Purgatory on Earth


#1

Hi All. My friend wants an ‘official’ definition purgatory on earth, seeing as it’s not in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I’m debating him on the existence of purgatory at another forum.
I’ve heard Catholics talk about it often enough, but in all honesty I don’t know where this comes from.

Anyone?

Pax Christi,

Ann


#2

There is no such thing as Purgatory on earth. Purgatory by definition is the temporal state of purgation after death where those who die with sanctifying grace but with remaining temporal punishment due to sin are purified for their entrance into Heaven.

Indulgences may be gained on earth, however, and they will lessen the amount of purification needed in Purgatory.

Sometimes, people may speak of “Purgatory on earth” as a joking way of saying that they are experiencing some kind of suffering which will lessen their time in Purgatory.


#3

Well, then I dug myself a big old hole. I might just as well go lay in it. Where did I go wrong? Here’s the thread.Warning: it’s realy long:
catholic-forum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14535&page=15

8: He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor.
9: For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10: 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.
11: For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12: Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw –
13: 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.
14: If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
15: If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:8-15 RSV)

My friend’s argument:
*As far as I can determine, not every believer according to the RCC, goes through purgatory, yet in the text from I Corinthians the terms “any one,” “each man’s,” and “any man” are used. From the text of 1 Corinthians 3:8-15, apparently, all the work of those who labor in the church will be tested. **If the text is talking about purgatory, then that would mean that every one who labored, even those who built only with gold and precious stones would go through purgatory. **In other words, all the workers in the church such as Paul, Silas, Barnabus, Timothy, and down to the present day will be tested. If this testing is purgatory, one would have to believe that even Paul, Barnabus, Timothy, and Silas and every other leader in the church will be going through purgatory. Do you believe that all the leaders in the church will be going through purgatory?

If, as you maintain, the text above from 1 Corinthians is talking about purgatory, what is this reward that Paul is talking about?*

Where did I go wrong?
Pax Christi,
Ann


#4

Re-read the passage. Here’s the critical part:

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. If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

1 Cor. 3:13-15 (Douay-Rheims).

Everyone’s work will be tested (but testing isn’t Purgatory; Purgatory is the removal of any remaining venial sins from those bound for Heaven). Remember that, in this passage, the “work” is a metaphor for our lives as Christians.

During life, we’re supposed to build our works (live our lives) on the proper foundation (Jesus), but some of us will build with gold, while some will build with straw, etc. To put it another way, some of us will live our lives with love, truly following Jesus’ commands, while others will fall short of the mark (e.g., some people will add to the building on Jesus’ foundation with mere straw, because they’re holding back the more valuable parts of their lives for themselves; others will build on Jesus’ foundation with gold and precious gems, because they’re donating their best to Him).

Some people’s works (lives) will “abide” or “survive” – meaning that they truly followed Jesus. They will “receive a reward” – go straight to Heaven. Other people’s works will burn, and they will suffer loss – but they will nevertheless be saved, though as by fire. These are the people who are going through Purgatory. They are being saved, but “as by fire.” During Purgatory, their remaining venial sins will be wiped away, and they will be rendered pure (because nothing impure can enter Heaven).

You built with gold and precious gems (you lived your life truly according to God’s Word, and loved God with your whole being, heart, mind, and soul, and loved your neighbor as yourself)? Your work will abide, and you will receive your reward (go straight to Heaven).

You built with wood, or straw (you sort of did what God commanded, and you worshipped Jesus, but you were also serving other masters – pride, money, etc. – and forgot to serve others a lot of the time, though you had no mortal sin on your soul when you died)? Your work will burn, and you will suffer loss; but you will be saved, yet as through fire (you will endure Purgatory while these competing concerns are removed from you).

You didn’t build at all (you denied Jesus, and died with mortal sin on your soul)? You failed to build on the foundation Jesus laid, and your work will be destroyed; you were not saved (you have chosen not to enter Heaven).


#5

Thanks, Godfollower and Dylanshrader.
Pax Christi,
Ann


#6

Godfollower, where did these ideas come from? Was it a bible commentary? I had always thought of the “testing” as being that which happens in purgatory. I’ve thought of the fire testing the work, to see if it burns. This is a new way of looking at the passage for me, and in light of what I’ve learned, both from you and Huron, the person I’m debating, I think it makes sense. I’ll be interested to know what Huron thinks of it. I’ve invited him over here to have a look see. Thanks again.
Pax Christi,
Ann


#7

Ann,

I’m just getting it from Church teaching, which relates back to the Bible. We know that “accepting Jesus” is not an instantaneous process, because “he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil. 1:6 (Douay-Rheims). The Protestants have it partly right: we’re supposed to surrender to Jesus. Where they misunderstand is in thinking that the surrender is enough for salvation (sola fide), or in thinking that the surrender counts for all time no matter what happens afterward (once saved, always saved), or in thinking that our sin-besotted souls will be allowed into Heaven without being cleaned up first (the “snow-covered dungheap” model).

The ironic thing about all of this is that the disagreement isn’t really that huge. Most Protestants will say that, come judgment day, Jesus will declare to those being saved “You are clean” in a sort of judicial fiat. Catholics believe that that will happen, too; but we believe that Jesus’ Word is inherently creative (see generally Genesis), so His saying “You are clean” will actually make us clean (rather than merely covering up our sins). Being made clean is being purged of uncleanliness; being purged can be called purgation or – you saw it coming, didn’t you? – Purgatory.

Purgatory isn’t a “third option” for the afterlife (we’re going to Hell or Heaven; that’s it – it’s just that some of us have to be cleansed of our remaining sins first). It doesn’t challenge the idea that Jesus died for our sins (He did; and we can only get into Heaven because He did so). It doesn’t mean that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t quite good enough; clearly it was (in fact, the cleansing process of Purgatory is only possible because of Jesus’ sacrifice). It doesn’t mean that we’re somehow meriting our own salvation by our suffering; rather the reverse (we teach that the process of being cleansed is going to be painful – “as by fire” – but that doesn’t mean that we deserve Heaven as a result; we enter Heaven only by God’s grace). It doesn’t mean that we earn our way into Heaven (we don’t; Heaven is an undeserved gift from God). Rather it’s really rather straightforward: those who are entering Heaven will be required to be clean before they can enter.

Think of it this way: all Christians teach that Heaven is a free gift from God to us because of His grace and mercy. It is not something that is earned. Merely by His grace, we are being invited to enter His house – even though none of us is worthy to do so; we are all unclean and deserve to be barred from Heaven. And, I think, all Christians agree that, come judgment day, we all want to enter God’s house. In fact, Scripture teaches us that Jesus will say to us: you clothed Me, fed Me, visited Me, and so on; please, come into My Father’s house.

Wouldn’t you want to clean up before you went in?

So what if there’s a little scrubbing involved in the cleanup? I will gladly endure it – no matter how painful it might be – for the sake of being made presentable before entering His house.


#8

Godfollower: Yes to everything that you just said. I don’t doubt the existence of purgatory. My problem, more specifically is that particular passage, the one in Corinthians. Isn’t Paul referring to purgatory here? I’ve put Huron’s comments in blue:

6: I planted, Apollo’s watered, but God gave the growth. (What did Paul plant? Was it your life in Christ, or was it the Church at Corinth?)7: So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
8: He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor.
9: For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. (Notice the singular field and building. Wouldn’t it have been “fields” and “buildings” if he was talking about their individual walks with the lord? However, if he is talking about the Church at Corinth, then singular makes perfect sense.)10: 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. (Notice that Paul says “a foundation” not “foundations.” He also says “building on it,” rather than “building on them.”11: For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12: Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – (Once again, “the foundation,” not “foundations.”)13: 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. (What sort of work each one [the laborers, those who are watering and building on the church of Corinth – see verses 6-9] has done.)14: If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.(Once again, “the foundation,” not “the foundations.”) 15: If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:6-15 RSV)

So, in summary, Huron’s problems with this passage being about purgatory:

Notice in 1 Corinthians 3:15 that it’s the works being tested, not the individual believer. Secondly, in verses 8-15 foundation and temple are singular throughout this passage, rather than plural. They would have to be plural if Paul was talking about us each building on the foundation if foundation meant our individual walk with the Lord.
Notice also that one who built with quality materials gets a reward, and one who has his works burn does not. If the reward is heaven, then that means that the one who doesn’t get the reward doesn’t get heaven. This is fatal to purgatory as taught by the church, because, as far as I know, everyone in purgatory eventually goes to heaven.

