PURGATORY AND PRESUMPTION: Please Don’t Forget to Pray For Me!

The news this week has been full of celebrity passings:

  • Rev. Sun Myun Moon, founder of the Unification Church and self-proclaimed messiah, dead at 92.
  • Michael Clarke Duncan, Academy Award-nominated star of “The Green Mile”, dead at 54 after suffering a myocardial infarction back in July 2012.
  • Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, passed away August 25 at the age of 82.
  • Phyllis Diller, one of the great women of comedy, died August 20 at the age of 95.
  • Helen Gurley Brown, unorthodox feminist and founder of Cosmopolitan magazine, died August 13 at the age of 90.

Now, I’m not saying that these people, well-known cultural icons, are more important than the other thousands who have also ended their life on this earth in the past month. 

What I’m saying is this:  We are all dying.  We live as though that were not true—as though the new dress or new house or new relationship or new job were really our goal in life, rather than the real goal:  getting to heaven.  From the moment we are born, we are all spiraling toward eternity.

Reflecting on this, I thought I’d resurrect a post from the past, on the subject of Purgatory.  When I first posted this, it elicited criticism from those devout and well-intentioned Christian brothers who believe that “absent from the body means present with the Lord.”  However, the case for Purgatory as a stop along the way to heaven is both logical and biblical.

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PURGATORY AND PRESUMPTION:  Please Don’t Forget to Pray for Me

Let’s play a game.

Let’s imagine you’re dead.  You ate a rotten peanut, or you took a bullet for your best friend, or you stumbled onto a busy roadway on a dark and stormy night….

 It doesn’t really matter how it happened—but now here you are, spiraling and spinning toward eternity, lining up for your first meeting with…. well, you’re on your way to…. um…. uh-oh…. to God. 

 And in your deepest being, you know that from the beginning of time—since before the beginning of time, in fact—He has loved you, has yearned for you to truly love Him, too.  And you know that He has worked everything for your good, has given you one opportunity after another to recognize Him in the people around you, in the circumstances of your life. 

 But you were busy.

*     *     *     *     *

Before you get huffy:  I’m not trying to single you out here.  That’s my story, too—and the story of every human who has walked the face of the earth.  (Well, everyone, that is, except for His mother Mary, who was preserved from sin in order to be the perfect Ark of the Covenant, the spotless Theotokos.)   

So we, sinful creatures all, step out of this life into eternity—and we know, more clearly than we have never known anything, that we are not worthy to be in the presence of the Almighty God.  In life, we may have casually popped the Eucharist onto our tongue, drunk of the Precious Blood, then gone back to our pews to idly watch the others return to their seats, ogling the cute boys or checking out the fashion faux pax, hardly pausing to ponder the great impossibility, the unimaginable truth, that God has given Himself to us, in the flimsy gift wrap of bread and wine.  Wholly.  Fully. 

We have ignored Him, too, when we have not bothered to pray; when we have gossiped about our neighbors; when we have shirked our responsibilities in the workplace, when we have allowed anger to govern our relationships or our driving, when we have cheated on our diets or (yikes!) cheated on our spouses.

We are earthen vessels, all of us.  And we know instinctively that we cannot face the great and mighty God in our current condition.  True, we have been redeemed by the Blood of Christ, and His sacrifice has made it possible for us to be with Him for all eternity.  First, though, we need to wash up—get ready for the party, for the great receiving line.

That’s what Purgatory is.  It’s the washroom, the hot shower, where we become like Him.  Were we to remain sniveling complainers, or bigots, or racists, or petty thieves, or just lazy bumpkins, we would be blinded by the great white light of Heaven, unable to bear being in the presence of He Who Is.  We must be transformed, so that we can be one with God and with all of His creation, there eternally praising Him and sharing in His glory.

 The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1030) says that Purgatory is “a purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”  It’s a place where those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” can have their souls shined up a bit, before their personal encounter with God. 

 Purgatory is nothing like Hell—in fact, people in Purgatory experience some modicum of joy, knowing that they are en route to an eternity with Christ.  Those who are confined to Hell have no such consolation—having, in their great pride, rejected God’s grace in their lives and turned their faces away from Him for all eternity. 

