A Discussion of Purgatory
Well I do happen to be one of the ones who have difficulty with purgetory. I have looked into the CCC and the Scripture references indicated to support purgetory, and IMHO did not support it at all.

I am wanting more information on it. Also an open dialog where there is true communication which I believe it can be difficult on this subject.

reH DuSIgh vablI'.
Duy mara


My understanding is as follows: Purgatory comes from a Latin Word meaning purification. We have:

NAB Revelation 21:27 but nothing unclean will enter it

Those who die with unrepented venial sins are neither pure nor are they destined for Hell. Consequently, there must be a purification process or state. That's what purgatory is. The Church say's little elese about it. Most of our images of purgatory come from Dante.

God bless you for your openness, mara. I may not satisfy your inquirey here, but I feel a few questions might help.

When you pray about the citation you looked up in 2nd Machabees (12:46), applying reason and logic, what is your conclusion on WHY it is "a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins"?

What I come up with is this sort of process of elimination;

We don't pray for souls who have definitely come their eternal reward, as their situation cannot improve because of our prayers; similarly, we do not pray for the dammed for the same reason; once lost, always lost.

I don't have time to look them up now, but there are many New Testament quotes that say we must be perfect (perfectly holy) to enter into heaven. Realistically, very few are perfect before death, even though they believe. It will be painful for those of us who are not yet perfect to see the Pure and Holy Face of God. Purgation is the fire of Divine Love that purifies an unworthy soul, clearing the conscience completely.


Blessed is the man who meditates on wisdom and who reasons intelligently.
He who reflects in his mind on her ways will also ponder her secrets.
(Sir. 14:20 & 21)

I understand what purgetory means. I just haven't found in the NT anything that backs it up. Also the Scriptures indicated in the CCC in the NT do not in IMHO and another I've spoken to about this, actually indicate purgetory.

If I do not believe in purgetory I have been told I'm not in the fullness of the Church, that I have to believe in everything. I have a problem with this purgetory issue. Not much is even said about it.

I'm not trying to put doubt mind you in anyones mind. I have doubt about it. I sometimes think to myself. Does it honestly matter if I believe in it or not believe in it. Can believing in it bring me closer to God? Or is believing in this taking away from my belief that Jesus already purified me by His blood on the cross. He has purified all my sins even the ones I've yet to do.

So that is my thoughts and finding more about purgetory is important to me. Scriptures and such is very important to substantiate the purgetory postion.

reH DuSIgh vablI'.
Duy mara

Hi Duy Mara!

I believe that Jesus made allusions to this in Matt 5:21-48.


Poly thank you.

I have heard and read 2nd Machabees (12:46), and I do believe it is correct, however that is the OT. Before Jesus Christ came and died for our sins. Is not Abrahams bosom purgetory? Wasn't that what was going on, a waiting to be purified and it wasn't until Christ came and died and rose from the dead. Wasn't that belief in him our purification?

CCC quotes these scriptures as the basis of purgetory:

1 Corinth 3:15
But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.
(I do not find this verse supports it. I believe it is speaking of the foundation of Jesus Christ and probably more indepth for this dicussion.)

1 Peter 1:7
so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(If you read the verses before this one with this one, it is speaking of how are faith has been tested in our life. Not a purification.

See my position?
I have not found it supported. *sigh* I really do want to find something that will back up the position of purgetory.

reH DuSIgh vablI'.
Duy mara

Hi Duymara,

Purgatory was a difficult topic for me to comprehend (and defend) for quite some time....until I really began to look at the issue of justification/sanctification as it relates to salvation. While I'm still reading...Robert Sungenis' book "Not by Faith Alone" has provided greater insight into the issue; you might want to think about picking up that book...it's from Queenship Press (or Publishing...)

I know that when looking at Purgatory, I was looking for direct references to it, when there were very few direct references in the Scriptures. So, even when I looked at the verses that were offered as support for purgatory...I was like "Well, if the Church says so...it must be", yet, I wasn't wholly convinced, though I submitted myself to the mind of the Church. I did attempt though to search more deeply into the issue...and that's when I convinced.

Purgatory is part of a complete soteriology (theology of salvation), and therefore, one must understand Catholic soteriology - at a slightly advanced level - in order to be satisfied by the evidence of Purgatory that has been offered. (At least that's what it took for me.)

In baptism, we were cleansed by the blood of Christ Jesus, purifying us from all sin and punishment. We had put off our old self and put on Christ Jesus. However, the tendency toward sin remains with us; and, thus, we do sin. When we ask forgiveness for these sins we commit, we have the eternal punishment for sin removed; however, there remains a temporal punishment. Without punishment, we don't learn. If there are *NO* consequences, then there's nothing to keep us from doing those things again.

Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not the same as Baptism. In Baptism, we die to our old self and are reborn as children of God; thus, we are immediately purified. This is why the Church teaches that those who die after baptism but before committing any actual sin will go straight to heaven. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the eternal punishment is removed, but the temporal remains. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said in a sermon, [paraphrased], "Let us say that I have authority to command you. I tell you to take two steps to the left. Instead, you take two steps to the right. Later, realizing your action was wrong, you decide to follow once again. However, before you can start acting rightly, you have to take two more steps to the left." Basically, this said to me that when we disobey, we have to do a little bit more to start acting justly. The person who desired to act rightly in the scenario of Archbishop Sheen had to take four steps to the left in order to be in a complete state of obedience. The sorrow of disobedience was enough to take away the eternal punishment, however, there remained the temporal punishment, which was to get back to your original position before the sin (two steps to the left), then begin acting rightly (taking another two steps to the left, to be in the place where you were commanded to be (to be in full obedience). I hope that makes sense...it makes sense in my head, but it doesn't always come out clear. :-)

During our life on earth, we undergo a process of purification from sin, which stems from the grace of God working in our soul. If the soul is not wholly purified, we remain "unclean" to a certain extent. While the eternal punishment may be gone, the temporal remains until we are wholly purified - that all tendency toward sin, and attachment to sin is removed.

This is where I thought of the verse about God being a "consuming fire", which will burn off our sinful works, and purify us. We will "suffer loss" but we will be saved, as one escaping through the flames. That's what I believe to be Purgatory.

I'll leave it here for now...as I have to get back to work...but feel free to response with questions, comments, or concerns.

God bless,

Homepage:Get the Full Truth
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Gee Mary,

I do not see anything in those verses that could possibly be alluding to purgetory. Did you post the correct verse?

reH DuSIgh vablI'.
Duy mara

"I'm not trying to put doubt mind you in anyones mind. I have doubt about it. I sometimes think to myself. Does it honestly matter if I believe in it or not believe in it."

Interesting question in general, "does it honestly matter?"

Hi Duy Mara

Where is the "jail" that Jesus is refering to? Who is the judge? Much of what Jesus says can be taken metaphorically.

It is impossible to take back every mean thought or word made to everyone we encounter. Many of us mentally lashout and assume no harm done. But God see and hears all. It may not put me in "jail" for in anger wishing harm or misfortune on someone, and I may even forget it crossed my mind - but Jesus will hold me accountable for it.

Very simplistic, but it helped me to understand.


I may be wrong, but I feel your analigy is reaching. I will continue to do more praying over this.

reH DuSIgh vablI'.
Duy mara

Hi Duy maria,

If you can be satisfied about this question only by our using Holy Scripture as collection of proof texts, then, although not happy at all about approaching the question from that direction, I would offer Matthew 12:31-32. In these verses, the possibility of the forgiveness of sin after death is presupposed. The step from there to the reality of Purgatory is a simple one.

The teaching on Purgatory is far better grounded in any solidly Catholic presentation of Christology. All eschatalogical statements in Holy Scripture are Christological statements anyway. All too frequently, the doctrine on Purgatory gets trivialized if not approached in this way.

Yours in the Most Holy Trinity,



Exactly. I'm told as a Catholic I am to believe in it. To not believe in it would mean I'm not believing in the Church.

But I sometimes wonder. Does believing in it change anything I believe and trust in Jesus Christ? Does my belief in it reflect Christ? Does not believing in it take away from anything Christ has set forth for me? Will it change any of my actions for the better or worse? Does it lead me closer to Christ, or does it separate me from him?

And so I'm searching.

reH DuSIgh vablI'.
Duy mara


I think this gets into a discussion of "what's essential" and "what's non-essential?" Is there anything that's "non-essential" when taught by Christ Jesus through His Church?

Something to ponder...along with my previous posting....

God bless,

Homepage:Get the Full Truth
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Hi Duy,

Try reading this link. Maybe it will help you see those scriptures in a different light, especially the verse "in this life or the age to come."


After you posted your question, I started looking into the early Church Fathers to see what they said. All of the following quotations are taken from "The Early Church Fathers", electronic version, The Segan Corporation.

Pope Gregory the Great (http://www.knight.org/advent/cathen/06780a.htm) is responsible for the notion of purgatory becoming doctrine. Jaroslav Pelikan writes in "The Emergence of Catholic Tradition (100-600) (pages 355-366):

ĎThe origins of the idea of purgatory may be traced to the widespread hope, expressed by Origen, that the power of the saving will of God extended beyond the limits of this earthly life, granting men a further opportunity for purification and eventual salvation even after death. Augustine, while opposing himself to the speculations of Origen about the universal salvation of all men and of the devil, nevertheless believed that there were "temporary punishments after death" and that it was appropriate to pray that some of the dead be granted remission of sins. These suggestions about purgatorial fire, made tentatively and in passing, became "something that has to be believed [credendus]" in Gregory. Again, "it has to be believed [credendum est]" that the prayers of the faithful availed in obtaining release from purgatorial fire for those who had sinned "not out of malice but out of the error of ignorance." Such men were "somewhat deficient in perfect righteousness," but could be aided by the intercession of the departed saints and of the faithful here on earth.

A special kind of intercession was the sacrifice of the Mass. "If guilty deeds are not beyond absolution even after death, the sacred offering of the saving Victim consistently aids souls even after death, so that the very souls of the departed seem sometimes to yearn for this." The liturgy and the theology of the church had long believed and taught that the Eucharist was a sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ. But in the course of the disquisition on purgatory just quoted, Gregory stated the sacrificial interpretation of the Eucharist with new definiteness and detail: "We ought to immolate to God the daily sacrifices of our tears, the daily offerings of His flesh and blood. For who among the faithful can have any doubt that at the very hour of the immolation, in response to the voice of the priest, the heavens are opened and the choirs of angels are present in this mystery of Jesus Christ?" Ď

Well, I think that what Matt has said is important. Is anything that the Church proposes for our belief non-essential. I can think of a couple of instances where non-belief might be detrimental.

If we believe that Jesus just "covers" our sin with His grace, it might lead us to gloss over the fact our sins have created "messes" that need to be cleaned up.

If we don't believe in Purgatory, we will not pray for those in Purgatory, who need our prayers. After all, one day we might be there wishing someone would pray for us.

I don't understand why you think that NT references are more important than OT. This is a pretty Protestant point of view. Also, the Church teaches that there are TWO sources of Revelation: Scripture and Sacred Tradition and that they are equal. After all, Sacred Tradition pre-date the NT.

A personal note. Although I was raised Catholic, by the time I married, I had pretty much drifted away from all Catholic practice. Shortly after the birth of my first child, I became involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Although those around me were Catholic, they had been heavily influenced by Protestant Penecostals and were pretty much ready to table any Catholic belief that Protestants didn't agree with. We didn't believe it was a sin to miss Mass, we thought maybe Marian devotion was bad, etc. We basically thought that since we had the Holy Spirit, we could judge the Church. Purgatory was one of those concepts that went out the window.

In the ensuing years (25 years), the Lord has gently led me to see the arrogance of my former stance. (Also, the Renewal in Memphis has become very orthodox.) One of the tools that He used to teach me about Purgatory was C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce. Of course, it is a work of fiction, and probably theologically sound, however, it does help one to see the need for Purgatory.

Copyright © 1999 Delphi Internet Services Corporation. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy.

Whoops! I meant probably NOT theologically sound! And don't even ask how that copyright notice got in there.

Iím continuing my short summary of the history. I hope it adds to the discussion.

Martin Luther raised the question of purgatory, or rather the selling of indulgences to get oneself or someone else out of purgatory in his famous ninety-five theses which were posted on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517 (http://calvarykc.com/Beliefs/95Theses.htm). If you examine his theses, youíll se he is not questioned the reality of purgatory. He changed his position later to question itís existence as youíll see in his Table Talk (http://www.reformed.org/documents/Table_talk/table_talk_4.html#Heading22, search for "OF PURGATORY"). If you compare what he writes, with my prior citation to Augustine, youíll see that Luther is incorrect in his assertion that "Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome held nothing at all of purgatory".

This led the Church to reaffirm the doctrine of purgatory at Trent (http://history.hanover.edu/early/trent/ct25pur.htm).

A strong belief in Purgatory can change your life for the better by encouraging you to pray for the dead, which is a great work of mercy. And the blessed in Heaven who have been aided by your prayers will be there when you need them as intercessors for you.

I can also say from personal experience that my life has been changed by a passage from the Imitation of Christ which has helped me try to acquire a loving acceptance of suffering in union with Christ's sacrifice. The passage essentially says that we should accept our sufferings in this life gladly, as a mercy and an opportunity for purification, because no suffering on earth can compare to that which we will experience in purgatory. This might sound like a threat at first blush, but really for me it unites the concepts of suffering and purification all the more clearly, and helps me see all suffering as part of God's loving plan to make us perfect so we can share in the spousehood of Christ.

Well said, Zenas. We can 'do our purgatory' before death if we are really desirous of union with Christ.


... above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection.
(Paul's letter to the Colossians 3:14)

Amen, Zenas. In thinking about what I went through with all the surgery and cancer stuff it dawned on me how much the Lord loves me, to give me the opportunity in this life to perhaps make some small amount of reparation for what I've messed up earlier in my life. The challenge is to remember those lessons and live accordingly.

Dear Duy mara,

I have several links off of here: http://www.provalue.net/users/gtw/ch4bscroll-informat.htm
to traditional views upon Purgatory. You do only have to believe that the Catechism says, however, there is a rich tradition about Purgatory in the Church.

I'd advise to remember to trust in the Church that has existed for so many years unchanging and uncontradicted. One of the other beliefs a Catholic needs to have is that the gates of Hell will not prevail against Christ's Church and that it will not be allowed to teach false dogma. You might want to do some research in these areas. Also, frequent reception of the Eucharist tends to enliven ones life to the point where one realizes the reasonableness of trusting what we have trouble understanding.

God's Word never dies but it was spoken as well as written, thus Sacred Tradition.

I am not a fan of not understanding things, and neither is the Church. Read as much as you can, try to walk in the shoes of the people who wrote it. If you want to see the /history/ of private revelation regarding Purgatory check out Tan Books, 'Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints'.

You have to disagree with an /extraordinary/ number of saints to contradict the consistency in the beliefs about Purgatory.

I explained Purgatory to a waitress who goes to Oral Roberts U. yeterday. It's my view that a lack of belief in Purgatory nowadays due to the failures in Catholic education leads not only to a misunderstanding of the nature of sin, but a failing to follow the commandments, and a breach in the Communion of Saints.

However, the positive side of Purgatory, is you will have none of these failings and reap of the benefits of understanding reality better than very many. Understanding Purgatory is a wonderful and beautiful thing. Men who are imperfect, who would otherwise be condemned to Hell due to their sins, are allowed to be purified in God's Love and can wish nothing else!

First of all, sin has a dual consequence: Guilt and Damage, is how I tend to put it. Or Guilt & Temporal Punishment. We are all judged before the Law and found wanting, and it is God's mercy that allows us to be forgiven the Guilt through confession.

Let's say I'm driving a car too fast, rather happily, and a get into a wreck. I get out of the car and I fall down at the knees of the poor person, who is woosey and bloody, and beg his forgiveness. He forgives me, and I lose a great deal of the guilt (confession for all of it) related to my crime. However the damage is done. The cars need fixing, I need to pay reparation. This part of justice will not be removed, the part of repair needs to be done, the last penny must be paid.

Sin's consequence of damage, is damage to the Church, damage to our relationship with God, damage to ourselves: For sin leads us to sin more easily, such as bad habits that many people without Confession and the Eucharist feel are incurable and must be covered, but purified. This habit of sinning, though we still love God, is something we will in all likelihood still have by the time we die, even if we are saintly, the righteous man falls seven times a day... But it can be greatly, greatly, reduced so that we do live saintly and holy lives.

How do we /fully/ face God with the least shame of sin upon us? When we could still possibly commit a sin? Be in his awesome majesty like that? NO! We would never allow it, the dishonor, the shame of it, we would want to be purified. And that is why the Bible speaks of God as a purifying fire at times. I think of Purgatory as the way to Heaven as we die, traveling into the purifying fire of God's love, getting closer and closer until we are worthy to join with Him and the saints in Heaven. "You must be perfect."

If you do not ignore the dual consequence of sin you will find yourself able to improve yourself and cure your bad habits more quickly, by resorting to prayers and works of charity and holiness that accustom you to a holy instead of a sinful life. Indulgences are of aid here too, as the Church readily dispenses Her spiritual treasury to your aid.

Also, if you have masses for the dead (which you can have said through many churches and associations) and say prayers for them, you honor them and the souls experiencing Purgatory, with acts of charity.

After all how easy it is to be charitable to the souls in Purgatory and honor your ancestors with prayers during the day! It is probably one of the easist of acts of charity to perform.

Confession is not enough: The urge to repair the damage done is part of the repentance that is begun with the prayers you do to receive absolution. Only begun... You will be less likely to find yourself going to Confession for years upon years with the same old habits you wish you could break if you practice penance and self-repair after your guilt is removed and you can be closer to God again.

Take care, and God bless.

Edited 7/11/99 7:55:38 PM ET by WKNIGHT001

I also talked to said waittress, and something she said stood out as a way to make this whole thing simple, to give us a jumping-off point for research and exploration.

The girl said she believed that when we were 'absent in body' we would be 'present in spirit." She said, and it would be no stretch to say most Christians believe, "Somehow" we will be perfect and free from sin in heaven.

"Purgatory" is the doctrine the Church gives us for that inevitable "Somehow."

God bless,

Catherine S

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