Temporal punishment/ purgatory

Hi Friends,

I am currently taking a Catholic Biblical Studies course and we had a discussion about the cycle of sin/punishment/forgiveness/mercy/ came up. I stated that we will be held responsible for our sins after death because of temporal punishment in purgatory. I was told that this was an old belief and that all sins and their punishments are forgiven in the sacrament of reconciliation and due to the act of Christ’s death and resurrection. No lasting effects of sin and purgatory was an outdated idea.

This isn’t sitting very well with me. But the instructor is a well read and educated scholar, and some of the members in my class are religious so they must have a better understanding of this topic than I have.

So, is the idea of temporal punishment no longer being taught?

Is purgatory now an optional belief?

And if we are “justified” by what Christ has done, is that like saying we are saved by faith? I personally thought we could only be “saved” by works and faith, not faith alone…

Just a little background, I am a life long Catholic and was mostly educated in the 80’s. I currently am a Catechist and thought I had a pretty good understanding of the Catholic religion, but now I am questioning what I have been told.

Thanks for any input you can give me.

WOW!!! That’s a major oops. :bigyikes:

I would say your instructor needs a little instruction. I’d give him a copy of the Catechism and ask him if it is not taught anymore why is it still in there.

III. 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:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611 IV.

The punishments of sin

1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.84 1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”85

One of my favorite quotes on purgatory comes from CS Lewis…

Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break theheartif God said to us, ‘It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy’? Should we not reply, ‘With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.’ ‘It may hurt, you know’ - ‘Even so, sir.’

I would also recommend Tim Staples audio book.

shop.catholic.com/catholic-digital-media/audio/god-s-perfect-plan-purgatory-and-indulgences-explained-set.html

Yeah he is definitely wrong. There are many Saints who talk about this. We have all kinds of prayers for those in purgatory.

I was told that this WAS a teaching of the church but that it is now replaced with the message of Mercy. A merciful God would not hold people responsible for their sins once they are forgiven. We are studying the Pauline Theology of Justification by faith.

We are forgiven. We don’t have to burn in hell for all eternity once we confess our sins. We however, cannot face God full of sinful desires that we had while we were on earth. We have to be purified. The good news is we can purify ourselves while still on earth. We can fast and pray. We can mortify our senses, control our urges.God, Mary and our guardian angels can help with this if we ask.

Or, we can die in a state of grace, having confessed our sins and receive the purification we need in purgatory. That is the mercy. The sweet graces we receive are mercy. It isn’t punishment. When you trudge through the swampy sections of life, we are unclean. We can amend our ways and stay out of the swamp while still here, or we can take the final shower in purgatory. God doesn’t do this to us, we do it to ourselves. God gives us the graces to make all of this possible. He does not give us anything at all that we cannot handle. Even the very worst sinners can have salvation and make it to heaven. Our Lord spent his days on earth around sinners and the poor. Not the rich and the pious.

[S]ins and their punishments are forgiven in the sacrament of reconciliation and due to the act of Christ’s death and resurrection. No lasting effects of sin

[P]urgatory was an outdated idea.

Is purgatory now an optional belief?

The Church still teaches temporal punishment and Purgatory, as the Catechism shows.

I personally thought we could only be “saved” by works and faith, not faith alone…

I am not sure where you are getting that from?

We are justified (saved) by grace through faith.

St. Paul (Ephesians 2:8-9) teaches that:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast”

The Catechism on Grace and Justification:
vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c3a2.htm

I am very confused by what they are saying. The Church has never taught what they are saying, and Church teachings do not change.

I would show them what it says in the CCC and ask them where they are getting their information from. If necessary, you might need to talk to the pastor, or go higher up if he think as they do.

A merciful God would not hold people responsible for their sins once they are forgiven.

WHY would that be “unmerciful”?

If you were a school teacher and saw a kid in school steal a ten dollar bill quietly removing it from another classmates pocket, you might call him/her up to the front to talk to you (and the victim).

Say the kid is sorry, real sorry.

You assure the kid he/she is forgiven.

Now what? Is there ANY reparation that STILL NEEDS to be undertaken?

Yes. The kid has got to AT LEAST give the ten dollars back. (And for his own good he will probably get “more” such as “detention”)

Zacchaeus knew this principle too.

LUKE 19:1-10 1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”

St. Paul sees this too (“Pauline Theology”).

We can all think (in at least a catechetical sense) of the day of the Lord when we get all things we did/didn’t do judged.

If you build upon your foundation with bad works or “wood, hay, or stubble” and this stuff is “tested by fire” what is going to happen to straw when tested by fire?

It gets burned up. (And in this case you “SUFFER LOSS”).

If you build upon your foundation with good works (From Christ and IN CHRIST) those are gold, silver, and precious stones.

What happens when gold, silver, and precious stones gets “tested by fire”?

Gold and silver get refined and the dross gets burned off of precious stones.

Bad works
[LIST]
*]Wood
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Hay
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Straw
[/LIST]

Good works
[LIST]
*]Gold
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Silver
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Precious stones
[/LIST]

Now listen to St. Paul . . . . .

