Temporal debt of suffering


#1

It is my understanding that Roman Catholics believe that one of the effects of sin is that it creates a liability of suffering that is not delt with in confession and must be paid either by doing penances, indulgences, or purgatory after death.

  1. Is it correct to say that this suffering is for sins that have been forgiven since the penitant has been to confession?

  2. Can a person be Roman Catholic and reject the idea that there exists any liability of suffering for forgiven sins?

  3. Can a person be Roman Catholic and reject the teaching of penances, indulgences, and/or purgatory after death (purgatory as a means of satisfying this debt of suffering not as a final purgation)?


Temporal debt of suffering
#2

St. Therese, a Doctor of the Church, taught that although purgatory is there for those who need final purification, it is made redundant by love:
franciscan-sfo.org/ap/litfwrpu.htm


#3

I’m looking more for the official teaching of the magisterium since that is what the Roman Catholic Church expects all Roman Catholics to believe.

I think the link you provide are teachings that one is able to be Roman Catholic and still reject. I’m looking for what in impermissible to reject and still be Roman Catholic vs what one must accept.


#4

Am I correct in thinking the Eastern Orthodox do not accept the idea of Original Sin as stated by the catholic church under the Bishop of Rome?

If I am correct in that thinking, then your questions are really a challenge on Original Sin if I am correct that is…

But, even if the terminology is not quite the same, the theology seems to be close enough for it to not really make an issue of it from my brief investiagation of the points of difference unless I really missed a whole lot of information in there somehow.

Please advise.


#5

Satisfaction for forgiven sins is related to original sin. EO rejects original sin. We believe all are born with grace sufficient for salvation at birth, not just the Theotokos as the RC claims.

The EO perspective is quite different than the RC perspective on this.

EO believe that once you go to confession your sins are forgiven. They no longer exist. If there is a temporal consequence it is the result of living in a fallen world and not a result of some requirement God has that we “pay” for our sins through suffering.

Since we have always believed this we do not have equivalents to purgatory, indulgences, penances and the immaculate conception of Mary.

The idea that God would require suffering for forgiven sins is repugnant to EO. It smacks in the face of unconditional love and seems very much to contradict the whole point of the death and resurection of Christ. Why forgive people and then require suffering.

It is a significant difference because it completely alters the path to salvation and the spiritual life looks very different in practice depending what one believes about this.


#6

Okay, so do the Eastern Orthodox view the suffering of individuals to be for the greater good or not?

Thank you for answering my previous post and helping me understand this.


#7

Suffering is suffering. It’s a product of living in a fallen world. Sometimes that suffering is overcome to bear good fruit and sometimes not. Suffering is not a requirement for salvation however it is the result of the existance of sin in the world.

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by your question though. We do not believe that God desires people to suffer anymore than he desires them to sin, so how could suffering, in and of itself, be for the greater good. We would not view suffering as some sort of tool God created to purify the sinner. God used love for that.


#8

I don’t think Catholics believe that God desires people to suffer, but rather the suffering that people undergo does and is somehow and in someway a greater good for all.

Why would that be a false teaching?


#9

I think it would be false. It is at the very least not logically consistant with other EO teaching. I have never heard in any of the EO prayers or services anything which would indicate a belief that the existance of suffering is some how beneficial to creation. To the contrary there is plenty about easing other’s suffering, praying for the ease of other suffering, having mercy on others, healing the sick and suffering etc.

If suffering where to the greater good than the implication is that nothing should be done about it and people should just be left to suffer. Such a thought would be inconsistant with a great deal of EO teaching.

I don’t believe we have such an understanding of the role of suffering. It’s here for the same reason sickness and death are in the world and it’s something to be overcome. It’s possible that for some the grace of God redeems their suffering so that it aids the individual but this is the work of grace and not suffering per se. There is no idea that individual suffering is for the greater good of the world.


#10

The reason we might (note the word) have to suffer after a sin is forgiven is not because we owe God anything. The debt we owe God for sending Jesus to save us is far greater than the entire world could pay. The reason that there might be temporal debt is the result of the sin itself. Sin separates us from God. Once that sin is absolved, the separation is removed, but that does not mean that WE are ready to be back to God.

