Understanding purgatory / reconciliation


#1

purgatory doesn't sound at all like a decent place to go to once one dies, and seems to be a midway point before one can be accepted into heaven.

yet we are being taught, believe in Christ, become baptized, etc , and more over as Catholics we are offered the sacrament of Reconciliation the forgiveness of our sins, and thusly we are saved and go to heaven.

it would seem off hand that if we receive the sacrament of Reconciliation are truly sorry and do not commit not only the same sins over again but any mortal or venial sin that we should have no worry about hell or purgatory.

yet why do I have the feeling that is not the case, it isn't enough that Christ died for our sins and bridged the gap between us and God, and now with all the sacraments we have through the Church for some reason that is not going to be enough either to spare one from suffering in the afterlife via purgatory. All we are taught is about unconditional love God and Christ has for us / BUT, there is always a " but " .

More over, what about people who live a good life and are already suffering in this world, suffering miserably, through no fault of their own. ? What about the Christians / Catholics across the globe from N. Korea , to the Middle East and points in between, who can't even freely worship in peace and are imprisoned , killed even sometimes for practicing the faith.

I am also curious at what point did this concept of purgatory come into existence ? Seems to me that all that I can recall growing up and being taught there were two choices , Heaven or Hell. Is purgatory even mentioned in the bible at all ?

I am also guessing we do not automatically go to purgatory that we are judged upon our death and at that point it is either heaven, hell or purgatory.

But based upon everything we have been taught, the sacraments, the unconditional love of God and Christ, how many times must we be saved and purified before we are forgiven ?

How much suffering does one have to go through on earth to from the poor, homeless, victims of crimes, injustice, etc and trying to live a good life a Christian life on top of those circumstances or even just battling the secular world we live in at the same time we are trying to live our faith.... if purgatory is a place of only suffering how much more suffering on earth does one have to go through to bypass purgatory.

can't win for losing, so why bother.?

or Christ loves' you but remember you are never good enough . should be taught it seems is key to explaining such things.

which as morbid or sarcastic as it may appear which is not the intent, it is actually true.


#2

Christianity isn’t just about what we receive, but also about how we’ve changed, who we’ve become, over time, cooperating with God’s grace- what we’ve done with what we’re given. Purgatory is an aspect of Gods mercy, because, to the extent there’s still any attraction to anything above Him first and foremost, any attraction to sin, then we’re still not “there”; we’re incapable of heaven, incapable of seeing God, because we’re still opposed to His will to one degree or another. So purgatory is a state of purification, of coaxing our wills into alignment with His flawless will. And remember that, effectively, anyone in purgatory has already made it to heaven-they just need a little more time.

The suffering has to do with this struggle of our wills-in purgatory we’re that much closer to God; His reality is no longer in question in any way. And yet we’re not 100% sold out to Him. We don’t yet love with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. His grace is still working in us to that end. So IMO there’s a conflict yet to be resolved, we’re still pulled in different directions.

To put it another way: Christ’s purpose isn’t to merely change our outward behavior but to change our hearts first. When our hearts are right then all else follows suit, our righteousness is complete, we’re whole again, justice reigns within and without. Purgatory has that purpose.


#3

The simplest way to understand purgatory is to take a good, hard look at yourself. You're a believer. You've been baptized, confirmed, received communion, reconcilliation. But are you perfect? Do you still commit sins? Are there still sinful things that you are tempted towards?

In heaven, you will neither commit sins nor be even interested in them. Sin will have no appeal. So if you get run over by a bus in 10 minutes, will you enter heaven as is? Nope. First you need to be "finished." God must complete in you the work of sanctification that wasn't completed in earthly life. You're FORGIVEN all your sins, but God doesn't turn you into a puppet incapable of sin when you become a believer. He calls you to CHOOSE Grace over and over again in a process that renews you. Most of us aren't done yet when we die.

Don't think of purgatory as a sort of hell on a timer. That's dead wrong. Think of it instead as a sort of spiritual finishing school where you learn, really learn what sin REALLY is and grow to find it repulsive. It involves suffering in that we (I think) will be forced to truly confront all the harm caused by our sin in this world (including all teh ripple effects) so that we come to truly understand it and detest it.


