Purgatory. Can someone explain it to me?
Gentle suggestion: the Search function would bring up loads of replies on this topic that have already been posted in previous threads (and get you answers instantaneously, too :D).
That said, if you want to start a new conversation on it, I’m sure someone will oblige soon. I’m not the one who can do it justice…
Have a good (late) night!
People who are “saved” go there to pay the “temporal punishment due for sins committed.” Note this is not paying for salvation, but paying the “temporal punishment”.
It is impossible to reconcile “Protestant theology” that was invented in the 16’th century to this…then again it is impossible for Protestants to understand why we Christians suffer in this world still, as Fr. Corapi said last night on EWTN.
The final culmination of sanctification.
Purgatory is the answer to a simple question. The question is, at this very moment of your death will you be completely without sin and without any desire to sin?
If not, then if you cannot enter heaven. So how will you go from a sinful, sin-desiring human being one instant, to a perfected, purified human being capable of being in heaven the next instant?
Purgatory is the answer. It is God’s final mercy, completing our sanctification upon our death, when we have wasted the opportunity to complete it on earth, prior to our entry to heaven.
Though the Bible tells us many things, one primary message is that nothing unclean shall enter heaven. Most non-Catholic Christians believe that their sins will be “covered up” by the salvific work of Christ. Catholics do not believe that sins are simply “covered up” but rather that our souls are truly sanctified by Christ. During the course of our lives we are more and more sanctified by God’s Grace. When we are baptized, we receive His Grace (in a very big way), then when we have faith, more Grace, receive the Eucharist, more Grace…etc. Our whole lives as Catholics are a process of sanctification. However, at the end of our lives, there may be a few sins still hanging on. We are in a state of Grace, so we are saved, but we may have a few venial sins hanging on at the moment of our death. But, remember, nothing unclean can enter, so God gives a final purification (purgatory) so that we can enter heaven in an absolutely spotless state of grace.
Purgatory is not so much a place, but a process. Since it takes place in the spiritual world, I don’t think the concept of time really applies. It may seem like years but only take seconds…or the exact opposite. We just don’t know about that.
Okay, but what about the theif on the cross? Jesus didn’t say anything about Purgatory or anything like that;
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
I’m not a theologian, nor a scholar, but this point occurs to me.
It must have taken a great act of faith for this dying man - this convicted criminal being tortured to death - to accept that this other man being tortured to death next to him, was both innocent of all evil and a messenger from God.
It must have taken a great act of charity to speak in defence of Jesus, when he was himself dying in agony.
It must have taken humility and honesty to admit he deserved his punishment, to accept it, and still to ask for mercy from Jesus.
I think his actions deserve the label “heroic act of virtue”. This might well explain how he attained to a state of perfection in a moment.
The short answer is: It’s the final step of your sanctification if you haven’t been completely sanctified in this life; as most of the saved are not.
When a person dies, it is as though he is issued one of three airline tickets:
Ticket #1. For those who die in God’s grace and friendship and who have already achieved in life the holiness necessary to enter heaven, they get a non-stop flight to Heaven.
Ticket #2. For those who die in God’s grace and friendship but who have not yet achieved in life the holiness necessary to enter heaven, they get a 1-stop flight to Heaven, laying-over first in Purgatory for their final sanctification and then continuing on to Heaven.
Ticket #3. For those who die rejecting God’s grace and friendship, they get a non-stop flight to Hell.
The Good Thief was either issued a Ticket #1 for a non-stop flight to Heaven, in which case Purgatory was not mentioned because his flight wasn’t making a stop there. Or he was issued a Ticket #2 with only a brief and insignificant layover in Purgatory such that he would still have a same-day arrival at Heaven. In the latter case, Purgatory was not mentioned because the man’s layover in Purgatory was not going to significantly delay his entry into Heaven.
A very illustrative analogy, but I think we’re missing something here:
Both Heaven and Purgatory exist outside of time. If the thief spent “time” in Purgatory, it certainly didn’t conform to our understanding.
NB: I am in no way insisting that the thief must have gone to Purgatory rather than going straight to Heaven.