 So these folks with whom I (and you) will hopefully share a spell in Purgatory are aware that Heaven is their destination.  This good news buoys them, even as they learn how to be More Like God.  The Catechism (CCC 1031) explains that “this final purification of the elect… is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” 

 The hot shower just ain’t so bad.

 *     *     *     *     *

Where is all this going?  Well, some of you may know that my mother died recently; and over a period of days, I talked with many people—many of whom assured me that she was most certainly already in heaven.  They said it in different ways:  “She suffered her Purgatory here on earth, during her time in the nursing home.”  “She’s finally at rest.”  “God has taken her to be with Him.”  “She’s happy with your dad now, at last.” 

 To which I say (excuse my bluntness), “How the hell would you know that?” 

 The effect of Purgation, as I understand it, is that the person becomes Shiny Like God.  Only when all sin is eliminated, when the soul shines with a purity and grace unknown on this earth, will he or she be ready to enter into eternal happiness in heaven.  

 That could happen in an instant, or over a long period of time.  In our casual culture, it’s common to act as though the deceased person has already passed through any unfortunate suffering which might be imposed, and is already in the arms of the Father.  But why would we presume that?

 I remember a story from a childhood book on Our Lady of Fatima.  Mary, speaking to the three young visionaries, told them that one young woman—a girl of about 14, if I recall—“would be in Purgatory until the end of Time.”   What sort of great sins must this young girl have accumulated in her short lifetime, to warrant such a delay in welcoming her to Heaven?  (You might take a minute right now to pray for that girl—since she may, in fact, still await admission to the pearly gates….)

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The Council of Trent, Session XXV (December 3-4, 1563), reconfirmed the long-standing teaching of the Church, “that Purgatory exists, and that the souls detained therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar.” 

Please don’t let Presumption blind you to the need to pray for those who have gone before us. 

Please pray for my mother, who remained imperfect despite her confinement and who, no doubt, fell short of reflecting the full glory of God.  Of course, much can be forgiven due to her frailty; and if we, her children, cut her some slack for her obstinacy, how much more must her Heavenly Father love her and want to hold her to Himself? 

But unless you have some super-duper inside track with St. Peter at the gate, you don’t really know what’s goin’ on with Mom right now.  And if she’s waiting, in need of our prayers, and you aren’t there for her, you know how much she’d like to hit you upside of the head?  Pray for her.  Pray for her always, until the day you die, because you just don’t understand what it’s like out there in Eternity.  If she’s already in Heaven, your prayers can be reassigned to some poor bloke who needs them.  But don’t stop!

Please pray for my other relatives, too.  My father was a good and faithful man, and he died many years ago; but what do we on earth know of his experience outside of Time, and whether he is even yet with God in Heaven?  Please pray for him.

 And when I die, please pray for me.  The Lord (and my husband) know that I’m not perfect.  And no one knows just what it will take for me to reach that state of perfection where I’ll feel properly dressed to go in to the banquet. 

 I won’t be able to tell you then, so let me tell you now:  I am one heck of a piece of work, and it’s gonna take a lot to polish me up for heaven.  Your prayers, especially your offerings of Masses, are so needed, and so appreciated. 

 Pray for me, and I will pray for you.

  • http://romancatholicheroes.blogspot.com/ Dolorosa

    Sadly, many have been made to believe that if they are good, nice people they will go straight to Heaven. The truth is that very FEW go straight to Heaven. Most go to Purgatory and a great many go to Hell because little Jacinta of Fatima saw souls falling into Hell like snowflakes. Very scary! Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we made be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

