1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship,
but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured
of their eternal salvation; but after death they
undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness
necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this
final purification of the elect, which is entirely
different from the punishment of the damned. The
Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory
especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent.
The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain
texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe
that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying
fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters
blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned
neither in this age nor in the age to come. From
this sentence we understand that certain offenses
can be forgiven in this age, but certain others
in the age to come.
1032 This teaching is also based on the practice
of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred
Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made
atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered
from their sin." [2 Maccabees 12:39-46]
From the beginning the Church has honored the memory
of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for
them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that,
thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision
of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences,
and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons
were purified by their father's sacrifice, why
would we doubt that our offerings for the dead
bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate
to help those who have died and to offer our
prayers for them.
St. John l, Homily in 1 Corinthians 41, 5: PG 61, 361;
cf. Job 1:5.
When talking with friends and family about Purgatory, it's important they know the basics:
Purgatory does exist.
Purgatory is not a third place along with Heaven and Hell nor is it a second chance.
Purgatory has nothing to do with Limbo, which was only a theological opinion and was never a doctrine of the Church.
Souls in Purgatory have been saved just as much as the souls in Heaven.
Purgatory is like the Holy Hospital of Heaven.
Purgatory refers to a temporary state of purification for those who have
died in the state of grace but still need to get rid of any lingering imperfections
(venial sins, earthly attachments, self-will, etc.) before entering the perfection
Purgatory has nothing to
do with one's justification or salvation. Those in Purgatory are justified; they are saved. Purgatory
has to do with one's personal holiness and the burning away of remaining self-love. Revelation
21:27 It's our personal holiness because each person uses their free will differently in life to make good or bad choices on our pilgrimage to our particular judgment.
The Scriptures tell us, Our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29) We believe that All Consuming Fire is Our Very Lord Jesus Himself burning away all the self-love from our souls.
This article by Emily Stimpson from Our Sunday Visitor (osv.com) September 29, 2013 will also be helpful.
If you struggle to understand the Catholic view of Purgatory, this analogy may help:
Think of sin as a self-inflicted wound in your life.
When we physically hurt ourselves, many times we have to be brought to the hospital and the doctor or nurse will put an alcoholic disinfectant in our cut or wound. It will hurt ... a lot!!! but it's a good hurt; it's a holy hurt, that is needed to make us physically better.
We also have to distinguish between less severe physical injuries where we cut ourselves and require stitches and more severe injuries, like a NASCAR racing driver who gets into a major collision and ends up with third or fourth-degree burns over 90 percent of their body. There are varying degrees of damage that we do to our bodies, not only physically, but spiritually too!
Because Revelation tells us that nothing impure can enter Heaven (Revelation 21:27) and because God Himself is all Holy, we too, have to be all Holy to enter Heaven. To achieve this, any remaining self-inflicted spiritual wounds (meaning self-love) from our pilgrimage on earth has to be burned off, healed, and purified.
If our spiritual injuries are along the line of just needing stitches, that healing period where our self-love has to be burned off will be short;
but if our self-inflicted injuries are along the line of third or fourth-degree burns, the healing process will take longer.
Saints in the past have had private revelations from the souls in Purgatory. They (the Holy Souls in Purgatory) have shared that, while the (healing|burning) fires of God's Love in Purgatory are painful (Hebrews 12:29, Exodus 3:1-6), at the same time they had an internal, burning joy because they knew they were being conformed to the image of God and their final destiny would be total union with Him.
Instead of the good healing pain that the alcoholic disinfectant gave us under a doctor's care to prepare us to re-enter the earthly world again, in Purgatory, we experience a holy, healing pain under Jesus' Care which purifies our souls and and the Holy Souls in Purgatory and prepares (us|them) to enter eternal life with God who is all Holy.
Interested in helping the Saved, Holy Souls in Purgatory?
Think of the number of saved Faithful Departed who have passed from this life to the next since 33 A.D.: many with major spiritual injuries. There's a lot! This is why praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory is very important — and they can't wait to be purified for Heaven! (Revelation 21:27) If there are any Catholics (who live in the United States) reading this answer, who have a strong devotion to praying for the Holy Souls, check out my other website at:
I work with another colleague, Brian Bagley on this. Together we are trying to re-kindle this devotion among the lay faithful and Catholic clergy in praying for the Holy Souls and for those interested, we will send out a FREE Purgatory Prayer Program for you to get started.
. . . and why does it apply to Roman Catholics
and not other denominations?
It does apply to other denominations! CCC
us it applies to all men no matter what their faith
is. Just because a person doesn't believe in something,
doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Whether you believe it or not, Purgatory is real.
Also, if it is in the Bible, where can it be found?
I can't find any
Scripture verses for this teaching.
It's true that the
word Purgatory doesn't appear in the
Bible (neither do the words Trinity, Incarnation or even Bible). Purgatory is a Latin word and, up until the beginning of the fifth century, Greek was the spoken language among the people. That said, Greeks weren't going to give us a Latin word. Nevertheless, you'll see the sentiments of the teachings on Purgatory from the Early Church Fathers and the Scriptures. What's important is not the word, but the doctrine.
That said, the doctrine of the final
purification of the elect, apart from Heaven or Hell, is clearly taught in both
the Old Testament and the New Testament.
"Next day, they came to find Judas (since the necessity was by now urgent) to have the bodies of the fallen taken up and laid to rest among their relatives in their ancestral tombs. But when they found on each of the dead men, under their tunics, objects dedicated to the idols of Jamnia, which the Law prohibits to Jews, it became clear to everyone that this was why these men had lost their lives. All then blessed the ways of the Lord, the upright judge who brings hidden things to light, and gave themselves to prayer, begging that the sin committed might be completely forgiven. Next, the valiant Judas urged the soldiers to keep themselves free from all sin, having seen with their own eyes the effects of the sin of those who had fallen; after this he took a collection from them individually, amounting to nearly two thousand drachmas, and sent it to Jerusalem to have a sacrifice for sin offered, an action altogether fine and noble, prompted by his belief in the resurrection. For had he not expected the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead, whereas if he had in view the splendid recompense reserved for those who make a pious end, the thought was holy and devout. Hence, he had this expiatory sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sin."
Note: Though this book was rejected by the Protestant reformers and therefore is not in Protestant Bibles, one can not ignore the historical reality of this event and the reality of the words which were said.