Thursday, February 16, 2006

Questions about Purgatory, life after death

A reader writes:

I just read from your website and was wondering if I
could ask you about purgatory?

Where does the Bible discuss purgatory? Jesus speaks
more about hell than heaven and I don't remember if
purgatory is mentioned?

PS-Would you say you know for certain where you are
going when you die? Is there a way to know? If so,
where do you believe you're going and why?

My response:

Thank you for your note.

The word "purgatory" is not mentioned in the Bible.

Nor are the words "Trinity" and "incarnation" and "Bible."

But the notion of "purification" after life on earth certainly does appear in Sacred Scripture. Jesus speaks of sins to be forgiven "in the life to come." (Matthew 12:23)

Saint Paul writes of those saved in the next life "through fire." (1:Corinthians 3:15)

In 2 Maccabees 12:44-46, Scripture explicitly tells us to "pray for the dead." If there was only Heaven and Hell, what would be the point of praying for the dead?

As to your second question:

No, I do not know for certain where my soul — which I assume is what you mean — will be upon the end of my life here on earth. Jesus has given me every chance to make that destination Heaven. But God created me with a free will, to either embrace or reject Him. I pray I will never reject Him and will one day be with Him forever in Heaven.

I hope this is helpful. I do urge you to read an article by Mark Shea on Purgatory, which can be found here:

Purgatory? Where Is That in the Bible?

If anybody wants to add, correct, question, or otherwise clarify, feel free to jump in. Thanks!