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Whatever Happened to Purgatory?

Been to any Catholic funerals in the last few years?  I’ll bet you heard the Priest or Deacon say things like “in a better place now” or “he is with his beloved now” or some such soothing comments.  Although these comments may bring some comfort to the mourners, they do not reflect true Catholic teaching.

It has been….and continues to be….  a belief in purgatory as a necessary process along the road to heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Purgatory, 1031, states:

"Purgatory" by Peter Paul Rubens
“Purgatory” by Peter Paul Rubens (1634-1636)

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.

Although not pleasant ( I certainly don’t look forward to it), purgatory is a place of purification or temporary punishment in which the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for heaven.  At least if I make it that far I know I am on the right track!

The leaders of the Church bemoan the lack of catechesis these days, and yet often when they have the chance, they fail to take advantage of the occasion.  Is it any wonder that the laity is so ignorant of Church teaching?

Did you know there are Purgatory Museums and Shrines?

We know of two……do know of any others?  If so, please let us know.

There is a purgatory museum in Rome

And…a Shrine to the Holy Souls in Purgatory in Berwyn, Illinois.


After coming up with the title, which I thought would be snappy and original, I discovered this article by Father Dwight Longenecker had the same title and was written much more eloquently than my poor effort.