Purgatory help?

Forgive me, but I am very new to this.

Can someone explain to me what exactly purgatory is? I saw in another thread some saying that protestants will be there a long time because they don’t pray for the dead. What does this mean?

How do you end up in purgatory and how do you get out?

Thanks for your help! (and patience)

Welcome Jimmie :slight_smile:
here is some help
purgatory help#1
and where it is in the bible
purgatory help # 2

Have you seen the Catholic.com tracts on this subject? They really do a great job of explaining it:

catholic.com/library/Purgatory.asp
catholic.com/library/Roots_of_Purgatory.asp

Thank you for the links. I was looking at the one to catholic.com and am puzzled by this:

**Why would anyone go to purgatory? To be cleansed, for “nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]” (Rev. 21:27). Anyone who has not been completely freed of sin and its effects is, to some extent, “unclean.” Through repentance he may have gained the grace needed to be worthy of heaven, which is to say, he has been forgiven and his soul is spiritually alive. But that’s not sufficient for gaining entrance into heaven. He needs to be cleansed completely. **

I understand that there can be no uncleanness (sin) in Heaven. How do we cleanse our souls after we are dead? What do we do while in purgatory to cleanse ourselves? Doesn’t the cleansing of sin happen when we are saved? What more do we need to do other than accept Christ?

Thanks,
Jimmie

Well, it is by the merit of Christ that this purging happens. I’m not sure if you are Catholic, but there is an image we like of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. And in this image, there are flames coming out of it that represent His burning love for us. I like to think of the purgatorial flames in the same way. It is Christ’s love burning away any stain of our sins.

Even if we are contrite and receive forgiveness, we can still sometimes have some attachment to even very minor sins. When we die, these attachments are burnt away. Likewise, we may have sinful images still in our mind, these two will be burned away. We may also still have sinful desires, even though through grace we fight them. These desires must be purified away. That’s how I like to think of it anyway.

[quote=BluegrassJimmie]Thank you for the links. I was looking at the one to catholic.com and am puzzled by this:

**Why would anyone go to purgatory? To be cleansed, for “nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]” (Rev. 21:27). Anyone who has not been completely freed of sin and its effects is, to some extent, “unclean.” Through repentance he may have gained the grace needed to be worthy of heaven, which is to say, he has been forgiven and his soul is spiritually alive. But that’s not sufficient for gaining entrance into heaven. He needs to be cleansed completely. **

I understand that there can be no uncleanness (sin) in Heaven. How do we cleanse our souls after we are dead? What do we do while in purgatory to cleanse ourselves? Doesn’t the cleansing of sin happen when we are saved? What more do we need to do other than accept Christ?

Thanks,
Jimmie
[/quote]

“When we are saved”? We are saved when we enter purgatory or heaven after we die. To state that we are “saved” and are absolutely going to heaven prior to that is to deny our free will, pretends to know the future, and is presumptious to boot. “Take up your cross daily”, Jesus says—not just once. Certainly, after we accept Jesus into our hearts, we are to spend our lives in imitation of Christ: after all, Jesus asks us to “be perfect”. This perfection is something that may take some time: virtues take a while to be developed (at least for most people) and most of us have formed some attachments to other things and sins along the way. We may have moral (not absolute) assurance that if we die in a state of grace we will go to heaven, but we may need to “clean up” first—we may not have perfected ourselves. For example, I might still have an attachment to pride; or an overly desire to be well thought of in others’ eyes; or perhaps I’m too attached to material things. Those attachments will be cleansed. How is that done? We’re not entirely sure, but Paul speaks of it “as through fire”.

As for what more do we ned to do: you need to take the Gospel as a whole. Of course, accepting Christ is necessary, but if you read the Gospels you will find many other things you must do in order to inherit eternal life: eat His Body and Blood (see the John 6 discourse); feed the hungry and clothe the naked; keep the commandments, etc. These are all in Scripture. They don’t contradict accepting Christ, but rather are part of the package of accepting Him.

[quote=Genesis315]Even if we are contrite and receive forgiveness, we can still sometimes have some attachment to even very minor sins. When we die, these attachments are burnt away. Likewise, we may have sinful images still in our mind, these two will be burned away. We may also still have sinful desires, even though through grace we fight them. These desires must be purified away. That’s how I like to think of it anyway.
[/quote]

But doesn’t scripture say that our old self is gone? As such, how can we continue to cling to sin?

[quote=Sherlock]“When we are saved”? We are saved when we enter purgatory or heaven after we die. To state that we are “saved” and are absolutely going to heaven prior to that is to deny our free will, pretends to know the future, and is presumptious to boot. “Take up your cross daily”, Jesus says—not just once. Certainly, after we accept Jesus into our hearts, we are to spend our lives in imitation of Christ: after all, Jesus asks us to “be perfect”. This perfection is something that may take some time: virtues take a while to be developed (at least for most people) and most of us have formed some attachments to other things and sins along the way. We may have moral (not absolute) assurance that if we die in a state of grace we will go to heaven, but we may need to “clean up” first—we may not have perfected ourselves. For example, I might still have an attachment to pride; or an overly desire to be well thought of in others’ eyes; or perhaps I’m too attached to material things. Those attachments will be cleansed. How is that done? We’re not entirely sure, but Paul speaks of it “as through fire”.
[/quote]

But then, we cannot know whether or not we are saved while we are on earth. We’d be walking on eggshells, no? How do you reconcile this to 1 John 5:13? That seems to indicate that we can know we are saved while still on earth.

As for what more do we ned to do: you need to take the Gospel as a whole. Of course, accepting Christ is necessary, but if you read the Gospels you will find many other things you must do in order to inherit eternal life: eat His Body and Blood (see the John 6 discourse); feed the hungry and clothe the naked; keep the commandments, etc. These are all in Scripture. They don’t contradict accepting Christ, but rather are part of the package of accepting Him.

Doesn’t Hebrews say we are saved by our faith? And James says we show our faith with our works. But it is the faith that opens the door to salvation… not the works.

“But doesn’t scripture say that our old self is gone? As such, how can we continue to cling to sin?”

We have fallen natures, and we have free will. No one can snatch us out of God’s hands, but we can walk away. I have friends (non-catholics) who believed, at one time, that they were “saved”. They were committed Evangelicals who were born again. However, they have since drifted away. One is now an atheist. Another was involved in embezzlement. The other is simply nothing—she’s not an atheist, but yet you’d never know she was specifically Christian: she could be a nice atheist, or a nice Buddhist, or a nice Unitarian as well. My point in all of this is that at one time they were sure they were “saved”. The fact that one is now an atheist is a clear illustration that at least one, and possibly the others, based on their current lifestyles, were wrong—their earlier conviction was proven to be premature. Nor did the assurance that he was saved keep one from embezzlement, a serious sin. So even though they thought they had assurance, they didn’t after all. That being the case, how could anyone trust absolutely that they were saved, unless they were omniscient and could see that they would not walk out of the Father’s hands?

“But then, we cannot know whether or not we are saved while we are on earth. We’d be walking on eggshells, no? How do you reconcile this to 1 John 5:13? That seems to indicate that we can know we are saved while still on earth.”

As I mentioned before, we can have moral assurance. Absolute assurance, though, is for an omniscient Being, and I am not Him. But I guess I don’t understand your concern: I’m certainly not walking on eggshells. I have no mortal sin that remains unconfessed, and I frequently avail myself of the sacraments in my daily struggle to perfect myself. I have a long way to go, though, and I have no doubt that I still have many attachments to sin and would probaly need a bit of cleaning up before I was fit for the heavenly banquet, if I were to die today. But eggshells? No.

“Doesn’t Hebrews say we are saved by our faith? And James says we show our faith with our works. But it is the faith that opens the door to salvation… not the works.”

It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. As I mentioned before, you have to take the Scriptures as a whole, otherwise you will end up doing what you’re doing now: pitting your verses against other verses.

[quote=BluegrassJimmie]Thank you for the links. I was looking at the one to catholic.com and am puzzled by this:

**Why would anyone go to purgatory? To be cleansed, for “nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]” (Rev. 21:27). Anyone who has not been completely freed of sin and its effects is, to some extent, “unclean.” Through repentance he may have gained the grace needed to be worthy of heaven, which is to say, he has been forgiven and his soul is spiritually alive. But that’s not sufficient for gaining entrance into heaven. He needs to be cleansed completely. **

I understand that there can be no uncleanness (sin) in Heaven. How do we cleanse our souls after we are dead? What do we do while in purgatory to cleanse ourselves? Doesn’t the cleansing of sin happen when we are saved? What more do we need to do other than accept Christ?

Thanks,
Jimmie
[/quote]

No one can explain how we are cleansed by God because no one who is alive has gone through it and God has not revealed it. Anything that would explain how would only be speculation.

We were saved yesterday and we are being saved today and we will be saved tomorrow. So, yes we should be cleansed when we are saved. We should be being cleansed all our life. But many times people aren’t complete cleansed when they die, so God will complete the process through purgatory.

Our job is more than to accept Christ, it is to make ourselves subject to Him and to become like Christ. Our job is to allow God to make us perfect. As we grow older we should become more subject to Christ and stronger in rejecting sin. We should also grow more perfect in other ways. This is what salvation is. It is the perfection of our souls by Christ.

[quote=BluegrassJimmie] But doesn’t scripture say that our old self is gone? As such, how can we continue to cling to sin?
[/quote]

Do you still sin sometimes? Would you say you are perfect in every way? Would you say that you love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength? And your neighbor as yourself? If not then you are not perfect yet and need to be perfected.

[quote=BluegrassJimmie] But then, we cannot know whether or not we are saved while we are on earth. We’d be walking on eggshells, no? How do you reconcile this to 1 John 5:13? That seems to indicate that we can know we are saved while still on earth.
[/quote]

I think you misunderstand salvation. Salvation is not just a one time thing where we are saved. Salvation is a process of becoming like Christ. We recieve salvation every day of our lives.

[quote=BluegrassJimmie] Doesn’t Hebrews say we are saved by our faith? And James says we show our faith with our works. But it is the faith that opens the door to salvation… not the works.
[/quote]

Yes, faith is extremely important. We can never do enough works to be saved. But this is all a part of the process of salvation. We have faith and we are saved by this, but salvation is a process of becoming Christ-like which involves changing our lives. This involves work. Our works help us to change our lives to Christ. Now, of course there are works that are done just for the sake of doing works but that is not what I mean.

The Dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena are supposed to be a dialogue between her and God. In it God says " I am one who does not desire many words but many actions." By this is meant that we are to do works for the sake of virtue, not just for the sake of the work. These works are used to perfect us in the virtues.

[quote=BluegrassJimmie] But then, we cannot know whether or not we are saved while we are on earth. We’d be walking on eggshells, no?
[/quote]

We can have confidence in our Salvation but still fear that if we don’t watch our steps, we can still use our free wills to walk away from Christ and into temptation.

**Phil 2:12 **12 *Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) *with fear and trembling work out your salvation.

Acts 9:11* 31 Now the church had peace throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria; and was edified, walking in the fear of the Lord, and was filled with the consolation of the Holy Ghost.*

Doesn’t Hebrews say we are saved by our faith? And James says we show our faith with our works. But it is the faith that opens the door to salvation… not the works.

Faith by God’s Graces opens the door yes, however we must also continue in obeying His Graces of which naturally bring an outpouring of Good Works. No Good Works is no Faith. They go hand in hand.

Another thing is Catholics beleive in Mortal and Venial sins. The venial sins are sins that cannot lead us to Hell. If we die before repenting of these sins here on this earth, then we shall be cleansed of them on Purgatory.

[quote=BluegrassJimmie]Forgive me, but I am very new to this.

Can someone explain to me what exactly purgatory is? I saw in another thread some saying that protestants will be there a long time because they don’t pray for the dead. What does this mean?

How do you end up in purgatory and how do you get out?

Thanks for your help! (and patience)
[/quote]

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 12 :36 But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.

  1. How do you “do the will of the Father”?
  2. Will you be exempt from “rendering an account” of every idle word? Will you be exempt from your “day of Judgement”? If you’re saved why a judgement of accounts?

Simply put and Scripturally accurate is that purgatory is the:
Great Hall of Justice
where Justice and Mercy are put in perfect harmony so that ALL that we DO here is accounted for, even an idle word, or a prayer for another. Everything about our lives is taken into account.

To be brief, your plucking verses and discarding others is a sure way to end up forgiving yourself.
The Catholic Church takes the Whole Bible and harmonizes it and doing that for 1700 years.
Even the Jews recognized a place of Justice and Mercy before heaven, and still do today.
Cheap salvation ain’t happening. It’s an illusion to excuse ungodly behavior. You may not see it that way, but the novelty was originally created for just that reason.
If you are interested in the Biblical aspect of Purgatory that protestants cannot confront try this earlier Thread called
Purgatory not in the Bible.
That Thread is not closed BTW, so feel free to add to it as you see fit.
Now:

because they don’t pray for the dead. What does this mean?

This is pure speculation. It’s assuming that since they offered no prayer or sacrifice for the dead then no one will do so for them. I pray for my deceased protestant Grandfather quite frequently. Yet he never prayed for the deceased.

How do you end up in purgatory…

By having incomplete sanctity at death. One example which I say is common, are (lesser) sins committed (an impure thought, or unkind word that was undeserved), then forgotten, and not repented.
Another is taking another’s property or reducing their reputation unjustly, and not righting by just compensation.

and how do you get out?

When all our culpable ungodly actions, thoughts, and words are reconciled to God’s satisfaction, that did not occur in this life when we were capable of doing so, yet did not…

Finally,
Purgatory is a wonderful institution by God and shows both His Justice and Mercy to man who is not perfected in this life, but neither is he condemned to eternal hell.

Keep searching. And hope you stay with us.

Ps 99:8: O LORD, our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God, though you punished their offenses.
GREAT definition of purgatory!

