Question to a Priest: Often during a funeral I have heard the priest say the deceased is in heaven and suffers no more. How does this fit in with Catholic belief about purgatory?



“But I think that it’s safer to assume, along with Chapter 24 of the Book of Proverbs, that even the good person falls seven times and that many of us will have some “make up work” to do after we die.”

“I, for one, would much prefer at my own funeral that the priest ask people to pray for me — in case I am still en route.”


A single moment? What about the whole 500 days off purgatory indulgence stuff? That’s not true anymore then?


I don’t think so.

This absolutely is not my area of expertise, so take my words with a major grain of salt


The “days off” indulgences were dropped, for good reason. We can’t measure the immeasurable: God is not bound by time or space. We simply do not know, but what we can ascertain is that the “time” for such things as purgation is not “our” time.


The old fashioned time standards weren’t “time in purgatory” but "comparable to X amount of time in ancient penance that will be due for temporal punishment. "

Anyway, prayers for the dead are still efficacious and encouraged.


You are right Wesrock: I now remember that. Growing up, though, I don’t think anyone really knew this teaching. We just assumed it was “days off from purgatory.” Even as a child I thought it was odd.


It’s kinda presumptuous. We do not know, outside of the Church’s infallible proclamation, that a person is already in heaven and not in purgatory. That’s what a funeral Mass is for: prayer for the repose of a soul, not a canonization of the deceased. We believe in Purgatory, and so as part of that belief, we pray for soul.

If that soul has somehow completed her Purgatory, then the prayer is not wasted. God applies it to another soul who would benefit from it.


I prefer thinking purgatory isn’t a single moment. Besides that kind of goes against what Mary said at Fatima


See above :slight_smile:


The ‘day’s’ were not directly related to time off so to speak. They were in reference to the amount of penance a Christian in the early church.


There is some form, some element of time involved, or else Purgatory would be a permanent state. Heaven and hell are outside of time. Purgatory is a transitional state - all who are there may be suffering, but are filled with joy as they are on their way to the Beatific Vision.


If you believe that purgatory is a thing, and I do, then whether it is a flashing moment or another plane of existence where time is irrelevant, doesn’t matter. If people experience it and need our prayers - then pray! Our Church teaches us to pray for souls of the faithful departed. Why would anyone think it was wise to ignore that and pretend everyone just ends up in heaven, do not pass go, do not collect £200?
The Church teaches us that purgatory exists. We’re Catholic. We should believe the church and act accordingly!


That’s never what it meant. Sure there were plenty of popular conceptions / teachings of x days in purgatory, but that was never what the days attached to indulgences meant. A 500 day indulgence meant that single indulgence was the equivalent of performing 500 days of penance (either for yourself or the soul in purgatory).


It does not, but, sadly, many Protestant ideas have crept in.

I have my funeral planned, down to the Mass cards. No sentimental poem about “do not miss me, I am only away for awhile” poem on mine! They will ask people to pray for my soul.


Even some Catholics are now opting for the Celebration of Life and finding funerals too depressing!
Not me! I want a funeral Mass with lots and lots of prayers.
I hope there is someone left to pray for my soul.


In the funerals I have been to, I have not heard the priest say that. Rather express hope that the person’s soul will reach God’s glory.


Two possibilities:

  1. No conflict as the priest is exercising the very Catholic virtue of Hope

  2. That the church’s prayers of the faithful at every Mass for the salvation of those dying are answered, and since a Mass is being offered somewhere at any given moment, those worthy of salvation, but not immediately heaven, have a short stay in purgatory.


Personally, I have never heard a priest make such a statement as in the thread title. After all, the funeral Mass itself is a prayer for the deceased. I hope at my funeral the priest will encourage people to pray for me and have Masses said.


In funeral the line that we are saved is often taken because of the nature of the ceremony itself to comfort the relatives and to proclaim our salvation that arises from the divine promise that we are saved because of our belief (by virtue of our Baptism).

It is not so much of giving judgment to the deceased even if it seems like it is or it is meant to be a discourse on purgatory.


Another aspect of the discussion is the concept of time, in God’s understanding and experience. God lives in the eternal present moment; eternal beings have no past and no future, they live now. Hard for us to conceptualize. With God, here and now and after we pass, we live in an eternal present moment. My father may have passed away 25 years ago, but he stands before God now and has for every day since he died. Purgatory may make sense to use in the human understanding of time, but I think it is irrelevant to God. I like the idea that purgatory is an instantaneous action.

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