#4

I appreciate the responses thus far,

manualman

I do kind of look at as purgatory as you stated a hell on a timer, an I understand your response as well, as for what I assume was a comment towards me personally, am I perfect, do I commit sins, no and of course yes.

but I would answer that comment of if I were to die today, in 10 minutes, etc...

I would say that I am ready to be judged , I know who I am, and what I have done thus far in my life, I have nothing to hide from God nor nothing to fear, I am pretty much worn out an sick of life as it is, being judged is the least of my worries, rotting in purgatory for another life time is something that does make me wonder though.

which maybe that is what I am starting to better understand, it isn't hell on a timer, and one is not truly suffering in the sense I am personally thinking.


#5

It comes down to a very significant difference between catholicism and some forms of protestantism. There is a strain of protestantism that sees the sacrifice of Christ in strictly legal terms: We sinners deserve death, Jesus was perfect and spotless, but took on our sin and punishment so that we can take on his cloak of righteousness.

But this vision of salvation has righteousness as merely a "cloak." Jesus COVERS our sins. This is a sad, pale shadow of real christianity. We're not going in to heaven as sad, pathetic sinners covered over with a veneer of holiness. We're going to be transformed fully so that there IS no sin anymore to be covered over.

The transition sounds scary, but it will be worth the wait. Ask any woman who has had kids about childbirth. None will say they enjoyed it, but I've yet to meet one who regretted experiencing it. I think purgatory will be of similar character. Painful, but joyful.


#6

I'm sure this is going to attract the ire and righteous indignation of some. :shrug: But here goes:

On the cross, in His agony, Jesus turned to the man being crucified next to Him, the man who had asked to be remembered when He got to His kingdom. Now, this man was a criminal, perhaps even a murderer (we don't really know what crime he committed). Jesus said, "This day you will be with me in Paradise."

So now: it seems this answers the question. I truly believe, after much prayer and study and reflection, that the soul, itself, chooses to be purified and that God allows that choice. For some, I think, the earthly suffering has been so great that the soul does not feel the requirement of such purification, or God does not allow it and takes the soul to Himself immediately. And "purgatory" isn't a "place", it is outside time/space and almost impossible to even imagine. I think it is an "experience" of growth, perhaps of serious sorrow for certain actions, maybe even an experience that allows the soul to do something (I have no idea what) to help ameliorate its own strong sense of unworthiness to be in God's presence (yet). Also, I think the soul chooses hell. Perhaps such a choice is made in the flesh. It's odd that I recently read Eva Braun's diary stated, on the 19th of April in 1945, that she wondered why "God has abandoned us" or was "allowing" them to suffer in the bunker and face death. Imagine THAT? Imagine being so lacking in perception and so refusing of grace as to wonder why God isn't saving the life of Adolf Hitler??? Whoa!

Anyway, that's my two cents. Now lemme go run for cover lol.


#7

I would also like to point out that the Church teaches that we can join our earthly tribulations and pains to Jesus which has the effect of reducing our passage though purgatory.
The concept of purgatory even though is not explicitly stated in the bible can be deduced from St. Paul in the 1st letter to the Corinthian:

3:12 But if anyone builds upon this foundation, whether gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or stubble,

3:13 each one’s work shall be made manifest. For the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it will be revealed by fire. And this fire will test each one’s work, as to what kind it is.

3:14 If anyone’s work, which he has built upon it, remains, then he will receive a reward. 3:15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer its loss, but he himself will still be saved, but only as through fire.

I suggest you do a search here at CAF for purgatory it is a thread that gets lots of request. :thumbsup:


#8

Truth is true regardless of how much we like or dislike it, or how much we disagree with it, or how much we wish things were this or that way instead. :shrug:


#9

[quote="ellzeena, post:6, topic:329973"]
I truly believe, after much prayer and study and reflection, that the soul, itself, chooses to be purified and that God allows that choice. For some, I think, the earthly suffering has been so great that the soul does not feel the requirement of such purification, or God does not allow it and takes the soul to Himself immediately.

[/quote]

It is not a choice - no more than a table cloth with a coffee stain can choose whether or not to consider itself stained.

