Is there really a place called Purgatory?
Is this place just an invention and tradition of the Roman Catholic Church?
What if there is no such place as Purgatory?
Today I would like to talk about the Roman Catholic teaching of Purgatory. First of all I would like to quote from two of their catechisms, regarding this topic:In The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism there is a little section entitled PURGATORY IS GOD’S HOSPITAL and it declares that ‘Purgatory is God’s Hospital for souls, where those who do not love God enough to enter heaven are cured by fire…Then they must go to purgatory, where they will have to suffer much more intensely than they would have if they had accepted the sufferings on earth…In purgatory, God’s cleansing fires burn away the souls selfishness till its love becomes perfect and it is ready to fly to heaven. Its suffering only purify love, they don’t increase it. [The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, Catholic Book Publishing Co., NY 1969, Imprimatur: Francis Cardinal Spellman]The Catechism Of The Catholic Church of 1994 confirms the above in a section entitled THE FINAL PURIFICATION, OR PURGATORY
1030: 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
1031: The church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of scriptures, speaks of a cleansing fire…. [The Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Doubleday Publishers NYC, Paperback Edition, 1995, page 191, Imprimi Potest: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger]
I wanted to quote from those two catechisms to present the Roman Catholic teaching regarding this place called Purgatory, so that you could read it for yourself. I am a former Roman Catholic who came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour in 1989. There has never been a place called Purgatory and there never will be a place called Purgatory. It does not exist. If you search the scriptures you will not find this place in there at all. My purpose in writing this article is to dispel this false teaching which provides a false hope to the millions upon millions of precious souls within the Roman Catholic system.Jesus Christ spoke about salvation and damnation, light and darkness, life and death, and heaven and hell but He never offered even a hint about a place called purgatory. Listen to Jesus here:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18)
Here Jesus speaks about the love of God toward the people of the world, and He declares that God sent His Son into the world to save the world. Jesus also made it very clear that the person who did not believe in the Son (Himself) was condemned already. There was not even a hint about a purifying fire for either the believer or unbeliever from the mouth of Jesus Christ. Jesus made it clear that faith in Him was the determining factor of whether a person was saved or condemned.Here is another passage from the Bible where Jesus speaks about salvation and damnation after He rose from the dead:
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15-16)
Once again the focus is on the faith of the individual. The believer will be saved and the unbeliever will be damned.Listen to the words of a criminal who repented during the final moments of his life, as he spoke with Jesus from a cross:
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:39-43)
Jesus promised this criminal that he would be with Him in Paradise on that very day! I am sure that this criminal had a love that was less than perfect toward God, but Jesus promised that man Paradise. Jesus never mentioned a place called Purgatory or a suffering that needed to take place after he died because that place does not exist. Salvation has always been based upon the faith of the individual in the living God. That criminal could do absolutely nothing to save himself at that point in his life. He could not do any good works. He could not wiggle down off that cross to be baptized either. The only thing that he could do was the thing that he did and that was to put his faith in Jesus Christ before he died. The criminal made a genuine turn in his heart toward the Lord and he genuinely repented of his own sin. The criminal acknowledged that he deserved to be there ‘for we receive the due reward of our deeds…’ and the proof that it was genuine was the fact that the Lord promised that man that he would go to paradise with Him on that very day.
The Catholic Mass And Purgatory
Many people do not realize that the Roman Catholic Mass is considered a ‘propitiatory sacrifice’ that is offered to God for both the living and the dead, which would include those souls in Purgatory. In fact the Roman Catholic Council of Trent has pronounced many anathemas (curses) against those people who would not agree with their teachings on those subjects. Those anathemas are still in effect today and do not let anybody tell you otherwise.
People can have a Roman Catholic Mass said by a priest for a deceased friend or relative. A Catholic can go their local church and make a request for a Mass to be said on behalf of their loved one who may be in Purgatory. In the 1960’s I used to go to the local rectory to make a donation for a Mass card when somebody we knew had died. There were two types of Mass cards. One was a simple looking card with a suggested donation of one dollar and the other one was a much thicker one with a nice case for a suggested donation of five dollars. I cannot imagine what the Mass card donation might be today.
Here are two of those anathemas (curses):
Canons on The Sacrifice Of The Mass
Canon 1: If anyone says that in the mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God, or that to be offered is nothing else than that Christ is given to us to eat, let him be anathema.
Canon 3: If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema.
The one thing that I want you to see here is that the teaching of Purgatory cheapens the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How many masses must be said by family members before a soul is set free from Purgatory? How many hundreds of years must a soul remain in Purgatory? These are answers that you will never know and people will still continue to have masses said for there loved ones because of that.
Trust me! If the blood of the sinless, perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ cannot perfectly atone for your sins, then there is nothing in this universe that can do it.
I do not believe that the mass is a propitiatory sacrifice and I do not believe that there is any benefit at all in the Roman Catholic mass, so according to their teaching I am anathematized. I do believe what the scriptures tell me such as the following:
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Romans 5:8-9)
Many people who do not come from a Roman Catholic background have no idea about these things. They have never been inside the funeral parlor to listen to the prayers for the people who have already died, who are offered hope for escape from this land of make believe. There are millions of Roman Catholic people who think that they have a second chance after death, after they go to Purgatory when somebody else will have a Mass said for them to shorten their time there. I know because I was one of them.
Mary Worship And Purgatory
There are also millions of Catholics who believe that their stay in Purgatory will be shortened because they had a devotion to Mary the Blessed Mother and because they wore the brown scapular around their neck. The brown scapular is made up of two pieces of cloth, usually wrapped in a plastic to protect it, and held together with string. It forms a circle which is then draped over the wearers head.
Pope John XXII declared that he had a vision of the Virgin Mary in which she said the following concening those who wore the brown scapular:
” I the Mother of grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free, so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting”
There were many people who were martyred during the middle ages because they refused to believe teachings such as Purgatory.
Martin Luther was absolutely outraged when a man named John Tetzel went preaching in the towns and villages throughout Germany raising money for the building of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. John Tetzel was peddling indulgences with the approval of Pope Leo X and providing them with a false hope beyond the grave. There was a money chest which was carried during these fund raisers and Tetzel urged the people to contribute by saying:
“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings , the soul from Purgatory springs”
This is spiritual fraud at its worst. I wonder how many sincere people were swayed by that man Tetzel to give up their money, hoping that one of their loved ones would escape the torment of this place that has never existed. It is absolutely mind boggling that the teaching of Purgatory is still around in modern times.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Gentile). (Romans 1:16)