    • K. R. Bamberger

      Dear Kathy Schiffer, Thanks for your good articles! Saw your PurgatoryPresumption article on New Advent – couldn’t stop thinking about the article and you. I’m 64, a cradle proLife Catholic, wife, mom, grandma & medical technologist. My own Irish Catholic Mother died recently (96yrs) with dementia & broken hip & a tremendous fear of Purgatory (Mom went to strict Catholic school in the 1920′s). My sisters & all our family suffered along with her, Her terror of Purgatory was the most destructive, because in her mind & heart, it was so closely related to hellfire, not to hope of heaven. Yet she deeply still desired to be with our Dad (whom she felt sure was in Heaven) who died almost 20 yrs prior to her death. The agnony of the struggle wore us all out. We asked many priests for help in her last 10 yrs. For over 30 yrs I had been in a Divine Mercy Prayer group . I thought she’d learned so much of the Chaplet & Devotion, but she just couldn’t remember it as dementia took over. She loved Pope John Paul 2, but for her Justice was the big reality. We did have many Masses and Rosaries and Chaplets said for Mom over the years. Finally, THANK GOD, & Our Blessed Mother, we found a wonderful priest in his 80′s – Msgr. Francis Eggert, still heroically pastoring Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Albuquerque, who came to visit Mom multiple times and really could “speak her language” ! He gave her the APOSTOLIC BLESSING for the dying 3 times in her last 6 months. This, he explained to Mom & all of us, removes all purgatorial punishment due to sin. He actually lightened my mother’s heart and so helped all of us. Our Mom died on Divine Mercy Sunday May 1, 2010, the day of the Beatification of Pope John Paul. The Apostolic Blessing is a special form of Divine Mercy for the Dying, I believe. Dear Kathy, please googe this or call Msgr. Eggert or speak with another old priest. I think you & your readers will be greatly encouraged/comforted by this.
      We can download copies of this Apostolic Blessing to give to our families & to request it before we die. ahead of time.

    • KRB

      About the Apostolic Blessing: it’s essential to know (but was not made clear in earlier comment) that usually only a Priest can confer this great Blessing. But many younger Priests don’t know about it and neither do families today! The Priest can do this Blessing at the bedside of the dying during the Annointing of the Sick, with Confession or Absolution, during the last rites for the dying. My understanding is that if a dying person is unconscious, has serious dementia, or has loss of mental faculties due to any severe illness and or heavy medication, then the Priest can give Absolution in lieu of the Sacrament of Reconcilliation, and this is also the time when he can be asked to give the Apostolic Blessing. If the Priest doesn’t know of it or is not prepared with the old-fashioned liturgical manuals, then the family can give the Priest a copy of the Apostolic Blessing IF the family is prepared by having downloaded a copy of the blessing from internet.

  • June Fuery

    Great article, Kathy,have just found you and will continue to follow you. God bless.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Thanks for your kind words, June. Please keep me in your prayers.

  • jim

    kathy, JESUS promised immediate salvation to believers ! Scripture teaches
    ” justification ” is a declararative act of GOD , not a process ! JESUS said in JOHN 5:24 : ” HE who hears MY word, and believes HIM, who sent ME ,has eternal life, and does not come into judgment , but has oassed out of death to life. On the basis of faith alone , sinners pass out of death into life.
    PURGATORY is never mentioned in scripture !!
    What must we do to be saved ? > ” believe in the LORD JESUS, and you shall be saved “. ( ACTS 16 : 31 ). Works have no part in ” justification ” . The only thing that can make any sinner acceptable to GOD is the imputed merit of the LORD JESUS CHRIST .
    Warning !!!! beware of another gospel !!!
    ” Fight truth decay , read the BIBLE everyday “

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Dear Jim–
      The word “Trinity” isn’t found in the Bible either; but you do believe in the Trinity, don’t you? You believe it because it’s inferred, in Jesus’ references to the Father and to the Paraclete, and in many implicit and explicit verses. So, with Purgatory.

      Catholics and Protestants can agree on two things regarding the afterlife: Souls in hell will not grow close to God, and those in heaven cannot draw any nearer to him. If purgatory does not exist, prayers for the dead are useless. But if a state of purification exists for some after death, and if prayers can help others in their process of sanctification in this life (Job 1:5; 1 Thess. 5:23), it seems reasonable that prayers would be beneficial to those who are being sanctified after this life. This narrows down the essential question: Does purgatory exist?

      If sin still clings to Christians (Heb 12:1), but there is no sin in heaven (Rev. 21:27), there must be a purification that takes place after one’s death and before one enters heaven. Even if it were “in the blink of an eye,” this final stage of sanctification must take place, so those who die in God’s favor may be cleansed if any affection for sin remains in them.