1st CORINTHIANS 3:11-15 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.

Now look at the CCC on this.

CCC 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

Now go back up to CCC 1031 and look at footnote 607, which I underlined and bolded. Look carefully also at the context of CCC 1031.

Footnote 607 refers to 1st Corinthians 3:15! (It also refers to 1st Peter 1:7)

CCC 1031 specifically talks of “Purgatory”.

1st Corinthians 3:15 explicitly talks about “SUFFERING loss”.

And here is CCC 1030 leading up to CCC 1031

CCC 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.

That being said, some people may go DIRECTLY to Heaven! No Purgatory (and if you want I can expound on that too). This just pertains to those who are “but still imperfectly purified” in this life.


You have the mind of the Church affirming the existence of temporal punishment and Purgatory AND MERCY Blessedwithfive.

It is not an either/or but a yes/and.

Your instructor either is mistaken or there was some misunderstanding.

Keep up the good work Blessedwithfive.

God bless.

Cathoholic

If this were the case, if God didn’t want us to struggle against sin, to be tested and refined and purified in one way or another during our lives prior to heaven until we finally freely choose only rightly, having our wills aligned with God’s, then why would God allow man to fall to begin with? Why not just avoid all the drama, all the pain, suffering and death that have ensued since the Fall and just stock heaven with the “elect”, then presumably stocking hell with the rest? It’s a matter of the human will; that’s what God’s working on. And this is why Scripture tells us that no sinners enter heaven. We must be purified of all attractions to things other than God first above all else. If we don’t love Him above all else, above lesser, inferior things, then our justice is incomplete*, we aren’t fully justified. *

So purgatory is a place of mercy, of God helping to get us to the point where we’re capable of “seeing” Him, because we truly want to.Then our happiness will be complete.

So , no matter how well educated these individuals may be , they do not understand the double consequence of sin - therefore, the doctrine of Purgatory.

And they further appear to err in their definition/application of Mercy - and therefore justice.

Mercy is not something which can *replace * or deny or negate justice ; Mercy always presupposes justice.

But all of it stems from their not understanding the double consequence of sin. Invariably those who do not believe in Purgatory , have no concept of the double consequence of sin. They need to accept that before they can understand anything else about Purgatory.

MT1926 posted this earlier from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (and it isn’t “old” teaching - :dts: , this CCC was only promulgated in 1992) :

1472

To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.

Depending on where and under whose authority this person is teaching, his error needs to be brought to the attention of the church pastor, the university president, or the bishop.

There is no way I am going to open that can of worms…

Thank you all for the responses…You are all in line with what I was taught but…sometimes this site is kindly referred as the “crazy catholic site” by people. You guys tend to be conservative (not that that is bad…I am conservative!). Really no disrespect intended…

I did look over my Catechist materials for Confirmation and there is no mention of temporal punishment at all. Actually I couldn’t find it in any of my catechist materials and I have been teaching 13 years all grades from third through tenth. That is why I thought maybe it was an outdated concept. It occurred to me that I have never taught it in class, yet I do know about it from my education. And my own children know about it, but they can’t remember who taught them…

The opinion of my classmates was that once sins are forgiven in confession, we are off scot-free. No harm, no foul. No repercussions.

Thanks again

I just wanted to say that purgatory isn’t an easy concept to understand. Even if it was in your material and I was one of your students I know I wouldn’t have understood (nor cared to understand) temporal punishment at that age. As for your kids my guess is you taught them.

I’m 46 and still trying to understand it all.

I know opening a can of worms could be tough but to just ask your pastor the same question you asked us shouldn’t be too difficult. Anyone that teaches there are no repercussions for our sins is not only doing a disservice to everyone in their class, they are doing a disservice to everyone they ever sinned against.

God Bless.

The justice serves a purpose. Being held accountable purifies us and breaks our attachment to sin. It completes a transformation to conforming to Christ, if it was not already completed in life. It’s something we should want for ourselves. I want to be made perfect by God. I don’t want to retain my attachment to sin. I don’t want him to just give me clean clothes to hide my dirtiness. I want to actually be clean myself (made so by God).

Just a quick reaffirmation of what MT1926 already said with emphasis mine (and some formatting additions mine to easier highlight the contrast between eternal vrs. the temporal aspects of punishment of sins).

**The punishments of sin **

CCC 1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church,
it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence.

Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin.

On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory.

This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin.

These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin.

A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.84

CCC 1473a The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. . . .

Sin has a "double consequence."
[LIST]
*]There is an eternal dimension
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]There is a temporal dimension
[/LIST]

And a person can do their proverbial Purgatory on earth in this life!

CCC 1473b While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the "new man."85

CCC 1471 The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.

**What is an indulgence? **

"An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."81

"An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin."82 The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.83

Oh, wow, this explains why my 9-year-old knew about Purgatory when her CCD teacher knew nothing about it (:eek:)

Nothing in the catechetical materials… oh, my…

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