We may suffer on earth in an opportunity, like St. PAul said, to unite our sufferings with those of Christ. We may have to suffer purgatory to confrom our wills to that of God. Either way, it is about the state of our souls and not because God demands any kind of payment.

AS for the second one, I do not know. I have never seen it discussed anywhere.

As for the third, no, you cannot reject it, but not for the reason you might think. Penances are not there to repay God, but to help us become more holy. It is the same as fasting during Lent. To deny that is to deny the need to become more holy. To deny indulgences is to deny that Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom. Purgatory IS the place of purgation, so there seems to be no issue there.


#11

An indulgence is the extra-sacramental remission of the temporal punishment due, in God’s justice, to sin that has been forgiven, which remission is granted by the Church in the exercise of the power of the keys, through the application of the superabundant merits of Christ and of the saints, and for some just and reasonable motive. Regarding this definition, the following points are to be noted:

This quote is from Catholic Encyclopedia here newadvent.org/cathen/07783a.htm

Explain this if it does not say that God requires suffering. Doesn’t temporal punishment amount to suffering? It would seem to me that the very purpose of purgatory, indulgences, is solely to repay this dept of temoral punishment (suffering).

Penances I agree could be used as you discribe except that this is not what the Catholic catachism and Catholic Encyclopedia say. They say explicitly debt of punishment.


#12

In the Sacrament of Baptism not only is the guilt of sin remitted, but also all the penalties attached to sin. In the Sacrament of Penance the guilt of sin is removed, and with it the eternal punishment due to mortal sin; but there still remains the temporal punishment required by Divine justice, and this requirement must be fulfilled either in the present life or in the world to come, i.e., in Purgatory. An indulgence offers the penitent sinner the means of discharging this debt during his life on earth.

There is this on the same page as well.


#13

The reason we might (note the word) have to suffer after a sin is forgiven is not because we owe God anything. The debt we owe God for sending Jesus to save us is far greater than the entire world could pay. The reason that there might be temporal debt is the result of the sin itself. Sin separates us from God. Once that sin is absolved, the separation is removed, but that does not mean that WE are ready to be back to God.

What determines if a sin will or will not have temporal punishment/suffering?

If that punishment/suffering extends into the next life then is the sin really forgiven by confession alone?

I thought the sacrament of confession brings the person back to God as their sins are forgiven? Are you saying it doesn’t? It seems like you are saying that a person goes to confession but them must perform some act before redemption from the sin is complete. Is this what you meant?


#14

Let me see if I can explain it this way. Sin is like a nail driven into a board. Absolution removes the nail but the board is still harmed. The debt that is owed to God is like the hole in the board. The board, on its own, will never be able to repair itself. Because we cannot repair ourselves, and we are no longer perfect because of the sin (which has been forgive though its mark is still there), we need purgation.

The Church talks is terms of debts and treasury of merit because we can understand that. The reality if beyond what we can understand

All sin has suffering attached. As far as when it occurs, that depends on the sin and on when we die.

Let me give you an example. Two women have abortions. Both regret it and go to confession. Both are absolved. On the way home, one dies in a car accident. The other does not. The one who lives goes through life with sorrow for the loss of her child and mental and emotional issues that she as to deal with. If both were forgiven, why was one spared any further suffering from the sin? Catholic thought on this is that the other may need to spend time in purgatory because of the need for justice.

The sin itself is forgiven at absolution. That does not mean the issues arising from it are gone.


#15

Let me see if I can explain it this way. Sin is like a nail driven into a board. Absolution removes the nail but the board is still harmed. The debt that is owed to God is like the hole in the board. The board, on its own, will never be able to repair itself. Because we cannot repair ourselves, and we are no longer perfect because of the sin (which has been forgive though its mark is still there), we need purgation.

Okay so, the thing that removes the hole in the board is suffering? This is the temporal punishment? Purgation = suffering?

The Church talks is terms of debts and treasury of merit because we can understand that. The reality if beyond what we can understand

I thought it talked about it that way because it actually quantifies the process. Isn’t there a cleric in the vatican in charge of the Holy Treasury or something like that? Don’t indulgences come with actual numbers of days or years of penance served? Couldn’t you actually keep a leger it’s so detailed?

All sin has suffering attached. As far as when it occurs, that depends on the sin and on when we die.

Of course all sin brings a measure of spiritual death which could be described as de facto suffering, but does the RCC require the suffering as a necessary condition for the sin to be completely forgiven?

Let me give you an example. Two women have abortions. Both regret it and go to confession. Both are absolved. On the way home, one dies in a car accident. The other does not. The one who lives goes through life with sorrow for the loss of her child and mental and emotional issues that she as to deal with. If both were forgiven, why was one spared any further suffering from the sin? Catholic thought on this is that the other may need to spend time in purgatory because of the need for justice.

“need for justice” So God does require the suffering then. The one who died… the “hole in the board” to use your earlier analogy, this required suffering to be healed?

Also, would not both women have been given penances to perform? If they were to both have performed the prescribed penances then one would die than one woman would suffer more than the other anyway. Are you saying that each and every sin has an amount of suffering attached to it and in the eternal scheme of things each sin committed will be suffered for accordingly? So that at the end of things even if the woman who died did her penances the priest gave her she would still serve in purgatory because “devine justice” (which I assume is dictated by God) dictates one woman can not suffer more for the same sin than another has suffered? So they must all suffer equally who commit the same sin? Is this true?

The sin itself is forgiven at absolution. That does not mean the issues arising from it are gone.

Those issues carry over past death, and suffering is the solution to them? Is this correct?


#16

Purgatory means healing or purification, not suffering.

Sometimes we suffer when being purified or healed. If we do then it’s a side effect of purification or healing, not the goal. A drug addict going through withdrawl is in pain. The pain is not the end but merely a side effect of the treatment.

And even if it doesn’t hurt when all those holes we’ve driven through our soul each time we sin are being healed, just knowing that we’re so close to union with God but are not yet experiencing the Beatific Vision would seem to be rather painful to me. But that would be a pain we cause ourselves to experience, not a pain God causes us to feel.

There used to be days attached to indulgences. The days didn’t represent how much “time in purgatory” was remitted but how efficacious the action was. If action X was associated with 20 years, then it meant it was the equivalent to the spiritiual healing we would expect from 20 straight years of prayer or going on a pilgrimage once every day for 20 years or the like.

Nowadays things are treated much more simply by being classified as partial or plenary. Partial indulgences remove some of the temporal punishment or do some of the healing. Plenary indulgences do it all. That makes sense because we don’t have a way of knowing how pristine or damaged our soul is. Only God knows how efficacious any partial indulgence is, or if we’re truly disposed to receive a plenary indulgence.

Purgatory is not necessary at all. One could die with a perfect soul and go straight to heaven. We only go through purgatory before heaven if our soul is in a state of grace when we die but is not yet perfected.

God only “requires” suffering if it’s necessary for our salvation and purification. If we need to suffer to be perfected, God will have us suffer. If we need to not suffer to be perfected, then we won’t. It’s that simple. Whatever happens will be both perfectly just and perfectly merciful, with neither too little pain nor too much.


#17

Are you saying that the RCC understanding of Purgatory is NOT that it is a place of suffering? I thought the RCC taught that purgatory was a place of temporary suffering for sin? Can you site where this is not the case?

Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.

How do you explain this statement from Catholic Encyclopedia? Is punishment not the same thing as suffering?


#18

Punishment may include suffering, but it has a higher goal. Punishment is meant to alter behavior or desire.

We are taught that Purgatory is just that: a place where our desires are fixed towards God through some means of Purgation not known to us


#19

Sometimes we must endure purgatory within this life, it’s to purge ourselves from the world and all of it’s grip on us, so it’s not a bad thing. God wants us to be acceptable to him, not only just washing our sins, but washing our very nature, and we will endure suffering in this life which in turn avoids suffering in the next, ie. shorter purgatory times. Also, think about it this way, if you were a parent and did not discipline your children, what do you think they will turn out to be like? It’s the same thing here.


#20

This should help:

vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/alpha/data/aud19881109en.html
vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/alpha/data/aud19860611en.html
vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/hlthwork/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_11021984_salvifici-doloris_en.html


Temporal debt of suffering
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