Monday, 6 July 2015

Purgatory, By The Rev. M. Canty, P.P., Part 1.


Pope Innocent IV

IN ancient Liturgies Purgatory was known by many names. It was called a "place of purgation;" a "deep pool;" a "place of pain and sighing;" a " dark way ; " a " transitory fire ; " and even " hell." In different phrases they expressed the same doctrine. But that all Catholics may know it by the same name in future, Innocent IV., in the thirteenth century, decreed that this place, in which the souls of the just, who owe satisfaction to God, are punished, should be known thenceforth by the name of Purgatory.

In Butler's Catechism, the one in use in this diocese of Limerick, Purgatory is defined " A place or state of punishment in the other life where some souls suffer for a time before they can go to heaven." Dens, in his Theology, calls it "A place in which the souls of the departed just, that are liable to temporal punishment, suffer." The souls that are in Purgatory are just, and in the friendship of God.

Purgatory was not created for the damned, for whom there is no hope and no redemption. It was created only for the just; not all the just, but only those just that deserve it. Though the stain of sin may be forgiven, and the soul restored to the grace of God, a punishment sometimes remains due, which, if not paid in this life, must be paid in the next.

In the latter case they shall be saved, as the Apostle says, by fire. They suffer in Purgatory, but do not merit. Once the soul leaves the body it can no longer merit. It can satisfy the divine justice, it can pay the debt due to God and release itself, only by suffering. Its sufferings do not constitute repentance, properly so called. Repentance consists in regret for sin, with a firm resolution of sinning no more; but the souls in Purgatory know very well that they can no longer sin. They cannot purify themselves, as in this life, by repentance, by the Sacraments, or by good works ; but they endure the temporal punishment due to venial sin, or to mortal sin, which had been remitted in this life, as to its guilt and eternal punishment.

This short explanation sufficiently distinguishes Purgatory from heaven and from hell. From heaven, of which the Psalmist sung: "How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts ! "(Ps. Ixxxiii.)

 From hell, where, as we read in the Apocalypse, (xx, 10.) they "shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." There shall be no suffering in heaven, and the torments of hell shall never end ; whilst they suffer in Purgatory but only for a time.