We Catholics believe that when we die we go to a place that is inbetween Heaven and Hell, that is Purgatory. It is a place where our soul goes to be cleansed. This is because since our physical body is dead but our soul is still alive and it needs to be cleansed. Even if we have gone to confession before we pass away, we will still have to pay for those sins that we have commited, (purgatory.) We must first remember that in Hell no soul can be saved and no sin is to be forgiven in Heaven. WTBS, any remission of any type of sin mortal and/or venial can only occur in what Catholics call Purgatory. That is the answer to your Purgatory question.

Question #2. We pray for the dead because of Purgatory. protestants (most of them) don’t believe in purgatory, so they don’t pray for the dead. They believe that as long as you have accepted Him(Jesus) that you are already cleansed. A dead person cannot pray for themselves that is why we pray for the dead. Most souls which go to Heaven still require purification after they die before they are ready to live with God forever. Our Prayers can only help the Process. I hope that answers that question.

Question #3. You get to Purgatory by having an unclean soul and no one knows how long you will be in Purgatory, it is for God to decide when you are ready. That is where the Prayers for the Dead can only help.

Hope this helps you understand Purgatory more. :thumbsup:

Jimmy,
A good analogy for purgatory would be (and someone correct me if I miss something or if I go off track; purgatory can be confusing to explain. I’m sure you’ve all heard this):

You are playing ball outside and you hit the ball so hard that it goes right through the church window! Do you run and hide? No, the best thing for you to do is to go to Father and own up. So you go.

You tell Father that you broke the window by accident and you tell him how sorry you are. Will he please forgive you? Father, in his mercy, says yes because he can tell you are really sorry for what you did. You are sooooo glad and relieved! Now you turn to go back out to play, Father forgave you - great!

But Father says, “Whoa, Whoa, you can’t just leave like that! What about my window?” Father says he has forgiven you but he also says you still have to replace the window! He explains that while he did forgive you for breaking the window, consequences remain - you have to replace the window!

When you die, assuming in a state of grace - your sins have been forgiven but the consequesnces remain - your attachment to sin remains - a result of our fallen nature, the temporal punishment for sin still needs to be paid. You can’t just do something wrong and expect that wrong not to have consequences. Now, mind you, this takes nothing away from Christ’s sacrifice saying that we still need to “pay” for our sins. I know you’re thinking, “But Christ did that for us!” He did, He opened heaven again for us; without His sacrifice we’d still be in Abrahams Bosom. He made it possible for us to attain heaven - but we cannot just waltz in like we own the place. We must “clean up” first. Sort of like your mother used to make you wash your hands before sitting down for dinner. You were welcome and expected for dinner but you had to be clean in order to sit at the table to enjoy the feast!

Although the doors to heaven are open to us and God is expecting us we cannot stand before Him with all our “stuff!” Purgatory rids us of the attachments we have to sin so we can enter into the full Beatific Vision! We can now be perfectly clean to stand before God!

If I’ve gone way off somewhere, someone correct me but I hope that helped a little with understanding purgatory a little better.

This is a thread I started on Purgatory, it might not answer your question, but it could help on part of your understanding of it’s placement.

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=67190

God bless!

No one who is impure can stand before Almighty God. And no one that I know of on this earth, no matter how holy, is pure. So we must be purged of our impurities before we can joing God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030).
Here is another good link (Catholic Answers) to information on Purgatory.

catholic.com/library/Purgatory.asp

I look at Purgatory as a kind of “finishing school”.

When we die, if the Judge [second person of the blessed trinity] decides we’re in, then we’re in. BUT, first we have to go to finishing school.

Think about it… in heaven we will receive many gifts… instant time and space travel, superior knowledge, perfect bodies and minds – no more imperfections of any kinds – no limps or missing limbs, or diseased limbs, no missing kidneys or other organs, no eyeglasses, no mental illness. Opportunities to be face to face with the Infinity. Maybe even a sense of well being that can only be described as every cell of our body feeling perfect pleasure.

The Infinite, in a sense, will be letting us sort of share in Infinity. Not very mathematical perhaps (a part of Infinity), but nonetheless a valid aspect.

But, how can the Infinite TRUST us with all that good and powerful stuff, unless we are as perfect as He is.

He can’t. So before we get turned loose, we have to get educated on how to use those gifts.

Think about the first person in heaven: St. Dismas. A psychopathic killer. “the good thief”. You CAN’T let Dismas into heaven LIKE THAT !!! He needs to get cleaned up FIRST. He needs to know how to use the resources he will be given access to.

And that is why all of us need Purgatory.

Hey BluegrassJimmy…love the screen name. I know you are a moderator on the BIBLEFORUMS, but I am glad you are here asking questions, charitably.

Good luck in your journey.

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