Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Purgatory is...




  • Purgatory is a doctrine of our Faith. 

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "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. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned." (1030-1031)

There are only two ultimate destinations for a human being: Heaven or hell. Purgatory is the "wash-room" of Heaven.



  • Purgatory is necessary.

The Bible, in Revelation 21:27, says, "Nothing unclean shall enter Heaven" -- and God was not joking. Are you utterly pure? Perfect? Sinless? Completely without fault or blemish? I'm not either. To get from here to there requires an actual change from imperfect to perfect. The purification of Purgatory is that transitional bridge. If you die in the friendship of God, and unless you are the rare soul perfected in love before that moment of death (think of a Mother Teresa or a newly baptized infant), you are going to be cleansed before you enter Heaven. You simply cannot enter otherwise.



  • Purgatory is logical.

If I repent of a sin, I not only ask forgiveness, but I make recompense. We instinctively form our own children this way, as we teach them to make amends when they have committed a wrong. Not only do we require a child to make his apology ("I'm sorry I recklessly ran over your flowerbed, Mrs. Jones"), we require that he make things right as well ("I will purchase new flowers and replant them for you"). Purgatory is the final "making things right" -- both in our own souls and in the Mystical Body of Christ, i.e., the Church, which is harmed by its members' sin.

That "making things right" after we are forgiven is called the temporal punishment for sin, and it can and should happen while a person is still on this earth. However, if temporal punishment (or "expiation") for our forgiven sins has not occurred fully by the time of death, the expiation is still logically required after death.



  • Purgatory is merciful.

C.S. Lewis, a non-Catholic Christian, understood the mercy of Purgatory, and how the soul cries out for it:
Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' -- 'Even so, sir.'  (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer)
Amen, and thank God for the mercy of Purgatory.



  • Purgatory is just.

Benevolent Grandma was a baptized Christian who stayed close to Jesus and lived a good life of caring and love, but she was a mild gossip. Serial Killer was a baptized Christian who lived a life of evil, destroying people and goodness everywhere he went, but he sincerely repented on his deathbed.

Both souls are Heaven-bound, but the soul-cleansing required of Mr. Killer is going to be a lot more severe, prolonged, and painful than the mild purification required of Grandma.

And that's as it should be. That is how justice works.

We are not all the same. We are all individuals who come from different circumstances and who make different choices. God alone can read our hearts, and His justice for each of His children is very personal, not a rubber stamp.

As Jesus said, "You will not get out until you have paid the last penny." For some of us, the payment exacted will take longer, as the sum required to "make it right" is larger.



  • Purgatory is Biblical.

The clearest manifestation (and my favorite) is 1 Corinthians 3.

We read that by our life choices and works, we build on the foundation that is Jesus Christ:

If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one's work. 

"The Day" refers to the Day of Judgement. The first Day of Judgement for most of us will be the Particular Judgement, the day of our death, when we face God. So, keep in mind that all that follows happens after a person's death. There are three possibilities for a soul:

First possibility: If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. This is the soul who goes directly to Heaven.

Second possibility: But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire. This is the soul who goes to Purgatory, who is cleansed by the fire of God's love before entering Heaven.

Third possibility: Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy. This is the soul who goes to hell.

Glance back at the second one: "suffering" "loss" "saved, but only as through fire". We call that Purgatory.



  • Purgatory is historical.

The doctrine of purgatory, or the final purification, has been part of the true faith since before the time of Christ. The Jews already believed it before the coming of the Messiah, as revealed in the Old Testament (2 Macc. 12:41–45) as well as in other pre-Christian Jewish works, such as one which records that Adam will be in mourning "until the day of dispensing punishment in the last years, when I will turn his sorrow into joy" (The Life of Adam and Eve 46–7). Orthodox Jews to this day believe in the final purification, and for eleven months after the death of a loved one, they pray a prayer called the Mourner’s Kaddish for their loved one’s purification. 
Jews, Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox have always historically proclaimed the reality of the final purification. It was not until the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century that anyone denied this doctrine.  (Catholic Answers)
The witness of the Roman Catacombs (products of the early, pre-Nicene, persecuted Church) attests to a belief in Purgatory by their etchings and inscriptions. In fact,
so overwhelming is the witness of the early Christian monuments in favour of prayer for the dead that no historian any longer denies that the practice and the belief which the practice implies were universal in the primitive Church. There was no break of continuity in this respect between Judaism and Christianity. (New Advent)


  • Purgatory is painful.

Every cleansing of an open wound is painful. Every turning toward the purifying fire of God's love is an uncomfortable shock to the system, and every honest move to perfection (even in this life) is accompanied by a suffering.

Facing the judgement of our Father will not be a clean, comfortable adjustment. The man who looks through a dark veil his whole life and is then, in an instant, exposed full-on to the dazzling white light of the Son can expect to cry out in some initial pain.

But the pain of Purgatory is most rightly described, I believe, as the pain of loss. We are made for union with God, and we are not complete and satisfied until that union is achieved. When the soul knows without doubt that she is at long last on her way to be united with her Beloved, but also knows that she cannot yet get to Him, and when she knows that it was her own actions and choices that are keeping her from that final, perfect and eternal union with her Beloved, she experiences a great and melancholic longing, an aching sense of loss.

There is a reason that God speaks to His people through marital imagery: The Bride and the Bridegroom, The Wedding Feast, The Consummation, the final achievement of perfect, eternal union with the Beloved. Earthly marriage and physical consummation is the closest we can get to another human being on earth, but it is a pale reflection of true Marital Union with God. The knowledge that one could have rushed to His embrace sooner, but now must wait and long and pine, is a nearly unbearable suffering for the soul in Purgatory, as it would be (on a much lesser scale) for any bride who cannot yet, through her own fault, reach her lover.



  • Purgatory is joyful.

Although the suffering in Purgatory is intense, the joy of Purgatory great, even greater than any earthly joy. After all, total, ecstatic union with God is palpable now, as the beatific vision is nearing one's view. No jubilation on earth could ever compare to the clear knowledge that Pure Love is drawing the lovesick soul to Himself for completion.

Fr. Alvin Kimel summarizes Peter Kreeft:
Purgatory is joyful, not gloomy. Whatever pain may attend the process of purification, it does not diminish the profound joy and triumph of Purgatory. The holy souls have passed through death into life and know that their ultimate destiny is now secure. The sufferings of Purgatory are more desirable than the most ecstatic pleasures on earth.

  • After Jesus' Second Coming and the Final Judgement, Purgatory will cease to be.

When Jesus returns in glory and the end of the world comes, and when the Final Judgement separates the sheep from the goats for all eternity, and when the new heaven and new earth are established in perfection, there will be no more purification of souls necessary. Purgatory will cease to be, and all souls will be fixed in their final states forever.


“God is the Last Thing of the creature. Gained, He is its paradise; lost, He is its hell; as demanding, He is its judgment; as cleansing, He is its purgatory” --Hans Urs von Balthasar





Related post: Indulgences: No need to freak out!








70 comments:

  1. Purgatory as joyful - I've actually never heard that before but it makes perfect sense.

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  2. Leila,
    I love you.
    That. is. all.

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  3. I've always thought of hell as deliberate, definitive turning away from God, and that God will not force Himself on any of His creatures - the very definition of love and freedom. I've also thought of hell as the absence of God, and thus love. Not so much as active destruction of a temple of God. Fr. Barron also says that we may legitimately hope that all may be saved in the end, though he also says that Jesus mentions hell more often than anyone else in the Bible (or New Testament? I forget).

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  4. Sebastian, I don't think there is a contradiction. We ourselves destroy God's holy temple by turning away from him. If we turn away from God, it is we who have destroyed our own soul. God's judgement confirms it.

    I agree with Fr. Barron… I hope and pray that all may be saved! But then I listened to a video by Cardinal Arinze recently, and it made me think that perhaps there are more people in hell than we want to think. I am glad that the Church does not speak on who goes to hell… We simply cannot know. We can know infallibly that the canonized saints are in Heaven, but we have no way of knowing who is hell, if anyone. But if hell is empty, there is a lot of purgation (exceedingly painful!!) going on…

    Also, regarding God's presence or absence, it's been said that the fire of God's love falls on all. And to the souls of the blessed, it is sweet ecstasy, but to the souls of the damned, it is torturous burning, because God's love is repulsive to them. Interesting to ponder!

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  5. Great post!

    A question-your last paragraph about the final judgement. So what if this happened while we were still alive? I'm not in the state of mortal sin-but I definitely imperfect. If there was no purgatory, where would I go?

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  6. Kaitlin, great question! Well, remember that purification is a process or state, not a "place". So, remember last Sunday's gospel? About the people "dying of fright" at the Second Coming? There will be much purification at the Second Coming, and whether you stand in front of the Lord for judgement twice (particular and final) or only once (combined at the final), you will be purified accordingly. We don't even know how much "time" the Final Judgement will take, but we know it will be efficacious for our souls, and we will be perfected by the time it's over!

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  7. Fr. Barron says in "Catholicism" that Heaven is the place where everything that isn't love has been burned away (because it is union with God who is Love), and purgatory is where all that other stuff is "burned" away. Makes sense to me.

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  8. Leila, I agree completely. We do know for a fact that Satan, a fallen angel, is in hell, along with other fallen angels, the demons. They are God's creatures, like men. They are very powerful, too. No reason therefore to be surprised if they had plenty of human company. I sometimes wonder myself how certain people could avoid that fate, looking at their actions and beliefs. And then I try to remember that they are no less God's children than you and I, and that He loves them no less and is doing all He can to make them mend their ways. He died for them, too, on the cross. Not an easy thought, I assure you.

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  9. When I read this title I thought "Purgatory is...real!"

    Major change from moving from Protestant to Catholicism was this doctrine. It becomes more deep and meaningful the more I experience unexpected suffering in my own life, or witness it from afar in other people's lives.

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  10. This was a nice post, it really helped explain that particular doctrine to me.

    Why do you think Protestants tend to reject the idea of Purgatory?

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  11. Chris, thanks, and although I am out the door right now, I will come back to answer later. Anyone else can feel free to take the question though!

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  12. There will be much purification at the Second Coming, and whether you stand in front of the Lord for judgement twice (particular and final) or only once (combined at the final), you will be purified accordingly. - Leila

    By "particular" do you mean the judgment of each particular person when they die? I'm going through RCIA now and there is definitely a lot I have yet to learn :) So for those of us who die before the second coming, we will be judged twice?

    Why do you think Protestants tend to reject the idea of Purgatory? - Chris

    Purgatory was one of my biggest hurdles. I come from a non-denominational background, and for me the problem was that Jesus already suffered and died for our sins. It made no sense to me that we would have to go through suffering in purgatory - because that made it seem like Christ's death on the cross was pointless.

    - Katie

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  13. So, is it safe to assume as a complete non-believer who is a compassionate, generous (albeit imperfect) person, I'm destined to a) a very long purging via fire session in purgatory or b) permanent residency in H-e-l-l?

    Also, for all those faithful Muslims and Hindus in the world, are they destined to a rude awakening upon death, to discover that in fact their conception of God was mistaken and the only true God is Catholic? Are they also destined for a routine stay in purgatory before Heaven or a one-way ticket to Hell based on their hearts?

    Thanks,
    Gwen

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  14. Gwen, hello! The simple answer is that anyone who dies in the friendship of God but who is not completely perfected in love and devoid of all sin will be purified to some degree or another before entering the perfection of Heaven. I cannot speak to what any particular person's judgement would be, as only God can read a human heart.

    A person who denies or hates God… I am not sure such a person would want to be in the presence of His love for all eternity? God is not a rapist. He does not coerce or force anyone to love Him.

    As to the question of Hindus or Muslims, there would be no "rude" awakening upon discovering their Beloved (assuming their souls have been seeking to do God's will as best they understood it), as it will make perfect sense to them then, and Christ will seem as supernaturally beautiful to them as He would to any Catholic or anyone.

    As to whether they would attain heaven or go to hell, that again is a matter for God to judge, as with all of us. But here is a post which goes into some detail about non-Catholics and salvation:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/12/can-non-catholics-be-saved.html

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  15. Katie, thanks for answering Chris!

    My answer to your questions about the two Judgements:

    The Particular Judgement is that judgement that happens immediately upon a person's death. At that time the soul will know definitively whether or not he will be headed for hell or for Heaven. You can sort of think of it as a "private judgement".

