritually corrupt, or considered unclean, and must be purified before entering heaven. It is amazing how many Protestants do not want to believe in purgatory. Purgatory exists because of the mercy of God. If there were no purgatory, this would also likely mean no salvation for most people. God is merciful indeed.

Luke 23:43 – many Protestants argue that, because Jesus sent the good thief right to heaven, there can be no purgatory. There are several rebuttals. First, when Jesus uses the word "paradise,” He did not mean heaven. Paradise, from the Hebrew “sheol,” meant the realm of the righteous dead. This was the place of the dead who were destined for heaven, but who were captive until the Lord’s resurrection. Second, since there was no punctuation in the original manuscript, Jesus’ statement “I say to you today you will be with me in paradise” does not mean there was a comma after the first word “you.” This means Jesus could have said, “I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise” (meaning, Jesus could have emphasized with exclamation his statement was “today” or “now,” and that some time in the future the good thief would go to heaven). Third, even if the thief went straight to heaven, this does not prove there is no purgatory (those who are fully sanctified in this life – perhaps by a bloody and repentant death – could be ready for admission in to heaven).

Gen. 50:10; Num. 20:29; Deut. 34:8 - here are some examples of ritual prayer and penitent mourning for the dead for specific periods of time. The Jewish understanding of these practices was that the prayers freed the souls from their painful state of purification, and expedited their journey to God.

Baruch 3:4 - Baruch asks the Lord to hear the prayers of the dead of Israel. Prayers for the dead are unnecessary in heaven and unnecessary in hell. These dead are in purgatory.

Zech. 9:11 - God, through the blood of His covenant, will set those free from the waterless pit, a spiritual abode of suffering which the Church calls purgatory.

2 Macc. 12:43-45 - the prayers for the dead help free them from sin and help them to the reward of heaven. Those in heaven have no sin, and those in hell can no longer be freed from sin. They are in purgatory. Luther was particularly troubled with these verses because he rejected the age-old teaching of purgatory. As a result, he removed Maccabees from the canon of the Bible.

Purification After Death By Fire

Heb. 12:29 - God is a consuming fire (of love in heaven, of purgation in purgatory, or of suffering and damnation in hell).

1 Cor. 3:10-15 - works are judged after death and tested by fire. Some works are lost, but the person is still saved. Paul is referring to the state of purgation called purgatory. The venial sins (bad works) that were committed are burned up after death, but the person is still brought to salvation. This state after death cannot be heaven (no one with venial sins is present) or hell (there is no forgiveness and salvation).

1 Cor. 3:15 – “if any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” The phrase for “suffer loss” in the Greek is “zemiothesetai.” The root word is “zemioo” which also refers to punishment. The construction “zemiothesetai” is used in Ex. 21:22 and Prov. 19:19 which refers to punishment (from the Hebrew “anash” meaning “punish” or “penalty”). Hence, this verse proves that there is an expiation of temporal punishment after our death, but the person is still saved. This cannot mean heaven (there is no punishment in heaven) and this cannot mean hell (the possibility of expiation no longer exists and the person is not saved).

1 Cor. 3:15 – further, Paul writes “he himself will be saved, “but only” (or “yet so”) as through fire.” “He will be saved” in the Greek is “sothesetai” (which means eternal salvation). The phrase “but only” (or “yet so”) in the Greek is “houtos” which means “in the same manner.” This means that man is both eternally rewarded and eternally saved in the same manner by fire.

1 Cor. 3:13 - when Paul writes about God revealing the quality of each man’s work by fire and purifying him, this purification relates to his sins (not just his good works). Protestants, in attempting to disprove the reality of purgatory, argue that Paul was only writing about rewarding good works, and not punishing sins (because punishing and purifying a man from sins would be admitting that there is a purgatory).

1 Cor. 3:17 - but this verse proves that the purgation after death deals with punishing sin. That is, destroying God’s temple is a bad work, which is a mortal sin, which leads to death. 1 Cor. 3:14,15,17 - purgatory thus reveals the state of righteousness (v.14), state of venial sin (v.15) and the state of mortal sin (v.17), all of which are judged after death.

1 Peter 1:6-7 - Peter refers to this purgatorial fire to test the fruits of our faith.

Jude 1:23 - the people who are saved are being snatched out of the fire. People are already saved if they are in heaven, and there is no possibility of salvation if they are in hell. These people are being led to heaven from purgatory.

Rev. 3:18-19 - Jesus refers to this fire as what refines into gold those He loves if they repent of their sins. This is in the context of after death because Jesus, speaking from heaven, awards the white garment of salvation after the purgation of fire (both after death).

Dan 12:10 - Daniel refers to this refining by saying many shall purify themselves, make themselves white and be refined.

Wis. 3:5-6 - the dead are disciplined and tested by fire to receive their heavenly reward. This is the fire of purgatory.

Sirach 2:5 - for gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.

Zech. 13:8-9 - God says 2/3 shall perish, and 1/3 shall be left alive, put into the fire, and refined like silver and tested like gold. The ones that perish go to hell, and there is no need for refinement in heaven, so those being refined are in purgatory.