      Paul mentions this in 1 Cor. 3:13–15: “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. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

      Paul’s thought calls to mind the image of God as the refiner’s fire and fuller’s soap mentioned in Malachi 3:2. The fuller’s soap was lye or alkaline salt that removed stains from clothing. A refiner’s fire was an oven of intense heat where precious metals were placed in order to purify them of their corrosion and dross. In the same way, purgatory is when a soul is immersed into the fire of God’s love and lifted out of the residue of its imperfections.

      God bless you,

      • Doug

        Jim no doubt does believe in the Trinity, but hasn’t the courage to follow it to its logical conclusion, as expressed in the syllogism:
        Jesus is God.
        Mary is the mother of Jesus.
        Therefore Mary is the mother of God.
        For the record, I don’t believe the first premise, so I don’t adopt the conclusion.
        One of my best reasons for rejecting purgatory is the scripture that has become part of our common culture. (Most atheists know of it.) “The wages of sin is death.” To subject even the worst criminal to any more than one punishment, physical or mental, is illegal in most “civilized” countries: double jeopardy. Purgatory reflects the teaching of those who made their God in man’s image. Cf. Gen 2.

        • Proteios1

          Doug, Im not sure you thought that one through. I understand how you have constructed the first half of the argument. And understand your declaration of belief, or lack thereof. But that second half seems to be an American construct as most countries don’t have double jeopardy, at least not in the way we think of it. Some not an issue at all. But there is no statement that comes to mind of God speaking in terms that double jeopardy would even make sense. It’s an artificial construct, no matter how much we appreciate the concept in America. I’d rethink that, but I appreciate the thoughtfulness.

          • Doug

            First, a restatement of DJ: Most countries have some form of prohibition against prosecuting the same person twice for the same crime, especially if the first trial resulted in conviction. It also usually covers even a second indictment. This is considered “fair play”, and the various supranational or international courts have ruled thus. (Some countries worry so about their physical security that they give serial indictments, trials, and convictions to conscientious objectors.) There are also “fair play” rules against torture and mass rape, both instruments of modern warfare. The God of Christendom tortures over and over, for eternity; not so the God of the Bible.
            In any case, your Catholic Bible says, “the wages of sin is death” and at Romans 6:7 says, “For he that is dead is justified from sin.” (Other Bibles read “acquitted” or “freed from”.)
            If not, then what about Jesus’ friend Lazarus? Where was he for four days? He doesn’t say; what’s your speculation?
            And, if Ec 9:5,10 is true, then just how are the dead to be punished- that is, how are they made to feel pain?
            And, if Gen 2:7and Eze 18:4 are true, then how is a dead soul to be punished?

    • Dee

      Neither is the Teinity, which you know about because of the Catholic Church. If she is right about the Trinity, what makes you so sure she is wrong about Purgatory?. You will believe in Purgatory when you get there, my dear, and you will be very grateful for all of those faithful Cathlics who pray for you.

  • Nina

    Dear Jim,
    One of the problems here is that you think Catholic doctrine teaches that we need to perform good works on our own merit to be saved. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    I’d be happy to talk to you about grace, faith and salvation if you are, in fact, interested in the truth.
    Let me know if you want to learn what we believe or if you have already decided that we are wrong.
    In His love,

    • Magdalen

      No, good works do not need to be performed on our own merit (because without Christ we have none), but Jesus Himself said that we would be judged “according to what we have done.” The Church does not declare that we save ourselves, as you seem to think.

  • Mary

    Jim, nowhere in scripture does it say that we are saved by faith ALONE. As Catholics we believe that Jesus has redeemed us. We are saved by grace in faith.

    As St. Paul tells us, “we work out our salvation in fear and trembling”. Jesus also tells us that He will separate the goats from the sheep based upon their response to the needs of others and those that “fail” will not be with Him in eternity. Based upon these biblical references it does not make sense that that all we need to is believe.

    Catholics do not believe that we earn salvation. It is our free gift from God but we must respond to the invitation from God and live lives that are compatible with the Ten Commandments and the natural law. St. James says, “faith without works is dead”. The works he is referring to is conversion and “working” to build up God’s Kingdom. Our faith is interactive and not static.