    Then, at the very end of time, at the culmination of history and the end of the world (the Second Coming of Christ), there will be a General Judgement, which will be the "public" judgement of all the souls that have ever lived (and who are living even up to that point). We will know everything about everyone, and all that was hidden will be revealed. We will see who goes to Heaven and who goes to hell. Everyone's thoughts, words, deeds, sins will be laid bare and we will see God's justice and mercy play out perfectly. We will understand. So, it won't be that you will have a "different" judgement, just that it will be communal, and everyone will see the whole plan and everyone's destination, as it were.

    Also, the Final Judgement is when we will be reunited with our (glorified) bodies. So, we will be whole again, but perfected and transcendent.

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    1. I often wonder what it will be like when we see the hundreds of millions of people who have been aborted worldwide. They will be at the Final Judgement, too, and it will be quite painful for a lot of us who stood idly by and even consented to and celebrated their murders. But they even now may be advocating for us, for mercy on our souls, which is quite comforting to know.

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  16. Katie said:

    Purgatory was one of my biggest hurdles. I come from a non-denominational background, and for me the problem was that Jesus already suffered and died for our sins. It made no sense to me that we would have to go through suffering in purgatory - because that made it seem like Christ's death on the cross was pointless.

    For anyone reading who still has this hurdle, I will try to answer. Jesus didn't suffer so that we wouldn't have to. He suffered so that we would be saved. There is ample evidence in the Bible that Christ's followers suffered greatly in His name and for the Kingdom, and even Christ said that if we are to be His followers, we must take up our cross and follow Him. Taking up a cross and following Him is a directive straight into suffering. It is in joining our sufferings to His that our suffering becomes redemptive, as His was. In fact, it is our job to suffer (sacrifice) for others, like Christ did for us. We imitate Him.

    However, I do see why there is confusion if Protestants see some sort of salvific attribute to Purgatory, so this excerpt from one of the links in the original post (look under the joyful bullet point), might help:

    3) Purgtory is a place of sanctification, not justification. Only the forgiven and justified enter into the final purification. Sin is not paid for in Purgatory but surgically removed. The doctrine of Purgatory neither challenges nor diminishes the finished work of Christ on the cross.

    4) Purgatory is a place of education, not works. Purgatory is not a second chance to merit salvation through good deeds but an opportunity to acquire “a full understanding of deeds already done during our first and only chance, and a full disposal of all that needs to be disposed.”

    Kreeft acknowledges the long-standing tradition that speaks of Purgatory as the expiation of the temporal punishment due to our sins, but he insists that this punishment must be interpreted by its eschatological purpose—the transformation of sinners into saints:

    The reason for purgatory is not the past, not an external, legal punishment for past sins, as if our relationship with God were still under the old law. Rather, its reason is the future; it is our rehabilitation, it is training for heaven. For our relationship with God has been radically changed by Christ; we are adopted as his children, and our relationship is now fundamentally filial and familial, not legal. Purgatory is God’s loving parental discipline (see Heb 12:5-14). (CC, pp. 149-150)

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  17. Thank you Leila.

    I guess I am somewhat intrigued by the possibility of what happens to the souls of people who don't believe in God. Such a person may not want to be in the presence of God for all eternity (if that really is the case) but that doesn't mean they want to necessarily spend time in Hell either.

    I still don't by the instantaneous conversion of non-Catholics to the idea that Jesus and Christianity is the ticket, but I appreciate the answer.

    Maybe someday I'll get around to asking a priest the hard questions
    : )

    -gwen

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  18. Gwen, I understand that most folks, even atheists, do not want to spend eternity in torment. But the problem is, Heaven is what a soul is made for. We are made for union with God, and we are made to live in the very Heart of the Trinity, in infinite goodness, in infinite truth, in infinite beauty. If we have not loved God here, if our hearts have not sought Him, if we reject His love and His invitations outright, then where else would we go? There are only two destinies: God and not-God.

    I wish I could afford to buy and send you the Catholicism DVDs. Fr. Barron is an intellectual. He good at explaining this stuff, including the fallacy of atheists in what atheists think we Catholics mean by God. We don't mean "the biggest guy in the universe" or the biggest being there is, who is just stronger than everyone else. He is not that. He is Being itself. He's not the biggest, best lover, He is love itself.

    That is why it won't be hard for a human (Hindu or Muslim) to be instantly accepting of the "Being" or the "Love" that he would face upon death. The Hindu or Muslim was MADE for union with this very God and not some other. We are not supposed to understand the mystery of God down here, but we will see Him as He is upon our death, and we will understand. It will make perfect sense.

    If you want to pick a priest's brain in the meantime (before you go and speak to one in person), go to Fr. Barron's site and watch some of his many, many videos. They explain a lot.

    Here is one from the Catholicism DVD, which says what I tried to say earlier about the nature of God, but much better….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_Yjue8MXAI

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  19. Thank Leila, that makes sense! I'm reminded me of a topic that arose at my RCIA class recently.. someone asked if we will all be the same age in heaven when we are in our glorified bodies (the priest who teaches our class said some think we may all be 33). It made me wonder about those who don't even reach that age, especially aborted babies. I don't think it really matters ultimately, but it is interesting to think about. But yes, I am sure it will be quite painful for those of us who turned a blind eye to abortions.

    - Katie

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    1. "I'm reminded me of"... it must be late! :P

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  20. Gwen, I wholeheartedly second Leila's recommendation of Fr. Barron's videos! There are many on so many different topics; he even does movie reviews, which I find really interesting to watch. But yes, he is able to explain things very clearly and precisely. I went through quite a few of his videos when I was considering converting to Catholicism, and while I did come from a Christian background there were still a lot of foreign things to me about the Catholic faith and he helped me understand parts of it much better.
    - Katie

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  21. Here's Fr. Barron's actual site:

    http://www.wordonfire.org/

    And one more try at clarifying something. You said:

    I still don't by the instantaneous conversion of non-Catholics to the idea that Jesus and Christianity is the ticket

    And my response is that every person who looks upon the face of God is instantly converted. No one who encounters him "doesn't believe" anymore. Unbelief will no longer be an option.

    You might be domesticating God too much, or sort of thinking of him in some earthly way. But he is not just some dude. On earth, mortals cannot see His face and live; we would drop dead at the very encounter (unless he kept us supernaturally alive through the encounter).