The choice is in the process of getting stains and washing them away. If we don't get rid of them in this life, we must do so in the next one if we did not reject God and yet are not entirely holy (as required in order to see the All Holy in the state of heaven).


#10

[quote="john78, post:4, topic:329973"]

I would say that I am ready to be judged , I know who I am, and what I have done thus far in my life, I have nothing to hide from God nor nothing to fear, I am pretty much worn out an sick of life as it is, being judged is the least of my worries, rotting in purgatory for another life time is something that does make me wonder though.

which maybe that is what I am starting to better understand, it isn't hell on a timer, and one is not truly suffering in the sense I am personally thinking.

[/quote]

This life is already sort of a purgatory, halfway between heaven and hell, with at least some suffering inevitable, a place of "purgation" in the sense that we're here to learn to choose good and reject evil, to choose life over death, to turn from sin and turn to God. So this life, this exile from the Garden, has always been intended to be formative, more that punitive, in nature, and purgatory would be sort of a continuation of that formation, with our turning fully to God being the goal.


#11

Purgatory is getting used to looking at Jesus in the eyes without shame.


#12

www.aboutcatholics.com/beliefs/where-is-purgatory-in-the-bible/

Even our ancestors in faith (the Jews) prayed for the dead. They believed in the afterlife.
In 2 Maccabee 12, the commander of the Jewish troops found one group of his slain soldiers wearing amulets, a symbol of worship of some false gods. Judas Maccabee took up a collection from his troops, to be brought to the priests in Jerusalem, so that the Jewish priests could offer a sacrifice in expiation (atonement) for the sins of their fallen brethren (and for the benefit of their souls, that they may be resurrected to Heaven).


#13

[quote="R_C, post:9, topic:329973"]
It is not a choice - no more than a table cloth with a coffee stain can choose whether or not to consider itself stained.

The choice is in the process of getting stains and washing them away. If we don't get rid of them in this life, we must do so in the next one if we did not reject God and yet are not entirely holy (as required in order to see the All Holy in the state of heaven).

[/quote]

I respectfully disagree. One other poster mentioned he was ready right now...I feel that way also. What sins do I commit? Interior ones: feeling disliked, feeling dislike for some others, and the worst one: sometimes I lie. :shrug: I "feel" ready but obviously I'm not or God would have called my ""name". I do know He has work for me to do, I know it because - well, let's just say I know it. Right now I'm not doing my best work, I had to set aside my hospital ministry for a while.

Back to purgatory: I do think it's a choice made by the individual soul who recognizes it is unworthy of sharing the beatific presence and needs to "work" on certain things (however this occurs outside of space/time, no idea really). And hell is a choice. If a person rejects God, leads a secular life, harms others without thinking twice (your average captain of industry lol), or really harms others (physically) without underlying mental illness...that soul has already chosen hell. How could it stand even remotely before God, it couldn't. I think. :confused:


#14

Purgatory, the state of cleansing and purification, the Divinely created work of art nearing perfection, sensing the presence of that Divine Light and Love which has just been missed by a mere whisker.....the pain and the punishment of being so close and yet so far!!.....the desperation of knowing that the only way of escape is by God's Mercy AND the prayers of those we've left behind. We can hear our loved ones talking about us, see them reap the benefits of the material "wealth" we've left behind, listen to them saying "He's happy now" or worse "He's in Heaven now".
We are suffering here and you would be shocked at who all is in this place!!
Get us out of here. Pray for us EVERY day and get Masses said for us. You must understand this....we are at your mercy...your prayers gets us out of here!!
PERFECT LOVE AND HUMILITY TO ALL.. .. OUR GOD IS JUST


#15

[quote="ellzeena, post:13, topic:329973"]
I respectfully disagree. One other poster mentioned he was ready right now...I feel that way also. ...] I "feel" ready ...]