Mal. 3:2-3 - also refers to God’s purification of the righteous at their death.

When we are forgiven for our sins, they are FORGIVEN,But, sin leaves a stain on the soul and That is what is burned away in purgatory. Stain is unclean and Nothing unclean can enter Heaven. Purgatory is kinda like taking a “bath” and getting all cleaned up before taking that final leg of our journey to heaven.

This is just my simple understanding of purgatory and it brings me great comfort.:thumbsup:


Correct me if I am wrong. You were LDS before? Were you BIC or was there a time when you were of another affiliation and baptized with a valid baptism?

I ask this in all sincerity because my experience with super natural grace that comes from valid sacraments, like baptism, IS significant.

Others here have given you a great run down with scripture.

But you seem to think that the concept of purgatory has to do with the forgiveness of sin.

It’s not about that, but rather the purging of and perfection of our souls. We all know that none of us have reached perfect of soul when we die. That time of purgation after we died is when more of that is happening. When, like another poster has said, that stain of sin, but not the sin itself, is removed from our souls.

Think of it this way.

Some kids playing baseball in your area end up hitting a ball thru your window and breaking it.

They come to you in all humility and you forgive them. That forgiveness is very real as is their contrition.

However, the window is still broken and needs to be fixed. :slight_smile:

“Purgatory” is a continuation of a time period of when all of those broken windows that couldnt get fixed here in our mortal lives can still be fixed.

“Purgatory” is a very merciful grace by Our All Loving God.

God Bless

To the OP: Don’t think of purgatory as a punishment. If we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness in this life, we are indeed fully forgiven and avoid eternal punishment (Hell). But as the previous poster said, we are also given an opportunity to make right the things we have done wrong in this life. Our sins corrupt and harm our souls, so the way we make things right is by purifying them - putting them back to the condition that God gave them to our original parents - before we enter into the holiness of Heaven. Our souls are the broken windows that we have an obligation to repair, even after we apologize for breaking them. Subjectively, this is described as a “cleansing fire” because it will probably not be pleasant. But it’s not a punishment.

Read some verses that explicitly talk about Hell and you’ll understand by the language (“lake of fire”, “wailing and gnashing of teeth”, etc) that they are describing the true wrath of God, his full anger, directed at unrepentant sinners. Purgatory may feel this way for the souls who are there (which is why it’s important for us to pray for them), but the motivation on God’s part is different. He’s making them go through discomforts not because He’s angry, but to prepare them to enter His glory.

Just remember, Purgatory is not Hell.

Hi, Ben, I would bet her belief in Jesus, was so her receiving baptist communion with holy sincerity was sufficient reason for entering heaven.and a short stay in purgatory.

God Bless

Wow! Lots of responses. More study is needed for sure. Thank you all for your input. Marie, after I left Mormonism, I spent time as a Methodist, SoBaptist, Free Will Baptist, and Nazarene. (Which is my current affiliation) I did forget to mention confession. I understand that confession is important, but, again, isn’t the whole point of confession is to receive forgiveness? My mind can’t seem to grasp that if I confess all my sins, receive absolution, then died in a car wreck on 350 highway on my way home from church, that i wouldnt go to heaven to be with Jesus. What sins are left to burn off? Was I not made clean through confession and absolution? More study and lots more prayer is needed.


Not sure if anyone has brought this up to you yet, but during my conversion experience, this passage from 1 Cor 3 helped a lot of tumblers fall into place for me. I don’t believe I’ll ever have the capacity to fully understand exactly what purgatory feels like or looks like, for neither do I have any idea what heaven and hell look and feel. But I do now understand the necessity of purgation, and I know our works will be tested, and if they are not perfect, we will still enter heaven by the Grace of God, (and this is because of the blood of Jesus), but as through fire, so that we are cleansed. I hope you can find as much explanation and comfort in this passage as I did. It really had a major impact on my understanding of purgation.

1 Corinthians 3:8-15

8 Now he that planteth, and he that watereth, are one. And every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour. 9 For we are God’s coadjutors: you are God’s husbandry; you are God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God that is given to me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation; and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: 13 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. 14 If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

Yours in Christ,


I think this article will clear it up for you…from a former protestant named Scott Hahn…

From which I quote…

Those people who in God’s grace and mercy are allowed to enter into purgatory die in a state of grace, not just with supernatural faith and hope but with supernatural charity that was alive in their hearts and lives. That is the prerequisite for entering purgatory. You cannot die in the state of mortal sin; you cannot die estranged from God, in a way hostile to God, having committed yourself to valuing things of the world more than the creator of the world. You cannot do those things and enter purgatory, much less heaven. Purgatory is not a second chance. It’s only for those whom God has from all eternity destined for heaven, and it’s only for those who die in a state of grace.

Furthermore, we’ve got to clarify the fact that it is not to make up for Christ’s unfinished work. I’ve already said that, but that, too, is a common misconception that continually needs clarification. There’s nothing inadequate about the work of Christ. It’s finished, but it needs to be applied.

