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Objections Answered
Objections answered about Purgatory and related issues in the Church:

How can I explain Purgatory to my Protestant friend?

When talking with friends and family on Purgatory, it’s important they know the basics:


    • Purgatory is not a third place along with Heaven and Hell nor is it a second chance.
    • Souls in Purgatory have been saved just as much as the souls in Heaven.
    • Purgatory is like the Holy Hospital of Heaven.

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 injures where we cut ourselves and require stitches and more severe injures, 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 or self-love from our pilgrimage on earth has to be healed or burned off. If our spiritual injures are along the line of “just needing stitches”, that healing period where our self-love has to be burned off may be short; but if our self-inflicted injuries are along the line of third or fourth-degree burns, the healing process may take longer. Saints have had private revelations from the souls in Purgatory who share 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 prepares us to enter eternal life with God who is all Holy. Think of the number of people who have passed from this life to the next since 33 A.D., many with major spiritual injuries. There are a lot! This is why praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory is very important – and they can’t wait for Heaven!


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Where is the Catholic belief in Purgatory found in the Bible?

Although the word "Purgatory" is not found in Scripture-neither are the words "trinity" or "incarnation," but all Christians believe in the Blessed Trinity and that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ-the concept of a temporal third place in the afterlife where souls are "purged" of their sins is referenced repeatedly. For example, in Matthew 12:32, Jesus declares,


"And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."


Our Lord implies that some sins can be forgiven in the next age, or "world" in some translations. If someone dies and goes to Hell, they will not be forgiven any of their sins. There is no sin to be forgiven in Heaven since nothing unclean may enter.
As Revelation 21:27 states:


"But nothing unclean shall enter [Heaven], nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life."


Therefore, the only logical explanation is a third place where sins are forgiven.


In 1 Corinthians 3:14-15 St. Paul writes,

"If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

This again is a reference to the suffering in the afterlife one must undergo for purification before entry into Heaven.


A belief in Purgatory can be found in the Old Testament as well. In 2 Maccabees 12:40, we learn that Jewish soldiers killed in battle were wearing "sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear." So they died in a state of sin which required atonement for offenses against God. Verse 46 continues, "Therefore [Judas] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."


Scripture never condemns the practice of praying for the dead nor offering atonement for them. It was a common practice. Therefore, if souls that died were not yet in Heaven, nor in the Hell of the damned, they must have been temporarily in a third place, which the Catholic Church calls Purgatory. And, as the above passage from 2 Maccabees illustrates, we can help them with our prayers and sacrifices.


We are all sinners and require God's mercy to enter Heaven. Even though we may be forgiven of our sins, there is still a price to pay, as our Lord suggests in Luke 12:59:


"I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last copper [penny]."


To stand before God, we must be perfect and pure in every way. Even the smallest "white" lie will require purification prior to our entry into Heaven.


However, Purgatory should actually be a consoling thought to Christians. As we grow and become more mature in our faith, we also become more and more aware of our own sinfulness and unworthiness before God, Who is all-holy. In addition to atonement we can make in this life, Purgatory offers us another chance to be completely cleansed so that one day we may stand before God in Heaven, entirely free of sin and having made all necessary satisfaction for our sins.

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Doesn't Scripture teach that Heaven and Hell are the only two destinations for the human soul?

It is true that Heaven and Hell are the only two final destinations for the human soul. However, as Scripture suggests, a soul may have to pass through Purgatory in preparation for its entry into Heaven.

1 Peter 4:6 says,


"For this is why the Gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God."


Jesus preached to the dead who could not have been in Heaven, since the gates of Heaven had yet to be opened. They could not have been Hell, since those in Hell are eternally lost would not benefit from hearing the word of God. Therefore, logic dictates that there is a third place, which Catholics call Purgatory. It is there that our selfishness and prideful natures are purged from our soul in preparation for our entry into Heaven.

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Deuteronomy 18: 10-11 commands, "There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer." Doesn't praying for the dead violate this command?

This Scripture condemns pagan and satanic practices, but not praying for a deceased person that he or she may enter into Heaven.


In 2 Timothy 1:16-18, Paul asks God to grant His mercy to someone who is dead:


"May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me-may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day-and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus."


Paul knew his prayers would benefit the dead Onesiphorus. Those who are dead need our prayers just as we need theirs. Only God knows who is in Purgatory, but this shouldn't prevent us from praying for deceased family members and friends. Those in Heaven and Hell do not benefit from our prayers but God disposes and distributes our prayerful intentions according to His divine will.

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The Catholic Church teaches that those who go to Purgatory must atone for forgiven mortal (serious) sins and forgiven or unforgiven venial (less serious) sins. But sin is sin. Isn't saying that there are mortal and venial sins unbiblical?

Saying that there are both mortal and venial sins is not only common sense, it is in accord with what Scripture teaches. In 1 John 5:l6-17, we learn,


"If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal."

John identifies two types of sin in this verse. He distinguishes the difference between the varying degrees of sin. Mortal means "deadly"; a mortal sin kills the life of grace in our soul and prevents us from entering Heaven if we die unforgiven. Venial sin still offends God and requires atonement, but it does not kill the life of grace in our soul and does not merit eternal punishment.

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