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  22. Katie, it sounds like you have a great RCIA class and a good teacher! Yes, there is speculation that all will be about the age of 33 in Heaven, but we really can't be sure. But we do know that even those who died in the embryonic stage, baby stage, toddler or child stage, will be privy to the mind of God, so they will be a heck of a lot smarter than even the wisest and most intelligent person down here! :)

    Also, since sometimes Jesus himself manifests as the Infant or Child Jesus, I can't help but think that we can be whatever age we want at a given time. :) The bodies we will have will be quite extraordinary!

    What made you initially decide to look into Catholicism?

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  23. gwen, you wrote "I guess I am somewhat intrigued by the possibility of what happens to the souls of people who don't believe in God. Such a person may not want to be in the presence of God for all eternity (if that really is the case) but that doesn't mean they want to necessarily spend time in Hell either."

    We Catholics believe that it was Pride which made the angel Lucifer (Satan) rebel against God, and made Adam and Eve disobey God. Pride is a spiritual sin, and the worst of all sins. At the same time, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, it is a sin only recognized by Christians (not sure about the Jewish teaching). No other major religion sees it as a sin. I believe it is the major sin of our time as well - wanting to determine for ourselves what is best for us, and not listening to God's counsel, which as experience shows is inevitably wiser. Humility and obedience are the virtues necessary to overcome Pride. I would also argue that they have never been held in such low esteem as today, a reflection of the trouble we are really in.

    So yes, pride will keep us from heaven. Hell is what this state is called. There is no consensus, as far as I know, about what exactly the experience of hell is like, and whether it involves physical suffering, but there IS consensus (and more importantly there is authoritative teaching) that it is a very unpleasant state - as absence of love and goodness is bound to be.

    So if you write that "a person may not want to be in the presence of God for all eternity (if that really is the case) but that doesn't mean they want to necessarily spend time in Hell either" that is a logical impossibility. Not being in the presence of God (after death) is either hell, or purgatory, but the latter is only a "whistle stop" on the way to heaven.

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  24. I don't spend enough time meditating in the Final things. This post made me cry. It brought to my heart what my mind already knew. I have been so caught up in surviving this life day to day that I often forget about my final purpose. Thanks for opening my heart this Advent to prepare for His Final Coming!!

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  25. Great post!
    I would also add, that the eyes of "Catholics" will also be opened, Gwen. It's not that we proclaim to fully understand it all :) There are Mysteries of our faith, which we know as Truth but our human minds can only hold so much! All confusion will melt away.

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  26. Leila,
    I have read your blog for a while b/c of the interesting discussion you generate, but have never commented. However, I wanted to speak up here because of the claim in the quote you listed that 'Eastern Orthodox used to believe in Purgatory', that is not true. I can see how some Latin theologian may read into EO/EC thought that they believe(d) in Purgatory as traditionally understood by Latins, but Eastern Christian theology comes from an entirely different angle.

    In our theology we have a process of 'theosis'. Everything in life, all the sacraments, ect are 'medicine for the journey', bringing us closer to God so that we might become like Him. Christ came man so that man might become like God. Our belief is simply that this process continues after death through the prayers of the faithful and the mystery of God. There are only a few saints who have accomplished Theosis on earth.

    There is no seperate place or state of 'purgation', it is rather a continuation of the journey begun on earth.

    That also means our concept of Heaven/Hell is slightly different. I have read many stories about souls being released from Hell because of the prayers of the faithful from the times of the Desert Fathers to the current saints who have arisen on Mt. Athos today. Many Fathers dedicate their entire lives to praying for all the deceased all over the world.

    Finally, as far as I know it is only a theological opinion, but there are many who believe that God will be experienced as a fire. Those who love God and are united to Him will experience the fire as joy, those who have rejected his love experience it as pain. There is no where God is not.

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  27. Ruth, thank you for commenting! I am glad you did. Catholics are definitely free to agree with that last part.

    I have heard before from other Eastern Christians (even Catholics) that there is no "Purgatory", and so I am glad to have a chance to ask you about it. First, I think Catholics would absolutely agree that Purgatory is a continuation of the purgation or purification that began on earth (I hope my post reflects that -- Purgatory is part of Heaven, but not the fullness of the beatific vision).

    But what I am not able to understand is why any saint in Heaven (already perfected, the last vestiges of sin/self-love already burned away) would need or benefit from our prayers? That makes no sense to me at all. Souls still in need of purification would need our prayers, but not those who have been perfected. Also, you speak of "accomplishing Theosis" here on earth (we Catholics would agree), but then when does that accomplishment occur for others? It would be at some point after death, correct? That would be the moment of the completion of purification, we would say. The perfection of the soul, and thus the saint is "out of Purgatory" and has accomplished his end (no more need for prayers or expiation. Could you explain more about why this view is inconsistent with Orthodox understanding? I am guessing you are not praying for the souls of the Orthodox Saints? (For example, are you praying for the soul of St. Paul? That would be unthinkable to a Catholic.)

    As for the idea that souls can leave Hell, Catholics certainly reject that outright. The will is fixed at the moment of death and judgement, just as the wills of the fallen angels were set at the time of their fall. Once in hell, there is no release (although before Jesus' death and resurrection, there was the Abode of the Dead, or the "Limbo of the Fathers", or the Bosom of Abraham, which was the place where the souls who were waiting for the atonement (and could not attain Heaven as it had been closed to man) were waiting for Christ. That is why in the Creed, we hear the word, "He descended to the dead" or "He descended into hell". It was not the hell of the damned.

    I truly appreciate your comment; I'm glad you popped out of lurking. :)

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  28. One more thought based on Sebastian's great comment: Since the souls of both the saved and the damned are reunited with their bodies at the end of time, there is a strong case that at least after the General Judgement, there is physical torment in hell.

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  29. Leila, yes I feel very blessed to be in a wonderful RCIA class! It's far away but it is worth every minute and every penny I spend on gas :)

    The short version.. My boyfriend is Catholic, and we had many discussions about our beliefs when we were first dating. That was my first experience with Catholicism. Once we started seriously talking about marriage and children, we broke up because we thought it would be too difficult to raise kids together. We stayed friends, and he eventually gave me a couple of books that answered questions I had asked him that he hadn't been able to answer. I read them and wrote out questions, and he came back with answers I couldn't refute. And there I was thinking I'd be the one to convert him! I was stubborn though, and decided to do my own "secret research" lol. I was too proud at the beginning to admit I may be wrong in my beliefs, and also to admit how scared I was about that.

    The main thing for me was how the Catholic Bible has more books than Protestant Bibles. TBH it freaked me out quite a bit; as someone who believed in the Bible, and that everything in it was true, to find out that there were Bibles that had extra books (which definitively taught things like purgatory and prayers for the dead) was completely baffling to me. After extensive reading and asking many questions of friends and of a very patient priest back at school (this was during my final semester in college, beginning of this year - fabulous timing!:P) I knew I believed in the authority of the Church and couldn't ignore it. Most stressful semester I ever had! But here I am now, and I couldn't be happier!

    Katie

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  30. Katie, what a fantastic story, and that just shows the power of a Catholic who actually knows his faith! If he had been raised more like me, and knew next to nothing, you probably would have succeeded in converting him OUT of the Church, instead of the other way around! Way to go, boyfriend, ha ha! Do you think you guys will get hitched? ;)

    And, isn't it great to have those "extra" books now? The Book of Wisdom… ahhh!

    How is your family taking it?

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  31. Leila, his devotion to his faith was definitely one of the biggest things that attracted me to him - little did I know where it would lead! And we are actually talking about getting hitched once he graduates from college (he's doing a 6 year undergrad - dual engineering programs), so in a couple of years! :)

    My immediate family has mostly been supportive, even though I know they disagree with certain aspects of the Church. Once they knew I'd really done my research and knew what I was doing they were alright. I'm living with my parents and sister right now so it has been something that's been a little bit of a struggle - it's been a lonely journey, that's for sure. But I've been spared any anger or really terrible reactions from them, thank God! My extended family on the other hand I have not told yet - they will be the interesting ones (especially the Baptist pastor and two cousins going to seminary and Baptist schools).

    Katie

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  32. In the interest of being completely forthright, I do currently belong to a church that is in communion with Rome, although I ascribe entirely to traditional Eastern Theology.

    In response to your questions, in many ways they seem to tie together.
    1) Eastern theology sees life after death as more of a continuum, rather than an a (Heaven) b(Purgatory) or c (Hell) division. That is not a perfect analogy, but it may help with understanding why most Eastern Christians reject the term 'purgatory'. We don't view it as an alteranate to being in heaven or hell, it is just part of everyone's journey.

    2) Although most people pray for members of their family, friends, ect, it is possible to pray for saints. Remember that in Eastern theology, we are aiming towards Theosis, or becoming 'like' God. However, we are all human, meaning that we will never actually *be* God. Therefore, it is always possible, for even the greatests of saints, to become more *like* God. When we say someone has achieved theosis, they obviously haven't become God, but they have become enough like him to unite their will more to him than any of us can imagine, so they begin to experience the perfect joy that accompanies that. That doesn't mean their journey is over.

    3) Finally, the idea that people can be prayed out of Hell, although it may not be in traditional Western theology, has its origins if you go back an read the Desert Fathers. They are stories recorded of people being released from because of the prayers of the faithful. Eastern theology has more of an emphasis on the permenance of everything following the final judgement.

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  33. Here are some books if one wants to read more about Purgatory...

    Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints by Fr Schouppe (written in 1893).

    Hungry Souls - Supernatural Visits, Messages and Warnings from Purgatory by Gerard Van Den Aardweg (written in 2009)

    Divine Mercy in my Soul - Diary of Saint Faustina

    I'm currently reading the first one, Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints. It's very good.

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  34. Lynne, thank you! I am reading a lot on Padre Pio lately, and he had a lot of encounters with the Church Suffering (those souls in purgatory). And Katie, I checked out your blog. You are adorable! And a good writer, too. :)

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  35. Ruth, thank you, and I am hopeful that you don't mind my pressing you on this. I once had a wonderful spiritual director who is an Eastern Rite Catholic, but when he started saying there is no purgatory and everything is a continuum after death, even with saints, I knew my particular mind could not go on with him as director. I understand and love the mystery of the East, but I also love the definitions and logical reasoning of the West. So bear with me.

    1) I think we just give a name to it, and you guys don't.

    2) But here comes a big difference. I cannot imagine anyone, Eastern or Western, who would "pray for" the Virgin Mary. She does not need our prayers, as she has been sinless since conception (I know, the East believes since birth only but that of course is nothing I can accept… though it should not change the point I'm making). If she was sinless from that time, she has never, ever, had the need of purification. She is and always has been 100% pure. Every saint in Heaven is 100% pure. Sinless. Perfect. No one can enter Heaven otherwise, would you agree?

    So, the transition from imperfect to perfect has to *be* something. It has to actually be brought about. But once the impurities are gone, there is Heaven.

    The "line" is between purity and impurity.

    I think what you are talking about, when you speak of the saints still on the journey, is about knowledge and understanding, no? Not about expiation of sins, but about the eternity reveling in the infinite truths and goodness and beauty of God, which to our delight will never stop unfolding before us.

    But this type of growth is entirely different from a penitential purification of a sinful soul. The saints don't need that any longer, even as they continue to grow in many other perfectly ordered ways.

    Also, do you not think that my Serial Killer person in the example might experience a great suffering as he attains perfection after death? Or does he feel instant bliss after his death, just like a blessed Mother or another saint would? Even though he has never expiated his sins on earth?

    And, if he does feel suffering, how is that possible if he is blissfully perfected in Heaven? And how did he go from "impure" on his death to "pure" in Heave (nothing unclean shall enter Heaven). When did that happen, or how?

    I hope some of that makes sense, but I will try again if not.

    3) That is interesting about the fixing of the will only after the final judgement; I did not know that was the thought in the East. It would be hard to reconcile that with Church teaching, which is that the will is fixed at the hour of death, which is why the moment of death is so crucial.

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  36. No, I don't mind you pressing me. Honestly, I enjoy discussing theology and God, although please don't mistake me for a theologian. If you ever want resources to learn about genuine Eastern Christian thought, you should turn to our liturgies and prayers, which have remained mostly unchanged through the centuries. It is the Eastern tradition that the entire theology is contained in the liturgy. You are more likely to hear people quoting liturgy and prayers to make a point than a canon, which is largely foreign to the Eastern (Byzantine) tradition (let us save latinizations for another time :) ) (and let me just make a point to say that I am referring to the Eastern tradition as Byzantium, and would use Oriental to refer to the churches of that tradition)

    On to your questions, but before I answer, I ask that you an anyone else reading, please empty your mind of Western concepts of the words I am using. It is impossible to grasp the East from a Western Perspective.

