Now, Purgatory. Now, the word Purgatory is never explicitly stated in Scripture, but then again, neither is the word Trinity, but that does not negate its presence in the Scriptures; and I’m sure that every Christian will agree that the Trinity is made apparent in the Scriptures. What exactly is Purgatory? Many believe that it is an in-between of Heaven and Hell. Now, this contains kernels of Truth, but I would say that it is more accurately described as a precursor to Heaven for holy, yet imperfect, souls. But, in order to get a more definitive answer, let us look towards the Catechism:

The Final Purification, or Purgatory

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (CCC 1030)

The Church gives the name ‘Purgatory’ to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that the Final Judgement, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (CCC 1031)

This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. the Church also commends alms-giving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. (CCC 1032)

This is all to say that a soul who dies with a love of Jesus Christ, and a willingness to offer his entire self to the Lord, is assured of his or her salvation. However, only perfect things without the blemish of sin can enter into eternal glory, and so a purification is necessary. In a similar manner, when gold is mined from the earth, it contains many impurities and must be purified through fire. To die in God’s grace and friendship means to die with a love of Christ in your heart and a desire to offer yourself entirely to Him. This is the bare minimum required for a soul to be assured of his or her salvation, however, it is not enough to be perfectly purified, because one must put this love into action and unite himself to the suffering of Christ. This is why a soul must undergo purification in Purgatory, to accomplish what they failed to accomplish in their earthly life, uniting themselves to Christ’s suffering. Now, I think there is a misconception about souls in Purgatory, that it is a place for unholy souls to become holy. No, that’s what our time on earth is for, here is where our unholy souls become holy. Souls in Purgatory are holy souls who love God above all else. They wait in the purifying fires of Purgatory in agony and suffering, not from the intense heat of the flames, but in the longing they have for God. The souls in Purgatory do not hate their suffering, as the souls of the damned do, but rather embrace it in love of God and offer it to the Most High for their own purification, so they too may see the face of God and live. You see, only holy souls are permitted to enter into Purgatory, so if you’re like some of my friends who say, “I’m shooting for Purgatory,” you’re probably going to undershoot and miss entirely. Purgatory is not a low standard to halfheartedly strive for, it’s more like a safety net for those who are trying as hard as they can to love God in all they do and for those who God, at the last moment of their life, is able to captivate their entire hearts. Be careful though, people hear these stories about people who had a conversion of heart and mind on their deathbed and are saved. Brothers and Sisters, that by itself is a miraculous event. We cannot live our lives any way we want convinced that we will change our minds on our death bed, accept Jesus into our hearts, and be okay. No, if you don’t have a capacity for God while you’re living your life, odds are you won’t on your deathbed either. Those people who converted at the last possible moment only did so because someone who loved them was praying night and day for them, offering sacrifices to God, suffering on their behalf, so that they may be saved. They didn’t do that on their own volition, by their own power. No, it’s because someone who loved them more than they loved themselves prayed and suffered and pleaded with God to shower a superabundance of Grace on them for their conversion. This is why it is of the utmost importance that we offer prayer and sacrifice here on earth and to strive in all that we do to love God above all else, because that’s how we unite our sufferings to Christ and that’s how we accept God’s gift of redemption.

Part 3 will be posted soon



One thought on “If the Mass Has Infinite Merits, Why Doesn’t One Mass Empty Purgatory? PT. 2

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