Tag: purgatory

5 Truths You Probably Don’t Know About Purgatory

5 Truths You Probably Don’t Know About Purgatory

1. Purgatory isn’t merely a punishment.

It’s a merciful gift and a testimony to God’s love.

“Sometimes, people hear about the sufferings of the souls in purgatory and they think suffering is the desire of a vindictive God, a God who wants his pound of flesh,” said Robert Corzine, vice president for Programs and Development at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

“But that’s not the case at all,” he continued. “God forgives us instantly when we request. The role of suffering is to remove the damage we’ve done. It’s God the Healer applying the solutions to make us perfect images of Christ.”

And perfect images of Christ is actually what God calls each of us to become.

According to the Catholic doctrine of salvation, God doesn’t simply wish to save us from hell — from a state of eternal separation from him. Most importantly, he wishes to save us from sin, from being anything less than the men and women he created us to be.

“God is like a great heart surgeon, trying to give us the new hearts we need,” Corzine said. “But we keep flopping around on the table, moving away from the knife. Death then is like the anesthetic. In purgatory, we’re no longer able to avoid the healing we need, and he can finish the work he started during our lifetime.”

2. The suffering endured by souls in purgatory isn’t physical pain.

Through the centuries, artists striving to convey the sufferings of purgatory have depicted men and women tormented by a burning fire. But those explanations aren’t a literal representation of the goings-on in the purgative state. They can’t be. In purgatory, the soul remains separated from its body, so it can only suffer spiritually, not physically.

That’s not to say, moreover, that the flames of purgatory aren’t real. They are.

“The fire by which we’re sanctified is an interior burning for the love of God,” expressed Susan Tassone, author of seven books on purgatory, including “Prayers, Promises, and Devotions for Holy Souls in Purgatory”. “Immediately after their death, the souls in purgatory saw God in all his glory. They saw his love, his goodness, and the plans he had for us. And they desire that. They burn for it, with a yearning that exceeds the heat of any earthly fire.”

In other words, the main pain endured by those in purgatory is the loss of the sight of God. They suffer from what Tassone called, “a spiritual fever.”

As that fever rages, it separates the soul from sin, a process almost equally painful.

3. Our prayers for the dead matter eternally.

The souls in purgatory may be bound for glory, but the process of purgation still can be long and painful. Save for humbly submitting to the sanctifying fire of Christ’s love, there’s nothing those souls can do to speed up the process or mitigate the pain.

“We need to be greedy for graces for the souls in purgatory,” said Tassone. “When the soul leaves the body, the time for merit is up. The soul is helpless. That’s why they need our prayers — the Rosary, adoration, the Way of the Cross and, most of all, the Mass. The Masses we have offered for the souls in purgatory are the best thing we can do for our beloved dead. That’s because the Mass is the highest form of worship, the highest form of prayer.”

“It really is one of the most consoling doctrines of the Church,” added Martin. “None of us stands alone. We stand on the shoulders of giants, the foremost giant being Christ. Our sufferings and sacrifices can be parlayed into sincere help for the holy souls because of his suffering and sacrifice.”

In many ways, he continued, our relationship to those in purgatory is simply an extension of “the logic of love,” where “You extend yourself so that another might have an easier time of it. And that principle isn’t bound by death.”

It’s equally not bound by time. The Church admonishes that purgatory operates outside of space and time as we on earth experience it. Which means we should never stop praying for those we’ve lost.

“No prayer is ever wasted,” Tassone said. “The prayers we pray for our loved ones throughout the entirety of our lives play a part in assisting them to go into heaven.

4. The Holy Souls Intercede For Us.

The souls in purgatory can’t do anything for themselves, but the Church has long believed that they can do something for us: They can intercede for us, assisting in obtaining for us the graces we need to follow Christ more perfectly.

“We have such great intercessors in the holy souls,” said Tassone. “They’re interested in our salvation. They want to help ensure that we comprehend the malice of sin and the relevance of conforming our lives to God’s will so that we can go straight to heaven when we die.”

The same is doubly true, she continued, of the souls now in heaven, whom our prayers assisted.

“Those souls become like our second guardian angels, taking us under their wing,” she explained. “That’s because the gift we helped give them was the Beatific Vision, which is the greatest gift of all.”

5. The Church’s teachings on purgatory are rooted in Scripture.

If you’re seeking for scriptural evidence for purgatory, start in the Second Book of Maccabees (12:45), where Judas Maccabee orders prayers and sacrifices for fallen soldiers who committed idolatry shortly before their death.

“Their beseeching shows there is hope even beyond the grave for those who defiled themselves,” Martin said.

In the New Testament, St. Paul likewise hints at the cleansing fires of purgatory when he expresses, “If any man’s work is burned up he will suffer loss though he himself will be saved” (1 Cor 3:12-15). He also seemingly prays for the soul of Onesiphorus in 2 Timothy 1:18.

Moreover, according to Corzine, the existence of purgatory is the only way to make sense of scriptural assertions such as, “No unclean thing will enter [heaven]” (Rv 21:27), as well as commands like “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).

“Logic demands purgatory,” Corzine said. “Without some process of cleansing after death, the census of heaven would be infinitesimally small, comprised of only the few who allow God to perfect them in this life.”

The Necessity Of Purgatory And How God And The Holy Souls Look At Each Other – St. Catherine Of Genoa. 

The Necessity Of Purgatory And How God And The Holy Souls Look At Each Other – St. Catherine Of Genoa. 

Of The Necessity Of purgatory. How Terrible It Is.

When I look at God, I see no gate to Paradise, and yet because God is all mercy, he who wills enters there. God stands before us with open arms to receive us into His glory. But well I see the divine essence to be of such purity, greater far than can be imagined, that the soul in which there is even the least note of imperfection would rather cast itself into a thousand Hells than find itself thus stained in the presence of the Divine Majesty.

Therefore the soul, understanding that Purgatory has been ordained to take away those stains, casts itself therein, and seems to itself to have found great mercy in that it can rid itself there of the impediment which is the stain of sin. No tongue can tell nor explain, no mind understand, the grievousness of Purgatory. But I, though I see that there is in Purgatory as much pain as in Hell, yet see the soul which has the least stain of imperfection accepting Purgatory, as I have said, as though it were a mercy, and holding its pains of no account as compared with the least stain which hinders a soul in its love.

I seem to see that the pain which souls in Purgatory endure because of whatever in them displeases God, that is what they have willfully done against His so great goodness, is greater than any other pain they feel in Purgatory. And this is because, being in grace, they see the truth and the grievousness of the hindrance which stays them from drawing near to God.

How God and the souls in Purgatory look at each other.

The saint acknowledges that in speaking of these matters she cannot express herself. All these things which I have surely in mind, in so much as in this life I have been able to understand them, are, as compared with what I have said, extreme in their greatness. Beside them, all the sights, sounds, justice and truths of this world seem to me lies and nothingness. I am left confused because I cannot find words extreme enough for these things.

I perceive there to be so much conformity between God and the soul that when He sees it in the purity in which His Divine Majesty created it he gives it a burning love, which draws it to Himself, which is strong enough to destroy it, immortal though it be, and which causes it to be so transformed in God that it sees itself as though it were none other than God unceasingly. He draws it to Himself and breathes fire into it, never letting it go until He has led it to the state whence it came forth, that is, to the pure cleanliness in which it was created.

When with its inner sight, the soul sees itself drawn by God with such loving fire, then it is melted by the heat of the glowing love for God, its most dear Lord, which it feels overflowing it. And it sees by the divine light that God does not cease from drawing it, nor from leading it, lovingly and with much care and unfailing foresight, to its full perfection, doing this of His pure love.

But the soul, being hindered by sin, cannot go were God draws it. It cannot follow the uniting look with which He would draw it to Himself.

Again the soul perceives the grievousness of being held back from seeing the divine light, the soul’s instinct too, being drawn by that uniting look, craves to be unhindered. I say that, it is the sight of these things which begets in the souls the pain they feel in Purgatory. Not that they make account of their pain; most

great though it be, they deem it a far less evil than to find themselves 
going against the will of God, whom they clearly see to be on fire with 
extreme and pure love for them.

Strongly and unceasingly this love draws the soul with that uniting look, 
as though it had nought else than this to do. Could the soul who understood 
find a worse Purgatory in which to rid itself sooner of all the hindrance 
in its. way, it would swiftly fling itself therein, driven by the 
conforming love between itself and God.

The Heroic Acts Of Charity For The Holy Souls In Purgatory. 

The Heroic Acts Of Charity For The Holy Souls In Purgatory. 

The Heroic Act of Charity for the Holy Souls In Purgatory.

When a good, even minimal work is accomplished, a degree of eternal glory is acquired, which can be lost only through mortal sin, this merit cannot be given to others.

The same good work accomplished puts the soul in a position to receive graces from God. Besides this, this good work makes up partly the temporary penalty due to sins.

This last merit, called “satisfactory”, can be yielded either partially or totally.

Whoever yields the satisfactory merit of every good work done in life and also yields the suffrages that he can receive after death, performs an extremely excellent work, commonly called the Heroic Act of Charity.

Those who do this act should then serve all the punishment due to their faults in Purgatory. But there is something to be gained in this. To an ignorant person it seems useless, even harmful, to give his money to the bank, yet this is a good means not only to preserve capital, but also to increase it. The same happens in the spiritual order. Their own merits are put into the hands of God and of Our Lady for the benefit of the souls in purgatory and their merits of eternal glory are increased, because they are supported by charity. It is commonly believed that those who make the Heroic Act, have little time in Purgatory, in the hope that the Lord will use their mercy towards the souls in purgatory. It is based on the words of Jesus: “with the measure, with which you have measured others, it will be measured back also to you! … Give one and you will receive a hundred!”.

As can be seen, one gains in doing the Heroic Act. No special formula is required to issue this Act, it can also be done mentally. However, the following short formula could be used:

“My God, I place in your hands and those of Our Lady all my fulfilling works that I will do in life and those that others will do for me after my death, so that they may serve the souls of Purgatory. I entrust myself to your Mercy”.

The Heroic Act can be annulled or withdrawn without being guilty of sin.

It is good to note that even after this offer, you can pray for whatever you need.

May the Lord inspire many to fulfill the heroic act of charity!

This Heroic Act of Charity is the completely unselfish offering to God of all the satisfactory value of one’s prayers and good works — plus the value of any that might be offered  for one after one’s death — for the benefit of the Souls in Purgatory, rather than for oneself. The “satisfactory value” of a good work is its value with regard to making up for our sins and reducing our stay in Purgatory. However, the “meritorious value” of our good works is inalienable, i.e., our merits, which give us a right to an increase of glory in Heaven, cannot be applied to anyone else. Moreover, a person who has made the Heroic Act may still pray for himself, friends and other intentions. 

The Heroic Act is revocable at will and is not a vow. Its actual ratification depends on the will of God. By making this act with purity of intention, one is relying upon the mercy of God and the prayers of the Communion of Saints to assist his soul after death. The Heroic Act was approved and encouraged by Pope Benedict XIII [17241730]. 

According to the Raccolta of 1932: “The faithful who make the Heroic Act in favor of the Souls detained in Purgatory, may gain an indulgence.” At the time this was a plenary indulgence with special conditions attached, such as attending Mass, receiving Holy Communion in supplication for the Holy Souls, etc. 

His Holiness, Leo XIII, Jan. 17, 1888, granted to the faithful who shall perform some pious practice for the relief of the Souls in Purgatory, every day during the whole month of November, whether in public or in private, an indulgence of seven years and as many quarantines on each day of the month, a plenary indulgence, once during the same month, on any day of the month, on the usual conditions: confession and communion, and a visit to a church or public oratory, and there praying for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. 


O MY GOD! for Thy greater glory, and to imitate as closely as possible the generous Heart of Jesus, my Redeemer, and also to testify my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, my Mother, who is also the Mother of the Souls in Purgatory, I place in Her hands all my satisfactory works, as well as the fruit of all those which may be offered for my intention after my death, that She may apply them to the Souls in Purgatory according to Her wisdom and good pleasure. Amen.

The Peace, Joy And Desire Of The Holy Souls In Purgatory. 

The Peace, Joy And Desire Of The Holy Souls In Purgatory. 

The Peace and the joy of Purgatory.

The will of the Holy souls are in accordance in all things with the will of God, who therefore sheds on them His goodness, and they, as far as their will goes, are happy and cleansed of all their sin.

As for guilt, these cleansed souls are as they were when God created them, for God forgives their guilt immediately who have passed from this life ill content with their sins, having confessed all they have committed and having the will to commit no more. Only the rust of sin is left in them, and from this, they cleanse themselves by pain in the fire. Thus cleansed of all guilt and united in will to God, they see Him clearly in the degree in which He makes Himself known to them, and see too how much it imports to enjoy Him and that souls have been created for this end.

Moreover, they are united in conformity with God, and are drawn to Him in such a way, that his natural instinct towards souls working in them, that neither arguments nor figures nor examples can make the thing clear as the mind knows it to be in effect and as by inner feeling it is understood to be. I will, however, make one comparison which comes to my mind.

A comparison to show with what violence and what love the souls in Purgatory desire to enjoy God.

If in all the world there were but one loaf of bread to feed the hunger of all creatures, and if they were satisfied by the sight of it alone, then since man, if he be healthy, has an instinct to satisfy his hunger, if he neither ate nor sickened nor died, would grow unceasingly for his instinct to eat would not lessen. Knowing that there was only that loaf to satisfy him and that without it he must still be hungry, he would be in unbearable pain. All the more if he went near that loaf and could not see it, would his natural craving for it be strengthened, his instinct would fix his desire wholly on that loaf which held all that could content him; at this point, if he were sure he would never see the loaf again, he would be in Hell. Thus are the souls of the damned from whom any hope of ever seeing their bread, which is God, the true Savior, has been taken away. But the souls in Purgatory have the hope of seeing their bread and wholly satisfying themselves therewith. Therefore they suffer hunger and endure pain in that measure in which they will be able to satisfy themselves with the bread which is Jesus Christ, true God and Savior and our Love.

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