    1) I would tentatively agree, based on how you describe it, although there seem to be many Latins, esp. among the traditionalist persuasion, who seem bent on insisting is a place, which Eastern Christians generally cannot accept.

    2)As a note about the Theotokos, it is not that Eastern Christians believe she is 'only' immaculate since birth, rather we do not define it. We do praise her as the "Most Pure Mother of Our God, More honorable than the Cheribum and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim", and similar titles that denote her as being 'without stain'. The difference lies in the understanding of Original/Ancesteral Sin. The East denies that Ancesteral Sin means that we inherit any of the guilt related to Adam's sin, we only inherit the consequences, the consequences being sickness, death. To say that the Theotokos was preseved from this 'sin' would mean that she did not face sickness/death and was in fact 'superhuman', which would be herasy in both churches. That is why the East does not delve into the 'Immaculate Conception'. It is another area we leave to mystery as being beyond human understanding.
    Onto the main point: The difference in understanding sin comes into play here. In the Eastern tradition, we hold that we are all made in the image of God and that our spiritual mission is to grow in His likeness. Again, God became man so man might become like God. Sin is ANYTHING that tarnishes this likeness. It can be both volutary and INvoluntary. We don't divide sins into mortal and venial because what might be a minor tarnish for someone just beginning their spiritual journey could be a great tarnish for someone who is very advanced. Heaven is not about wiping away sins, it is about growing in the LIKENESS. When you grow so much in the likeness that you begin to experience God fully, you are entering heaven. But again, since humans are NOT God, there is *always* room for further growth, even for great saints. They might not be sinning anymore, but they can still grow to further experience God and advance in theosis. You may be right in that it is a growing of understanding (haha, as a pitiful sinner here on earth I have no idea...) but it is not completely seperate from the earlier process of a wretched sinner. They, too, are growing spiritually and in their understanding, just at a much more elementary level and might require more a kick in the pants. Penance on earth is not for vengence or retribution, but to help the individual grow in theosis.

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  37. 3)This is so nuanced it is honestly difficult for me to explain, I don't want to say anything in error. If God grants that a particular person is released from Hell, it is not from their own doing (they can't decide to suddenly start praying, for example). Rather, it is an act of mercy from God in response to the prayers and liturgies offered by the faithful on earth. The soul has to be open to receiving the mercy, but they can't will themselves out of Hell. At the final judgement, since everything will be over, all things are final. If a hypothetical person had no one to pray for them, they would kind of be screwed. Fortunately, there are countless monks and nuns who dedicate themselves to praying for all souls in all countries so that will not happen. That is one reason it is such an act of mercy to pray for the dead.

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  38. Love these Bubble teachings! Thanks! :)

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  39. I always liked Fr. Benedict Groeschel's comment on Purgatory: "I know I'll be there a long time, but I can't wait to get started. I don't know what it will be like, but I'm sure it's a step up from the Bronx."

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  40. I totally agree with Gwen, as to saying that nobody chooses to be in the traditional conception of hell. To consciously reject God is *not* to say "I want to burn and be tortured." While being away from God in the afterlife might be sad (and a sensible penalty for rejecting him), I just don't see how it would be just for it to be literally painful.

    If I were God I'd just let nonbelievers keep reincarnating until they got it right, or something. Or at least make sure that everybody gets into Purgatory.

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  41. Chris, that is wishful thinking, for sure, but it's not close to reality. Any goodness, any beauty, is from God. When we separate ourselves from that, we choose a life with no goodness and no beauty and no love. I cannot think of any horror greater than that, nor any pain that could be more severe. It is perfectly just to feel the separation (that we would have chosen for ourselves) as utter pain and despair. It's really something that the mind cannot fathom, to be forever without God. But if anyone is in hell, it's true that they chose it themselves, by failing to love, failing to follow the promptings of grace (everyone on earth receives enough actual grace to nudge them toward God and lead to salvation).

    It's a mystery why people would not choose God, but we have to accept that that is a possibility, due to the gift of free will.

    DNBA, I like that quote from Fr. Groeschel! ha ha!

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  42. Ruth, thank you! There are things you say that of course cannot be reconciled with Catholic doctrine (such as the Immaculate Conception, which is infallibly taught, and the same with mortal vs. venial sins (even the Bible speaks explicitly of sins which are mortal [deadly] and those which are not). I have a craving and a love for definitions and that is what the Western Church gives. As Blessed John Paul II said, we need to breathe with both lungs, East and West. But that means we do need West. So, just as we need the Desert Fathers and their beautiful mysteries, we also need St. Thomas Aquinas and his brilliant mind. There is still plenty of mystery still left after the definitions, as even Aquinas said, after Jesus appeared to him, that all his great works were "straw".

    The questions that are still unclear to me though: Would any Eastern Christian pray for the Virgin Mary? And, for Serial Killer in my example, would there be no suffering in the purification after death for him, or would he, like the others, enter into immediate bliss? If so, how does the "unclean" enter Heaven, as the Bible says that is impossible?

    Thanks for hanging in there with me.

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  43. Again, that makes sense but physical torture doesn't.

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  44. Chris, but if we are reunited with our bodies, the physical part would be inevitable. However, anyone who has suffered actual loneliness and despair can tell you that emotional suffering always dwarfs physical suffering anyway.

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  45. Leila,
    You might be surprised.
    1)The differences between the Eastern Church and Western Church have existed basically since the founding of the churches, but for the first 1000 years, they managed to co-exist.
    2) Eastern Christians who are in communion with Rome *now* do not celebrate the Immaculate COnception, it is not marked on our liturgical calenders or remembered in any way. We have an entirely different set of High Feasts where the faithful are expected to attend Divine Liturgy. Rome has always accepted that Eastern Christians have a different understanding of sin. It is how our patriarchs, metropolitans, and priests instruct us. We may be Catholic, but we are not Roman in any sense of the word. Our teaching is Eastern (again not speaking about Latinizations).

