St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

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"


  • The scene also took place on a BA (British Airway) flight
    between Johannesburg and London. A white woman, about 50 years old,
    was seated next to a black man. Obviously disturbed by this, she called the air Hostess. "Madam, what is the matter?" the hostess asked.
    "You obviously do not see it then?" She responded. "You placed me next to a black man. I do not agree to sit next to someone from such a repugnant group. Give me an alternative seat." "Be calm please," the hostess replied. "Almost all the places on this flight are taken. I will go to
    see if another place is available." The hostess went away
    and then came back a few minutes later.

    "Madam, just as I thought, there are no other available seats in the
    economy class. I spoke to the captain and he informed me
    that there is one seat in the business class. All the same, we also have one seat in
    the first class." Before the woman could say anything, the hostess
    continued: "It is unusual for our company to permit someone
    from the economy class to sit in the first class. However, given the
    circumstances, the captain feels that it would be scandalous
    to make someone sit next to someone so disgusting."

    She then turned to the black guy, and said, "Therefore, sir, if you
    would like to, please collect your hand luggage, a seat awaits you in
    first class."

    At the moment, the other passengers who were shocked by what
    they had just witnessed stood up and applauded. This is a true story.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:19 AM  

  • Mt 25: 35-36-whoever feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, etc goes to heaven.

    If people don't try to help the less fortunate does that mean they automatically go to Purgatory?

    Fr Greg said...
    Anon, thanks for the question. You need to finish the passage to get the answer.

    Mt 25:41-46...if we don't feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, etc. I.e., if we don't take care of the poor, we go to Hell.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:26 AM  

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