Hi, guys —
I am a cradle Catholic. For a long time I
have had issues with the Catholic belief on
I do not believe in it. I believe that our
sins are washed clean by the blood of Jesus:
past, present, and future.
- To believe in Purgatory, is to believe
that Jesus's death on the Cross was not
I believe Purgatory was invented by priests
in the middle ages, and that there is no
Biblical basis for it.
- I have issues with praying to the Virgin
Mary. I go straight to Jesus, I do not
believe in praying to Mary to get to Jesus.
I also struggle with the Catholic philosophy
that Mary had no other children after Jesus. The
Bible states that she did and, No,
they were not his cousins.
I also don't believe that she is Co-mediator
with Jesus. Scripture states:
He is the Way, the Truth and the Life,
and no one comes to the Father except
through Him. (John 14:6)
Yes, you can admire her etc, but she is
a cradle Catholic who has had issues with
several Catholic teachings. }
It sounds like you have been listening
to some non-Catholics with erroneous
ideas about what the Church teaches.
All our sins are washed away by the
blood of Christ, and the Cross is
enough to save us. You are right
about that. However, even when our
sins are completely forgiven, we
are not perfect. We still have imperfections,
weaknesses and attachments to sin
and we remain prone to sin. If that
were not true, then once a person
accepted Christ or were baptized,
he or she would never sin again,
and we know that is not true! Purgatory
is not about forgiveness! It is about
re-conditioning, perfecting, purifying.
In a way, you could say that it is
the purifying effect that God's love
has on us, cleaning our vision and
our hearts so that we can see Him
as He is and love Him perfectly.
So you have a misunderstanding about
Purgatory; it is not what you think.
You also misunderstand praying to
Mary. We do not have to go to Mary
to get to Jesus, as you put it. You
do not have to pray to Mary but Jesus
did tell the perfect disciple to
take her for his mother, (John 19:23-27)
so we should do that. We should also
follow his example in taking her
into our home. Why? Jesus gave her
to us as a spiritual mother.
Nowhere does the Bible say that Mary
had other children. And never in
history, with people knowing the
languages of Scripture far better
than we do, has any Christian group
ever said that she did, until the
time of the Reformation. An understanding
of Aramaic and Greek would help you
on that point.
Mary is not co-mediator as the English
words imply. However, like you, she
helps Jesus in His work of salvation. "Co" in
English means "equal",
Latin it means "with." She
works with God, as you do, but
she does it in a very special way.
She consented for the Incarnation
to happen. She was the
source of the human body that was
the means of our redemption, by His
sacrificial will carried out on the
Cross. She also consented to His
death (she was the only one other
than Jesus with the ability to say
"Yes" or "No" to
this Sacrifice, because Jesus belonged
to her — he was her
Son. Jesus did the will of the Father,
and so did Mary, in offering Him
in union with His own offering.
Regardless of what you think about
Mary's role and your relationship
to her, I would advise you not to
disdain her, put her down or insult
her. She is, after all, the Mother
of the Lord and she accompanied the
early Church and taught the apostles
- Where do you think
the stories of his childhood came
You would not want to displease
the Lord by insulting or ignoring
His Mother. He loves her. He fulfilled
all the Law, and the Law commanded
Him to honor His mother and father.
We should imitate Jesus in all things.
Mary Ann —
Thank you for answering my questions.
You have given me more food for thought
especially on the issues of the Virgin
Yes, I do have a friend who is a
Baptist; she teaches a Bible study
at her church. She was the one that
told me that Mary had other children
She said it is stated in the
Bible. She has checked out the translations,
from the Greek etc., and it still
states that Jesus did, in fact, have
true brothers and sisters.
As far as Purgatory is concerned,
I am still somewhat dubious on it.
I understand what you are saying
about the fact that we have weaknesses,
and I guess Purgatory would cleanse
us and make us more perfect, but
I still have issues with its actual
Thank you and blessings.
Meri Lee T.
Meri Lee —
Well, Purgatory is primarily a state
of being, a transitional state. Some
call it the vestibule or anteroom
C.S. Lewis conceived of it as the
effect that entering Heaven has on
the soul, the purifying effect of
Perhaps that helps.
Yes, Mary Ann, that does help.
I think getting into discussions
with friends about differences in
beliefs within Christianity can get
dicey. Don't they say, you should
never discuss politics, religion
or child rearing issues with others.
My Baptist friend is very adamant
about the fact that Mary did have
I value my friendship with this lady
and don't want to cause a rift or
an uncomfortable feeling between
us. As the Baptists say, she found
Jesus about five years ago. Before
that was not a Christian, and the
fact that she studies her Bible and
leads a Bible study, makes her feel
that she is undeniably correct.
Thank you again.
Meri Lee T
Meri Lee —
You are right to go gently, but that
does not mean we don't say the truth
gently at least once.
You can enter "Jesus' brothers" into the search engine of AskACatholic.com and come up with really good answers and resources on
And you are most welcome.
Hi, Meri Lee —
Thanks for the question.
We have answered a lot of your questions
in our knowledge base so you may
want to take
a few minutes to search
for a topic here.
On Purgatory, here is a posting that
give you the Protestant argument,
with our reply as the counter argument:
Purgatory is more of a process than
a place; I call it the Holy Hospital
Purgatory has nothing to do
with ones salvation; if one is in
Purgatory, one is saved by the Blood
of the Lamb, Jesus. Purgatory
has to do with personal holiness.
