Purgatory Deferred Reward

The Catholic doctrine on Purgatory was consistently taught by the ordinary magisterium of the church until the thirteenth century. Up to that time, there had been no need for any solemn declaration on the subject; like many other doctrines contained in the Sacred tradition handed down from apostolic times, it was included among the articles of faith accepted by all members of the church.

I Teaching of the Church     II The Testimony of Scripture

III The Testimony of Christ IV Interpretations of Theologians

V Prayer Of St. Gertude the Great


I Teaching of the Church

At the time of the Second Council of Lyons (1274), which was the fourteenth ecumenical councilof the Church, Pope Gregory X was concerned with the reunion of the Eastern Church which had been in schism since the ninth century. To prepare the way for this event a profession of faith was drawn up of clarify certain doctrinal matters, among them the Doctrine of Purgatory.8 In 1438 the Council of Florence reissued this profession of faith as a dogmatic and infallible definition of the Church's teachings. If those who are truly penitent depart from this life in the charity of God before they had made satisfaction by worthy fruits of penance for their sins of commission and omission, their souls are cleansed by purgatorial sufferings after death. And the suffrages of the living – namely, the Sacrifice of the Mass, prayers, alms-deeds and other works of piety which the faithful have been accustomed tooffer for each other according to the established usages of the Church are profitable to those departed souls for the relief of their sufferings.9 Still later the doctrine on Purgatory was impugned in a manner almost ferocious by the Protestants. In reply, the council of Trent reaffirmed the existence of Purgatory and the efficacy of suffrages for those detained there.10 Earlier, the same Council had decreed: "If anyone shall say that after receiving the grace of justification, every repentant sinner's sin is so wholly forgiven and the debt of eternal punishment so completely remitted that thee remains no debt of temporal punishment still be paid either in this world or in the next in Purgatory, before the gates of heaven are open to him","let him be anathema." 11 8Cf. Denz. 464. 9Denz. 693 . 10Sess.XXV Decree on Purgatory; Denz.983 11Sess, VI, Canon 30 on Justification; Denz. 840.

II Testimony of Scripture

Several passages are cited from the Scriptures to prove, at least indirectly, the existence of Purgatory (cf, I Kings 31:13: - II Kings 1:12; - Tob. 4:17; _ I Cor. 15:29)L) There are two passages, however, which are more explicit than any of these.

1 Evidence from the Old Testament

In the Second Book of Machabees (12:32 ff.) the victory of Judas Machabeus over Gorias is related. After the victory, Judas found concealed in the garments of some fallen soldiers idolatrous objects which they had stolen from the temple Jamnia. Such thievery was a grave offense against the Law. The survivors,"betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him [God] that the sin which had beencommitted might be forgiven. But the most valiant Judas...making a gathering, he sent twelve drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the Resurrection. For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead. And because he considered that hey who had fallen asleep with godliness, has great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." This clearly sows that there is a middle state between heaven and hell in which souls not perfectlypurified are detained and that we can aid in their purification by placating God's justice through our good works and prayers.

II The Testimony of Christ

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Christ declares that " who ever speaks out against the Holy Ghost, it will not be forgiven him, either in this world or in the world to come" (12:32). This implies that some sins cans be expiated in the next world, and that there is a penalty to be paid for some sins in the next life. This is the sum of substance of the doctrine on Purgatory.

At the beginning of this chapter, the decree of the Council of Trent was cited in which idle curiosity and superstitious speculation about after life is forbidden. In keeping with that decree, we will present only a few matters on which there is more common agreement and which are completely free of the matters of the Church.

1. The Pains of Purgatory

Many theologians indicate that there is a two fold sufferings pain in Purgatory: the pain of being deprived of the vision of God and some kind of penal suffering.

The deprivation of the sight of God. Of the two sufferings of this state, this is surely the worse. But in view of the fact that all in Purgatory are absolutely certain one day seeing God, how can this be a great suffering ? It may be faintly likened to the disappointment one experiences when a dear friend is greatly delayed from an important meeting, or to the growing gnawings of hunger when a meal is long deferred. This deprivation is accentuated in Purgatory for two reasons:

First: The souls there are separated from the body and have no physical surroundings to distract from there lose;

Secondly: They have a burning realization that the time has already passed for their joyous union with God—the remains of their own sins render them temporarily unfit to see God.

