Christianity – which was also known as Catholicism for the first thousand years A.D. – was a natural outgrowth from Judaism. The Catholic Church was founded by the Jewish Messiah – the Christ, the Anointed One – upon Peter, the Rock. His Twelve Apostles, all leaders of the newborn Church, were faithful and observant Jews.
Even after the Crucifixion and Ascension of Our Lord and the birth of His Church, the Apostles continued to attend synagogue services. Then they and their followers – first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26) – who were the Church, gathered together in members’ houses to celebrate the “breaking of the bread” – the Mass (Acts 2:42, 20:7, et al.). Acts documents how intertwined were Christianity and Judaism.
The Jews believed that souls were purified after death, in preparation for their union with God (example: “Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (RSV, See 2 Maccabees 12:38-45). They still do. They just don’t call this process “purgatory.” Jews prayed for their dead at the time of Jesus and still do today. The Apostles – all devout Jews – taught the concept of after-death purification to their new Greek-speaking converts, the first Christians.
The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world. Christ taught the Apostles and the Apostles taught the Church. The Church has been teaching the concept of the purification of souls after death (purgatory) for the past 2,000 years because she learned it from the Apostles.
Protestants, basing their faith on Sola Scriptura, not only do not find purgatory in the Scriptures (because they don’t know how to recognize the Truth when they read it), but they are so far removed in time from the beginning of historical Christianity that they have cut themselves off from this knowledge.
The New Testament came out of the Church. The teachings of the Catholic Church are reflected in the NT, not the other way around. Just because there is not a flat statement in the NT that “souls are purified after death in a process called purgatory” does not mean it isn’t there, or that Christ and His Apostles didn’t believe it and teach it.
Latin: purgare (v.) To purify, to cleanse.
There’s much more to be said about purgatory. Comments?
Ave Cor Mariae, Jay