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The representatives of the Orthodox Church at the Council of Florence argued against these notions, while declaring that they do hold that there is a cleansing after death of the souls of the saved and that these are assisted by the prayers of the living: "If souls depart from this life in faith and charity but marked with some defilements, whether unrepented minor ones or major ones repented of but without having yet borne the fruits of repentance, we believe that within reason they are purified of those faults, but not by some purifying fire and particular punishments in some place.

Accordingly, the agreement, known as the Union of Brest , that formalized the admission of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church stated: "We shall not debate about purgatory, but we entrust ourselves to the teaching of the Holy Church". Fire has an important place in the popular image of purgatory and has been the object of speculation by theologians, speculation to which the article on purgatory in the Catholic Encyclopedia relates the warning by the Council of Trent against "difficult and subtle questions which tend not to edification.

Fire has never been included in the Catholic Church's defined doctrine on purgatory, but speculation about it is traditional. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people'; and they will say, 'The LORD is my God'", [56] a verse that the Jewish school of Shammai applied to God's judgment on those who are not completely just nor entirely evil.

To enter afterwards then into the holy lands with your wood and with your hay and stubble so that you may defile the Kingdom of God? But again do you want to be left behind in the fire on account of the hay , the wood , the stubble , and to receive nothing due you for the gold and the silver and precious stone? That is not reasonable. What then? It follows that you receive the fire first due to the wood , and the hay and the stubble. For to those able to perceive, our God is said to be in reality a consuming fire.

Can the souls in purgatory pray for us?

Gregory the Great also argued for the existence, before Judgment, of a purgatorius ignis a cleansing fire to purge away minor faults wood, hay, stubble not mortal sins iron, bronze, lead. Gregory of Nyssa several times spoke of purgation by fire after death, [62] but he generally has apocatastasis in mind. Medieval theologians accepted the association of purgatory with fire. Thus the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas considered it probable that purgatory was situated close to hell, so that the same fire that tormented the damned cleansed the just souls in purgatory.

Ideas about the supposed fire of purgatory have changed with time: in the early 20th century the Catholic Encyclopedia reported that, while in the past most theologians had held that the fire of purgatory was in some sense a material fire, though of a nature different from ordinary fire, the view of what then seemed to be the majority of theologians was that the term was to be understood metaphorically.

Pope Benedict XVI recommended to theologians the presentation of purgatory by Saint Catherine of Genoa , for whom purgatory is not an external but an inner fire: "The Saint speaks of the soul's journey of purification on the way to full communion with God, starting from her own experience of profound sorrow for the sins committed, in comparison with God's infinite love. Catherine asserts that God is so pure and holy that a soul stained by sin cannot be in the presence of the divine majesty.

We too feel how distant we are, how full we are of so many things that we cannot see God. The soul is aware of the immense love and perfect justice of God and consequently suffers for having failed to respond in a correct and perfect way to this love; and love for God itself becomes a flame, love itself cleanses it from the residue of sin. In his encyclical Spe salvi , Pope Benedict XVI, referring to the words of Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians —15 about a fire that both burns and saves, spoke of the opinion that "the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour.

The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves.

Prayer for the Dead

All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation 'as through fire'. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.

In this way the inter-relation between justice and grace also becomes clear: the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ's Passion. At the moment of judgement we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves.

The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy. It is clear that we cannot calculate the 'duration' of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming 'moment' of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning — it is the heart's time, it is the time of 'passage' to communion with God in the Body of Christ.

Detail of altar in Lutheran church in Auhausen , Bavaria.


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Purgatory, drawing by unknown artist from Strasbourg. Stained-glass window in Puerto Rico Cathedral. Miniature by Stefan Lochner showing souls in purgatory. Azulejo of souls in purgatory, Seville , Spain. Previously, the Latin adjective purgatorius , as in purgatorius ignis cleansing fire existed, but only then did the noun purgatorium appear, used as the name of a place called Purgatory.

The change happened at about the same time as the composition of the book Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii , an account by an English Cistercian of a penitent knight's visit to the land of purgatory reached through a cave in the island known as Station Island or St Patrick's Purgatory in the lake of Lough Derg , County Donegal , Ireland. Le Goff said this book "occupies an essential place in the history of Purgatory, in whose success it played an important, if not decisive, role". Le Goff dedicates the final chapter of his book to the Purgatorio , the second book in Dante 's fourteenth-century La divina commedia The Divine Comedy.

In an interview Le Goff declared: "Dante's Purgatorio represents the sublime conclusion of the slow development of Purgatory that took place in the course of the Middle Ages. The power of Dante's poetry made a decisive contribution to fixing in the public imagination this 'third place', whose birth was on the whole quite recent. Dante pictures purgatory as an island at the antipodes of Jerusalem, pushed up, in an otherwise empty sea, by the displacement caused by the fall of Satan, which left him fixed at the central point of the globe of the Earth.

The cone-shaped island has seven terraces on which souls are cleansed from the seven deadly sins or capital vices as they ascend. Additional spurs at the base hold those for whom beginning the ascent is delayed because in life they were excommunicates, indolent or late repenters. At the summit is the earthly paradise , from where the souls, cleansed of evil tendencies and made perfect, are taken to heaven. The Catholic Church has not included in its teaching this idea of purgatory as a place, any more than it has sealed with its authority the idea of a Limbo , which also has been postulated by some theologians.

Those who, after death, exist in a state of purification, are already in the love of Christ who removes from them the remnants of imperfection as "a condition of existence". Similarly in , Pope Benedict XVI , speaking of Saint Catherine of Genoa — in relation to purgatory, said that "In her day it was depicted mainly using images linked to space: a certain space was conceived of in which purgatory was supposed to be located. Catherine, however, did not see purgatory as a scene in the bowels of the earth: for her it is not an exterior but rather an interior fire.

This is purgatory: an inner fire. While the Eastern Orthodox Church rejects the term purgatory , it acknowledges an intermediate state after death and offers prayer for the dead. According to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America :. The moral progress of the soul, either for better or for worse, ends at the very moment of the separation of the body and soul; at that very moment the definite destiny of the soul in the everlasting life is decided.

Prayer for the Dead by Nicki Scalise

There is no way of repentance, no way of escape, no reincarnation and no help from the outside world. Its place is decided forever by its Creator and judge. The Orthodox Church does not believe in purgatory a place of purging , that is, the inter-mediate state after death in which the souls of the saved those who have not received temporal punishment for their sins are purified of all taint preparatory to entering into Heaven, where every soul is perfect and fit to see God. Also, the Orthodox Church does not believe in indulgences as remissions from purgatorial punishment.

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Both purgatory and indulgences are inter-corelated theories, unwitnessed in the Bible or in the Ancient Church, and when they were enforced and applied they brought about evil practices at the expense of the prevailing Truths of the Church. If Almighty God in His merciful loving-kindness changes the dreadful situation of the sinner, it is unknown to the Church of Christ. The Church lived for fifteen hundred years without such a theory. Eastern Orthodox teaching is that, while all undergo an individual judgment immediately after death, neither the just nor the wicked attain the final state of bliss or punishment before the Last Day, [72] with some exceptions for righteous souls like the Theotokos Blessed Virgin Mary , "who was borne by the angels directly to heaven.

The Eastern Orthodox Church holds that it is necessary to believe in this intermediate after-death state in which souls are perfected and brought to full divinization , a process of growth rather than of punishment, which some Orthodox have called purgatory. Among the latter, such souls as have departed with faith but "without having had time to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance The state in which souls undergo this experience is often referred to as " Hades ".

The Orthodox Confession of Peter Mogila — , adopted, in a Greek translation by Meletius Syrigos, by the Council of Jassy in Romania, professes that "many are freed from the prison of hell The Church never maintained that which pertains to the fanciful stories of some concerning the souls of their dead who have not done penance and are punished, as it were, in streams, springs and swamps.

The Eastern Orthodox Synod of Jerusalem declared: "The souls of those that have fallen asleep are either at rest or in torment, according to what each hath wrought" an enjoyment or condemnation that will be complete only after the resurrection of the dead ; but the souls of some "depart into Hades , and there endure the punishment due to the sins they have committed. But they are aware of their future release from there, and are delivered by the Supreme Goodness, through the prayers of the Priests and the good works which the relatives of each do for their Departed, especially the unbloody Sacrifice benefiting the most, which each offers particularly for his relatives that have fallen asleep and which the Catholic and Apostolic Church offers daily for all alike.

Of course, it is understood that we do not know the time of their release. We know and believe that there is deliverance for such from their direful condition, and that before the common resurrection and judgment , but when we know not. Some Orthodox believe in a teaching of " aerial toll-houses " for the souls of the dead. According to this theory, which is rejected by other Orthodox but appears in the hymnology of the Church, [79] "following a person's death the soul leaves the body and is escorted to God by angels.

During this journey the soul passes through an aerial realm which is ruled by demons.

The soul encounters these demons at various points referred to as 'toll-houses' where the demons then attempt to accuse it of sin and, if possible, drag the soul into hell. In general, Protestant churches reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory although some teach the existence of an intermediate state.

Tag: revenants in purgatory series

Many Protestant denominations, though not all, teach the doctrine of sola scriptura "scripture alone" or prima scriptura "scripture first". The general Protestant view is that the Bible, from which Protestants exclude deuterocanonical books such as 2 Maccabees , contains no overt, explicit discussion of purgatory and therefore it should be rejected as an unbiblical belief.

Another view held by many Protestants, such as the Lutheran Churches and the Reformed Churches , is sola fide "by faith alone" : that faith alone is what achieves salvation , and that good works are merely evidence of that faith. However, most Protestants teach that a transformation of character naturally follows the salvation experience; others, such as those of the Methodist tradition inclusive of the Holiness Movement teach that after justification, Christians must pursue holiness and good works.

Some Protestants hold that a person enters into the fullness of one's bliss or torment only after the resurrection of the body, and that the soul in that interim state is conscious and aware of the fate in store for it.


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  7. As an argument for the existence of purgatory, Protestant religious philosopher Jerry L. He lists some "biblical hints of purgatory" Mal ; 2 Mac ; Mat ; 1 Cor that helped give rise to the doctrine, [89] and finds its beginnings in early Christian writers whom he calls "Fathers and Mothers of Purgatory". Rather his basic argument is that, in a phrase he often uses, it "makes sense.

    He documents the "contrast between the satisfaction and sanctification models" of purgatory. In the satisfaction model, "the punishment of purgatory" is to satisfy God's justice. In the sanctification model, Wall writes: "Purgatory might be pictured He believes the sanctification model "can be affirmed by Protestants without in any way contradicting their theology" and that they may find that it "makes better sense of how the remains of sin are purged" than an instantaneous cleansing at the moment of death.

    While purgatory was disputed by the Reformers, some early patristic theologians of the Eastern Church taught and believed in " apocatastasis ", the belief that all creation would be restored to its original perfect condition after a remedial purgatorial reformation. Clement of Alexandria was one of the early church theologians who taught this view. Protestants have always contended that there are no second chances. However, for Lutherans a similar doctrine of what may happen to the unevangelized is expressed in the book titled What about those who never heard.

    Anglicans, as with other Reformed Churches , historically teach that the elect undergo the process of glorification after death. Walls and James B. Gould with the process of purification in the core doctrine of purgatory see Reformed, below.