Now what does this mean, that Christ has not paid for our sin? Of course not. It doesn’t mean that. Christ has paid once and for all for our sin. His death is the ultimate satisfaction and price for our redemption, but His life and His death must be lived out in us. **That’s why we need to pick up our cross, and we need to imitate Christ. Did you catch that? We don’t suffer because Christ’s sufferings weren’t enough. We suffer because Christ’s life must be reproduced in us. It is finished. It is accomplished, but now it must be applied. **The work of the third person of the Holy Spirit is New Testament history, is personal history.

As for the good thief…

(This is related to the article by Dr. Hahn)

Whether we will or not, we must suffer. There are some who suffer like the good thief, and others like the bad thief. They both suffered equally. But one knew how to make his sufferings meritorious, he accepted them in the spirit of reparation, and turning towards Jesus crucified, he received from His mouth these beautiful words: “This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise. ” The other, on the contrary, cried out, uttered imprecations and blasphemies, and expired in the most frightful despair. There are two ways of suffering — to suffer with love, and to suffer without love…Only we must love while we suffer, and suffer while we love.

You’re misunderstanding the concept. There are no more sins “left to burn off”. The sins would have been forgiven. But the effects of those sins remains. Realize that every time you sin, you’re corrupting your soul and making it more likely that you’ll sin again in the future. You’re training your soul to crave sin instead of God. If you confess your sins and die in a state of grace, you will eventually enter Heaven. But first God needs to re-train your soul to love only Him and to hate sin completely. Only spirits that are 100% pure can be allowed into Heaven, and even if the guilt of sin has been forgiven, there may still be the tendency to sin that must be cleansed as well.

Also, if I can go back to your first post for a moment… You quote “It is finished”(John 19:30) and begin to argue strongly against a doctrine of the Church. That’s a bad habit to get into when you’re starting this journey. What you want to say instead is: “I’m having a hard time reconciling John 19:30 with Church teaching. I recognize that the Church is always correct in its interpretation when speaking authoritatively, therefore I must be wrong in mine. Could someone help me improve my understanding?” :thumbsup:

If you don’t recognize that the Church is always correct when it speaks authoritatively on matters of faith…then you need to study and pray about THAT before you work on understanding the teachings themselves. You have to trust the teacher first, which in this case is the Catholic Church.

I hope and pray that you are right. :gopray:

The common misunderstanding of purgatory deals with “it is finished”, “once and for all”.

Purgatory is for those who are already saved and who are already forgiven.

Purgatory does not apply to those who are entering the kingdom of God through baptism.

Baptism encompasses everything that Jesus did “It is finished”, “once and for all”. We do not merit salvation or earn salvation Jesus paid that price once and for all. This grace is freely given and recieved in baptism.

Once saved, the Christian now “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” Phil.2:12.

St.Paul calls the infants (newly baptized) to get off the milk and begin to eat the meat of the gospel. Which is to carry ones cross and follow Jesus.

Confession is not for those entering the kingdom of God (Church) baptism is required here. Purgatory is not for those entering the kingdom of God. Because baptism removes all sin and punishment of sin.

Purgatory is for those who have already been forgiven, who are already saved (baptism saves you now), so as to purge the soul of any uncleaniness “by fire” before entering heaven. For God is a consuming fire.

“The righteous man falls seven times a day”

1John 1:1 My children I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. BUT IF ANYONE COMMIT SIN. We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.

“If anyone says he is without sin, makes him (Jesus) a liar”

Confession is for those who are already (baptized) Saved. Confession is not for those who are in need of being saved by baptism.

Our Advocate Jesus Christ meets the saved (penitent) person who may have fallen into temptation (by concupiscience) and sinned in the biblical ministry of reconciliation through the Church that Jesus ordained to forgive our sins through the sacrament (mystery) of reconciliation, when Jesus is present to save, heal us from our sins. When two or more have gathered in his name, there Christ be.

1Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building…

2Corinthians 5:18 And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and GIVEN US THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION…

1Corinthians 4:1 Thus one should regard us; as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God

Jesus gave his Church the power and authority to bind and loose, to forgive sin or retain sin.

John 20:7 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven and whose sins you retain are retained.

One cannot know which sins to forgive or retain unless the sin is acknowledged and confessed to those whom Jesus has given the power to forgive sin and retain them.

Jesus also gave power and authority to his church in the keys to bind and loose on earth, Jesus will bind and loose in heaven.

Purgatory comes into play here, because the Church (members of the body of Christ) can pray, offer sacrifices in alms giving, charity, sufferings for her members in purgatory. Revelations 5:8…

Isn’t that always the point where purgatory usually makes perfect sense, when one is confronted with the reality of a loved one who passed on? Difficult situation to be sure.

Many Saints prayed daily for the Souls in purgatory.

Lots to go over. Thank you again. I’m most likely gonna get paper cuts from all the verses JustaServant posted.(Which is cool, I love looking up verses in the Bible)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit