Choose a topic from Vol 2:


Proof of God's existence
God's nature
Supreme control over all things and the problem of suffering and evil


Destiny of man
Immortality of man's soul
Pre-existence denied
The human free will
Determinism absurd


Necessity of religion
Salvation of the soul
Voice of science
Religious racketeers
Divine revelation
Revealed mysteries
Existence of miracles

The Religion of the Bible

Gospels historical
Missing Books of the Bible
The Bible inspired
Biblical account of creation
New Testament problems
Supposed contradictions in Sacred Scripture

The Christian Faith

Source of Christian teaching
Jewish rejection of Christ
Christianity a new religion
Rational foundation for belief
Causes of unbelief

A Definite Christian Faith

Divisions amongst Christians
Schisms unjustified
Facing the problem
The wrong approach
Is one religion as good as another?
Obligation of inquiry
Charity and tolerance

The Protestant Reformation

Meaning of "Protestant"
Causes of the Reformation
Catholic reaction
Reformers mistaken
The idealization of Protestantism
The Catholic estimate

The Truth of Catholicism

Meaning of the word "Church"
Origin of the Church
The Catholic claim
The Roman hierarchy
The Pope
The Petrine text
St. Peter's supremacy
St. Peter in Rome
Temporal power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolicity of the Church
Indefectibility of the Church
Obligation to be a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic attitude towards the Bible
Is Bible reading forbidden to Catholics?
Protestant Bibles
The Catholic Douay Version
Principle of private interpretation
Need of Tradition
The teaching authority of the Catholic Church

The Dogmas of the Church

Revolt against dogma
Value of a Creed
The divine gift of Faith
Faith and reason
The "Dark Ages"
The claims of science
The Holy Trinity
Creation and evolution
Grace and salvation
The Sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
The Catholic Priesthood
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
The resurrection of the body
The end of the world

The Church and Her Moral Teachings

The Inquisition
Other superstitions
Attendance at Mass
Sex education
Attitude to "Free Love"

The Church in Her Worship

Magnificent edifices
Lavish ritual
Women in Church
Catholics and "Mother's Day"
Liturgical Days
Burial rites
Candles and votive lamps
The rosary
Lourdes water
The Scapular

The Church and Social Welfare

Social influence of the Church
The education question
The Church and world distress
Catholic attitude towards Capitalism
The remedy for social ills
Communism condemned
The Fascist State
Morality of war
May individuals become soldiers?
The Church and peace
Capital punishment
Catholic Action

Comparative Study of Non-Catholic Denominations

Defections from the Catholic Church
Coptic Church
Greek Orthodox Church
Anglican Episcopal Church
The "Free" or "Nonconformist" Churches
Church of Christ
Seventh Day Adventists
Plymouth Brethren
Catholic Apostolic Church or Irvingites
Salvation Army
Christian Science
British Israelism
Liberal Catholics
Witnesses of Jehovah
Buchmanism or the "Oxford Group Movement"
From Protestantism to Catholicism

To and From Rome

Conversion of Cardinal Newman
Why Gladstone refrained
The peculiar case of Lord Halifax
Gibbon the historian
Secession of Father Chiniquy
Father Tyrrell, the modernist
Bishop Garrett's departure
Judgment on lapsed Catholics
Protestant apathy towards conversion of Catholics
Principles for converts to Catholicism
God's will that all should become Catholics


851. What Scriptural authority has the Catholic Church for teaching that there is a purgatory?

The Catholic Church has Scriptural authority for whatever doctrines she teaches, insofar as she was appointed to be the teacher of mankind by Christ. It would not really matter whether a given doctrine were contained in Scripture or not. Whilst everything in the Bible is true, not everything true is in the Bible. I am getting rather tired of being asked to prove everything from the Bible, as if the Bible were the only test of what we must accept or reject. And even if you insist that the Bible only is the guide, you could not quote any Scriptural authority to show that there is no purgatory. However, after these preliminary remarks, whilst Scripture says nothing against purgatory, does it indicate that there is a purgatory? It does. Don't be baffled by a mere name. It is the thing, not its name, which is in question. Purgatory is an intermediate state, which is neither heaven nor hell, and in which souls are purified from the stains of sin contracted in this world. To prove purgatory, therefore, I have to prove that there is an intermediate state, and that souls are purified after death. Now that the intermediate state is a reality is evident from 1 Peter III., 18. St. Peter there says that Christ died in the flesh, but that His living soul went to preach to those spirits that were in prison. Those souls were in a state which was after this life, yet which was neither heaven nor hell. St. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. III., 15, that if, at a man's judgment after death, his lifework proves to be imperfect, he shall be saved, yet only by fire, i. e., after being purified as by fire. This cannot refer to the eternal punishment of hell, for out of hell there is no redemption. It refers, then, to a temporary loss of the Vision of God, and the enduring of a purifying expiation for a time, the soul being ultimately saved and admitted to heaven. This is practically the definition of purgatory.

852. A Catholic booklet on purgatory says that, if all the sufferings of this world were visited upon one human body, the slightest pain of purgatory would be much greater.

That statement is based on the truth that after death the pain of the privation of seeing God is worse than any physical pain. This is the essential suffering of purgatory wherein souls are purified from stains of sin. Naturally, the lesson is driven home that sins will have to be expiated sooner or later, and that they are not worth while, even though we do secure forgiveness of them as far as guilt is concerned. But in meditating or in preaching upon this basic fact, some room must be allowed for amplification and imaginative description. If not, we would have to give up talking about most things. The idea that the least pain in purgatory is worse than all bodily sufferings in this life is quite a possibility, insofar as the soul alone goes to purgatory and, therefore, endures spiritual sufferings which are worse than merely bodily afflictions. We must note, too, that in this life there are always distractions lessening advertence to one's state; but death will have removed all earthly interests from the soul. Writers who dwell on the intensity of sufferings in purgatory are rightly impressing the idea that intense efforts should be made to avoid sin. We should do our utmost to avoid increasing our own purgatory, even as we pray for those souls actually undergoing such dread purifications. Purification of soul will not be an easy and pleasant thing, to say the least. Sin is easy and pleasant, its reparation is quite the contrary.

853. No one has returned from the dead to tell anyone of the existence of purgatory.

You believe in heaven; but has anyone returned from the dead to tell you of the existence of heaven? You believe in heaven because it is the teaching of Scripture that there is a heaven. So also is it the teaching of Scripture that there is a purgatory.

854. I admire the Salvation Army which speaks of its dead as promoted to glory.

I, too, admire much in sincere members of the Salvation Army. But the idea that a soul is promoted to glory, or enters heaven immediately after death, has no foundation beyond their desire that it should be so. The extravagant belief does credit to their hearts, but it is a case of their wish being father to their thought. They have not a scrap of evidence that things are really so.

855. Would not the blood of Christ shed for all sinners cleanse their souls?

It could do so, did souls make full and perfect use of it. But the precious blood of Christ does not cleanse the souls of men in spite of themselves. Men have to do their part by sincere repentance and by the yielding of their souls to Christ in faith and love. But there are degrees of repentance, and faith, and love. Granted perfect repentance, and faith, and love, a soul participates fully in the effects of the precious blood of Christ. All sins are then expiated, and no further expiation in purgatory will be required. But some souls have very imperfect repentance, and faith, and love; whilst others have none at all. The precious blood of Christ does its work in a soul proportionately to the dispositions of that soul.

856. Has any religious body other than yours made it an article of faith?

Other religious bodies are not in the habit of defining where they stand, or of declaring any certain allegiance to any doctrine, save perhaps to the doctrine that there is a God of some sort. They change with every wind of doctrine, and feel the need of being able to repudiate their previous teachings, whenever it becomes expedient to do so. I refer, of course, to Protestant Churches in general. The Greek Orthodox Church is more stable, though it, too, is becoming affected by modernistic tendencies, and abandoning rigid adherence to original Christian teachings. However, it is part of the Greek Orthodox faith that there is a purgatory in which souls are detained in order to expiate their sins, and in which they can be helped by our prayers, and by the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist. The Anglo-Catholic section of the Church of England is also reviving this doctrine, declaring it to be a part of Christian teaching which was mistakenly rejected by Protestants at the time of the Reformation. As a matter of fact, although Protestants rejected purgatory at the Reformation, choosing to keep only an eternal heaven and an eternal hell, they are now rejecting the eternal hell idea, and teaching a purgatory of progressive purification and improvement after death until one does attain the perfection required for heaven.

857. I have even heard Catholics speak of purgatory as a consoling doctrine, though the Protestant idea of going straight to heaven is much more comfortable.

The existence of the intermediate state of purification called purgatory is not only a reasonable doctrine, but it is a doctrine revealed by Almighty God. And since it is true, the doctrine is bound to be more consoling than its denial. There is more consolation in knowing the truth than in being ignorant of it. But even apart from this, the consolation of the doctrine is apparent all along the line. The Protestant doctrine is most uncomfortable. Protestants admit only heaven and hell. I speak in general, for many don't admit heaven, still more don't admit hell, and yet more do not admit anything at all where religion is concerned. But let us take those who profess at least orthodox Protestantism. These deny purgatory, and admit only heaven and hell. Right. Then if a man is not quite good enough for heaven, he's got only one place left to go, and that's hell. The Catholic doctrine gives an extra chance. The poor beggar might not be good enough for heaven, but we deny that he is necessarily bad enough for hell. He may go to purgatory until he is fit for heaven. And certainly our doctrine that there is a purgatory is more consoling than the doctrine that there is no purgatory. Again, it is more consoling to know that I will be forgiven and purified, than to believe that my sins will be overlooked, but that I shall be left as I am, intrinsically unchanged. I know that I would not like to be thrust into God's presence just as I am. The contrast would be more painful than any purgatory imaginable. Those who talk so glibly of no purgatory, besides ignoring God's own teaching, have either a very poor idea of God's majesty and perfection, or else a very extravagant idea of their own goodness.

858. How do you know when any particular soul goes to purgatory?

If he goes there, we know that he goes there immediately after death. Whether he goes there we cannot say for certain. If he were a Saint, he would not go there. But Saints are so rare, that all the chances are that the vast majority have some faults to be expiated in purgatory.

859. Who is the judge to say what souls are in purgatory?

God alone. The Catholic Church does not claim to be able to say what particular souls are in purgatory, and which ones are not, save in the case of the canonized Saints. Those she knows to be in heaven. It may happen, of course, that people will pray for one who is no longer in purgatory but who has been released and admitted to heaven. But Catholics don't mind the extra prayers. It's better to say more than are necessary than deny to our departed loved ones the help we can give them. And, as no prayers are wasted, if we offer them for souls who are not in purgatory, they will benefit others who are there, and that in virtue of the communion of Saints in which we profess belief every time we say the Apostles' Creed.

860. If a man is sentenced and hanged for wilful murder, but dies truly repentant, will he enter purgatory before going to heaven?

All would depend on the degree of his repentance, and the intensity of his love for God prior to and at the moment of his death. If, by some miracle of grace, he attained to an utterly unselfish and perfect love of God, he would go straight to heaven. For such love covers a multitude of sins. "Because she has loved much," said our Lord of the sinful woman, "many sins have been forgiven her." Lk. VII., 47. The reason for this is that perfect love secures perfect identification with Christ, and a complete participation in the merits of His death and sufferings on the Cross. His expiation of sin, therefore, abrogates the necessity of the soul's own personal expiation of its sins in purgatory. However, the attaining of such perfect love of God after a life so little disposing one to it would be a miracle of grace, and not normal. Normally, even though a soul repented sufficiently for its salvation, it would yet have to expiate its sin in purgatory according to St. Paul's teaching that, if one has done evil, one will answer for it; and if saved, will be saved so as by fire. Naturally, we must take the normal for granted, and pray for the souls of the departed, rather than fondly take it for granted that they attained to dispositions of perfect love which may not have been theirs at all.

861. Are the prayers for the dead derived from the Old Testament?

The duty to pray for the souls of the dead is inculcated in the Old Testament, and it is again taught in the New Testament. Christ Himself tells us that there are sins which secure their full remission only after death; that men, far from being able to sin with impunity, will expiate their sins, and will not be liberated from their expiation till they have paid the last farthing. St. James tells us that we must pray for one another that we may be saved, and that the continual prayer of a just man avails much. If we can pray for those undergoing trials in this life, we can pray for those undergoing trials in the next life after their day of judgment has brought them before the tribunal of God's justice. You accept the New Testament. Yet there we find St. Paul, in writing to Timothy, offering a prayer for the repose of the soul of his dead friend, Onesiphorus. "The Lord grant unto him to find mercy," he prayed. 2 Tim. I., 18. Commenting on those words, the Reverend M. F. Sadler, an Anglican scholar, says, "Onesiphorus was dead. But we have no reason at all to believe that the moment a soul dies it is perfected. And in every Christian Liturgy that has come down to us there are prayers for the departed, asking of God peace and rest for them." In an Anglican manual of doctrine by the Reverend Vernon Staley which I have by me at the present moment, I find this statement, "It is quite right to pray for the departed."

862. Christ never told anyone to pray for the dead.

Not all that Christ said or did is recorded in the Gospels. They are fragmentary accounts only. Meantime, those who believe in Christ accept both Old and New Testaments as the Word of God. Now in the Old Testament we read, "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins." 2 Mach. XII., 46. In the New Testament St. Paul tells us that Christians are members of Christ and members, therefore, of one another, so that if one member suffer anything, all the members suffer with it. And St. James tells us to pray for one another, advice certainly not limited to this life only. So we find St. Paul praying for the departed soul of his fellow laborer, Onesiphorus.



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