    • Proteios1

      I think the problem is that faith alone ignores the fact…and this is important, that if one has faith (I.e. understands what God has revealed and lives it) that ones live could not be lived in any other way. What I am saying is works are the act of the faith one experiences or understands. I don’t think the two are separate. Another way of saying this might be that I love my children, therefore I want to educate them, teach them the Catholic faith, feed them, cloth them, etc. I cannot separate my love from acting out that love. T me that is why faith alone, inherently leads to works to separate the two is not possible. Living selfishly by faith is not possible. One would lack faith and therefore live a selfish life.

  • http://pewlady.blogspot.com Kelly Thatcher

    By the way, Kathy…love the “how the hell do you know that” line. At my first husband’s funeral — he died the day before the Challenger tragedy — folks pictured him (he was a scientist) chatting with the shuttle passengers about what went wrong. At my uncle’s death, folks had him playing checkers with long-dead relatives. @Jim: God bless you. These folks weren’t Catholic, and were truly Bible-loving, Bible-reading people. I’m not sure where in the Bible it says that the dead will automatically be transported to that big checker-playing board in the sky, you know?

    • JIM

      How can you relate ” purgatory ” to Malachi 3 : 2 . i think if you looked at Rev 6 : 12-17 it talks about the great day of wrath ! the 6th seal !! purgatory ??
      the bible says it is better to be “absent ” from the body and present with the LORD.
      2 Cor. 5 ;6
      only 2 things : you are either here or with HIM. none of us is going to be a ” spiritual RIP VAN WINKLE “.
      thief on the cross ? JESUS didn’t say : verily , verily i say unto thee , if your lucky , in a few hundred years , you’ll be with me in PARADISE . NO ,jesus SAID : TODAY thou shalt be with me in PARADISE.
      Luke 16 ; 19-31 > rich man in sheol / hades / hell and the beggar carried off by angels to ABRAHAM”S bosom ( PARADISE )
      the rich man , an unbeliever , goes to the place of the unrighteous dead, but that’s not the final HELL until after the GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT !
      what happens to unbelievers ? they shall die in their sins and where i go— you can’t come. youi die in your sins and you go to a place different than where i shall be .
      John 8 : 21

  • bill bannon

    Very good article. I’m inclined to believe that purgatory is somewhat quick but more painful than we think.
    The good thief is an example…”this day” meant actually several days. Yet I still pray and have Masses said years later for my dad in case my quick theory turns out to be incorrect for him in particular.

  • Margaret

    Thank you for this much needed reminder! Here is a great page with some beautiful prayers that we can say for those who have gone ahead of us: http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/prayers-for-souls-in-purgatory.html

  • Bernie

    Since Kathy is re-presenting this article, I don’t know that you will receive this comment. Nevertheless, so that some others may not be mislead by your sincere but inaccurate reply, I offer the following for your cogitation:

    Your comment “How can you relate ” purgatory ” to Malachi 3 : 2?” is not a valid defense, as it contains no information. I know you cannot do better than that, because purgatory is exactly what Malachi is speaking. Do you know how a precious metal refiner knows that the metal is pure? Let me tell you: It’s when he can see his reflection(image) in the purified substance. Are we not made in the image of God?

    Regarding your argument that Jesus’ words to the thief are a defense against purgatory: “TODAY thou shalt be with me in PARADISE.” You already mention your knowledge of sheol, so you already understand that “paradise” fo the Jews was not heaven. It is a waiting place for the faithful who are goin to Heaven. What happens in that waiting place? We don’t know. And for Paradise to be Heaven, Jesus would have had to ascend to Heaven on the day He died. You and I both know that this did not happen, because Jesus had not even resurrected yet. We know from John 20:17 that after the resurrection that Jesus Himself said to Mary Magdelene :”Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father,” so Jesus could not have taken the good thief to Heaven even on the third day, since Jesus had not yet ascended to Heaven. We know, in fact, from Acts 1 and the Gospels that Jesus spent 40 days on Earth before ascending.

    So when Jesus said “TODAY thou shalt be with me in PARADISE”, it surely does not mean that Jesus took the thief to Heaven that day. It does not prove purgatory either, but you are going to have to stop using this as an argument against purgatory.