Godfollower, I think you’ve made a good point when you wrote that:

You built with wood, or straw (you sort of did what God commanded, and you worshipped Jesus, but you were also serving other masters – pride, money, etc. – and forgot to serve others a lot of the time, though you had no mortal sin on your soul when you died)? Your work will burn, and you will suffer loss; but you will be saved, yet as through fire (you will endure Purgatory while these competing concerns are removed from you).

Also, when you pointed out that:

Everyone’s work will be tested (but testing isn’t Purgatory; Purgatory is the removal of any remaining venial sins from those bound for Heaven). Remember that, in this passage, the “work” is a metaphor for our lives as Christians.

I think that’s key here.

Secondly, I think Huron interpretation is simply being too narrow when he talks abut “singular” and “plural nouns”—“the temple” and “the foundation.” Huron claims Paul’s only addressing the leaders of Corinth or perhaps those in leadership in general. I agree, that’s who he’s talking to, but I still feel it has spiritual implications for everyone. Because, if they go to purgatory, then it would follow that we all do. So, if in this passage Paul really is alluding to purgatory, we can be sure it’s not just for them. Does that make sense?

Thanks if you’ve read this through—you’ve been so helpful!!!

Pax Christi,
Ann


#9

Ann,

Actually, I don’t have a problem with the understanding that it’s only one foundation; after all, the one foundation is Christ. But we are each building on it (“But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” - v. 10). Some of us will build with precious metals, etc., which won’t burn, and those people will be rewarded. Some of us, however, will build with straw, or wood, etc., which will burn; those people will suffer loss.

As for what Paul planted, it was the Word of God (remember the parable of the sower?). We are each building something, but it is on only one foundation, Jesus. The reward is proceeding to Heaven without needing Purgatory. Take Paul, for instance. He built on Jesus’ foundation with gold and precious gems; that is, he lived his life according to Jesus’ commands, preached the Word of God unceasingly and without compromise, died in a state of grace, etc. Well, if you actually do what we’re supposed to do all your life, like Paul did, guess what? You don’t need to be purged of your sins. So your reward is to go straight to Heaven without needing the cleansing process – and you’ll be perfectly happy with that result, based on the parable of the workers in the field.

I, on the other hand, am still subject to venial sin. Every time I snap at a co-worker, honk at someone in traffic, set a poor example as a Christian, etc., I build with wood or straw. Come judgment day, not all of my portion of the (metaphorical) building will survive the fire. I will need to have these tendencies – impatience, intolerance, selfishness, etc. – taken away from me. I imagine it will be a painful process (would you like to watch all of your actions from this lifetime from the point of view of the people you affected?). Once those things are purged from me, assuming I died in a state of grace but for these venial sins, I will be able to enter Heaven. Not because I earned it, but because God in His infinite mercy granted it to me.


#10

purgatory is a purification place between heaven and hell. Once in purgatory you can’t go to hell.


#11
  1. Are you perfect now?
  2. Will you be perfect when you enter Heaven?

If you answered “no” then “yes”, what will have changed?

Matt.12:32 - Says that sins can be forgiven in the age to come. If we are in Hell, we will not want or can’t have our sins forgiven. If we are in Heaven, we will have no sins. So, there must be another place where sins can be forgiven - purgatory.


#12

That’s intersting about Matt 12:32. I’ll take a look at that further. Thanks.

What do you think about the passage from 1 Corithians 3:8-15above?
Do you think Paul is speaking about Purgatory?
Pax Christi,
Ann


#13

Yes, that’s right. What about the verse 1 Corithians 3:8-15?
Pax Christi,
Ann


#14

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