(Read my comments at the end of the
If you want to truly understand the
Catholic teachings and how to rebut
them I would get a copy of:
Share it with your Baptist friend
I hope you find it helpful.
Hi, Meri Lee —
To understand Purgatory, we have
to first understand the basic differences
between what Protestants and Catholics
believe about salvation.
Protestants believe that salvation
is a simple legal declaration. God
declares us righteous on the basis
- our faith in Christ, and
- His atoning Sacrifice.
But they don't believe that God actually
makes us righteous. Luther put it
"We are nothing but a pile
of dung, that God covers with
The Catholic Church rejects this
understanding because it is incomplete.
God does indeed declare us righteous
but in doing so, He makes us righteous
and gives us the power to overcome
Our sin nature or concupiscence remains.
Although we are made righteous, we
still desire to sin. The more we
sin, the more we injure our soul
and increase that desire. Whereas,
the more we overcome sin by the power
of the Holy Spirit, as Paul tells
us to do in Romans 8, the more we
are transformed into the image and
likeness of Christ. This, of course,
is all a work of grace.
We cooperate with grace but it all
starts with God and ends with God.
We simply yield and respond to the
grace and power to become the sons
of God as it says in the first chapter
Now that process, doesn't happen
over night. For most of us, it takes
more than a life time.
In fact, in 1 Corinthians 3:15 St.
Paul hints at the fact that we will
be tried by fire. All that is good
will remain and that which is not
will be burnt away. We ourselves
will be saved but will suffer loss.
the work which any man has built
on the foundation survives, he
will receive a reward. 15 If
any man's work is burned up, he
will suffer loss, though he himself
will be saved, but only as through
fire. (1Corinthians 3:14-15)
Now this is a metaphor. Ultimately,
we know that all Purgatory is, is
God's love, burning away any selfishness,
self love, or love of sin that may
remain in us at the time of our physical
Throughout the centuries there have
been different paradigms, different
metaphors and images used to explain
Purgatory. Some have been, unfortunately,
a lot less helpful than others. I
like to call Purgatory a Holy Ghost
Hospital. It's a place we go to get
Yes, we feel pain but it's healing
pain. It's not God extracting justice
on us. Quite the contrary,
it's God pouring His love out on
us and that's going to burn away
anything that is unholy.
That is bound to hurt, much like
alcohol hurts when you disinfect
Meri Lee —
The fact that Purgatory was not an
invention of the Middle Ages is demonstrated
by its appearance in a Jewish book
written a few centuries before Christ
(2 Maccabees 12:39-46) and also a
Jewish book written in the first
century (Josephus' discourse on Hades).
It also appears in early Christian
literature; in the Martyrdom of Ss.
Perpetua and Felicity. (second century)
St. Perpetua has a vision of her
brother suffering in Purgatory. After
fervent prayer on her part, she sees
another vision, this time of him
The idea that our sins are forgiven
past, present, and future is simply
unbiblical. Jesus said we are forgiven
to the extent we forgive others.
If we do not forgive, neither will
our heavenly Father forgive (See
the parable of the unmerciful servant
in Matthew 18:35, and Lord's Prayer
in Matthew 6:12). 1 John 1:9 also
says that we must confess our sins
to be forgiven. I challenge you to
find a verse that says that our sins
are unconditionally forgiven "past,
present, and future." While
it is true that Jesus's redemption
covers all sins past, present, and
future, it remains for us to repent
and seek forgiveness for that redemption
to be applied to our sins.
As for Mary having other children,
I'd refer you to this article:
and our other answers on Mary. Search
Basically, at least some of those
identified in Scripture as the "brothers
of the Lord" (James and Joses)
were identified elsewhere as children
of another Mary (the wife of Clopas).
Jews had very close-knit families;
they also had few words for relatives
(for example, no words for cousin
or uncle) and so often they used "brother" to
refer to relatives outside the nuclear
family. We can see this in Genesis
It is inconceivable that another
person was born by Mary, who by the
Holy Spirit and Jesus's birth, was
consecrated to God. Consecrated objects
can only be used for one purpose.
Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant
(Revelation 11:19-12:2,50); just
as the Ark carried the
Word of God (the Ten Commandments)
and the Bread of Life (the manna),
Mary carried in her womb the Word
of God (the Son) and the Bread of
Life. Also compare 2 Samuel 6:9-11
and Luke 1:43,56. Anyone who so much
as touched the Ark of the Covenant
perished. (1 Chronicles 13:10) Also,
in the Jewish mind, once a woman
had union with someone, he would
be defiling her if he had relations
with her. Thus Joseph, after Mary
was consecrated by the Holy Spirit
by conceiving and bearing Jesus,
would not have touched her.
Mary is not divine in the sense of
being a goddess, that is true. We
agree that no one comes to the Father
except through Jesus. Mary's role
is to say to us, exactly what she
said to the head steward at the Wedding
of Cana — do whatever he tells
you to do. Her role (as our role
is) is to lead us to Christ so that
through Him we may be saved. As she
brought Him to us on the physical
plane, so she brings us to him on
the spiritual plane.
By the way, Mary doesn't do anything
that all other Christians don't do.
She simply does it in the most perfect
way. She is the example for all Christians. "Be
it done to me according to your word." (Luke
1:38) "Do whatever he tells
you." (John 2:5) Her role in
praying for us.
All of these things are things Christians
should be saying and doing.