What is Purgatory like?
To continue our recent discussion about Judgement, here are some of the notes I use when I give my talk about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. I've posted the notes on Hell and Heaven. Here are the first half of my notes on Purgatory. Hope it helps!
-the term is not used in Scripture; comes from the Latin word, “purgatorium” (place of purging fire or purification)
a. Does it exist?
– refers to situations where a punishment / purification must occur:
-Mt 18: 34-35 – the unforgiving debtor
“the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all this debt, and that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.”
-Lk 12:59 – being in prison
“I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny”
-Jn 16:20 – “you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy”
-Mt 12:32 – “Let anyone speak against the Holy Spirit and he will not be forgiven either in this world or in the next” (implies that some sins can be forgiven in the next life)
2 Macc 12:46
- the valiant Judas “had this expiatory sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sins”
- shows that the Jewish custom was to pray for the dead; must be for souls in a state other than Heaven or Hell - don't need to pray for the souls in Heaven, and it does no good to pray for the souls in Hell
- custom continues whenever someone prays for all the souls in Purgatory
-1 Cor 3:14-15 (salvation through a purifying fire)
“The Day which dawns in fire will make it clear and the fire itself will test the quality of each person’s work. The one whose work stands up to it will be given his wages; the one whose work is burnt down will suffer the loss of it, though he himself will be saved; he will be saved as someone expects to be saved from a fire”
-1 Peter 1:7
“your faith, more valuable than gold and which is perishable even if it has been tested by fire, may be proved”
Magisterium: “a cleansing fire, a purifying fire” (pain suffered is comparable to the pain of fire on earth)
b. What is it like?
Scripture (see above)
St Augustine: “this fire of Purgatory will be more severe than any pain that can be felt, seen or conceived in this world”
St Thomas Aquinas: “In Purgatory there will be a twofold loss, namely the delay of the divine vision, and the pain of sense, namely the punishment by bodily fire. With regard to both, the least pain of Purgatory surpasses the greatest pain in this life”
St Francis de Sales: “The greater part of those who dread Purgatory so much think more of their own interests than of the interests of God’s glory; this proceeds from the fact that they think only of the sufferings without considering the peace and happiness which are enjoyed by the holy souls”
*Rev. T.G. Morrow: “there will be tremendous suffering accompanied by a tremendous sense of peace and joy knowing that the soul will be united with God”
- after death, the soul sees that it is not yet spotless, and “would cast itself into a thousand hells rather than find itself in the presence of the Divine Majesty with that stain on it” (St Catherine of Genoa)
“she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, holy and faultless” (Eph 5:27)
* A special note of thanks to Fr. Morrow, who contributed greatly to all of my notes on H/H/P with his booklet: "Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory"