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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Purgatory

by Catherine Frakas 10 Aug 2001

Purgatory QUESTION from Marilyn January 26, 2001 I am not a Catholic and only have hearsay knowledge about the teaching on purgatory. But, I have learned something that causes me to believe the Catholics are the only ones who have the truth about this. I would like to hear about it from a bonafide Catholic to double check what I have discovered in case I have missed something.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on March 19, 2001 Dear Mrs. Marilyn:
The best definition of Purgatory is 1 Cor 3:15:
From the King James version (1 Cor 3:10-15):
(10) According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. (11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
(12) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
(13) Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
(14) If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
(15) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Some fundamentalist call this the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is a judgment not of salvation or damnation, but of the works of the saved. In this passage above, St Paul is referring to saved people, people going heaven. But before getting to heaven the people's works are judged by the fire. The wood, hay, and stubble (representing our bad works) are burned, leaving only the pure and good works. We suffer loss (of our bad works) but we are saved.
One could look at purgatory as taking a shower before entering the heavenly gates. We need to take a shower to remove any residue from this world.
What is that residue?
Let me illustrate.....
If I get mad at your and throw a rock through your window, I have committed a sin. You may forgive me of my sin against you, and I may ask God's forgiveness and He grants it, but the window (the CONSEQUENCES of my sin, the RESIDUE of my forgiven sin) is still broken.
Although I am totally forgiven for the sin, I am still responsible to pay for the broken window.
If we die before we get paid the repair of all the broken windows that we have caused in our life, then purgatory is a temporary place where we will do what is necessary owe up to our responsibilities and and get those debts paid. Thise ARE NOT DEBTS OF SIN... the sin has already been paid for on the Cross and we are going to heaven. This is a debt of consequences.
Even in man's law we have this concept. A man may be sent to jail in payment for his sin, but he ALSO has to pay restitution. The jail terms pays for the crime; the restitution pays for the CONSEQUENCES of the crime.
Jesus paid the price for our crime (sin), but we must pay the price for the consequences of our sin. This is basic responsibility for our actions.
To take this one step further, an INDULGENCE is illustrated in the above analogy as a full or partial payment of what I owe for the the consequences of my sin (breaking the window). A friend may give you $50 on my behalf to pay for the window. The $50 is an indulgence to me. My friend pay my debt for me. Another kind of indulgence you might give to me. If I agree to mow your lawn for a month you will take $25 off the cost of the window. That is an indulgence.
An indulgence is merely a payment on the debt for the consequences of the sin. That payment can be made by oneself (example: I don't have the money to pay for the window, but I will mow your lawn and you agree to take off $25 as a result), or someone else can perform the good deed for us and have the reward of that good deed applied to our debt (example: my sister mows the lawn for a month and you take off $25 from the cost of the window).
I hope this helps understand this a little.
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