[/quote]

Even the most light of all sins is a great stain before the All Holy whom even the pure Seraphim cannot behold. This was especially the point of Tertullian, who wrote:

the soul executes not all its operations with the ministration of the flesh; for the judgment of God pursues even simple cogitations and the merest volitions. ... Therefore, even for this cause it is most fitting that the soul, without at all waiting for the flesh, should be punished for what it has done without the partnership of the flesh. ... we also interpret 'the last penny' to mean the very smallest offense which has to be recompensed

Nobody can "choose" whether he is in need of further cleansing or not, because that is something inherent to the state of the soul. If the soul is stained, even by what we consider a very minor stain, it requires purification. Feeling "ready" to meet the Beloved is a wonderful, wonderful thing! But that is much different from saying that we are ready to enter heaven.

Even Saint Paul wrote: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day"... and yet, someplace else he clarifies: "I am conscious of nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby acquitted: for he that judges me is the Lord."

The "choice" is indeed in accepting or rejecting God. "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. ...] Whoever is not with me is against me".

This is the difference between being saved and being condemned. Between being a damned soul and a holy soul. Damned souls have chosen to reject God and to abide in the state of hell, the state of permanent rejection of God. Holy souls have repented, have been saved, and have embraced God - some cannot bear the sight of the Beatific Vision until further purified like gold in fire, others already enjoy the infinite bliss of the state of heaven.

Until the very last instant of life, all souls have the God-given choice of repenting and being saved by the merits of the Cross - but unless a soul is told by special revelation that it has been cleansed of all sin and will directly enter heaven, one can only hope to complete all purification on earth...that was one of Padre Pio's favorite advice: "let us do our purgatory here on earth".

On the bright side, your condition is much more excellent than mine :D I'm still at the stage of life in which the only hope of salvation I hold is that I see how great is God's love and mercy and I say: "with such great love, even I can somehow be saved if I try hard" :o


#16

[quote="R_C, post:15, topic:329973"]
Even the most light of all sins is a great stain before the All Holy whom even the pure Seraphim cannot behold. This was especially the point of Tertullian, who wrote:

Nobody can "choose" whether he is in need of further cleansing or not, because that is something inherent to the state of the soul. If the soul is stained, even by what we consider a very minor stain, it requires purification. Feeling "ready" to meet the Beloved is a wonderful, wonderful thing! But that is much different from saying that we are ready to enter heaven.

Even Saint Paul wrote: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day"... and yet, someplace else he clarifies: "I am conscious of nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby acquitted: for he that judges me is the Lord."

The "choice" is indeed in accepting or rejecting God. "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. ...] Whoever is not with me is against me".

This is the difference between being saved and being condemned. Between being a damned soul and a holy soul. Damned souls have chosen to reject God and to abide in the state of hell, the state of permanent rejection of God. Holy souls have repented, have been saved, and have embraced God - some cannot bear the sight of the Beatific Vision until further purified like gold in fire, others already enjoy the infinite bliss of the state of heaven.

Until the very last instant of life, all souls have the God-given choice of repenting and being saved by the merits of the Cross - but unless a soul is told by special revelation that it has been cleansed of all sin and will directly enter heaven, one can only hope to complete all purification on earth...that was one of Padre Pio's favorite advice: "let us do our purgatory here on earth".

On the bright side, your condition is much more excellent than mine :D I'm still at the stage of life in which the only hope of salvation I hold is that I see how great is God's love and mercy and I say: "with such great love, even I can somehow be saved if I try hard" :o

[/quote]

Yes in many ways I absolutely agree with what you have said except I am absolutely convinced (it is an inner conviction) that the soul, itself, makes the choice. It's like this: you suddenly find yourself awaiting a meeting with the Pope but, as you review your apparel, you realize you're in torn dungarees, a dirty t shirt, dirty sneakers, and your hair needs to be washed. Now, you can't present yourself to the Pope in this manner, although he might not even notice or care (and that might be God's response to some souls that are not quite "dressed for the part"). Rough analogy, but....makes my point.

St. Paul said he had "run the race, finished the course...." and that quote/verse tells me he fully expected to be taken straight to Jesus. He must have "sinned" (transgressed) despite the vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus, simply in his humanity. He knew something we don't. As for Padre Pio, well to me life is not even purgatory, it's hell and it always has been. The redeeming factors for existence are God's exquisite creation, all around us every day, and those moments we receive true love from anyone, even a stranger. I don't know too many people whose lives have been "paradise" but I'm certainly hoping this great price I am paying is sufficient for my few errors. God bless you.


#17

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