The Pope On Purgatory

Expressed in his new encyclical, Spe Salvi [Saved in Hope] He explains his view, which happens to be the view of the Church:  

Some theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour.  The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement [sic].  Before his gaze all falsehood melts away.  This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves.  …His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation ‘as through fire.’  But it is a  blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.  In this way the inter-relation between justice and grace also becomes clear:  the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us forever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love.  …The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy.  It is clear that we cannot calculate the ‘duration’ of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world.  The transforming ‘moment’ of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning—it is the heart’s time, it is the time of ‘passage’ to communion with God in the Body of Christ.  The judgement of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace.  If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice—the crucial question that we ask of history and of God.  If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all.  The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together—judgement and grace—that justice is firmly established:  we all work out our salvation ‘with fear and trembling’ (Phil. 2:12).  Nevertheless grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our ‘advocate,’ or parakletos (I Jn. 2:1).      [Spe Salvi, n. 47]


4 Responses

  1. Haven’t read this encyclical yet. Makes me want to go read it.

  2. As I’m sure you already know, it can be found at :
    It is a wonderful read!

  3. Tim,
    You know I am the weirdest Catholic on this planet. I’d probably get excommunicated with my views. I do not think that I believe in a ‘spiritual realm’ called Purgatory. In my eyes, I feel that the loss of innocence is Purgatory and it is here whilst we live. Jesus is too cool to have let another Purgatory exist. I dunno how to really express what I am saying, I just think of Heaven…nothing in betwixt. After all, He took three days to go get everyone outta Hell. I don’t think He wants us to suffer after we leave our Earthly Home. I think the guilt, suffering, changes in our bodies, health…that’s Purgatory here. Call me crazy. You wouldn’t be the first to do so.

    Lord Be With You and the Family,

  4. Harlequin, I know where you are coming from.
    As a former Baptist, I never believed in Purgatory either. I was told that it denied the power of Christ’s death, and was a way of “working” ourselves into heaven. But upon further study, I found that it’s the very power of Christ and His love for us, that cleanses us before entry into heaven. Like the image of the child playing in the mud puddle; before that child comes inside the house he must be cleaned off, or the house will become dirty. Since nothing sinful can enter heaven, it must be clean first. This has nothing to do with “not being ‘saved’ enough” but being clean enough.

    Purgatory is not so much a place as an action. The love of Christ, purges all impurities from our soul like the refiners fire and when we let go of those sins that so easily entangle us, we are ushered beore the Holy Trinity, to love and serve Him through eternity.

    You’re not crazy….at least, no crazier than I!! 🙂

    The Lord be with you and your family as well.

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