    As for your Rip Van Winkle comment, why would you jump to the incorrect conclusion that purgatory implies aging? This is a earthly bodily function, and death occurs when the soul is separated from the body. We are not united to our glorified bodies until the end of time. In the meantime a soul is in one of 3 states: heaven, hell, or purgation. Purgatory is not a place, it is a state of being. So too are heaven and hell. A soul in Heaven is in the state of eternal joy in the presence of God. A soul in Hell is in the state of eternal suffering completely absent of the presence of God. By the way, do you realize that whether soul is in heaven or hell, Jesus promises that at the end of time they will receive their body. Not so good news for those in hell, is it?

  • Lisa

    Kathy, I will pray for your parents and you. So sorry for your loss. Purgatory is yet further evidence that we serve an infinitely merciful God. :-)

  • bud weitzel

    Well, that;s not the way I heard it.
    Everyone who dies, goes to meet the Father, and He will ask us if we love Him; if we say yes and mean it, we will go with him; if we have some thing that we love more than Him, we will stand in the corner and watch everyone else joyfully praising God and Singing His glory. If we get over it, and are sincerely ready to give up our addictions in which we love more than God, if we are sincere and love Him, we then can be with everyone else in the glory of God forever.

    • Doug

      Bud, that sounds more like kindergarten to me.

  • Jerry Rhino

    Purgatory can be thought of as punishment, or as a revelation of the truth, which is one of God’s attributes. Consider a man who has beaten his wife repeatedly. In purgatory God will reveal the truth of her pain to him, he will experience what she went thru. You can not hide from the results of your sinful actions. The good thief acknowledged his sin, repented, and accepted his punishment as just. That was his purgatory.

  • Dan Buckley

    Jim, you might want to take a look at Rev., 7:14. Jesus doesn’t wash their clothes for them; they, an enormous number, after enduring a great trial, had to wash their soiled robes in the Lamb’s Blood. They have to be purified before entering heaven.

  • bill bannon

    Were your scenario true, then why did Christ warn in Matthew 25:13
    ” Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
    He says this after showing that the foolish virgins were unprepared for the arrival of the Bridegroom.
    In effect, in your version one gets another chance after death…the foolish virgins get another chance in your view but Christ illustrates that they do not get another chance after the Bridegroom arrives.

    • Proteios1

      Interesting. Can you elaborate on this idea?

      • bill bannon

        Well Bud has a further test after death. But the testing stage is now…Deut.13:4 ” … for the LORD, your God, is testing you to know whether you really love the LORD, your God, with all your heart and soul.”
        After death, there is not another test but judgement according to Hebrews 9:27 : “Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment…”. It doesn’t say ” die once, and after this a question from God”… it says, “die once, and after this the judgement.”. Otherwise men would have insufficient fear as to staying in grace until death. The five foolish virgins had insufficient fear and thus lost charity…the oil that needs to be in our lamps or souls. They tried to get some from the wise virgins but no one can give their own charity or oil to another. Hebrews by the way up above is the perfect verse if you have any co workers toying with reincarnation. We die “once”. Bud’s theory has a touch of two lives prior to judgement.

  • Bernie

    Thank you for such a very good article, Kathy.

    It is interesting to note that St. Therese of Lisieux, a great Doctor of the Church, taught that while purgatory is a great gift of mercy, God intends it as the exception rather than the rule. Many a soul, however, have made it the rule rather than the exception. She said we even offend God if we didn’t trust enough that we would get to heaven right after dying.
    Her teaching on purgatory is summarized here: http://www.franciscan-sfo.org/ap/litfwrpu.htm

    I am also trying to make it a practice to not only pray for my deceased loved ones, but to ask them to pray for me since I do not know if they are in purgatory or in Heaven. The Church does not take a position regarding whether souls in purgatory can pray for us, but many theologians believe they can. So regardless of where they are, as I think you also alluded to, the intercessory prayers shall be administered in some fashion.