    Our 'Code of Canon Law' (gah that makes me wince :) ) mentions serious/grave sins but not mortal. Like I said, serious/grave sins can be different for different people depending on their personal point in their spiritual journey spiritual journey.

    If you read our Union of Brest, there is no mention of needing to reconcile our differences in understanding of sin. It was not something that was even on the radar to be reconciled.

    I agree, btw, that we need both East and West to see the true beauty of Revelation, and that different people will find their spiritual homes in different places, though all part of the apostolic church.

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  46. Woops, sorry to address your other point re: praying for saints. It might be easier to understand if you consider that the prayers sound a little different, it is more of a "God, please further glorify these saints!" rather than a "God, please save this person!"

    Honestly, I am not sure what the repented serial killer would feel, and I am not sure of any teaching saying what people experience upon death at the various states of theosis. My own opinion would be that he would experience some kind of spiritual trial the way the faithful do on earth to help him progress. I am sure, though, that what is experienced by each person is different depending on what exactly they would personally need to progress spiritually.

    It is not that the unclean are in heaven, rather they are continuing their work towards heaven in the afterlife. Heaven is experienced the closer one draws to God. As a rough analogy, the Holy Martyrs of the past were able to joyfully undergo insane suffering because they were already so close to God, that they experienced the joy He brings though they were still here on earth. This journey of getting closer and closer to God, more and more in His likeness, continues even after death.

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  47. Hit publish too early: wanted to add that when I say each person would experience what they need, it may mean that one person, who was a criminal who came from an abusive home might need to experience immense love. Another, who came from an extremely permissive home where there were no rules/boundaries/ect might require suffering to progress. It is not a process of making retribution, it is about God drawing the person to Himself and doing what is needed to accomplish that.

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  48. Ruth, thank you for taking the time to answer. I truly do appreciate it.

    Yes, I know that the Eastern rites may certainly keep their theology, and that the two "lungs" have developed separately, and that though we share the same faith, we do not share the same theology. But here's where we run into the parts that I can't reconcile: The Immaculate Conception is a truth. An objective truth declared infallibly by the Successor of Peter, who holds the Keys. That is a truth of our faith, and while I understand you don't celebrate it, it is still a truth, very clearly defined. Same with mortal/venial sin (though culpability and subjectivity do play in, as clearly defined in Catholic teaching). "Grave" simply means "deadly" or "mortal", so there really is no issue there, except that you don't dwell on it, perhaps?

    As for the rest…. I still don't see you make any real distinction between being purified (which has a definite line: "Before this point, I was impure and sinful, after this point, I was pure and free of sin and the effects of sin"). So, that (the eastern position) remains untenable to me. The state are completely different.

    Also, I cannot see that folks in Heaven (such as the Serial Killer) would experience any "trials" or "require suffering". Heaven is devoid of any suffering or trials or pain. Again, I cannot reconcile the Eastern position, but I am pretty sure that the two of us will not be able to work out what millennia of theologians have debated. :)

    I do agree that all of our journeys are about God drawing the person to Himself. Absolutely, which is why I stress union so heavily.

    Last thought: When I was with my Eastern Rite priest spiritual director, he often tried to expose me to the beauty of the mystery of Eastern theology, but I got the feeling that he didn't realize that we, Latin rite Catholics, are also transcendent and deep in our theology, and believe in the mysteries (for example, "sacrament" means "mystery", even as you call the sacraments the mysteries). He showed me a beautiful prayer (possibly liturgical), absolutely gorgeous, about Our Lady… and I think he really expected me to be blown away by it, as if it were something new to me. But I had seen many similar prayers in the Latin Church, so I was a bit confused as to why it was shown to me. Do the Eastern Churches think we have no mystics, or sublime prayers?

    I guess I would ask you (because I've never actually asked the question), do you see that a Thomas Aquinas is as important in the Church as a Desert Father?

    Blessings!

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  49. In response to your first comment, all Eastern Catholics really need to assert is that the Theotokos was sinless. We have no problem asserting that, we also believe she never sinned. I already explained the difference between ancesteral sin/original sin. It is similar to the filioque, even the pope does not use the term when he receites the creed in Greek, because in Greek the term would heretical (which is what caused the whole mess in the first place, poor translations). It is the same here, the notion of an Immaculate COnception would not make sense given the Byzantine understanding of the first sin, so the idea is not forced upon us. The main difference with the division of sins is that we do not define what is a grave sin. For example, the Latins have a set sin, say fornication, that is a mortal sin, but then allow for mitigating circumstances that may lessen the 'culpability'. In the East we approach it from the opposite direction. Say the sinner was a young woman who was formally a prostitute who is having relations out of love for the first time in her life. Her sin is not nearly as great as say, a holy monk breaking his vows. All sins, penance, ect are strongly suggested to be discussed personally with a spiritual father. The Eastern chruch has a large emphasis on handling things at the lowest level possible.

    Second thought. My apologies. I am not being clear *at all*. Theosis can mean two things. It is used to describe the overall journey towards God, *and* the final step in that journey. From Wiki, because it is actually a good explanation :)
    "Theosis has three stages; the first being purification (katharsis) and the second illumination or the vision of God (theoria) and sainthood (theosis). By means of purification a person comes to illumination (theoria) and then sainthood. Sainthood is the participation of the person in the life of God. According to this doctrine, the holy life of God, given in Jesus Christ to the believer through the Holy Spirit, is expressed through the three stages of theosis, beginning in the struggles of this life, increasing in the experience of knowledge of God, and consummated in the resurrection of the believer, when the victory of God over fear, sin and death, accomplished in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, is made manifest in the believer forever." So we do have a definitive line that one must cross before they would be considered in heaven, the final step of the process. I really hope that helped.

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  50. Third Thought. Yes, I do know that the West has mystical saints and deep theology. I am particularly fond of the Carmelites. I do believe, though, that the overarching theology of the West has a much more scholastic approach whereas the East is much more mystical. That is not to say there are no scholastics in the East or mystics in the West, I am referring to overall trends.

    Fourth Thought/Question. Hm. Well it depends, let me explain. In Eastern thought, a theologian is understood to be a holy person who is living a life in Christ. A person who can show us the way to Christ, ie living saints. An unlearned, holy monk on Mt. Athos is far more a theologian than the theological professor. A story to illustrate:
    There was a small island where three monks lived out their day, praying simple prayers of repeating the name of Jesus and conteplating His goodness. They were uneducated, did not know even the most basic prayers. One day the bishop, having heard of their reputation for holiness, ventured out on a boat to pay them a visit. The monks kissed his hands and feet. The bishop decided to teach them the Our Father, so they could pray properly. After spending a few days with them, he boarded he boat and headed home. When he was back out to sea, he began to see a shape taking form in the distance. It was the three monks racing across the water. Amazed, he watched as they reached the boat, bowed down before him and said "please forgive us simple minded monks, we have already forgotten the prayer you taught us!""
    If you are asking if the Desert Fathers are more important that a learned theologian who writes books, yes. However, I understand that St. Thomas towards the end of his life had mystical experiences that he felt he could not record. If you are asking if a Desert Father trumps another saint who was achieving holiness and teaching those around him the way, no.

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  51. And Katie, I checked out your blog. You are adorable! And a good writer, too. :)

    Well shucks, thanks Leila :) Since I don't have anyone to talk to in person where I live right now about Catholic stuff (my boyfriend lives an hour and a half away) I have found it nice to at least be able to write about it online. And read blogs like yours!
    Katie

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  52. Ruth, I will let the discussion on the Immaculate Conception and the filioque lie, but when you speak of the three stages of holiness, well now you are talking my language! I simply love the traditional spirituality and have written on it and how it has changed me life, including here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/08/part-ii-file-this-under-why-havent-i.html

    Also, I should have clarified, I wasn't asking who was holier, a Desert Father or Thomas Aquinas, I asked if both were equally important in the Church (at least I think… I am too lazy to go back and read my comment). Both Truth and Goodness are the essence of God, and knowledge of God's Truths is very, very good. So, we in the West see the scholastics as vital to the Church, and it's also quite beautiful that Thomas Aquinas is a great saint as well. In someone like St. Therese the Little Flower, we see a very simple and holy young cloistered nun who by her "Little Way" is also, as is the giant intellect Aquinas, a "Doctor of the Church" -- which is a title reserved to those with the highest theological knowledge. So, yes, the West understands that a simple pure way of holiness by a young girl can amount a great and towering theology.

    Very beautiful, our faith!

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  53. Katie, I hope you keep commenting!! :)

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  54. Leila
    What are the extra books in the CAtholic bible?

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  55. Hi Johanne, I've missed you!

    Well, just to clarify, we Catholics wouldn't say we have extra books, we would say that the Reformers removed books. There are seven more Old Testament books in a Catholic bible than a Protestant bible. (Our New Testaments look the same.)

    Here is an overview of why we have seven more Old Testament books:

    http://cuf.org/faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=28

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    1. Sorry, here are the books:

      Sirach, Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and Baruch, (and longer versions of Daniel and Esther)

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  56. Not sure if I'm entering in the middle of a debate or something, but I once heard a good analogy that explains purgatory; maybe you've heard this analogy too: imagine going to meet the King where you are to have a great feast with all the King, Queen and all the honored guests, but you look down at yourself and suddenly see all the imperfections of yourself; you look at the ratty clothes, the dirt on your skin, the foulness of your breath and so on. And you realize how badly you want to make yourself worthy of standing before the King, and you want to clean yourself up before meeting Him, no matter what the cost. This is what purgatory is like; a very clear perception of what we really look like and the desire to be cleansed of any lasting imperfections (most of us are not yet perfect before we die and so it only makes sense that those imperfections are still there after we die).

    Anyway, this isn't my own analogy, I read it in a book somewhere, but it was really helpful to me to understand why purgatory is both just and merciful.

    And on a completely different note, those who are following my nephew Dominic's story, please say a special prayer today for him, along with the intention for my sister: he had a very tough night last night and my sister is not even able to hold his hand anymore, because they put in even more IVs. from a mother's perspective, not being able to hold your child, especially when they're crying, is such torture. I can't even pass by my own baby without picking him up when he's not crying. So I ask that you keep them in your prayers and thoughts today. Thanks~

    (Sorry Leila, hope it's okay to put this petition on your blog, even though it has nothing to do with purgatory!)

    www.dominicpio.com

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  57. Becky, I am thrilled that you put Dominic's link on the blog! I want as many prayers for him as possible. God bless that little sweetie. I can't imagine what your sister is going through.

    Yes, that quote sounds like the C.S. Lewis quote that I have under the "mercy" part in the original post! If you click the link you can get to the entire quote, I believe, and it has more, to fill it out. I only used a snippet. So good!!

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    1. Oh well, it figures I would comment on something that has already been said! That's what i get for not checking out the links, haha!

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  58. Thanks Leila :) I must say I haven't seen that Catholics United For the Faith website before, and it looks like an awesome resource. Thanks for that link!
    Katie

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  59. Leila
    This is unrelated but I wonder What you think about this video

    http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/SecretHistory.asp

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  60. Since it's from Catholics for Choice (a.k.a. Vegans for Meat), I'm very doubtful that their facts are correct. They don't have a good track record in that regard.

    This blog post from an authentic, faithful Catholic explains a few of the problems with it: http://actsoftheapostasy.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/catholics-for-choice-produce-the-made-up-history-of-sex-choice-catholics-video/

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  61. JoAnna, thanks! I just rolled my eyes when I saw that it's from "Catholics for Choice" (as if!).

    Johanne: "Catholics for Choice" is an anti-Catholic movement. They actually despise the Church and the Catholic Faith.

    JoAnna is exactly right, you should give it the same amount of credibility as Vegans for Meat. Which is, zero.

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    1. Johanne, just to be clear, I wasn't rolling my eyes at you, just at CFC. They are a ridiculous, deceitful organization.

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  62. Is it too late to ask a question on this post? I'm curious about the last chapter in this post, concerning the final judgement. What will happen to all the souls in Purgatory at that time? Will they all be released? Stuck there forever? Or, will they be able to move on as previously scheduled, thereby closing Purgatory by attrition?

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  63. Eric, great question. The General Judgement will complete everyone's purgation. After the Judgement, there will be no more Purgatory, as all will have been brought to Heaven. Only Heaven (including the redeemed earth) and hell will remain.

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  64. Thanks for the answer. I am finding these "Little Teachings" to be very informative. Keep it up!

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