Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On purgatory

In my own experience on the subject of purgatory I have often find I spend more time explaining what purgatory is not rather than what it is. I heard comparison's to "God's easy bake oven for underdone saints", that it is a "second chance" to get into heaven, etc.

It is important to understand that the Church has only taught three things about purgatory:

1. It exists.
2. It is a temporary place for souls destined for heaven but require a further purification due to sins on earth.
3. There is pain involved.

The customs that surround purgatory are the results of pious speculation, error, and sometimes flat out false information. It is a sad state of affairs that today most Catholics don't seem to know the basics of purgatory (and a lot of other doctrines).

But the concept of purgatory is not hard to understand. We know of many people who are faithful to Christ but are far from perfect, (your humble author has a membership in this club). As such they do not deserve Hell but are not pure. Hence there must be a chastisement, a 'purgation' so to speak. In certain Evangelical circles this was referred to as the "chastisement". This cleansing is necessary as nothing impure can enter Heaven.

When the black legends and misunderstandings are removed Purgatory becomes a most logical place. It fills the gap between Heaven and Hell, and is a great blessing to those of us who are far from the perfection needed to enter into God's kingdom. It is such a shame that we misunderstand so much about it.

No comments: