DOGMATIC AND SCHOLASTIC - THE VARIOUS QUESTIONS CONNECTED WITH IT CONSIDERED AND PROVED.
CHAPTER IX, IT IS PROVED FROM THE CUSTOM OF THE SYNAGOGUE.
THE Jewish Synagogue believed in Purgatory and offered prayers for the dead. As this custom descended to the Jews of after-time from the Machabees, so did it come down to these from the ancient Hebrews. Richard Simon, in his book on the Rites of the Jews, shows that this custom existed among them. Bartholoccius (Bibliotheea Rabbinica, Tom. 2, p. 149.) confirms the existence of this custom when, speaking of the faith of the Jews in this matter, he says: "In the particular judgement, if the souls of the just be found with the guilt of mortal sin remitted, or if they may have died with lesser faults, they (the Hebrews) believe that they descend into the gehenna of fire, whence they are afterwards to ascend." Speaking on the matter farther on in the same work, he says : " The Hebrews do not consider it so necessary to assign the place of gehenna of purifying souls, since souls may be sometimes cleansed elsewhere, that is, in those places destined by God for this, whether by fire or by other wonderful and different modes, from which they believe that they (the souls) are liberated by the suffrages and prayers of men .... this custom also prevails to-day among the Hebrews of every nation, that within a year of the death of a parent the son should recite the same prayer for the expiation of the faults of his father, and the liberation of his soul from the pains of Purgatory, which prayer is called the prayer of an orphan." What is all this but a proof of the strongest faith in Purgatory, and that the origin of this faith must be sought for among the first fathers of that nation which was so favoured by God, and to which He so often gave His commands and intrusted His counsels ?