2. The penal suffering of Purgatory. Nothing has ever been defined about a suffering in Purgatory that may be compared to the fire of hell. There is some certainty that such a punishment exists, but it is equally certain that we know nothing of its nature.

3.The meaning of purgatorial suffering. Whatever sufferings exist in Purgatory are designed for the salvation of the repentant sinner. They will exercise him in humility and charity so that he may grow progressively more worthy of his eternal reward. These sufferings are completely different from the despairing and fruitless sufferings of hell which are entirely penal of Purgatory are uplifting and sanctifying.

4. The severity of purgatorial suffering. It is the opinion of St. Thomas that the lest suffering of Purgatory is greater than the greatest pain of this life. The reason, he says, is that desire is more ardent in Purgatory, and hence its frustration more painful, and also because the souls there suffer directly without the cushion, so to speak, of bodily protection 12 This is an echo of the teaching of St. Augustine in his commentary of Psalm 37. St,.Bonaventure teaches that, even though the least pain of Purgatoryris not necesarily more intense that the greatest earthy pain, still for one of the same sin the sufferings of Purgatory are more sever than their punishment inthis life would have been.13 And what reason underlies this thinking ? Simply that the pains of Purgatory, although endured willingly in charity and hope, are less meritorious than penance of earth. This life is the time of mercy and forgiveness; the next world is the place of judgment and retribution. This should lead all the faithful, to do penance for there sins during this life; secondly, to practice devotion to the holy souls who can only suffer and who are incapable of aiding themselves. 12Appendix to supplement, q. 2, a, 1. 13Liber IV Sententiarum, d, 21, q, 4.

2. The Duration of Purgatory

As to the duration of Purgatory, we are sure only that it will end with the general judgment when all will enter their final reward. How long must souls remain in purgatory ? There I no way to know, for Purgatory lies in eternity, beyond the borders of time, and here clocks and calendars are of no avail. The Church allows Masses to be offered for all the departed who are not canonized saints. We know that souls are hastened from Purgatory by our good works and prayers. We are certain that penance done in this life will shorten the sufferings of Purgatory. Beyond those things, we know nothing for sure. But these facts are a sufficient guide for the devout Christian.

3. The Joy of Purgatory

It must never forgotten that Purgatory is a place of great spiritual joy. All souls there are absolutely certain of salvation, they are the recognized friends of God. There is no doubt, no uncertainty in Purgatory. Further, there is no possibility of sin among the souls in Purgatory, for God is the only object of their increasing desires and their burning charity. They are free from venial sins, cleansed of then the moment they enter this state.14 According to St. Catherine of Genoa, only the joys of heaven surpass those known in Purgatory, but they coexist with expiatory and sanctifying sufferings in such a way that one does not diminish the other. 14 Such is the teaching of St. Thomas. Cf Appendix to Supplement, q,2,a,


V Prayer of St. Gertude the Great

A Prayer dictated by Our Lord to release 1000 souls from Purgatory

Our Lord told St.Gertude the great prayer would release 1,000 Souls from Purgatory each time is said. The prayer includes living sinners which would alleviate the indebtness accrued to them during their lives.

"Eternal Father ... I offer the the most precious blood of thy divine Son, Jesus in union with the Holy Mass said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family"  Amen

Born in 1256, St. Gertrude died at age 46 on November 17, 1302. At the age of five she began to study at the convent, most likely because she had become an orphan. As she reached her early twenties, she began to be burned out on religious life and then she had a conversion.  Soon thereafter,  she began to have visions which lasted through the remaining years of her life.

St. Gertrude was never formally canonized, but a liturgical office of prayer, readings, and hymns in her honor was approved by Rome in 1606. Pope Benedict XIV gave her the title "the Great" to distinguish her from another famous Catholic Gertrude (Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn who was little Gertrude's teacher) and to recognize the depth of her spiritual and theological insight.

Say... Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us ! 3 - times

Say...O Mary conceived without sin,

pray for us who have recourse to thee !  3- times