Purgatory: place or process?

Does official Catholic teaching claim that Purgatory is a place or a process? I have heard some apologists contend that the later is the better view. (Some suggest that Pope Benedict holds this view.) They contend that we should not think of Purgatory as a place or state of existence like heaven or hell. Rather, Purgatory properly understood refers to the process of finally cleansing one of certain imperfections before they can enter heaven. This may be good debate strategy with some protestants, but is is correct Catholic teaching? I thought official teaching was that Purgatory was a “place” where the souls of most people went after they died until they were sufficiently “cleansed” or “purified” so that they could enter heaven.

[quote=mshealy]Does official Catholic teaching claim that Purgatory is a place or a process? I have heard some apologists contend that the later is the better view. (Some suggest that Pope Benedict holds this view.) They contend that we should not think of Purgatory as a place or state of existence like heaven or hell. Rather, Purgatory properly understood refers to the process of finally cleansing one of certain imperfections before they can enter heaven. This may be good debate strategy with some protestants, but is is correct Catholic teaching? I thought official teaching was that Purgatory was a “place” where the souls of most people went after they died until they were sufficiently “cleansed” or “purified” so that they could enter heaven.
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The teaching is :

[list]
*]that there is a Purgatory, and
*]that prayers for the faithful departed are good and useful, and
*]that indulgences can be applied to the faithful departed - not by an act of the Church’s jurisdiction (she has none, except over the living) but indirectly, by way of suffrage.
*]and that purgatory will end - it is not eternal
[/list]I think that is basically it. As for location, state, or process: there is plenty of theological discussion - but not, AFAIK, any teaching, still less any dogma.

FWIW, IMO, Purgatory & Hell & Heaven are different experiences of God: that is, God is experienced differently according to the person that one is. This may be entirely wrong of course. ##

Although we cannot know for sure, it makes sense that is a process. We know from scripture that Purgatory will be done away with at the last judgment and also at that time, and not before, our souls will be united with our "resurrected” bodies. Therefore, Purgatory is only needed to purge spiritual souls, not physical bodies, and since spirits do not need a “place” to reside it could follow that Purgatory is more of a process. Since this spirit stuff is hard to comprehend in our current physical state, I think the concept of Purgatory being a place has been used to make it easier to understand the concept.

CCC

THE FINAL PURIFICATION, OR PURGATORY

1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.

Its interesting that the Catechism does not mention if Purgatory is a place or a process. I’m inclined to think it is a purification process or state rather than a place.

Purgatory is a place but not to the same means that you know of it today, your physical body will not be in this place but your spirit, or soul will be so we cannot really say what is is like because none of us have been there.

Purgatory is also a process, and we cannot be sure how long this process takes.

Two questions on purgatory:

Wasn’t the doctrine originally formulated by Pope Gregory the Great? I don’t see any links going back to the NT with the doctrine.

What about the thief on the cross in Luke 23:43? If anyone should have been “purified” before receiving eternal life, it was him! And yet, Jesus assured him that he would be with our Lord THAT DAY in Paradise (that is, the place of the good dead before Jesus’ Resurrection). No mention of a purgatory here.

I guess he was purified rather quickly – he probably chose the “microwave” option.:thumbsup:

[quote=sk32900]Two questions on purgatory:

Wasn’t the doctrine originally formulated by Pope Gregory the Great? I don’t see any links going back to the NT with the doctrine.

What about the thief on the cross in Luke 23:43? If anyone should have been “purified” before receiving eternal life, it was him! And yet, Jesus assured him that he would be with our Lord THAT DAY in Paradise (that is, the place of the good dead before Jesus’ Resurrection). No mention of a purgatory here.
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You are assuming that Paradise meant Heaven

But this is not what Jesus was reffering to, he was reffering to a purgatory state, yes the Catholic Church made the name Purgatory, the thief went to this place to be purified so that he can enter Heaven

[quote=sk32900]What about the thief on the cross in Luke 23:43? If anyone should have been “purified” before receiving eternal life, it was him! And yet, Jesus assured him that he would be with our Lord THAT DAY in Paradise (that is, the place of the good dead before Jesus’ Resurrection). No mention of a purgatory here.
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Why do you assume that “if anyone should have been purified” this thief needed it? The thief on the cross was right next to Jesus, suffering on a cross at the exact moment in history when our Lord suffered on a cross. When the other thief wanted to taunt Jesus into getting them all down, this man defended our innocent Lord and willingly accepted his own crucifixion because he knew his own guilt. I think this experience could qualify as a process of purification.

[quote=sk32900]Wasn’t the doctrine originally formulated by Pope Gregory the Great? I don’t see any links going back to the NT with the doctrine.
[/quote]

No. Here’s a link that might interest you: johnsalza@scripturecatholic.com

[font=Arial]The link explains the following New Testament scriptures and more as they refer to Purgatory:[/font]
Matt. 5:26,18:34; Luke 12:58-59 , Matt. 5:48 , Matt. 12:32 , Luke 12:47-48 , Luke 16:19-31 , 1 Cor. 15:29-30 , Phil. 2:10, 2 Tim. 1:16-18 , Heb. 12:14, Heb. 12:23 , 1 Peter 3:19; 4:6 , Rev. 21:4, Rev. 21:27 , Luke 23:43

[quote=sk32900]Wasn’t the doctrine originally formulated by Pope Gregory the Great? I don’t see any links going back to the NT with the doctrine.
[/quote]

Here’s a link that might interest you: scripturecatholic.com/purgatory.html

The link explains the following New Testament scriptures and more as they refer to Purgatory: Matt. 5:26,18:34; Luke 12:58-59 , Matt. 5:48 , Matt. 12:32 , Luke 12:47-48 , Luke 16:19-31 , 1 Cor. 15:29-30 , Phil. 2:10, 2 Tim. 1:16-18 , Heb. 12:14, Heb. 12:23 , 1 Peter 3:19; 4:6 , Rev. 21:4, Rev. 21:27 , Luke 23:43

[quote=John Paul III]You are assuming that Paradise meant Heaven

But this is not what Jesus was reffering to, he was reffering to a purgatory state, yes the Catholic Church made the name Purgatory, the thief went to this place to be purified so that he can enter Heaven
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The paradise I was referring to was the place the righteous dead went BEFORE Jesus’ resurrection. See Luke 16:23-31. The underworld (hades) is divided into paradise for the good (which is now vacant, since the spirits and souls of those saved through faith in Jesus now go immediately to heaven upon death—2 Corinth. 5:8; Phil. 1:23) and, for the wicked, the place of torment, which will be thrown into the lake of fire (Gehenna) at the final judgment of mankind (Rev. 20:14). This basic view of the afterlife (so far as the underworld of hades is concerned) was shared in NT times by both Jews and Greeks.

Paradise, in this context, is not the same as that paradise mentioned elsewhere in 2 Corinthians and Revelation. The picture given in the original Greek word for paradise gives no indication of any “purging” going on (note also, the word is used in the Sept. for the Garden of Eden in Gen.2:8).

Hey, I’ve been there, and let me tell you, it hhhhuuuurrrrtttssss, but knowing the result, it is so worth the process!!!

Cool process, and awesome scenery.

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