Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

The Father William Most Collection

Purgatory (outline only)

[Published electronically for use in classes taught by Fr. Most and for private theological study.]

1. How does it feel to die? Before we go to purgatory we die. Now does that feel? The lights do not go off, they go on. Two components of intellect. Spirit intellect more powerful than a genius. Material brain has about 100 billion neurons , no two alike, they make synapses 1000 to 10000 each so that total of synapses is about 100 trillion. A computer would fill Texas. But here, the two are tied together. Then the nexus will be snipped.

We get out of change: Aristotle on time. Our contact is the body. But we lose it. Now we are full of change: metabolism, and surrounded by change it. Three kinds of duration. :Purgatory is in aevum: no substantial change, no constant accidental change such as future, present, past sequence. How long as incomplete person?

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Soul knows God, not yet by vision, but understand the date in the great light, and without distractions.

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So it intensely wants Him. Will it reach Him? If will is in accord with Him when it leaves, yet, otherwise no--then it will both want intensely and flee from Him - a twisted condition that will never cease.

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2. It comes before the Judge of Infinite Majesty. It hardly knew that on earth-two poles in our relation. Joe Doaks and God's love.

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Here are some helps to grasp the lost dimension:

a) Arnobius: "To understand thee, we must be silent"

b) Dionysius: God is best known by unknowing.

c) St. Gregory of Nyssa: The true vision of the One we seek, the true seeing, consists in this: in not seeing. For the One sought is beyond all knowledge. :"

d) St. Augustine: "He must not even be called inexpressible, for when we say that word we say something."

e) St. Thomas: Such things have been revealed to me that the things I have written and taught seem light to me."

Explain all by analogical sense

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f) Astronomy:

Antares:more than triple diameter of distance earth to sun. Distance is 430 light years.

Polaris: More than 600 lt. yrs.

Andromeda: 2. 2 million lt. yrs.

Quasars: 1 to 14 billion lt. yrs.

Archangel flying in space.

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3. It comes before Infinite Holiness: Ps. 11:7: "God is sadiq and He loves sedaqoth". Great contrast of the gods of Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome, who were amoral.

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If we make a study of OT, Intertestmental literature, NT, Rabbis, and Fathers we find that sin is a debt which Holiness wants to have paid. Sheggagah theme: Abraham going to Egypt, Leviticus 4.

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Hobah in Aramaic and Hebrew. Our Father. Servant who did not know. 1 Cor 4:4. Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

So we begin to see why there is purgatory for Holiness.

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Price of Redemption: Problem from 1 Cor 6. 20. Simeon ben Eleazar. 1 Cor 12. If one member suffers... Paul VI: "Every sin brings with it a disturbance of the universal order, which God arranged in His inexpressible wisdom and infinite love... . So it is necessary for the full remission and reparation of sins... not only that friendship with God be restored by a sincere conversion of heart, (LYONNET) and that the offence against His wisdom and goodness be expiated, but also that all the goods, both individual and social, and those that belong to the universal order, lessened or destroyed by sin, be fully reestablished, either through voluntary reparation... or through the suffering of penalties."

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Sinner takes from one pan what he has no right to. It is out of balance. Even one mortal sin is an infinite imbalance: So, if the Father willed complete reparation or rebalance, only way was to send an Infinite Person, His Son, who could generate an infinite rebalance, He did that.

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So Luther made a sad mistake, he denied purgatory. He said: The work of Christ is infinite , so we cannot add, need not do anything.

But there is a syn Christo theme: Luther's mistake shows here. We are fellow heirs with Christ, "provided that we suffer with Him, so we may also be glorified with Him". Rom 8:17-18:"I judge that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us." Add 2 Cor 4:17:"That which is light and momentary in our sufferings, is working for us, beyond all measure, an eternal weight of glory for us."

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4. Two works to be done there:

(1) In this life we must rebalance, with Christ, for our own sins. If not completely done here, must be done in purgatory. We can say: Thank Heavens there is a purgatory, or we could never reach the Vision of God if we have not completed this before death.

(2) To see God face to face requires immense refinement of the ability of the soul to see. Ideally, it should be done in this life. If not fully done: Thank Heavens there is a purgatory.

If we do these things in this life, there is a bonus, the increase of ability to see God. If done in next life, no bonus, just paying old bills.

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5. Kinds of suffering in Purgatory:

(1) We said above, that the soul carries with it after death its memory of data. So it knows what God is like. Then there will be no distractions from senses. And the lights go on as we say. So it will intensely want God - but cannot have Him if not ready. This is great suffering. But the soul will flee to the fire, from Infinite Holiness. Cf. Cure of Ars.

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(2) Is there an added suffering? Western Church believes it, Eastern has been reluctant. Western has private apparitions--which are part of private, not public revelation. Explain the two. They speak of fire. Fire in ordinary sense is rapid oxidation that could not affect a spiritual soul. But it could express the intensity of suffering. Anthropomorphism.

200 stories of appearances with fire.

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Story of two religious who agreed to offer Mass for the one who died first. The one who did die appeared and asked why so slow. The other said: Your body is still warm in the bed.

St. Margaret Mary's report on Blessed Claude de la Columbiere. St. Augustine 10 to 15 years after death of his mother asked for prayers for her.

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Vision of a soul there fifty years. What could 50 yrs. mean? There is no time there, but there are three kinds of duration. In aevum, there can be as it were steps or stages. If we imagine a graph with two lines on it, higher line stands for aevum, lower for time. We could drop a line from a point in aevum to time, and it could read various numbers of years.

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6. Joy in purgatory: from certainty of salvation. Compare to martyrs who gladly suffered, yet did suffer.

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7. They are unable to help selves, for they cannot merit. Time for that is passed. Col. 1. 24 tells us that one can make up for another. So, we can sacrifice and pray for them. They will somehow know of this and pray for us. Many reports of great favors obtained in this way. If we get a soul into heaven, it will always be grateful- unlike many people in this life.

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8. Tragic mistake of Lutheranism: He thought he knew what faith meant- did not know. What St. Paul meant.

His mistake led to belief in infallible salvation and no purgatory. Ledger with infinity written on it. Epistle 501. Iowa City slaughter

Many Fundamentalists are attracted by this belief in infallible salvation. Yet they have nothing at all:just a mistake. The mistake will not forgive a mortal sin if they commit it. Tbey may have a long purgatory if they even get there at all.

Some stop prayers for relatives in a few years. Some funeral eulogies are a disservice.

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9. A long difficult illness before death, endured in full and glad acceptance of the will of God, can eliminate much, perhaps all of purgatory for the individual. Cf. the Rabbinic tractate Semahoth III. 11:" R. Yehudah ben Ilai asserts that the ancient pious men, 'used to be afflicted with intestinal illness for about ten to twenty days before their death, so they might... arrive pure in the hereafter. '"

10. Sabbatine Privilege: There is a report of a vision on March 3, 1322 to Pope John XXII which promised deliverance from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death on three conditions: Wear the Scapular, observe chastity according to one's state in life, recite the Office: the large office for those already bound to it, the Little Office for others. Can be commuted by a priest who has the faculty, often done to a daily Rosary.

Later copies of the Bull merely promise some special assistance.

11. Pius XI, Explorata res, Feb. 2, 1923:"... nor would he incur eternal death whom the Most Blessed Virgin assists, especially at his last hour. This view of the Doctors of the Church, in harmony wit the sentiments of the Christian people, and supported by the experience of all times, depends especially on this reason, the fact that the Sorrowful Virgin shared in the work of the redemption with Jesus Christ... ."



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