    • Marie

      I am not sure that the paragraph quote from St. Therese near the top of the article “You do not … to Purgatory,” means what the authors of the article say that it means. They say, “Now this is a new doctrine…” But (aside from the fact that strictly speaking there can be no new doctrine only old ones explained in new ways) St. Therese’s quote does not sound so very new.
      She says what has always been taught, “As soon as you try to please Him in everything and have an unshakable trust He purifies you every moment in His love and He lets no sin remain.” Well, yes. If you try to please him in everything, you are a perfect saint! The perfect, of course, will have no need to go to purgatory. The trouble is most of us _don’t_ try to please God in *everything*. We have those things here and there where we please ourselves instead.

  • JARay

    I see that those who claim that Purgatory is not found in the Bible omit mentioning the two books of Maccabees. In those one can read that a collection was made so that sacrifice could be offered for those who had died in battle but had died in sin. The sacrifice was for them to be loosed from their sins. The Protestant Bible is several books short. The two books of Tobias are another example. This is due to Martin Luther who did not like what they contained so he cut them out because he thought that he knew better than the Church and he also added the phrase Sola Scriptura as well. Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach) is also missing from the Protestant Bible.
    Purgatory is a very real thing, be it place or existence. Nothing and nobody can enter heaven until they are PERFECT. Why is this? It is because God IS PERFECTION and we are beings of IMPERFECTION. When we get to heaven we will be united with God. Imperfection CANNOT be united with Perfection! Purgatory MUST exist in order to make whatever is imperfect, perfect.

  • http://www.semperficatholic.com Denise

    Dear Kathy, thanks for posting this. My life is, and has been dedicated to praying for the Holy Souls. I pray the Divine Mercy daily for them, as well as the Rosary. I offer all my pains and agony for their release. My dearly departed Spiritual Director, Fr. Denis O’Brien, co-founder of American Life League, used to always say, “Never fall asleep at night until you have prayed for the Holy Souls because by morning you might have joined them.”

    Your mom and all those who have passed, from the beginning of time until now, and all the way until the end of time, will be in my prayers. Pray for me!

  • Kennedy

    Somewhere I have read that both Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II said Purgatory is NOT a place, but, a state of being. I’m not clear on what that means. Also, I would like to mention the Orthodox Church does NOT accept the dogma of Purgatory and they are just as old and apostolic as we are. I really don’t know what to believe on this subject.

    • JARay

      Dear Kennedy,
      The Orthodox Church has several strange notions not just those on Purgatory. Whilst we accept the validity of their Ordinations and the validity of their Masses we do not accept their notion that the Pope is not Peter’s successor, nor do they regard him as having the power of Infallibility in certain circumstances and their notion of Baptism is somewhat suspect also. They never had a Theologian with the insight of St. Thomas Aquinas so perhaps we should not entirely blame them. But they are schismatics even though they are from Apostolic stock.

      • Doug

        “we accept the validity of their Ordinations and the validity of their Masses … But they are schismatics”
        According to the language of the anathemas the breach was much more serious- no acceptance on either side.. Just as one would guess from the seriousness with which the RCC takes its masses and its Popes. ‘No Aquinas’ perhaps, but Paul had something to say about the matter. Eph 4:5, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

  • Kennedy

    I found this website re Pope John Paul II and is teaching on Purgatory.

  • TeaPot562

    Some presiders at funeral masses seem to provide “instant canonizations”. IMHO this is a real problem. A young woman committed suicide, using a gun. Her parents are catholic, and a funeral mass (w/o the body) was said. We can pray that she had an instant repentance before death, or that the Lord may consider her temporarily insane; but we need to keep praying on this as on other cases. If the person being prayed for is not in Purgatory, God will reapply any fruits of our prayers. Fervent prayer – not telling God how to solve the problem – just asking His mercy – is never wasted.

  • JDR

    Mattew chapter 11 , verse 11- Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

  • Tom P

    A great explanation/contemplation on justice and purgatory can be found in Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Spe Salvi”. The beginng drags a little but after the first few pages the catechisis is awesome.

  • df

    We do not judge folks to hell OR heaven. Jesus was very specific: that is His ‘job description’ and clearly we are not God. I will pray for your ….., is much better than playing God.

  • Marian Corps

    I found this website by searching specifically about “how to pray for your loved ones if you don’t know where they are”. Especially helpful to me, therefore, was the following statement: “If she’s already in Heaven, your prayers can be reassigned to some poor bloke who needs them.”
    Thanks so much for this powerful insight.